How would God see the sky around us?

Orion Nebula - new image from Hubble & Spitzer
Image by Mr. Physics via Flickr

When I ask myself how God must see things, I am usually exploring that question from a spiritual perspective or as a matter of understanding things in their proper context.

However, I certainly like to play with the much more literal meaning of that question, as well!  Knowing that we human beings are limited (without artificial augmentation) to seeing the world through a very narrow band of light wavelengths, I’ve often wondered how the world–the universe–would look to a being such as God who would be able to access all wavelengths simultaneously: ultraviolet, infrared, gamma ray, radio, etc.

Well, I still have no idea, but I did come across a neat website yesterday that allows me to catch a glimpse:  Using the zoom and pan abilities and the slider at the right, you can view any part of the cosmos at different light wavelengths.

Of course, to a certain extent the images provided at non-visible wavelengths are an illusion, since they must be colored with visible wavelength colors for us to get an idea of what would be “seen.”  Still, I think it’s fascinating, and it amazes me how much detail and “activity” there is out there beyond our senses yet, of course, clearly within God’s.

And He wouldn’t have to view one set at a time but can view them all at once.  I tried to come as (feebly) close to this as possible by moving the slider up and down rapidly and “blending” the images together, but it wasn’t too helpful.  Leaving me thinking that as neat as this website is, I am left at the limits expressed by Job: “Indeed these are the mere edges of His ways, and how small a whisper we hear of Him!” (Job 26:14).

Here’s a nice video of how Chromoscope works.  For some of you, the video will be all you’re interested in, though for others you’ll want to head out to the website to check it out yourself.

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[On a personal note, what I would like to see is an image that blends such pictures together in a more continuous way.  For instance, rather than reusing the visible colors in various ways to make the “invisible” images visible (e.g., using shades of green for the X-ray images and shades of blue for the Gamma ray), why not use a continuous mapping of the wider range of light wavelengths onto the visible range?  True, you would lose the connection between visible colors and their wavelengths, but you would gain the ability to blend all the pictures together in a much less artificial and arbitrary way, giving a truer picture of the full spectrum of wavelengths and their relation to each other, with “color” continuing to serve as a meaningful distinction marker–all in one, single image.  If anyone knows of an image in which this was done, I would love to see it! And if anyone knows how to make such an image, well, get cracking!]

5 thoughts on “How would God see the sky around us?

  1. Hi Mr. Smith,

    If you want to start getting a glimpse (pun most indubitably intended) of just how hard your question is to answer, start looking at color theory: how we perceive what we perceive. Wikipedia seems to have its usual high standards when it comes to physical science in this area (its contributors in the hard sciences and mathematics seem to be of consistently high caliber). I started looking at what’s available and realized I was Jonah trying to swallow a great fish rather than vice versa. 😀

    One of the limitations on human vision is that combinations of certain wavelengths reflected off a source look exactly the same as certain frequencies coming from a direct source. Another is that there are some color combinations within the visual range that are literally impossible for us to see. A third is that our ability to see black, white and grayscale is more sensitive than our ability to see color. (A woman I know is incredulous that I can see many stars in color. She can’t even discern the colors of the brighter stars well; my color vision needs less light in order to be triggered.) A fourth is that the bell curves of distribution for light sensitivity differ among creatures; some use two, some three like us, some four like bees (they can see into the UV range and combine that into their color palette with “visible” light).

    This is one subject concerning God in which even something like what you show us here doesn’t help me “see through a glass darkly”. I now know enough to know that I simply don’t know and can’t guess what God can see.

  2. Very interesting concepts. I had not thought about God being able to see in all those different ways, let alone at the same time 🙂

    Reminds me of something I heard Mr. David Burson say one time. It was something to the effect of “We don’t really know how big God is! Our universe, as big as we think it is, may just be a pin hole in the realm of God’s vast reality”.

    Some thing else comes to mind as well:
    1 Cor 2:9, But as it is written:
    Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
    Nor have entered into the heart of man
    The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.

    Keep up the good Work, Mr. Smith!

  3. Ed Ewert

    I suspect God’s perception of our universe is radically different from ours. Into our eyes comes light, which causes chemical reactions in the eyes, and information goes to the brain and gets organized, and so we have this kind of perception of reality. If we look through a telescope and see a galaxy ten billion light years away, we see it as it was ten billion years ago.

    I believe God knows exactly where everything is right now, without this kind of distortion. I can’t say how God perceives, or what God perceives, without entering into speculation, but I don’t believe He is dependant on some ultra small percentage of light coming into His eyes to see what is going on.

  4. Thanks, Mr. Ewert, and you get no argument from me; I agree with everything you are saying. I am under no illusions and I readily recognize that being cognizant of every electromagnetic wave radiating from space all at once — as opposed to simply the visible spectrum — represents the smallest of Job’s “small whispers,” but it does still stretch my mind. Between how I am able to perceive the universe and how God is able, it would be an infinitesimal increase in His direction, but how amazing that infinitesimal increase would be! (And as for what “right now” would mean in a universe apparently governed by relativistic lack of simultaneity, I’ll leave that one to those with more time on their hands. 🙂 )

    Thanks, again!

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