Malaysian Atheist

An avowed atheist living in Malaysia.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Monster of the Milky Way

Our planet and solar system reside in a galaxy called the Milky Way. The Milky Way is 100,000 light years in diameter, and Earth is just a tiny dot in this astronomical maelstrom. Our galaxy, is just one of a billion galaxies in this universe and the galaxies are moving apart from one another because the universe is expanding.

In the documentary Monster of the Milky Way by PBS NOVA, scientists are postulating a supermassive black hole in the center of the Milky Way. According to Albert Einstein, space-time is warped by massive objects and it was the curvature of space-time that led to the appearance of gravity. An object that is massive enough, could warp space-time so much that not even light could escape it's gravitational pull. That is what we call a black hole.

Black holes are of course invisible but scientists can see its effect on surrounding stars. That is exactly what they found when observing the orbit of stars circling a single, supermassive object (3 million times more massive than our sun) at the center of the Milky Way. A truly fascinating endeavour indeed!

Against such a backdrop, it is truly irrational to be postulating a God, especially a personal God like the one in the Bible. All the major religions of the world seem too provincial when we look at it from the galactic scale. A God whom we are created in the image of? In a universe that is impossibly massive, why should we be the only intelligent beings out there? Why should our Earth be the only planet that is capable of supporting life? Why would God bother to create so many billion galaxies and so many billion stars in each galaxy, just to place us humans (his ultimate creation) in one small, insignificant corner in the universe?

A God that wants us to believe in Him and abstain from sin? So much matter, so many particles, so many interactions, so many years to create this universe and for it to ultimately come down to a moral issue of sin? We humans really flatter ourselves to think that everything in the universe revolves around us. Indeed hundreds of years ago, we humans thought that Earth was the center of the universe. We thought the sun and all the stars orbitted our planet. With improved technology, scientists noticed that many massive planets have moons orbiting around them, meaning not every object in the cosmos necessarily revolve around our planet. Slowly we discover that it is our planet that is actually orbiting the sun, and our sun is just a star among billions of stars in a galaxy among billions of galaxies. So, the stories of all the world religions do not seem to be proportional to what's really out there.

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