Sunday, January 10, 2021

Lessons from the Great Conjunction

 At present most readers are familiar with the Great Conjunction of December 21, 2021. It was a rare astronomical treat, not to be repeated for many years. Only twice before have Jupiter and Saturn appeared visually closer together in the past 900 years, but only once have Earth residents been able to see such a close planetary meeting in a dark night sky. That occurred in AD 1226! A third exceedingly close “Great Conjunction” occurred on December 21, 2020. In our last post we stressed the scientific value of ordinary planetary studies rather than their prophetic or astrological significance.

Astrology occasionally enjoys renewed popularity. Some sources state young people relish astrology as a tool for introspection or an aide for personal mystic significance.” In my astronomy instruction units students were amused by personal horoscopes printed in some publications. Our mention of horoscopes may have provided class members some entertainment, but the study of astrology is not a scientific discipline to help illustrate real causes and effects. Astrology is a pseudoscience. We endeavored to explain to students the popular meaning of “signs of the zodiac.” Here is a link to our post on “The Bible Zodiac:”


http://jasscience.blogspot.com/2011/10/bible-zodiac.html

        

In AD 1226, medieval residents may have seen the rare, exceedingly close planetary conjunction and ascribed astrological significance to the event. Many of that day believed events in the sky influenced human experience. Astrology was a significant scholarly pursuit. A few hundred years later astronomy began its ascension as a scientific discipline. We may connect it with the important Scientific Revolution.


Conjunctions of the gas giant planets Jupiter and Saturn occur approximately every 20 years. Jupiter is closer to Earth and travels faster than Saturn. It visually overtakes Saturn every two decades. There are other conjunctions between and among other planets and celestial bodies, but conjunctions between Jupiter and Saturn are called “Great Conjunctions.” They occur less often than other conjunctions. The extremely close meeting of these two planets in December 2020 was especially noteworthy. The Wikipedia article entitled “Great Conjunction” is an invaluable source for detailed information on the infrequent celestial meetings of these two important planets. The informational table of close conjunctions of these planets since AD 1200 has multiple columns and rows of information to boggle the mind. One is startled by the statistical analysis—multiple precision details of the gas giant planetary conjunctions.


Late in the 20th century the two giant planets were drawing closer to each other. In the last two decades they repeated their ancient cycle of drawing apart, then approaching each other once again. Following the 2020 conjunction the two planets are once more slowly drawing apart. We are currently only a few weeks past the exceptional Great Conjunction of 12/21/20. Jupiter will lap Saturn once more on 11/4/2040. The planet’s speed in orbit is 29,236 miles/hour compared with Saturn’s 21,675 miles/hour. Jupiter completes one revolution in 11.9 Earth years compared with Saturn’s 29.5 Earth years. These facts appeal to statistically minded observers, reinforcing our belief that the physical world is orderly, coherent, and systematic in accord with the divine characteristics of the Creator of All Things. God has enabled humanity to discover the orderliness of creation. Mathematical statistics strengthen our concepts of cosmic order and coherence.


The Book of Isaiah and other scripture passages have many references to the heavens and the wonders in the skies. Isaiah 40:26a is written in the context of the creative power of God, not only in the heavens, but also on the planetary surface. We are overcome with a sense of worship as we inspect passages extolling the orderliness of the creation and the characteristics of the Creator. 


 “Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these?…..”

 


    


     

Monday, December 28, 2020

Signs in the Sky

 Worldwide excitement was high on December 21, 2020 as a special event in the evening sky unfolded. We were disappointed but not surprised that a normal weather condition—cloudiness—obscured personal observation of what some have dubbed the “2020 Christmas Star,” a close conjunction of two bright planets, Jupiter and Saturn. This degree of planetary meeting has not visually occurred since AD 1226. We do not disclaim the astronomical significance of such an important planetary conjunction. Unusual or rare sky phenomena deserve special attention. Our natural inclination may lead us to assign theological significance to the event. Scriptural references to “Signs in the Sky” may indicate possible eschatological importance. This rare planetary conjunction inspires special attention among astronomers, but does it deserve to be highlighted among theologians?

The Gospels of Luke and Matthew have been important in end times predictions. Luke 21 and Matthew 24 contain commentary concerning the presence of signs, including “signs in the sky” and their occurrence in the future, especially at the  “end of the age.” Such speculation is natural. Has God provided guidelines for Christians to relate specific physical events to the end of the age?” This depends on how we interpret the guidelines and how precisely we demand time frames for the events. Generally, these chapters quote Jesus on (a) the destruction of Jerusalem by Roman armies in 70 AD, (b) generally stressful experiences in the time between the destruction of Jerusalem and the approach of the end of the age, and (c) the traumatic distress of nations at the return of Christ. Commentators have made efforts to interpret these passages. Their comments are helpful but very specific information on events, times, and places is not generally appropriate, to the disappointment of some students of scripture prophecy. Interpretation of end times prophecies is not an exact science.


The recent planetary spectacular may be explained in purely scientific terms. 

Following the rare December 21 close conjunction, the visual distance between the bodies slowly increased daily because of their absolute movement and Earth’s motion in relation to the planets. But on December 21 and succeeding days the display of combined light from the two planets was not exceedIngly bright as pictured on many Christmas greeting cards. 


Sky watchers are interested in visual events. Astrophysicists may focus more on effects of planetary revolution resulting from gravitational forces and laws of motion. Observers of unusual events such as the planetary display of December 21 have a plethora of scientific causes and effects to help explain the wonderful event. For example, we pose this question: Why are planets of the Solar System coplanar? Answer: Planets were formed from dust surrounding the ancient Sun. The dust began to spin and collapse into a flattened disc. Later the coplanar Solar System planets formed within this disc.


The prophecies in Luke and Matthew serve to remind us that our Creator is in control of all things, including physical events in our environment. Laws of nature were authored by God. The manner in which God uses natural events to carry out His will or foretell the future are not always in our purview. We posit that unusual or awe-inspiring astronomical events occur to focus attention on the workings of God in our physical world, to inspire our sense of beauty and worship, and sometimes to call attention to His authorship of future events.  


 


      

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Star of Wonder 2020?

 “We Three Kings” is a popular Christmas carol composed in 1857 by John H. Hopkins for a New York City Christmas pageant. The Bible in Matthew 2:1-12 refers to the visit of the Magi, wise men from the east who visited the Holy Land and presented Jesus with gifts. They stated, “We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him” Matt. 2:2b (NIV). “We Three Kings” musically chronicles the visit of the Magi.

The star of Matt. 2:2 is called the “Christmas Star” or the “Star of Bethlehem.” In this Christmas season 2020 many commentators see significance in the current appearance of an astronomical phenomenon that very rarely appears in our skies. Has the original Christmas star made a return visit during this Advent season? Is it the same “Christmas Star” that appeared at the birth of Jesus? Many are fascinated by this prospect—its timing together with its astronomical rarity.


To what astronomical rarity do we refer? Jupiter and Saturn, largest planets in the Solar System, present a beautiful sight in our dark skies. Jupiter, the largest of the four ‘giant planets,’ and Saturn, a close second, possess significant brightness in dark skies, but rank second and third to the brightness of planet Venus. Individually, Jupiter and Saturn are magnificent to the naked eye. Their orbits are generally coplanar: they revolve about the sun in more or less the same plane. On some occasions their coplanarity is responsible for providing a visual meeting, but they are not really close to one another. Their visual proximity is known as a conjunction.


All celestial conjunctions are not equal. Conjunctions between astronomical bodies are fairly common. For instance, sky watchers are fascinated when the moon in its movements appears to come close to a visible planet or a star. Conjunctions between bright planets are more noteworthy. Very close conjunctions generate the most excitement among astronomy buffs. When an extremely close conjunction between two of the brightest planets in the heavens occurs, public excitement is heightened. 


On December 21, 2020 an exceedingly significant conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn occurs. Coincidentally, that date is the date of the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere, an important astronomical event. It is, in addition, the heart of the Christmas season. The two planets will be merely 0.1 degree away from each other, not enough to visually separate the combined light for many people. Others with outstanding visual acuity may be able to separate the planets’ light. Since November 1 the planets have been closing the visual gap between them.


The 2020 event is the closest Jupiter/Saturn conjunction since 1623 AD, but it was not as observable as a similar conjunction in 1226 AD owing to a more favorable distance from the sun’s brightness. A conjunction this close will not occur again until 2080. Conjunctions are not rare, but a combination of circumstances makes the event extraordinary.


Returning to the possibility that the “Christmas Star” of Matthew 2 has made a return visit, we have discovered many possible physical and spiritual explanations for the ancient coincidence of Jesus’ birth and the appearance of a “star.” Much speculation has centered around the unusual appearance of a planet or planets, a comet, or even a supernova. There is plentiful speculation about unusual appearances of conjunctions or other unusual astronomical phenomena, especially within this time frame. Several planetary conjunctions occurred around the time when Jesus was a young child.


Matthew 2 refers to a star the Magi had seen in the east which also went ahead of them from Jerusalem to Bethlehem to guide them to the child Jesus. In their home country they may have focused on an astronomical/astrological heavenly object “at its rising.” It is called a “heliacal rising,” related to the progression of seasons.


We are more confident that the star which “went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was” is an example of a transcendent miracle. Such miracles are sometimes referred to as manifestations of the Shekinah Glory: a phenomenon denoting the visible presence God among men.


Should we assign the marvelous conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn on December 21, 2020 to a spectacular return of the “Christmas Star?” We prefer to join with Reasons to Believe president Dr. Hugh Ross. He states, in reference to the star and the visit of the Magi to the child Jesus, “What strikes me as the most important part of the account is its illustration of the hope and faith the Magi placed in the promised Messiah.”                 


   

Friday, December 11, 2020

Wonders of Water Solubility

 Our last two posts emphasized two substances—salt and water, two of the most vital substances on Planet Earth. Water is the most common liquid on Earth while salt water is the most common aqueous solution on the planet. Scientific knowledge concerning water is plentiful. Unique properties and characteristics of water are well known. We published seven posts on water in 2012, including this one:

https://jasscience.blogspot.com/2012/02/just-plain-water.html


When water acts by itself it manifests changes in density related to temperature and phase, cohesion and adhesion characteristics, and thermal properties related to weather such as specific heat and heat of vaporization. Another all-important characteristic is solubility—its ability to form solutions when other substances dissolve in it. We believe the properties mentioned above, along with its ability to dissolve various other substances, is a product of divine design by the Creator/Designer of All Things. Water, the universal solvent, dissolves thousands of substances. More substances dissolve in water than in any other known liquid. Water is able to dissolve many substances at the same time.


The solubility of many substances in water is a physical characteristic making possible many chemical changes on which our lives depend. Most chemical reactions occur in solutions. If water did not possess unique properties such as solubility, other necessary life processes would be impossible. “Ordinary” water is a compound whose molecules are composed of two hydrogen atoms bonded to one oxygen atom. Water is an example of a polar compound. Each water molecule has a positive charge on one side and a negative charge on the other. This fact is merely the beginning of a fascinating, complex story. Water’s polarity results in its ability to dissolve many substances.


Why is the water solubility characteristic so important? Our bodies’ digestive processes function to convert food into usable, absorbable forms. This means combining the food with materials that convert it to soluble substances. In digestion, food nutrients are altered to soluble substances which are then absorbed through the walls of the small intestine and into our blood stream for transport to trillions of body cells. Our cells metabolize food, synthesizing proteins and creating energy. Soluble waste products from cell activity are later carried to the kidneys to be filtered out of the blood and later removed from the body. CO2 is also a waste product dissolved in blood and must travel to the lungs to be exhaled. 


The human body is 60-70% water. Human blood is about 92% water, about 55% of which is plasma. Oxygen is dissolved in plasma after absorption in the lungs and quickly becomes dissolved in the water of plasma and red blood cells. The oxygen combines with hemoglobin molecules. The oxygen is then carried to human cells via hemoglobin. This exemplifies the solubility of gases in water. Solubility includes water’s ability to dissolve solids, other liquids, or gases.


Studying a physical property such as water solubility and the solubility of gases, solids and other liquids in water may seem tiresome or even boring. Reviewing this topic and researching related issues triggered renewed personal interest in a rather mundane topic. We all have experiences with the subject of solubility—for example, when we prepare meals in our kitchens. Perhaps we did not realize how important the topic was in relation to human body systems and bodily processes in all living things.


We link one more post from our 2012 series on water. Our prayer is that readers will acquire a heightened interest in the multiple design features of our universe. These features are not chaotic, random, or incoherent. When we study multiple physical systems and the orderly physical laws governing our lives, our conclusions concerning God’s creative works are inescapable.


https://jasscience.blogspot.com/2012/02/dissolving-power.html


  

 


          

Monday, November 30, 2020

Saltwater to Salt and Water

 Planet Earth has been called a Water World. Seventy-one percent of Earth’s surface is covered by oceans. These are saltwater oceans making up about 97% of all water on Earth. The average depth of the ocean is almost 2 1/2 miles. Only 3% of Earth’s water is fresh (non-salty) water. Ocean water contains about 3.5% salinity. One liter of ocean water weighs 33.81 ounces of which 1.2 ounces is dissolved salt. This is how we calculate 3.5% salinity. Dissolved salt in one cubic mile of seawater amounts to an incredible 120 million tons. That amounts to 500 feet of salt piled upon each square foot of Planet Earth if all its water were to evaporate—enough to almost cover the Washington Monument!

Scripture contains many references and spiritual object lessons involving salt and water. Contemporary knowledge supplies an expanded scientific foundation for many biblical references to those substances. Both salt and water are necessary for life on Planet Earth. The most common aqueous solution on Earth is saltwater in our oceans, home to millions of different species of life. Almost 250,000 known species live in the ocean along with many more undiscovered species. Most ocean-dwelling species survive solely in salt water. A few are able to adapt to fresh water for portions of their lives. Therefore, it is appropriate to connect ocean saltwater with a substantial portion of life on our planet.


Our discussion relates to three substances—saltwater, salt, and water. The interrelationship of the three substances puts metaphorical “meat on the bones” of many science unit lessons from elementary school to graduate school.


Saltwater oceans cover 71% of Earth’s surface. There are 332.5 million cubic miles of liquid water on Earth of which 321 million cubic miles consists of saline water. Only 3% of Earth’s water is fresh water located in ice caps, glaciers, groundwater, swamps, lakes, and rivers. Potable fresh water is but a tiny fraction of the world’s supply of fresh water.


Humanity discovered long ago that pure salt and pure water are essential for human thriving. In modern times, we have discovered the processes of separating salty ocean water into safe, potable water and useful pure salt. Both water and salt are compounds—chemical combinations of two or more atoms forming a compound. Ocean water is the most common chemical solution of two compounds on the planet. From it we may derive pure salt and pure water.


Our last post briefly mentioned the process of salt production on the island of Bonaire in the Caribbean. (https://jasscience.blogspot.com/2020/11/gospel-radio-and-salt-mining.html) We introduce a few terms to trigger your memory of former science classes: If a solute (salt in this case) dissolves in a solvent (water in this example) we obtain a solution, a homogeneous mixture of salt in water. Chemically, mixtures are reasonably easy to separate if you apply the correct method. Heating the salt water to its boiling point evaporates the water quickly. The water becomes increasingly concentrated with salt as the water boils away. Eventually the solution becomes saturated with salt. Further boiling causes the salt to precipitate—crystallize into its solid state. Eventually the water evaporates completely and only pure salt is left behind. On Bonaire the warm trade winds naturally evaporate the water in shallow salt water pools over several months. A harvest of salt is soon in prospect. Evaporated water, in a sense, is a waste product.


With respect to separating pure water from ocean saltwater, there are several technologies to accomplish the task. They include thermal distillation by boiling away the water and condensing the vapors to a liquid by cooling. “Reverse osmosis” may provide the best explanation for an ever-present modern problem faced by many countries involving their need for fresh water. We leave the explanation of the reverse osmosis process for a future post.


The Island of Bonaire currently supplies its residents with fresh water primarily with technology which utilizes “reverse osmosis.” This technology is currently used by many countries. In particular, the nation of Israel is becoming a source of water, not only for itself, but also for some surrounding nations. Water may be more vital than oil in many Mideast nations. Israel currently derives 55% of its water from desalination technology.


Availability of salt? Availability of pure water? Our God has supplied a virtually unlimited supply of both compounds—an example of the provision of our infinitely generous Creator.   


  


       




   


Thursday, November 19, 2020

Gospel Radio and Salt Mining

 On the Caribbean island of Bonaire, a unique salt mining operation still exists. Bonaire was formerly part of the Caribbean country known as The Netherlands Antilles. The country consisted of several island territories and was a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Some islands of the former Netherlands Antilles have recently become autonomous municipalities. Since 2010 Bonaire has transitioned politically and is currently a municipality of the Kingdom of The Netherlands. It is the home of TWR (formerly known as Trans World Radio). TWR is a powerful source of Christian broadcasting. Our current post’s thread of Bonaire, the ministry of TWR, salt mining, and several personal family recollections begins here…..

TWR maintains a powerful radio transmitter of 440 kW (440,000 watts) on the Island of Bonaire to broadcast Christian programming to the Western hemisphere 24 hours/day. It broadcasts programs on Shine 800 Bonaire AM—a medium wave AM radio outlet. Understanding of how the TWR ministry acquired this capability provides several hours of challenging reading and study.


Dr. Paul E. Fried was a visionary for spreading the gospel of Christ. Dr. Fried was raised in the Mid-east by missionary parents. As an adult he became enthused about radio as a modern vehicle for reaching many of the world’s population with the Christian gospel. He initially purchased a limited-power radio station in Tangier, Morocco in 1954, and radio facilities in 1962 on Monte Carlo, Monaco. Later, Fried championed a leap of faith—building the most powerful radio transmitter in the Western Hemisphere on the Caribbean Island of Bonaire. Operational since 1964, the Bonaire TWR ministry began broadcasting at 440 kW, only to reduce its power in 1998 to 100 kW. Dr. Fried died in 1996, but his legacy remains.  


In 2018 the TWR leaders undertook a leap of faith and raised several million dollars to construct a new transmitter in order to restore its broadcast power to 440,000 watts. Much of the construction work was supplied by volunteers, matching the ministries of givers who sacrificed financially.


Why was Bonaire selected as the ideal location for a radio transmitting site? In all of the Caribbean there may be no better physical location than the island of Bonaire for a 440 kW transmitter. There is excellent ground conductivity—a term for propagation of radio signals resulting from a number of constituent radio waves. For example, the signal from TWR’s 760 foot tower complex is aided by the presence of a low-lying limestone layer which is permeated with ocean water and located very close to the seashore and salt ponds. Bonaire is an outstanding location for high quality salt production. The water and air on Bonaire are exceedingly clean. When ocean water evaporates from the solar saltern (a series of salt ponds) only solid salt of high purity remains!


The island of 288 sq. mi. is home to about 20,000 people. The island is of interest to church congregations because of the TWR gospel radio ministry and the many fascinating natural characteristics of the island and its unique linkage to salt production. For instance, the American flamingo breeds on Bonaire, one of only four places in the world. Its pink color is due to the bird consuming beta carotene in the brine shrimp and algae they consume. Several commentators made the statement, “You are what you eat.”


We close with personal recollections of our association with Bonaire. My father, Paul Virkler, concluded his pastorate of a small church in Northern New Jersey in 1967 with a “mission trip.” TWR had recently begun their radio ministry on the island. Their leaders were constructing a new studio building and reached out to volunteers to help complete the work. My dad, physically skilled in many ways during his productive life, agreed to install insulation in the new studio building. He stayed two months. We possess letters he wrote from Bonaire. He used a motor bike to access the work site. Once he wrote that the salt company, before the days before Cargill assumed leadership of the salt works on Bonaire, expected a salt “harvest” soon. After two months he took a plane to Peru, re-connecting with treasured old-time friends who were serving as missionaries.


Several years later, my uncle and I visited Bonaire with my parents. The trip was a memorable return to the beautiful island for my father. I recall enjoying some of the same Bonaire features he described in late 1967: goats prevalent, wonderful friends at the TWR office, the view of Klein (little) Bonaire, the memorable auto trip to the northern and eastern part of the island, saving a few unique “square nickels,” and snorkeling in the ocean behind our “guesthouse.”


Shine 800 AM Bonaire reaches a potential 100 million listeners with the message of Christ’s redemption. TWR has several radio outlets worldwide and other types of media outlets. In 1865 brilliant visionary physicist James Clerk Maxwell proposed the theory of electromagnetism, including the future potential of the generation of radio waves to travel at the speed of light. We wonder how James Clerk Maxwell would respond if he were alive today and able to see the fulfillment of radio’s potential to reach the world with the message of eternal salvation. Maxwell was a devout Christian. 


World population has increased from <1.5 billion in 1865, to slightly less than 4 billion in 1967 when the Bonaire TWR ministry was coming to fruition, to over 7.8 billion in 2020. Radio is a vehicle for spreading the message of God to humanity’s teeming billions. People like Dr. Paul E. Freed and countless other visionaries have used their divinely given talents to accomplish things of eternal importance. We thank God for the inspiration of far-sighted visionaries to convey the Gospel message. 

       


          

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Science and Psalm 148

Psalm 148, a “Hallelujah Psalm” written several millennia in the past, provides readers with an opportunity to praise the Lord for events in our environment which currently may be considered in a scientific context. Contemporary commentators promote diverse views of how our science and faith are (or are not) connected. Evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne strongly promotes his belief that there is no room for both science and theological faith within a scientifically informed understanding of our world. Reasons to Believe president Hugh Ross promotes the belief that science and faith both exist compatibly in the pages of Holy Scripture. Coyne uses the term accomodationism to express his view, claiming that there is no room for science and faith/religion to be mutually supportive.

Hugh Ross has successfully distinguished between science and theistic faith by using other terms—hard concordism and soft concordism. Hard concordists look to make nearly all scientific discoveries agree with some scripture passage.” In the same blog post (6/22/12) Ross describes soft concordists who agree that “…a literalist hermeneutic does not apply to all Bible passages.”  


The 148th Psalm is not scientific in the modern sense. It does not enumerate huge distances (verse 1), locate the domain of angels or the hosts of heaven (verse 2), or describe the physical processes occurring at this moment on the sun, moon, and shining stars (verse 3). Neither does it mention (verse 5) the process of the original creation act—a divinely produced, instantaneous flash of energy and matter inflating from an infinitely tiny singularity. (Psalm 148:4 warrants special commentary later in our post.)


Verse 5 commands us to “Praise the Lord,” imploring us to focus upon the fiat creation: “For He commanded and they were created.” Fiat creation occurs by decree…an act of the Creator. Sometimes the decree is carried out instantaneously; sometimes it is executed over time. We remind readers that God is timeless—not constrained by human time frames. Therefore, even when galaxies, stars, the sun, and planets condense from dust and gas to solid bodies over enormous periods of time, they may still be considered acts of divine creation by fiat. 


Verse 6 conveys awareness of time: forever and ever. Human time is linear, advancing from past to present, and from present to future. Time is a scientific concept. The ancients conceived of time long ago. The concept has been refined in our modern day. So have concepts of ‘the sciences.’ Oceanography is a modern science with early origins in Old Testament times. Sea creatures and ocean deeps (verse 7) have been contemplated for thousands of years.


Topics in meteorology have often been referenced in scripture. In particular, in verse  8 we become aware of fire (perhaps a geological/volcanic connection?) followed by hail, snow, mist, and stormy wind. These topics delight today’s meteorologists. Geologists identify with mountains and hills (verse 9). Not to be overlooked, biological scientists are inspired to study fruit trees, cedars, beasts and livestock, along with creeping things and birds (verses 9-10).


The science of Psalm 148 is an example of phenomenology—experiences we enjoy from our senses. Some scientists connect the term to an early 20th century philosophical movement highlighting experience and consciousness. In the interest of “keeping it simple,” we revert to our pure sense experiences to define the term: seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, and touching. Phenomenology is not a science, but it is closely related to careful observation. Phenomenology requires skills of observation, part of the backbone of modern scientific method.


Verse 4 contains a reference to the “waters above the heavens.” In ancient Middle East cosmology many writers described a solid vaulted dome called the firmament which separated the ‘waters above’ from the ‘waters below.’ Earth itself was a flat disc on which the dome rested. Many civilizations utilized this imagery in that pre-scientific day. Also conceived were the “pillars of heaven.” The Hebrew Scriptures were focused on the purpose of God’s creative work rather than scientific details we have uncovered in the 21st century. 


Detailed scientific knowledge of the chronology of physical events relating to the initial stupendous creation event—the beginning of time, space, matter, and energy—was not known by physical cosmologists until late in the 20th century. Much more knowledge remains to be discovered. Ancient scribes did not pretend to be  scientifically accurate in the days when scientific method was yet to be formulated in the 2nd millennium AD. We need not wonder why they incorporated metaphors and imagery in their writings.  


Meanwhile, we rejoice worshipfully at the phenomenological descriptions of Psalm 148 and many other Old and New Testament Scripture passages. We minimize naysayers who complain that the Bible is not “scientifically accurate” in the face of the paucity of scientific knowledge three millennia in the past. The Hebrew ancients were pre-scientifically attempting to understand their universe.


Psalm 148 closes with exhortations to the Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers, young men and maidens, old men and children! They are to ”Praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his majesty is above earth and heaven. (Scripture translations from ESV.)