The James Webb Space Telescope was launched on Christmas Day in 2021 from Kourou, French Guiana. Since then, it has captured stunning images that continue to inspire feelings of awe and wonder.
For Christians, the telescope continues to gift us with remarkable glimpses into God’s intricately designed and wonderfully made universe.
The telescope was developed in a joint mission between the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).
The Webb Telescope’s latest image (pictured above) is of the Orion Nebula – one of the brightest nebulae in our sky. The nebula is “a region of star formation 1,350 light-years from Earth, located in the belt of the northern hemisphere constellation of Orion.”
The image brings this psalm to mind:
“The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1, ESV).
The beauty and design that we see in nature leads to an inescapable conclusion: there must be an Artist and a Designer behind it all.
“When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm 8:3-4, ESV).
Who among us, when gazing at an absorbing painting from Vincent van Gogh or Leonardo de Vinci, does not immediately give credit to the painter behind it? Should we not do the same with the beauty we find in nature?
In fact, through the beauty we find in nature, God reveals Himself to us.
St. Augustine once wrote,
Some people, in order to discover God, read a book. But there is a great book: the very appearance of created things. Look above and below, note, read. God whom you want to discover, did not make the letters with ink; he put in front of your eyes the very things that he made.
Human beings can know God only because God chose to reveal Himself to mankind.
God has revealed Himself to us in two different ways – through both natural revelation (via nature, philosophy and reason) and special revelation (through the person of Jesus Christ, Scripture and miracles).
Speaking about natural revelation – which is accessible to all men – the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 1:19-20,
“For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse” (ESV).
God’s revelation of Himself to us through nature is one way human beings can come to know of and believe in Him. However, this also means that human beings who ignore God – or deny the He exists – are without excuse for their unbelief.
Though our popular culture may claim that atheism leads to a more free and happy existence, the exact opposite is true. The denial of God’s existence leads to an unhappy and miserable conclusion.
The 20th century atheist philosopher Bertrand Russell, in his book A Free Man’s Worship, wrote,
All the labours of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system.
The whole temple of Man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins.
Bertrand correctly observed that hopeless nihilism must result from a naturalistic worldview. In a world without God, life becomes meaningless.
But as Christians, we know that God exists. Because of God, we have hope in eternal life, bringing about our deliverance from evil, aging, death and suffering.
With God, life is filled with meaning, purpose and beauty. As created beings, we were made out of God’s sheer goodness and love. He designed us to share in His blessed life.
It is this sharing of His life – in this fulfillment of our purpose – that we “wait for with patience.”
Related articles and resources:
Homicide detective J. Warner Wallace recently appeared on the Focus on the Family Broadcast to discuss the evidence for the historicity and deity of Jesus Christ. To listen to his broadcast, The Proof You Need to Believe in Jesus Christ, click here.
Additionally, you can check out a copy of Wallace’s most recent book, Person of Interest, here.
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Photo from James Webb Space Telescope.