The Synergy between Man and the Universe
By Bernie Lopez, eastwind
We are stardust and to stardust we shall return. That would be in a few billion years when our sun fizzles out. Astrophysicists say the iron in our blood came from the iron at the core of a star before it exploded into a nova. The ensuing nebula, remnants of that nova, through billions of years, gradually created the conditions for the birth of our solar system, and eventually the planets and their moons. The life-force we call evolution took care of the rest.
Thus, Man’s origin began with fireworks of galactic proportions, a blast whose light heralded our birth across thousands of light years to the outer reaches of the Universe. Our souls and the Universe are therefore intertwined. It is only fitting that we know it more intimately, and He who made it and us with it. Our perspective, how we view and dialogue with the Universe, is the key to this synergy between Man and the Universe.
Perspective is Power
perspective is power
what you see becomes what you are
vision is wisdom
blindness is ignorance
A laborer sees only the trees. A CEO sees only the entire forest. An astronaut sees only the entire Earth. But the visionary sees beyond time and space. A child sees through the mist in his innocence and simplicity that adults cannot see. Perspective and vision defines what we are, our way of life, our thinking. Perspective is power. Vision is wisdom and virtue.
Seeing beyond the stars is the same. A stone-age Neanderthal who had no idea what the stars were is very different from a child of today who has seen fantastic Hubble photos of galaxies and nebulas. The first time you see a close up of the Milky Way (see below), it is as if you are there in outer space and it is a fantastic feeling. You become part of what you see. What you see becomes what you are. Consciousness and perspective transcends time and space, but only if you look with your innermost soul. Then can you see forever.
Go to for a higher resolution version. To view blow up, click on the photo twice. To view blow up, click on photo twice. For more space photos, go to OR
All items in red are clickable links if you want more details. A fantastic jumble of young blue star clusters, gigantic glowing gas clouds, and imposing dark dust lanes surrounds the central region of the active galaxy Centaurus A. This mosaic of Hubble Space Telescope images taken in blue, green, and red light has been processed to present a natural color picture of this cosmic maelstrom. Infrared images from the Hubble have also shown that hidden at the center of this activity are what seem to be disks of matter spiraling into a black hole with a billion times the mass of the Sun! Centaurus A itself is apparently the result of a collision of two galaxies and the left over debris is steadily being consumed by the black hole. Astronomers believe that such black hole central engines generate the radio, X-ray, and gamma-ray energy radiated by Centaurus A and other active galaxies. But for an active galaxy Centaurus A is close, a mere 10 million light-years away, and is a relatively convenient laboratory for exploring these powerful sources of energy.
E.J. Schreier (AUI) et al., Hubble, NASA; Inset: NOAO.
The Vastness of the Universe
Astronomers say our sun is but a speck among some 200 to 400 billion stars in our Milky Way galaxy. If one star is one grain of sand, a great portion of the Sahara Desert would represent our galaxy.
The diameter of the Milky Way is about 100,000 light years or 1 million trillion kilometers away. Since our sun is in the outer rim of the galaxy, if we travel today, year 2010, to the center of the galaxy at the speed of light or about 1,156 trillion kilometers per hour without getting a speeding ticket, we would reach the center at year 102,010, a period longer than the entire history of Mankind.
Go to to view the natural light version or to download a higher resolution version. To view blow up, click on photo twice. For more space photos, go to OR
All items in red are clickable links if you want more details. This is the ultraviolet version. Andromeda is the closest galaxy to our own Milky Way, at a distance of some 2.5 million light-years. It is spiral just like Milky Way but larger, with about a trillion stars in its grip. It has an array of awesome surrealistic nebulae seen only with the advent of space telescopes like the Hubble. This stunning vista represents the highest resolution image ever made of the Andromeda Galaxy (aka M31) at ultraviolet wavelengths. Recorded by NASA’s Swift satellite, the mosaic is composed of 330 individual images covering a region 200,000 light-years wide. It shows about 20,000 sources, dominated by hot, young stars and dense star clusters that radiate strongly in energetic ultraviolet light.
UV – NASA/Swift/Stefan Immler (GSFC) and Erin Grand (UMCP), Optical – Bill Schoening, Vanessa Harvey/REU program-NOAO-AURA-NSF.
Let us go a step further. The Milky Way is just a tiny dot among the 100 billion galaxies in the so-called ‘observable Universe’. Our nearest neighbor, the larger Andromeda galaxy has about a trillion stars. If we assume an average of a trillion stars per galaxy in the 100 billion galaxies, we come up with a 100 billion trillion stars in the ‘observable Universe’. For the sake of understanding this vastness, we can compare this to the grains of sand in a million Sahara Deserts.
One more step. We have no idea about the size of the unknown or ‘un-observable Universe’. It could be ten times or a million times of the ‘observable Universe’. Also, our Universe is but one among many Universes, the so-called ‘Multiverse’, according to an emerging scientific theory which defies proof and the laws of known physics.
The Vastness of the Human Mind
Now that we have an idea of cosmic vastness, we see how tiny and puny we are. The Earth is a mere electron in an atom if we reduce the known Universe to the size of the solar system. Man is just a speck in a Universe so vast and incomprehensible. Our brain is perhaps a billion trillion times smaller than our galaxy.
Yet, consciousness is the total equalizer because it transcends time and space. By seeing the above pictures, the vastness of the Universe can be contained in the human mind, which is therefore just as vast. Physical vastness is complemented by and contained within metaphysical vastness. Size matters, yes, but so does the mind that sees the size. “I think, therefore I am” is complemented by “I see, therefore I am what I see”. As stargazers, we are now part of the vast cosmos. Our minds are just as cosmic as the cosmos. When we see galaxies colliding in slow motion, or even just simulating them in a computer model, we witness creation-in-process. We bow down to the Creator who made such splendor and vastness.
Man’s Expanding View of the Unfolding Universe
It took thousands of years for Man to come up with his present-day perspective of the Universe. Let us go quickly through that evolution of perspective. First, we saw the Earth as flat and if we went to the edge, there was an ‘abyss’. How totally naïve. Second, we realized that the Earth was round and the sun, moon and stars revolved around Earth. How totally narcissistic. Third, we saw that it is not them that revolved around us but us which revolved around them, a dramatic reversal of perspective.
Fourth, by the end of the 19th century, we saw that our solar system was a mere speck in a galaxy of some 400 billion stars. Fifth, we realized there are 100 billion other galaxies. As our perspective expanded rapidly due to a storm of technological milestones, so did our view of ourselves becoming smaller and smaller but wiser and wiser. New theories evolved rapidly – the big bang that has happened repeatedly, dark matter and energy, other Universes or ‘multiverses’. In all this, there is always the ‘abyss’ of the unknown and un-observable, the limits of our consciousness. But, it is interesting to note that at every step, our expanding perspective had a profound effect on our awareness of what we are as part of this vast reality. We know more of what we are by simply being star gazers and reaching out to the fringes of the known Universe.
From Physical to Metaphysical Evolution
A French Jesuit philosopher, Teilhard de Chardin, a paleontologist and geologist by profession, came up with a revolutionary perspective describing the unfolding of the Universe. He began by describing the intricate and complex divergence of physical evolution from the amoeba to Man spanning hundreds of millennia. But at the emergence of Man, the birth of consciousness became a milestone, a massive super-nova explosion. There was a sudden shift from physical to metaphysical evolution.
It is no longer just cells evolving, but consciousness evolving, or group of minds evolving. Because of the power of the mind to influence and share with other minds, there is a continuing and compounding evolution. We benefit from the light bulb we use today, invented a century ago. We benefit from the wisdom of the rest of humanity before us – electricity, cars, computers. Evolution of consciousness is cumulative. Group consciousness and the meeting of many minds is a powerful catalyst to the speed of metaphysical evolution. It is self-propelled and has its own inner energy.
Technological progress becomes faster and more frenzied through time in a geometric progression similar to population explosion. This is because there are now, say, 10,000 scientists working over cumulative wisdom of centuries while a century ago, there were only 1,000 scientists working on lesser cumulative knowledge. Today, cosmic consciousness is reaching a climax, an explosion, an asymptotic curve approaching infinity.
The ships that opened up the New World, the trains that opened up the American West, the first landing at the moon, the first Hubble photos – all these catalyzed divergence of cultures and consciousness.
Chardin predicts that all this will result in a convergence of consciousness. This is clearly manifested by the Internet, which links and unites the entire planet into one vast homogenous communication network, similar to one super-blackhole at the center of our galaxy have 400 billion star in its grip in a fantastic spiral pattern. All of a sudden, we are all in touch. The entire library of ever expanding knowledge is at our fingertips at the click of a mouse, triggered by a mere search-word from a bedroom. Never before has Man achieved such awesome power in the realm of consciousness. Cyberspace has become the planetary rallying point for Man’s consciousness imploding.
For non-believers, the buck stops here. For Christians, we are just beginning. Chardin poses the ultimate Christian perspective, one of the most profound spiritual insights of contemporary philosophy. He says that the end point of this convergence of consciousness is Christ. In the entire evolution of consciousness, all paths converge in Him, Creator of the Universe. Chardin says the Universe is in truth Christo-centric. Christ is the Alpha as creator of the Universe, and the Omega as the end point this convergence of consciousness. The unfolding of the mysteries of the Universe is a continuing never-ending endeavor of Man in search of himself and his Creator.
I am the Alpha and the Omega
the beginning and the end
to the thirsty I offer life-giving waters
revelation 21:6
behold He comes in a cloud
every eye is on Him
even those who pierce Him
says the Lord –
I am the Alpha and the Omega
Who is, was, and will be, the Almighty
revelation 1:7-8
Catalyzing an explosion of cosmic information
By Bernie Lopez
The birth of space telescopes, pioneered by the famous Hubble, ushered in for the first time in his history, an explosion within the consciousness of Man of an awareness of the far reaches of the vast cosmos.
Among NASA’s three other space observatories, the Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory, the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, and the Spitzer Space Telescope, only the fourth, the Hubble Space Telescope, is serviceable by Space Shuttle astronauts, that is why its instruments are continuously upgraded and repaired to be always the latest and the best.
Although early scientists in the late 19th century already knew of the galaxies around us, it was not until Hubble transmitted from outer space high resolution full color photos of our Milky Way Galaxy and neighboring Andromeda that we saw them for the first time in awesome detail. The ‘forest’ of nebulae in Andromeda, for example, are of particular interest because of their stunning rendition of gas clouds which are remnants of novas or exploding stars. With the Hubble, the first photos of the distant edges of the observable Universe were taken.
Before the birth of space telescopes, the best and largest land-based telescopes like Palomar failed to show such dramatic details because of atmospheric haze, which is present even in the clearest cloudless skies. The absence of this haze in outer space was the perfect setting for space-based telescopes like Hubble and other succeeding ones.
High resolution photos of faint faraway objects are taken with absolute clarity using exposures of up to 45 minutes per image. These mosaic images are integrated, having cumulative exposures of about 38 hours per filter. Hundreds of half-hour exposures are added up to make a long exposure, something that conventional photography cannot do.
Space telescopes have recorded dramatic events like a gigantic meteor slamming into Jupiter, close ups of its blue polar auroras, nebulae of strange surrealistic sizes and shapes, distant galaxies colliding with each other, etc.
Aside from dramatic photos, there are unprecedented leaps and bounds in space research. April 25, 1990 was the historic day for cosmology, the study of the Universe, with the first ever deployment of the Hubble space telescope. From then on, Hubble space missions triggered an avalanche of data in cosmological research. Milestone after milestone advanced the study of the Universe. What would have taken decades of research, is taking a mere few months because of the ability of the Hubble to document distant cosmic phenomena.
For example, photos of so-called binaries in the Kuiper Belt were a scientific milestone by telling us about the birth and evolution of solar systems. Studies in ‘dark energy’ were enhanced by dramatic photos of ‘dust free’ supernovae (SNe Ia). Star formation histories were derived from photos of dwarf galaxies. Surveys of luminous infrared galaxies and stalled nebulae before the birth of planets gave Man new insights never before achieved.
Not only were there rapid scientific advances, their dissemination into the mainstream was massive and global through the Internet. High school students had access to the same awesome high-resolution Hubble photos used by advanced science. There are today websites with huge libraries of photos of the Universe that can be downloaded by anyone from children to doctorate students to housewives and ordinary citizens. This massive proliferation in itself contributes to the rapid evolution of consciousness described in the main article, as expounded by Jesuit philosopher Teilhard de Chardin.
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