Images of the universe taken by NASA's James Webb Space Telescope testify to the "power" and "majesty" of God, Christian leaders say.
"[This is] why we want to study the heavens, so we can observe the awesome glory of our God," Rob Webb, an aerospace engineer with Answers in Genesis and a former NASA employee, said during a Facebook live session Tuesday.
The first images from the telescope were released Monday and Tuesday during a NASA news conference. The telescope is more powerful than the Hubble Space Telescope, which was launched in the 1990s, and is capable of recording images never seen by the human eye – not only because it is located above Earth's atmosphere but also because of its massive size.
Better together. International collaboration gave us the most powerful space telescope ever made, and the deepest infrared views of the universe ever seen. With our partners at @ESA and @CSA_ASC, the science can begin. Together we #UnfoldTheUniverse: https://t.co/oFA1ja4jeP pic.twitter.com/8TXTZEIb6H— NASA (@NASA) July 12, 2022
Instead of it being a "replacement" for Hubble, scientists are calling it a successor. Hubble recorded images in visible (optical) light. The James Webb telescope will record images in the infrared spectrum. Distant objects, according to NASA, are located in this latter spectrum.
Among the images NASA released was a jaw-dropping one of galaxy cluster SMACS 0723 revealing thousands of galaxies in a small frame. The image included the "faintest objects ever observed in the infrared," NASA said.
Space is lovely, dark and deep. You're looking at the deepest infrared image of the universe ever taken—the first full-color image from @NASAWebb.— NASA (@NASA) July 12, 2022
Go deeper on the galaxies of SMACS 0723 at https://t.co/63zxpNDi4I #UnfoldTheUniverse pic.twitter.com/YS8JZI3KqM
The cluster is approximately 4.6 billion light-years from Earth.
"The awesome, amazing images just continue to show the amazing works of our awesome God, of our awesome creator," Webb said.
Webb acknowledged his worldview is different from that of NASA. In a news release, NASA said the image shows what the galaxy cluster looked like roughly "a billion years after the big bang."
Christians should embrace astronomy even if they disagree with the mainstream secular worldview, Webb emphasized.
"God created the heavens and the earth – let's remember to base all of our thinking, from the very beginning, Genesis 1:1 without compromise," he said.
The size of the universe, he said, "just shows the awesome power of our amazing God."
Webb quoted Psalm 19:1, which reads, "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands."
Other Christian leaders, too, celebrated the new images.
"What an amazing reminder of the majesty and power of our Creator God! Wow!" tweeted Rich Stearns, president emeritus of World Vision.
What an amazing reminder of the majesty and power of our Creator God! Wow!NASA unveils first images from James Webb Space Telescope https://t.co/ZzOxWSHAwn— Rich Stearns (@RichStearns) July 12, 2022
"The heavens declare the glory of God: and the firmament sheweth his handywork," tweeted Ryan. N Danker, director of the John Wesley Institute.
The heavens declare the glory of God: and the firmament sheweth his handywork. https://t.co/0apuiv3lLf— Ryan N. Danker (@RyanNDanker) July 11, 2022
The telescope was developed by NASA in partnership with the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.
Photo courtesy: ©NASA/Public Domain
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.