When Moses recorded God’s promise to Abraham about the multitude of Abraham’s descendants, the ancient readers did not have any idea just how right Moses was. In Genesis 15:5, God said to Abraham: “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them. So shall your descendants be.” God used the incalculable number of the stars as a hyperbole to explain to Abraham that his descendants would be incalculable as well. This sentiment was reiterated in Jeremiah 33:22 when God promised: “As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, nor the sand of the sea measured, so will I multiply the descendants of David My servant and the Levites who minister to Me.”
The fact that the stars are innumerable aids in defending the Bible as divinely inspired (see Butt, 2002). But recent research makes that point even clearer. New discoveries and calculations by researchers from Yale and Harvard suggest that our generally accepted estimations about the number of stars are considerably wrong. The fresh data published in Nature indicates that “there are a mind-blowing 300 sextillion of them [stars—KB], or three times as many as scientists previously calculated. That is a 3 followed by 23 zeros or 3 trillion times 100 billion” (Borenstein, 2010).
These new numbers are based on the idea that elliptical galaxies are composed differently than spiral galaxies like our own Milky Way. Yale astronomer Pieter van Dokkum, using the Keck telescope in Hawaii, recently peered into eight elliptical galaxies and explained: “We’re seeing 10 or 20 times more stars than we expected” (as quoted in Borenstein, 2010).
The fact that our best astronomical star counts could be off by over 200 sextillion stars tells us much about what scientists really know. First, it helps us understand that astronomers and cosmologists are often wrong—on a very large scale. Those who have scrutinized the modern notion of the Big Bang have been aware of this for a while (see May, et al., 2003). Second, it adds more credence to the biblical truth that the stars are, veritably, innumerable. Third, it underscores the psalmist’s statement that “the heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament shows His handiwork” (Psalm 19:1). Not a shred of legitimate scientific evidence can suggest a reasonable, naturalistic cause for such a massive amount of stars. Only an omnipotent, supernatural Creator supplies the necessary power for such an immense, star-filled sky.
Borenstein, Seth (2010), “Starry, Starry, Starry Night: Star Count May Triple,” http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101201/ap_on_sc/us_sci_starry_night.
Butt, Kyle (2002), “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/1791.
May, Branyon, et al., (2003), “The Big Bang Theory—A Scientific Critique,” http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2635.
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