Particularly during the 1600's-1800's, many of the scientific discoveries were made by priests in the Roman Catholic Church. The church had a significant participation in the advancement of knowledge and understanding of the natural realm, recognizing that as a work of God. But an attitude of protection of theological data (called doctrine) and suppression of anything new pervaded the church, and the self-constraints imposed by the church slowed down its rate of progress in making and accepting new scientific discoveries. The rate of generation of new discovery of the knowledge of nature has continued to increase exponentially, while the church's leadership in the discovery within the spiritual revelation of God has only slowly increased. There were several "bumps" in understanding - coinciding with a frustration with the limitations imposed by the "status quo" -- called the Reformation Movement, the Great Awakening, the Restoration Movement, etc. But these "bumps" have largely smoothed out over the following years as the groups form gatherings around their traditional doctrine with insulating protective blankets to keep intruders out (and the truth in).
The people of the world make new discoveries that generate new technologies to allow humans to do things unheard of a few years ago -- genetic modification, robots, artificial intelligence, discoveries about the origins and expanse of the universe (or universes), etc. Other things seems to increase, showing roots in "works of the flesh" -- greed, taking advantage of others, self-interest, selfish ambition, defiant immorality, lust for power, selfish interests and promotion, etc. Increases in technology combined with works of the flesh yield a bad combination. As the power and control from technology advances, there is an increase in the number of different ways the human race has at its disposal to destroy itself.
The purpose of the church is to show the manifold wisdom of God to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms (Eph. 3:10). This demonstration of truth has to be done in the earthly realms, because that's where the "stage" is that is being watched. What is the church doing in its assigned role? It would seem more that science is showing the church what the manifold wisdom of God looks like in the physical creation, rather than the church showing the predestined and eternal plan of God in the spiritual realms. All things on the earth, above the earth, and under the earth fit into the foreordained plan of God, because God's plan came before creation; and creation came from out of God's plan and with the purpose of fulfilling God's plan.
Science shows greater unity than the church. When a scientific discovery is made and published, how this discovery fits into evidence from other sources is discussed as well as where this new evidence fits into the bigger picture of understanding this segment of the universe. What does the church do to those people who dare to make or suggest a deeper understanding of revelation or the equivalent of a new discovery? The different church groups protect their brands of doctrine like valuable trademarks. In fact, marketing is a big deal in the church in advertisements, signage, web sites, names, symbols, and appearances. If science is competitive, it is over funding. Contribution, attendance, and square footage are the biggest sources of competition among church groups, as well.
So, while science pursues natural truth through research and discovery, church groups protect their interpretation of truth and repress, criticize, and divide over new discovery. One group advances while the other recycles. Can you guess?
How many galaxies?
The Hubble Telescope has revolutionized our understanding of the universe over the past 25 years of its operation. Based on its imagery, it was estimated in the 1990's that there were 200 billion galaxies in the "known" (by us) universe. That calculation was based on an extension of what could be seen at that time. Many years and many images later, scientists have studied old and new images from the Hubble and have made a calculation that if the Hubble had the resolution, it would find 10 times more galaxies than presently estimated. That's a small 2 trillion galaxies. The more that is discovered, the more there is to discover.
This prediction will be tested with a successful launch of the James Webb Space Telescope around October 2018. This telescope, about the size of a tennis court, will detect objects with 1/10th to 1/100th of the light magnitude required by the Hubble. It is expected to peer into parts of the universe born 13 billion years ago, a relatively short time after the "big bang."
A NASA representative said, "Hubble rewrote the textbooks and we're planning to rewrite the textbooks again. JWST will answer the questions which at the moment we can't think to ask."
"rewrite the book...answer the questions that at the moment we can't think to ask." Can you imagine an academic theologian making such a statement? Can you imagine a statement from a church group who thinks their hermeneutic has established New Testament Christianity, so you'd better not mess with it? Or, a group who has so much institutional investment into their doctrine that the buildings would fall down if something were changed?
Has the universe expanded 10 times in the last 20 years? Have millions and millions of new galaxies been formed? Or, have they been there all along waiting for humans to ask the questions that drive the development of the technology to discover them?
Some Christians will shake their heads and say, "What an amazing God," and then go and argue that the universe had to have been created in 6x24 hour days in 4004 BC, because "the Bible tells me so."
The God who created the universe and everything in it, with more within its boundaries (if there are any) than we can think of yet, is the same God who revealed Himself, His being, His nature, and His Love from the heavenly realms of the "unseen" to the "seen" by His Son, Jesus Christ, speaks to us today through His Word and His Holy Spirit. Are Christians afraid of new information? Are Christians afraid of greater and deeper revelation? Can God not handle it, or is it we who can't handle it? God created shovels; are we afraid to use them to dig, or, are we too busy protecting the shallow holes already dug by someone else?
What do you mean? How do you know the holes are shallow? We will never know as long as we are afraid to dig. "The revelation of God will answer the questions which we presently can't think to ask." What is the church afraid of? Has the church created for itself such a large physical institutional footprint that it has limited itself to activities of self-preservation and maintenance instead of new discovery?
The Bible tells us of the foreordained plan of God, made before creation of matter and time. The foreordained plan of God is bigger than 2 trillion galaxies. Are we afraid to find out more about God's plan? Do we pretend that we already know everything because really we are too busy counting the contribution to get a scriptural shovel and dig?
Paul's descriptions of the power of God are greater than we can ask or imagine. This is the God of 2 trillion galaxies or more. The God with answers to questions that we have not even known enough to ask. How can the church be satisfied with recycling its limited knowledge of God as if there is nothing more to be found? What do the following verses say about the power of the knowledge of God?
Eph. 1:15 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, 20 which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
Eph. 3:14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.Now, again, what are we afraid of? What the Bishop might think? What the elders might think? What the Council of Non-Thinking Bureaucrats might think (or not think)? What the members might think as they vote with their feet and leave for some place less challenging?
The church in the "free world" has been given incredible blessings of resources and freedom to pursue the deeper revelations of God. What has it done within its great museums of theology? Maybe pursue "revelation light - 40% less meat" in the safe confines of hallways of academia or churchademia or institutionalademia - maybe also publishbookademia, tenurademia, and theological careerademia -- all part of a larger classification of what could be called safeademia. What is the church afraid of?
The time could very well come in the not too distant future when the church will wish it had utilized its resources with better stewardship in the pursuit of the deeper revelation of God -- when opposing physical forces are destroying resources and persecuting those who would otherwise use them.
Other than trying to preserve its comfortable little niche in society, the church has some serious theological problems that are in great need of being scrubbed clean by a fuller knowledge from a deeper understanding of the revelation of God. One problem that is likely the source of a lot of division and competition is the doctrines of sin, the fall of Adam, and depravity. The root of this problem is a poor understanding of the foreordained plan of God for creation and for the church. The Roman Catholic Church began carrying elements of the Old Law into the church, and this problem still pervades doctrinal thinking in Christianity like the mortar between the bricks of the building.
Please continue this consideration as recorded in another post, "Jesus Did Not Miss the Target of Perfection, So We Do Not Either."
Let's get to moving - we have galaxies to discover.