Your god is so small…
August 31, 2011 3 Comments
I’ve spent the last week or so listening to the ‘Symphony of Science’ music. Not unsurprisingly there’s a couple of lines within the songs that have got me thinking about a concept I’ve had for a while and I wanted to try to articulate it.
That concept, if you haven’t guessed from the title, is that the gods that man has invented are all incredibly small. The vast majority (and I’d say all of the older gods) are all limited by man’s thinking.
That’s not to suggest that we’re incapable of understanding these larger concepts and that’s why these gods limited what they tried to teach us, it’s that these gods seem to literally be limited to exist inside what man knew at the time.
To just throw a simple example out there, when Jesus ascended it says he was “taken up” into heaven (Luke 24:51, Mark 16:19). I’d be willing to bet this is because back then people literally believed heaven was in the sky. God sat upon clouds and watched the earth. Back then it made sense, because no one had been up that high before and it was reasonable to assume that’s where a god would reside (there’s a similar concept of demons living at the centre of the earth).
Since then however, we’ve visited not only the skies but space and we’re pretty darn sure there’s no one playing harps up there. Thus was born the idea of a spirit realm; an in-between world where us mere mortals cannot see without special powers. Now, there’s no good reason why people living around Jesus’ time couldn’t have understood the notion of a spirit realm. Yes, it’s possible that it’s something that was misinterpreted early on and it’s something we’re only just coming to understand, but it makes so much more sense that these gods were invented by man and that these misunderstandings were brought about by our limited knowledge of the universe at the time.
As a more modern example there is a group of people who believe a god exists just beyond the range of the Hubble Telescope. Exactly the same idea, just a little bigger.
The thing is you find this limited thinking within pretty much all religions. Almost all religions are concerned with man and earth. This is especially prominent in the older religions where it’s still suggested the earth is flat and the sun revolves around the earth. More modern religions start to break out of this mold (Scientology for example), but that’s not because they’re right, it’s because they were born in an era where they’ve been able to align themselves with up to date scientific information. Back when the Bible was being written it was scientifically sound to say the earth was flat.
All popular religions have the worshippers at the centre, whether that be the literal centre of the universe or just the centre of the gods universe. And that’s the problem, none of them account for the rest of the universe. There are literally billions of stars out there, most with planets orbiting them, and with moons orbiting them. And then you need to consider that something silly like >95% of the universe is empty space. That’s a fuckload of nothing. What’s the point of it all!? No religion accounts for this.
Pick a religion. Now assume that only the earth exists. That the rest of the universe doesn’t. Heck, not even our galaxy exists. Just the earth and the things on it. Stuff it, the moon, stars and sun can be painted on a rotating disk over our heads. Now ask yourself, does that religion still make sense? (Within itself obviously, they usually don’t make sense taken in the context of the rest of the world). Generally I’d say yes. The rest of the universe isn’t required for the religious story to make sense. Usually it isn’t even mentioned, everything revolves around the earth and humanity.
Why is that? For the same reason as Jesus ascending; it wasn’t known at the time so it was ignored. The universe isn’t required for a gods plan, so it is omitted from the stories. But that’s just begging us to ask the question, ‘why the hell would the god bother making it then?’
You see, this is one of the prominent reasons I don’t believe. Gods are just too small. They don’t account for the existence of the universe. They tend to be infatuated with silly little things like our reproductive desires. A gods mind is just so small, so limited and so juvenile that I can’t see it explaining the 40 sextillion stars that we know of. (That’s a 4 with twenty-two ‘0’s after it. General knowledge these days, but there are more stars in the universe than grains of sand on the earth).
I want to do a little thought experiment. Take a look at this image. This is your home, and how small it is in the universe. Just take a quick look at the image, because once you have we’re going on a journey.
Imagine laying in your bed. Feel your body. This is your shell, this is where you live, feel it. Now imagine leaving your body. You float above your bed, just above your body. From here you can see yourself and your room. Take it in.
Now fly upward until you can see your house. The little wooden or brick structure where you spend a good chunk of your life. Maybe you were born here? Perhaps your family has lived here for years?
Zoom out further until you can see your town. Many of your friends live here. Can you see your school from here? Perhaps your place of work?
Going further we can now see your continent. A giant land mass stretching out in all directions.
Going higher we rise into the clouds. Our vision is blurred for a moment before we rise above them and burst into the sunshine above. From here we can see many landmasses and the life-sustaining water that is our oceans.
Things get slightly warmer as you penetrate the earth’s atmosphere. A moment later you pop through that and look down on your planet. The earth. Our little spherical ship that we sail through space on. Most likely you will spend your entire life here.
Out of your peripheral you spot a grey sphere, the moon. You blow past that in a moment and watch as it revolves around the earth.Behind the earth you can see Mercury and Venus, engulfed by a glowing ball that currently takes up your entire view.
Picking up speed now you zoom past Mars. You need to take a wide berth as Jupiter goes past you. It is so enormous that for a moment it takes up your entire vision, blotting out the other planets behind it.
You blink furiously as giant rocks whizz past you. You are travelling through the rings of Saturn. Suddenly the rocks stop to be taken up by another gas giant that takes up your vision. Passing Saturn you go through the other side of the ring before venturing into the blackness between planets.
Uranus and Neptune pass next. Smaller than Jupiter or Saturn you zoom past them in an instant.
For the first time the sun comes fully into view. A giant ball of heat, it eats up the blackness, solar flares bursting from its surface.
A small blip measures on your radar. It was Pluto, barely registering on this massive scale.
You can just make out the Earth from here. It is a fine grain of sand, unrecognisable from the other objects in the blackness.
Out of nowhere you are virtually blinded by a glaring light. As your eyes adjust again you realise you have blown past Sirius, the brightest star in our night sky. It dwarfs our sun, being twice as massive.
Picking up speed again we leave Sirius behind, only to Pass Pollux moments later. Moving at the speed of light it would take 34 years to reach this giant star. Clearly we are moving much, much faster. Pollux dwarfs Sirius, being as large to Sirius, as Sirius is to our Sun.
Taking a photo at this stage of our journey would show the Earth at the size of a single pixel. An instant later it is gone.
But even Pollux is tiny compared to Arcturus, the next giant on our journey.
Rigel and Aldebaran pass us next, their brightness blocking out Arcturus. From here our solar system is only visible as a blur; a string of little dots barely visible.
Betelgeuse and Antares make a mockery of Rigel and Aldebaran’s size, engulfing the sky and blocking out the last glittering of our solar system in their wake.
A blur of giants stream past you as you fly at breakneck pace through the darkness. Yellow, pink, white, red and blue. V828 Monocerotis, V382 Carinae, V509 Cassiopeiae, KY Cygni and VV Cephei respectively.
But all of these could be consumed by VY Canis Majoris, the largest star in the known universe.
From here nothing you would recognise is visible. Not even our solar system is visible, let alone our Sun or the Earth. Congratulations, you have reached the end of the Milky Way Galaxy.
From here you slowly turn around, taking in our entire spiraling galaxy. As you turn 360 degrees you are greeted by a colossal sight.
That’s the rest of the universe, stretching on for 14.5billion light years in every direction. Each spec of light is another galaxy, many of which dwarf the one you have just passed through.
You are tiny and insignificant.
Your god even more so.
– Ignorance is not bliss. Stay inquisitive.
And I’m sorry, but these are just way too fucking pretty to not post. Thank you Hubble.