How many galaxies are there in the universe?
Astronomers estimate that there are more than 100 billion galaxies throughout the universe—each one of them containing from 10 to 100 billion stars. However, with the naked eye we can only see only four galaxies—and not all four from the same vantage point. Only two are visible in the northern hemisphere—Andromeda and our own galaxy, the Milky Way.
In the southern hemisphere the Large and Small Megellanic Clouds are visible. And that’s it! One hundred billion galaxies out there and we can only see a few of them. The same is true, comparatively speaking, of the stars. The number of stars in our universe is estimated at 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. Yet without the aid of a telescope, we can only see about 3,000!
Think about it. If our vision of the cosmos is so limited, then what about our ability to see all the other aspects of reality: the physical, the social, and the spiritual?
A saying in the Talmud proclaims, “We see things not as they are, but as we are.” How true! Our perception of reality is not only limited by our frail physical senses of sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell. Our grasp of reality is clouded, shaped, and warped by our distinctive personalities and by the positive or negative experiences of our formative years.
So what’s my point? My point is that none of us has a monopoly on insight. None of us has all the answers. None of us is capable of grasping the whole of divine truth. And I suspect that God has arranged it to be so—so that all of us must depend on each other’s contribution to get the complete picture. To gain insight, therefore, we must exercise humility and acknowledge our limitations in perceiving reality, realizing that the other person’s point of view may be just as valid as ours. Though our views differ, it’s not necessarily that they contradict each other but simply represent different facets of the same gem.
To gain wisdom we must also exercise faith in God. For “the fear of the LORD (i.e. reverence and humble dependency on God) is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7) as well as “the beginning of wisdom” (Prov. 9:10).
Dear Lord, I do not want to sacrifice divine truth or compromise my faith, all in the name of tolerance and harmony. But I do recognize my own limitations and that the whole of reality is too great to squeeze into my puny brain. Please, dear Father, give me insight and understanding. Help me to appreciate the contributions that others make. Help me to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger (James 1:19). Amen.
Information from John Lloyd & John Mitchinson, The Book of General Ignorance, pp. 15-16.