Friday, October 29, 2010

How Big is God?

It's been quite a while since I last gave a peek into my life more than just a quick sentence or two on a certain well-known social networking site (which shall remain nameless here). At school, I have two bulletin boards in my classroom which I have to update each month. One of the two that I put together for November is entitled "How BIG is God?"

Of course, any time that someone mentions God out in the general public the radar of those within hearing goes on alert. Religion, as most would call it, is a controversial subject and, like politics, everyone has some sort opinion on it. If you ask many people of their opinion on God, you typically get answers ranging from "I don't think he exists" to the Deists' Clockmaker God and all sorts of other things, but it's not often that you come across someone who has an answer that really conveys who He really is.

The CCM artist Chris Tomlin popularized the song, "Indescribable." The God of the Bible, taking the book as it's written, is a great many things, but most of all, He is holy, as in different in a good sort of way -- set apart. In fact, He is so different and so far beyond us that there isn't any way for us to completely wrap our minds around Him.

How hard is God to imagine? Let's take a look at His power. Without getting into philosophical debates about whether or not He is all-powerful, imagine what it took to create the universe. A very rough guess puts it at 1022 to 1024. That's a lot of stars --way more than 1000 times the estimated number of grains of sand in the world (7.5 quintillion). That's enough thinking to give me a headache. Then there's the topic of the largest star, which is what my bulletin board was about.

The largest star known is VY Canis Majoris, a red hypergiant star. It's about 1000 times bigger than the sun. To put it into perspective, that's like comparing a dot a little less than an eighth of an inch (2mm) to a circle 6.5 feet in diameter (2m). At that scale, the Earth is about 20 microns, which just happens to be half of the width of a human hair. If the Earth were the size of a golf ball, Canis Majoris would be around the size of Mt. Everest. Ponder that for a moment. That's mind-bogglingly large such that there is no word in the English language to describe that kind of size. It leaves you speechless. What's more? God made it and all of the rest of them. When you talk about power on that kind of scale, it debating the specifics of a term like 'all-powerful' seem more than a little pointless.

I gave all of this a lot of thought after putting up my bulletin board and something even more marvelous dawned on me: someone this powerful loves me. To say that God loves each of us a lot is like saying Canis Majoris is kinda big. Something like that should leave you dumbfounded. It sure did me.


  1. Thanks for the interesting post. You may be interested in Roger Penrose's entropy calcuation. You can read about it here

    Read from 'How special was the Big Bang' to end of page 444. The biggest number I have heard of.

  2. I was told a few years back that a child was in sunday school contemplating the size of God... the sunday school teacher inquired about the child's quizzical look and the child responded "If God is soo big shouldn't he be poking out of us somehwere!?"

    Of course this is quite true :-) as christians we ought to have God poking out of us all over all the time... if only it were always so.