“God is watching over all of us from above,” is the general saying in religious groups. This means that he is watching from outer space – from the cosmos, the skies. This is why so many astronomers get asked these questions: “How does the cosmos work, and why does it work that way?” Needless to say, they all want to know if there is an actual force that makes everything spin – literally.
The Insight of Astronomers
Still, what do astronomers have to say about religion? This topic has always been rather controversial: most astronomers (and scientists in general) handle God with skepticism, whereas religious groups have faith that there is a god out there, in the stars, watching over them. And considering that astronomers are directly connected to the cosmos, they are continuously asked for their thoughts on the matter. Seth Shostak, senior astronomer at the SETI Institute, claims that he is often “cornered” by people who ask him whether they are there for a reason or not.
His first reaction, he claims, is that of confusion: he could not see why people were coming to him for answers, as his answers are guaranteed to be disappointing. And this does not necessarily have anything to do with his personal beliefs.
The Ability to Monitor, Observe, and Influence
As mentioned, astronomers receive solicitations of their thoughts from people mainly because they deal with the entire cosmos. However, their response to this is not always something that people wish to hear. The reason for this is very simple: ever since the finite time of the Big Bang – when astronomy and celestial navigation started to take a turn – their telescopes only allowed them to see so much.
As Shostak puts it, all they did was to routinely observe the cosmos, think about it, and look at stuff that is very old and very big. Considering that God’s realm was pictured to be somewhere above the skies, it would seem logical to think that astronomers have some special insight into this.However, the truth is far from it, as per the astronomer’s words. Measuring the synchrotron radiation strength over a few million light years distance doesn’t say much about why bad people get punished for the bad things that they do.
Still, it is believed that astronomy can help define the theological inquiry scope. When running computer simulations containing all the condensed galaxies, you see exactly how the earth looks like: small, undetected, and surrounded by endless possibilities and universes. If you “zoom out” enough, even the Milky Way can become undetectable. This might not be the answer people are looking for but astronomers can’t provide any insight on the matter of souls and sin – or whether creating a deadly bow and arrow will send you to Hell or not. However, they can provide some insight into the scale of things.
If there was a God out there that would monitor, observe, and influence the galaxies, then it is the actual galaxy that keeps everything in motion. Astronomers cannot make any confirmations of a God, but they can appreciate the enormity of things – and that, in hindsight, we are actually very small.