In 1798 Napoleon set out on his expedition to Egypt. Much to the disgust of his soldiers and officers, he took with him a considerable company of scientists and philosophers. On a warm summer night these men were gathered together on the deck of the flagship. The heavens were brilliant, and these scientists were discussing whether or not the planets were inhabited. Some thought they were, and others that they were not. Then they began to discuss the origin of the universe, most of them taking the position that natural law and phenomena were sufficient to account for the origin of the world without a divine Creator. Then Napoleon, who had been standing near them and silently listening to their conversation, introduced himself into the debate and, pointing with his hand to the brilliant host of the stars in the heavens, said, "Gentlemen, who made these?" A simple question, and one which went to the very heart of the matter. Who made the world? The world is a great effect, and common sense tells us it must have a sufficiently great cause. The world is not only a great effect but it is also an intelligent effect, and it must have had a sufficiently intelligent cause. Back of all nebular hypotheses, primordial germs, and star-dust, there lies some great secret; and the only key to it is the opening word of the Bible, "In the beginning God."
While we have spent this brief period in the house of God the earth which is our home has been plunging forward on its 580,000,000-mile journey around the sun at the rate of 1,000 miles a minute, and yet held true to its orbit by the gravitational pull of the sun. Of the eight planets, the earth, which is the third nearest to the sun, and therefore a near neighbor compared with Neptune, is nevertheless 96,000,000 miles from the sun. The greatest solar distance is from one side of Neptune's orbit to another, and it would take a shell fired out of the heaviest cannon 500 years to traverse that space.
When we go outside our own solar system, then the distance is infinitely increased. The nearest star, Alpha Centauri, is 25,000,000 million miles distant from the earth. It is estimated now that there are between two and three thousand millions of stars. To us, as we look at them on a winter night, they seem close together; but in reality they are so far apart that human arithmetic can hardly count the distance. The most distant stars of the Milky Way are calculated to be one hundred thousand trillions of miles distant from the earth. The successful measurement of the great star, Betelgeuse, makes our vast sun look like a mere dot. Our sun is 860,400 miles in diameter; but it would take 27,000,000 of our suns to make one star like Betelgeuse, whose diameter is 350,000,000 miles.
We boast of our airplanes, although almost every day we read of one crashing, with the immediate annihilation of all who sailed in it; but what shall we say of these great engines of the Creator? An airplane traveling at the rate ol 101 miles per hour would require 1,000 years to circumnavigate a star like Betclgeuse and that without stopping a second for the birth and death of successive generations of pilots.
When we have facts and figures like these pronounced to us, and then remember that we are dealing only with that universe which is visible to man's eye, or within the range of man's vision augmented by the most powerful lens our mind begins to reel, and we request the astronomer to roll up his chart and put a cap over his telescope and let our amazed and staggering intellects rest.