Our galaxy has 150-200 billion stars, and the Milky Way is but one of 150 billion galaxies in the universe. On the molecular level, the number of stars in the universe is smaller than the number of H2O molecules in ten drops of water. In 1966 Carl Sagan announced that there were two important criteria for a planet to support life: the right kind of star, and a planet the right distance from that star. Given the number of planets in the universe, it seemed likely that there were about a septillion (1 followed by 24 zeros) capable of supporting life. But as our knowledge of the universe has grown, it has become clear that there are far more factors necessary for life than Sagan supposed. Today there are more than 200 known parameters necessary for a planet to support life, every one of which must be perfectly met, or it all falls apart. For example, in our own galaxy, the gravity of Jupiter's enormous mass draws away asteroids; a thousand times as many would hit the earth if Jupiter were not there.
Scientists now are saying that the odds are against any planet in the universe supporting life--including the one we inhabit. On top of all that, if the ratio between the nuclear strong force and the electromagnetic force were off by the tiniest fraction--even by one part in 1,00,000,000,000,000,000--no stars could ever have formed. All this was just a part of my reading today, and it put me in awe.
Some would argue in the light of all this that it is incredulous that there would be a God who would be personally interested in what happens on this tiny speck of matter in the vastness of the universe; if indeed there were a God behind it all in the first place. As to the latter, the immensely delicate balance of factors necessary for the existence of anything, let alone life, is so incredible that it requires either more faith or more naiveté to believe that it all happened by chance than it does to believe in design. But if there is a God who made all this, why would this God pay any special attention to humans on this insignificant little planet? Isn't such a belief the height of arrogance?
This I believe, is to get things backwards. It is certainly humbling to think that the God who made all that is cares for humanity enough to send his own Son to die for our redemption, but the significance of the enormity of the universe has nothing to do with our own smallness, but rather with the greatness of God. "The heavens declare his glory," the Scripture declares. Some believe that the more we know, the more God recedes to the margins. They understand "God" to be the language we use to explain that which we don't know or understand. In reality, the more we know, the greater our God appears. Psalm 34:3 says, "O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together." Think of a magnifying glass. It doesn't make anything bigger; it only makes the object appear bigger so we can see more clearly. When God is magnified, he doesn't get any bigger; we just see him more clearly and in our minds and hearts we see that he is greater than any problem or circumstance we face. When I go outside tonight and see the stars, knowing that what I see is but a infinitesimal slice of all that is, God's glory is manifest, and I get to magnify him; to see how much greater he is than...anything. For this, I give thanks.