I was Stumbling around the other day and came across these fantastic images from the Hubble telescope. I find it absolutely mind-boggling to look at a photograph such as the one here and ponder on the vastness of space, the apparent infinity of matter, stars, galaxies, space, and time. This picture, in particular, is breathtaking, each point of light being a galaxy made up of billions upon billions of stars. I cannot comprehend it.
This is a good launching pad to share one of my pet theories which is that the modern decrease in religiosity and faith is correlated with the rise of urbanization and the associated light pollution. Might sound strange but hear me out–
One of the largest trends on a global scale since the end of WWII has been urbanization. More people (both percentage-wise and sheer numbers) live in cities today than at any previous time in world history. The fact that light pollution accompanies large urban centers is well known, ask any amateur astronomer. My theory rests on the belief that being able to see the starry heavens in their fullness sparks contemplative thoughts about the cosmos, eternity, and the great beyond.
The most brilliant night sky I have ever witnessed was on a cloudless, moonless summer night somewhere on Lake Powell in Northern Arizona. I have lived near a major urban center my entire life and so when I was out there in the middle of nowhere I remember being completely mesmerized by the "milkiness" of the Milky Way. There were so many more stars visible; the entire sky was alit. The juxtaposition of the beauty and brilliance of the heavens stood in stark contrast to the complete darkness of the world around me. It was absolutely thrilling.
I think being able to gaze into a starry night naturally leads to contemplation on the more important questions of life. I know I’m not that far out in left field, the universal nature of this experience even creeps into Disney cartoons as Timon and Pumbaa turn philosophical when looking up at a starry night. There is some great material for a Sunday school lesson right after that scene.
The point is, I think modern man has isolated himself in his big city living. He has become caught up in life not taking the time to stop, gaze among the stars, and think deeply about life. Our modern landscapes of skyscrapers and shopping malls has blocked our view from something much more majestic and mysterious.