4. Another Approach to the Size of the Universe

Read the following, not for scientific facts so much as to let the magnitude of this universe sink in…

Light travels at about one billion kilometres an hour, or about 300,000 km per second.

It takes light nine minutes to travel from the sun to the earth.

The nearest star, Proxima Centauri, is 4.5 light-years away. We would require 33,750 years to get there, at the speed of the fastest spacecraft humanity has managed, Cassini, currently ending its mission by crashing in to Saturn.

Our Solar System lies somewhere towards the edge of the galaxy in which we find ourselves. We have called it the “Milky Way,” but it is really a swirling spiral of billions of stars. To cross from one edge of our galaxy to the other, light requires 100,000 years at 300,000 km/sec. As we look across our galaxy, the stars we see on the other side are as they were 100,000 years ago, when the light we now see left them.

But our galaxy is but one of 100 billion other galaxies in the Universe. At this time, our most powerful telescopes can capture the light from galaxies that lie 12 billion light years away. Here’s a video clip to put distances and sizes into perspective:


So much to meditate on… For starters: if we believe God is in all things, what “size” of a God does this Universe require? How about this: either we are alone in this unbelievably vast universe, and then we have to ask the question why? And what are the implications of that? Or we are not alone, and then we have to consider the implications of that…

Scientists suggest that chances there are other self-sentient species in the Universe is virtually 100% But they also maintain that chances of our being able to communicate with any, let alone encounter any are close to zero given distances.

Other scientists suggest that should we ever encounter another self-sentient species, the chances are very great that it would be infinitely more advanced than ourselves, given that our part of the Milky Way is much younger than other parts. Species elsewhere would have had a lot longer to evolve.

Once you’ve let your mind ponder any of these questions, does it put our own concerns here on earth into a different perspective?

What has been most helpful to you in these reflections? What has challenged you the most? What feelings have these meditations raised for you?