Insignificance

Disclaimer: This post is from the archives, and may not represent the current views of the author. It also may not be at all interesting to read. Continue at your own peril!

I figure since nothing exciting happened today at all, I might as well talk about something else to continue my streak of daily blogging.

Something that really bugs me sometimes is pride. I mean, I know I have it a lot, and that’s probably the biggest reason why it bugs me (I bug myself – seriously), but a lot of times my pride is just fooling around. I really don’t have a high opinion of myself at all – it’s probably actually on the low side. Of course, I can’t let that show, so I make all sorts of jokes about how I’m so great, which may give the impression that I have pride, but it’s really almost all jokes.

But anyways, if you think about it, why is anyone proud of themselves? I got thinking about this today in one of my classes; I’m really not sure which one it was, I really wasn’t listening at all during any of them. I started letting my mind wander, and I realized just how insignificant we as humans really are.

Have you ever played with one of those toy things where it’s like this fat person, and you can split it up horizontally, open it, and there’s one exactly like it inside, only smaller? Then you open that one up, and there’s a smaller one inside that, etc. Think of the universe as one of those things. Yes, the entire universe is like a fat person. Then, when you split it open, inside there’s galaxies and regions of space, with stars and solar systems. Perhaps the toy analogy wasn’t the greatest since there’s thousands of galaxies, but bear with me – it was the best thing I could think of. Anyway, I just looked up an estimate of the number of galaxies in the universe, and some estimate from the Hubble Space Telescope states a number of 125 billion galaxies. Think about that for a second. When was the last time you saw 125 billion of anything? When was the last time you saw one billion of anything? I mean, can you really wrap your mind around that? There’s about 6 billion people on this planet, and can you really visualize that many? And here’s over 20 times that number. 125 billion! Imagine that many dots on a page. That’d have to be a friggin’ huge page, and mighty small dots.

But these “dots” are far from small. Some galaxies are thousands of light-years across. The Milky Way is approximately 100 000 light-years across and 10 000 – 30 000 light-years thick. Light travels at 299 792 458 meters per second. That’s how long it takes for the light from a light bulb to get to your eye. Now with light that travels at that speed, think how far it would travel in a year. There are 31 536 000 seconds in a year – multiply that by 299 792 458 m/s and you get 9 454 254 955 488 000 m/year. Needless to say, that’s beyond comprehension. And think about this – the Milky Way is 100 000 times that, or 9 454 254 955 488 000 000 000 metres across. With 1000 metres in a kilometre, that’s 9 454 254 955 488 000 000 km across. That just boggles the mind. Or let’s put it this way: even travelling on a ship at the speed of light, it would take you 100 000 years to cross the Milky Way galaxy. If the average person lives to about 80, that would take 1250 generations to travel that distance, not including stops for gas of course. And that’s just one galaxy of billions, between which are thousands or millions of light-years as well.

Now let’s see. The Milky Way is home to about 100 billion stars. The average size of a star is about 1 000 000 miles in diameter. Our Sun is a little smaller than average at 865 000 miles in diameter. But there’s one hundred billion others out there which are, on average larger than our Sun. Think about how large one million miles is. The earth’s circumference at the equator is 24 901.55 miles at the equator, which means to travel the diameter of a star (in other words, right through the centre from one side to the other), you would have to go around the world approximately 40 times. For our Sun, it would be about 35 times around. That’s going to take more than a couple fill-ups at the Shell station to travel.

Even for our below-average size Sun, it is still 109 times the diameter of the earth (the earth’s diameter is 7 927 miles at the equator). When looking up those numbers, I saw a news article about a sunspot that grew to 20 times the size of earth. And it looked like an insignificant speck on the Sun. Our Sun is gigantic. And yet it is below average for a star, of which there are billions of in the Milky Way galaxy, which is in itself insignificant in the mass of galaxies which make up the universe.

There are approximately 6 billion people on the earth. They cover a large part of the 148 847 000 km2 of land on the earth. Each one is equal to one another, and while some have more power or monetary worth, each is still human and thus no better than another. And yet, if we go back to the analogy of the toy with others inside, we are the most insignificant part. We are the one on the very inside that fits inside all the others. We are part of 6 billion humans, on a planet with a 7 927 mile diameter revolving around a Sun with a 865 000 diameter, in a sea of 100 billion 1 000 000-mile diameter stars inside the 9 454 254 955 488 000 000 km or 100 000 light-year Milky Way galaxy, within a mess of 125 billion other galaxies inside the giant universe too large to comprehend. And we have pride for some insignificant ability we possess? We can run fast? We can remember things to get an A on a test?

If anyone should have pride, it’s the one who’s larger than the universe. And those who know him personally have access to a power greater than the largest star, the greatest galaxy, and the mightiest universe. “God saved you by his special favor when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (Ephesians 2:8-10)

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