So, I asked, “Come see Saturn’s rings!”
Although clouds were overhead, we quietly set up an 8 inch telescope. Clear tropical skies are hard to find in the Philippines, but the day had been drier than the last few, so we were hopeful. Mars was bright orange an hour after sunset but faded from sight as the clouds intervened. A hole opened up around Saturn. We moved our sights to Saturn and pumped up the magnification on the scope. First, a staff member came, then a couple children, then some older children, then some more staff. It was a rare night of quiet observing. Fifteen or so junior observers had long and repeated looks to see the rings and find the Cassini Division for the first time.
It was a night like other nights in Haiti, or Uganda, or near the Blue Ridge Mountains with the Chinese church and friends. People have similar reactions and questions. I’ve seen the smiles from Cambodians, Filipinos, Hispanics, and some others who have observed with me. Many who have observed with me had never done it before.
Before long, the questions started like they do in most observing sessions. When they start slow, I add a few. When the young ones come intending the look and fly away quick, the questions slow them a bit. I want them to think. Where did it all come from? Did someone make it? Did it all happen by itself by chance (the most popular assertion). What is the ground truth of the night skies? Sometimes I show an example by parable: I throw the local coinage on the ground and put a large note on a table. “How long does it take for the coins to turn into the note?” That usually gets laughter, but then I increase the time to 18+ billion years (the estimated age of the universe with a naturalistic world view). We all watch to see if any change might take place–as if we could look at the whole time line. They always laugh. Why? “Because it cannot happen,” they say. I push it and tell them they have not waited long enough. “There is always a chance,” I explain. “Maybe the first particles are really smart,” I suggest, “and turn into tens of thousands of galaxies on their own.” Of course, nothing is going to happen.
Sometimes I suggest going to the internet. “Find an equation that produces one particle out of nothing. Any type of particle will do. If you cannot find it, find the reason a star cluster with a nucleus happens all by itself with a known process while there is nothing around it for hundreds of light years.” There are a dozen others that could be asked. In a recent seminar for teachers in a Christian school we began discussing the detailed code that is in a single cell. These discoveries of complexity and elaborate code in the micro-detail of cells are quite recent. “Who wrote the code,” I ask? The universe developing by chance begins to lose its aura in the face of looking at world view assumptions through these questions. The evidence is growing: these kinds of things don’t happen on their own…in a God-deleted world view.
On the ground looking skyward we looked at Mars after Saturn, but went back to Saturn. The rings are truly remarkable. As the last boy came to look at the rings of Saturn, I asked him, “What about the heavens? What do they mean?” He looked puzzled but said nothing. I quoted what many of the staff members already know:
The heavens declare the glory of God… Psalm 19:1
We slowly broke down the telescope. The crowd is often larger, but tonight’s smaller group permitted everyone to discover something new and go back to it several times. With the smell of the rice paddies and damp tropical air, we closed in peace at the wonder of it all. I recalled the ground truth in the Bible with so many verses that speak of God’s creative hand. In a sense, we have a ringside seat, even if it is using our eyes, to see parts of the celestial sphere by night. It was a good night to give thanks.
The author is finishing a curriculum on biblical creation, which also compares it to the naturalistic/evolutionary world view. For more information, check this site next year. A bible study is available now for download. It was the baseline from which the more elaborate curriculum was developed.