Stars, their purpose, and people


God reveals Himself to human beings in three main ways: in the physical creation, through the pages of Scripture, and through the person of Jesus Christ. Let’s look at the creation of the starry heavens.

Composite (P. Bell)Cosmos-through-Biblical-glasses
Looking at the universe through ‘biblical glasses’ is as important here as it is for subjects like dinosaurs or so-called ‘races’.
Composite (P. Bell)Cosmos-through-secular-glasses
Looking at the universe through ‘secular glasses’.

Astronomy teaches us a fantastic amount about the magnificent cosmos, but we should keep in mind that it is ultimately an imperfect revelation. After all, the whole creation is under the Curse (Romans 8:22). “The heavens declare the glory of God”, it is true, but no longer do so perfectly. We must look to the Creator, whose revelation in the Bible certainly is “perfect” (Psalm 19:7). Looking at the universe through ‘biblical glasses’ is as important here as it is for subjects like dinosaurs or so-called ‘races’. Moreover, Christ Himself was (and is) a perfect revelation. He perfectly reveals what God the Father is like (John 14:9), being the sinless One (1 Peter 2:22), the “Lord of all” (Acts 10:36), “the true God” (1 John 5:20). Believing the testimony of Christ and His Word is the vital prerequisite to truly grasping the origin and significance of the stars.

How exactly do “the heavens” declare God’s glory? In the beginning, there was nothing, so it is by faith that we understand the creation of everything from nothing (ex nihilo; see Hebrews 11:3). Virtually all scientists agree with ‘creation from nothing’, even if many of them try to leave God out of the picture. But where have their big bang and other ideas led them?

Astrophysics without God

Jeffrey Hangst, a physicist at CERN (the European Organisation for Nuclear Research) admits, “We’ve had many successes in understanding how things work, but we can’t explain why we’re here at all … We shouldn’t be. There should just be energy, there should just be some light. And no one can explain to you why there’s matter and not antimatter.”1 Astrophysicist and award-winning science writer Ethan Sigel agrees. Beyond the physics and limits of particle accelerators, he says, Some processes must occur under those conditions to reproduce the Universe we see. Something must have created dark matter. Something must have created more matter than antimatter in our Universe. And something must have happened, at some point, for the Universe to exist at all.”2

Which all goes to show that clever physicists who deny the Creator are profoundly ignorant. They themselves admit this to be so. Atheism inevitably leads here. The late Prof. Stephen Hawking illustrates this godless ignorance. Speaking of how the alleged big bang produced a huge amount of both positive and negative energy, and that these “add up to zero, always”, he asserted: “So what does this mean in our quest to find out if there is a God? It means that if the universe adds up to nothing, then you don’t need a God to create it. The universe is the ultimate free lunch.”3 He foolishly believed he had eliminated the need for the Grand Designer of the universe.

And lest anyone reading this is curious to know if the status quo has changed in the last few years, here is what New Scientist had to say in May 2023: ‘“Why we’re here is the big question”, says Toby Wiseman, a theorist at Imperial College London. “It seems that quantum gravity is the only answer.” Alas, it is an answer that we are yet to find, despite decades of searching. … “We’re still no better off at understanding the beginning of space and time”, says Wiseman.’4 When story-telling passes for astrophysics, it is no wonder.5

Astronomy to the glory of God

NASA, public domainWebbs-first-deep-field
The first ‘Deep Field’ image from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (taken 7 July 2022) shows many thousands of galaxies. It is a long exposure image of a patch of sky equivalent to that blocked from view by holding a sand grain at arm’s length against the night sky!

In the mid-1990s, the Hubble Space Telescope took a “Deep Field” picture of a tiny pinpoint of space in the constellation Ursa Major. The picture revealed an astonishing 10,000 galaxies, all ‘mature’-looking. Fast-forward to July 2022, and the new, more powerful James-Webb Space Telescope gave astronomers an especially fabulous look at deep space. Contrary to their expectations of a ‘dark period’ of 500–1,000 million years after the assumed big bang, they found 10 times more galaxies than predicted, and none that looked irregular or ragged, as they had expected. Astronomers must now rethink their ideas of how quickly star formation occurred. As University of Kansas astronomer Allison Kirkpatrick admitted, “Right now I find myself lying awake at three in the morning, wondering if everything I’ve ever done is wrong.”6

Dr Kirkpatrick is not alone in her bewilderment at these findings:

  • “No one was expecting anything like this” (Michael Boyan-Kolchin, University of Texas);
  • “Galaxies are exploding out of the woodwork” (Rachel Somerville, Flatiron Institute, U);
  • “This is way outside the box of what models were predicting” (Garth Illingworth, University of California, Santa Cruz).7

There were far too many, ‘fully mature’ galaxies (i.e. with smooth discs and spiral arms), each with around 100 billion bright, sun-sized stars! Matters were even worse at a redshift of 10 (i.e. interpreted to be about 450 million years after the alleged big bang), with a whopping 100,000 more galaxies than they had predicted!

For those who acknowledge the Creator, these findings are consistent with what we read in the ‘history book of the universe’ (Genesis 1:1), declaring the omnipotence and majesty of God. This mind-bendingly vast cosmos is the handiwork of Christ the Creator (John 1:1, Colossians 1:16). Without Jesus Christ, the Word, nothing would or could exist! Quite able to create the entire cosmos instantaneously, He chose to do so in six days, thus circumscribing a six-day working week (Exodus 20:9,11).

There is no need, nor sense, in trying to reconcile big bang cosmology with Genesis 1. On Day 4, the sun and moon were not merely made “to appear” (the Hebrew to convey this idea is straightforward, as in Genesis 1:9: “let the dry land appear”). On the contrary, these “two … lights”, “the greater” and “the lesser”, for ruling day and night respectively, were supernaturally “made” by God (Genesis 1:15). The Hebrew word used means ‘make’ or ‘do’, and never means to ‘make visible’ or ‘make appear’. God made “the stars also” (Genesis 1:16). This might almost seem an afterthought, considering the vast numbers of stars (see below), but it does show that the sun and stars are not to be worshipped.

The prodigious number of stars is currently estimated to be a trillion trillion (a septillion), a number with 24 zeros!8 Even if all eight billion people in the world were to count stars, one star each per second (without breaks), it would take four million years to reach this figure; it can’t be done! This surely tells us something amazing about God as Creator—and how far beyond mortal man He really is. With that vast number of stars in mind, consider the following:

“[God] determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names” (Psalm 147:4). Clearly, He is infinite in knowledge!

“By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host” (Psalm 33:6). God spoke into existence numberless galaxies of stars. He is infinite in power!

“Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite” (Psalm 147:5). Exactly!

Biblical astronomical truths

CC BY-SA 3.0, Rogelio B Andreo, taken October 2010.Orion
Stars of the constellation Orion. The red supergiant Betelgeuse is in the top left of the image (the right shoulder of ‘Orion the hunter’) while the blue-white star Rigel is at the bottom right (the left thigh of Orion).

It is wonderfully instructive, using a modern atlas of astronomy, or searching the Internet, to study images of the sun, the moon, the earth, other planets, stars, galaxies, nebulae, comets, and so on. The high-definition images are stunningly beautiful. I like to think of these as vast paintings by the Ultimate Maestro, each on a canvas whose dimensions are measured in light-years.9

These heavenly (celestial) bodies each have their own special splendour (1 Corinthians 15:40). “There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory” (1 Corinthians 15:41). The Apostle Paul could tell with the naked eye that some stars were brighter than others. In a sense, modern telescopes magnify this truth still further.

Take the constellation Orion, for example, made by God on Day 4 (Job 9:9, Amos 5:8). Marking the ‘right shoulder’ of Orion the hunter is a massive star called Betelgeuse (pronounced beetle-juice), 500 times the diameter of our Sun, and 10,000 times as luminous. It is the tenth brightest star in the northern hemisphere. But Orion’s left thigh is marked by Rigel, a brilliant blue-white star, the seventh brightest. Stars really do differ from one another in glory!

We have already seen that a physical count of the stars is an impossible task. With the advent of modern telescopes, this was soon realised, but those visible to the naked eye could have been counted by a dedicated person before the modern era. It is therefore striking to see that Jeremiah, writing approximately six centuries BC, asserted that the stars were uncountable (Jeremiah 33:22). To this verifiable fact, we might add his statement (certainly known to be true today) that the universe is immeasurable (Jeremiah 31:37).10 Moreover, contrary to the few advocates of a ‘flat earth’, the earth has been understood to be spherical since ancient times (Job 26:10, Isaiah 40:22).11

All of these astronomical truths were revealed many centuries before modern astronomers and astrophysicists ‘discovered’ them.

The stars and you

Great scientists of the past were quicker to acknowledge the Creator of the universe. Writing in his mathematical treatise on the Solar System, Sir Isaac Newton famously wrote:

“This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being. This Being governs all things, not as the soul of the world, but as Lord over all, and on account of His dominion He is wont [it is customary for Him] to be called Lord God, Universal Ruler.”12

What a contrast between these words and those of the atheistic astrophysicists quoted earlier in this article. We ignore the omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent God at our peril.

Most wonderful of all, this Lord God of Creation contracted to the span of a human life. The Creator became the Saviour of all who believe and receive Him (John 1:12). But let us not forget, this Creation is not eternal (unlike its Maker). Currently being preserved by God’s word, “the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly” (2 Peter 3:7). The “day of the Lord will come” (2 Peter 3:10), as surely as night follows day.

The onus is on us all to be ready for that day, to be found honouring and serving God. And for Christian believers, we are challenged to take every opportunity to affirm biblical creation in a way that glorifies God (Psalm 19), and to spread the good news of salvation through the Creator/Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Published: 2 May 2024

References and notes 

  1. Hangst, J., Physicists take big step in unravelling mystery of antimatter, news.com/au, 21 Dec 2016. Return to text.
  2. Sigel, E., If the Big Bang wasn’t the beginning, what was it? www.forbes.com, 17 Sept 2020; my emphases. Return to text.
  3. Hawking, S. Brief Answers to the Big Questions, John Murray, 2018, pp. 32–33; my emphasis. It was published posthumously. Return to text.
  4. Jon Cartwright, How to think about Quantum gravity, New Scientist no. 3438, p. 38, 13 May 2023 (emphasis added). Return to text.
  5. See Williams, A. & Hartnett, J., Dismantling the Big Bang: God’s universe rediscovered, Creation Book Publishers, 346 pages, 2005. Return to text.
  6. Witze, A., Four revelations from the Webb telescope about distant galaxies, nature.com, 27 July 2022. Return to text.
  7. Clery, D., Webb telescope reveals unpredicted bounty of bright galaxies in early universe, science.org, 9 Aug 2022. Return to text.
  8. Star basics, science.nasa.gov/universe/stars; accessed 20 March 2024. Also: How many stars are there in the Universe? esa.int; accessed 20 March 2024. Return to text.
  9. A light-year is a distance (not a time) measurement. The distance traversed by light in one year (a light-year) = 5.88 trillion miles (9.49 trillion kilometres). Return to text.
  10. Assuming a finite universe (which agrees with Psalm 147:4), a recent estimate is that the observable universe is 92 billion light-years in diameter. An infinite universe couldn’t be measured, by definition. Return to text.
  11. Statham, D., Isaiah 40:22 and the shape of the earth, creation.com/Isaiah-40-22-circle-sphere, 11 Aug 2016. Return to text.
  12. Newton, I., Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, 1686. Translated from the Latin in 1729, University of California Press, Berkeley, California, 1934. Return to text.

Helpful Resources

Our Amazing Created Solar System
by Russell Grigg (editor)
US $19.00
Hard cover
Creation Astronomy for Kids
by Dr Jonathan Sarfati & Lita Sanders
US $16.00
Hard cover
Dismantling the Big Bang
by Alex Williams, John Hartnett
US $20.00
Soft cover