Music in the cosmos

Pastoral Messages | February 18, 2016

My high school did not offer a class in cosmology. It’s a good thing it didn’t. I wouldn’t have survived. I barely passed math, struggled in physics, and to this day do not understand what a mole in chemistry is. The only mole I know is the one that burrows under the grass in my backyard. I cannot see it, do not like it, and do not understand it, which, come to think of it, is exactly how I relate to that unit of measurement in chemistry. Okay, so there is more than one mole in my yard. Let’s not go there.

If science is not my first gift, I nonetheless stand in awe of its majesties. Albert Einstein’s quip – “Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind” – works well for me. As far as I am concerned, any scientist worth listening to is one whose jaw drops at new discoveries and who loves the boundlessness of big questions.

The recent news out of research centers in California and Louisiana about a chirp in the cosmos is absolutely fascinating. Are you up on this? While some critics point to the $1 billion dollars spent over 40 years of research, let’s be reverent enough to relish the discovery, at least for the moment. Not only does the hearing of sound confirm an important piece of Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity from a century ago; it also allows us to think of astronomy as having ears. There is music in the cosmos, and the loveliness of that music happens to be centered on Middle C.

Here’s one way to appreciate the research project. We all know how a sweater shrinks in the dryer, how jello jiggles on a plate, and how pants stretch when we gain weight. Well, the cosmos also has dynamic properties that shrink, jiggle, and stretch. Einstein theorized that massive objects colliding a long time ago would release energy equivalent to a billion, trillion suns. That’s more energy than the chocolate bar in my desk drawer, by the way. A lot more.

The ripple of this energy would create gravitational waves rippling through time. Thanks to some physicists who managed to convert light traveling from one billion light years away into a sound wave, the chirp has been heard. Listen here: http://www.popsci.com/listen-to-sound-gravitational-waves.

Few will describe this chirp as a symphony – yet. But thanks to the perseverance of the physicists involved in this project, and related sounds being culled these years from other activity in the cosmos, some great music is afoot. There is aesthetic beauty in the universe that may be more than any of us can appreciate. But it’s present and growing.

We have focused so long on what we can see in the heavens by way of light – visible, ultraviolet, and infrared. Now it seems we need ears to behold the fullness of God’s glory, which turns out to be a thoroughly biblical idea in the first place.


Copyright © 2016 Peter W. Marty. All rights reserved. Any use of this material must be attributed to Peter W. Marty. To reproduce this material in published format, please contact Peter.

5 Comments on “Music in the cosmos”

  • David Chamberlin

    February 20, 2016 at 11:40 am

    I love your words. These especially resonate with me. Thank you!

  • Dean Halverson

    February 19, 2016 at 10:20 am

    The blending of science and religion is an important topic. Thank you for showing us that the two areas have much in common and causing many of us to think in a different way.

  • Ken Jandes

    February 18, 2016 at 5:03 pm

    Well said Pastor Marty! Thought you may enjoy this as well: http://wheelof.com/stars/

  • Liz Gosma

    February 18, 2016 at 2:04 pm

    I love this message!

  • Bonnie Buss

    February 18, 2016 at 1:54 pm

    Fascinating. Thank you.

Leave a Comment

Daniel 12:1-3

The Time of the End

1“Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise. And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued.2“Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt.3“Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.

Psalm 16

1Preserve me, O God, for I take refuge in You.

2I said to the LORD, “You are my Lord;

I have no good besides You.”

3As for the saints who are in the earth,

They are the majestic ones in whom is all my delight.

4The sorrows of those who have bartered for another god will be multiplied;

I shall not pour out their drink offerings of blood,

Nor will I take their names upon my lips.

5The LORD is the portion of my inheritance and my cup;

You support my lot.

6The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;

Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me.

7I will bless the LORD who has counseled me;

Indeed, my mind instructs me in the night.

8I have set the LORD continually before me;

Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

9Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices;

My flesh also will dwell securely.

10For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol;

Nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.

11You will make known to me the path of life;

In Your presence is fullness of joy;

In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.

Hebrews 10:11-25

11Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins;12but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD,13waiting from that time onward UNTIL HISENEMIES BE MADE A FOOTSTOOL FOR HIS FEET.14For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.15And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us; for after saying,





He then says,



18Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin.

A New and Living Way

19Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus,20by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh,21and since we have a great priest over the house of God,22let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.23Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful;24and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds,25not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

Christ or Judgment

Mark 13:1-8

Things to Come

1As He was going out of the temple, one of His disciples *said to Him, “Teacher, behold what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!”2And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left upon another which will not be torn down.”

3As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew were questioning Him privately,4“Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are going to be fulfilled?”5And Jesus began to say to them, “See to it that no one misleads you.6“Many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He!’ and will mislead many.7“When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be frightened; those things must take place; but that is not yet the end.8“For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will also be famines. These things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.

Daniel 7:9-14

9“I kept looking

Until thrones were set up,

And the Ancient of Days took His seat;

His vesture was like white snow

And the hair of His head like pure wool.

His throne was ablaze with flames,

Its wheels were a burning fire.

10“A river of fire was flowing

And coming out from before Him;

Thousands upon thousands were attending Him,

And myriads upon myriads were standing before Him;

The court sat,

And the books were opened.

11“Then I kept looking because of the sound of the boastful words which the horn was speaking; I kept looking until the beast was slain, and its body was destroyed and given to the burning fire.12“As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away, but an extension of life was granted to them for an appointed period of time.

The Son of Man Presented

13“I kept looking in the night visions,

And behold, with the clouds of heaven

One like a Son of Man was coming,

And He came up to the Ancient of Days

And was presented before Him.

14“And to Him was given dominion,

Glory and a kingdom,

That all the peoples, nations and men of every language

Might serve Him.

His dominion is an everlasting dominion

Which will not pass away;

And His kingdom is one

Which will not be destroyed.

The Vision Interpreted

Psalm 93

1The LORD reigns, He is clothed with majesty;

The LORD has clothed and girded Himself with strength;

Indeed, the world is firmly established, it will not be moved.

2Your throne is established from of old;

You are from everlasting.

3The floods have lifted up, O LORD,

The floods have lifted up their voice,

The floods lift up their pounding waves.

4More than the sounds of many waters,

Than the mighty breakers of the sea,

The LORD on high is mighty.

5Your testimonies are fully confirmed;

Holiness befits Your house,

O LORD, forevermore.

Revelation 1:-4-8

John 18:33-37

33Therefore Pilate entered again into the Praetorium, and summoned Jesus and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?”34Jesus answered, “Are you saying this on your own initiative, or did others tell you about Me?”35Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests delivered You to me; what have You done?”36Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.”37Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”