Stars bursting with colors, exotic shapes ebbing and flowing, sun-speckled
farmland and tumbling waterfalls. The beauty of creation and the beauty of
Confronted by the 16-acre graveyard of what was once the World Trade Center,
Americans determined to believe in themselves and something greater than
themselves can find much to celebrate in two recent books.
The first, "The Hand of God: Thoughts and Images Reflecting the Spirit of
the Universe", is a magical mystery tour through the vibrant images captured
by our most advanced telescopes. Incorporation the words of theologians,
poets and scientists, this new book reminds readers of the enormity and
complexity of the universe.
The book is a welcome alternative to the "me-centered" focus of so many
spiritual and religious books today. Readers see a star formed 13 million
light-years from Earth and can gasp in wonder at a fireworks display better
than anything offered up at the Fourth of July. And they will be astonished
at the color, clarity and exquisite form of the ringed planet of Saturn as
depicted in an infrared view.
Readers may also puzzle over Spiral Galaxy NGC 4603, an image from the
Hubble space Telescope. It shows the most distant galaxy in which Cepheid
variable stars, a new class of pulsating stars that are used to determine
distances, have been found.
In keeping with the Templeton Foundation’s determination to show the
commonalities present in the ongoing dialogue between science and religion,
the book also records the intense reflection such images provoke in the
minds of hard scientists.
"Instead of an intellectual search, there was suddenly a very deep gut
feeling that something was different… seeing that sun", says U.S astronaut
Edgar Mitchell in a lengthy quote. "On the return trip home, gazing through
240,000 miles of space toward the stars and the planet from which I had
come, I suddenly experienced the universe as intelligent, loving,
But then thinker Annie Dillard already knew that. Quoting from Dillard’s
famous book, "Pilgrim at Tinker Creek," the Templeton work reminds us that:
"Divinity is not playful. The universe was not mad in jest but in solemn,
incomprehensible earnest. By a power that is unfathomably secret, and holy,
and fleet. There is nothing to be done about it, but ignore it, or see."
With an introduction by Sharon Begley, the book was edited by Michael
Reagan. He notes, "When I look at this material I have a great sense of
relief, an almost surreal sense that it’s all going to be OK> We are not
alone, and there is a God."