They say a picture is worth a thousand words.
To me, the picture posted below is one of the - if not the - most significant images I've seen so far in my life. Why is that?
As I was growing up (a JW), I was taught that the universe was in perfect harmony. God had created it to perfection. Every planet was swirling around it's sun to perfection, every galaxy partook in a perfect dance with other galaxies.
Sure - humans were imperfect because of the original sin, and - for some reason - the animals were as well. I could to some degree understand that. "Imperfect humans probably couldn't live with perfect animals", I thought.
But the universe...
It still had to be perfect. The earth itself, which is home to God's physical, living beings is counting on that; in an imperfect universe, the globe would be prone to all sorts of cosmic accidents. Jehovah couldn't allow that, and besides, why the heck would the universe be imperfect because of the original sin of mankind, so yes - I believed the universe had to be perfect.
Then - not more than a year ago I'm sure - I came across this image. And I was blown away:
So - what are we looking at here?
It is a Hubble telescope image of the Antennae galaxies (NGC4038 and NGC4039).
What are they doing?
They are colliding.That is to say, they're merging at a very slow pace, due to their gigantic size (relative to us). Nevertheless; if you were able to make a couple of billion year spanning time-laps video, you would see them forcefully and 'explosively' colliding, and eventually forming into one single galaxy, with the excess matter being thrown into space.
Why is this so significant to me?
Because it shows that the universe is not perfect.
"But hang on now - is that it? Is that all you've got? After all - perhaps God simply let go of some of his upholding, active force after the fall of mankind, such that even the universe was affected? Doesn't that kinda stumble the argument?"
No, it does not. These galaxies are 63 million light years away from us. That means the light which makes it possible for us to see them has traveled for over 60 million years (at a speed of ~180.000 mps) when it reaches our telescopes.
This in turn means that if we're to believe the Bible's story - no matter if you believe in an old or a young earth; in literal or figurative creation days - these galaxies started colliding several million years before the original sin.
And so mankind's fall and any following lack of "guiding force" on the part of God can not have been the reason for them to start colliding. They were colliding long before man was created.
"But hang on again - surely what we are seeing here then, is actually the creative hand of God at work? What we see now is - as you point out - after all something that happened several million years ago, and so we may actually be looking at God himself in the process of creating a galaxy!?"
That is to say - if you believe that, you believe that God creates a galaxy by first making two separate galaxies, then smashing them together in order to form one, single galaxy. This can in that case be likened to wanting to build a car, but instead of making it from scratch from drawings and crafting it from parts, you would first make two separate cars, then take them apart in order to form the one, single car you set out to build in the first place. With lots of scrap metal left over. Would that seem like the handiwork and thinking process of a perfect being?
For a slightly more in depth (and easily comprehensible) look into this and similar occurrences, have a look at this YouTube video (narrative is a little unclear, but legible) : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Knrxc4bm28c He addresses young earth creationists, but the core content of the video applies here.
-If you feel the need to express the notion that the speed of light hasn't been constant since creation, and that that can somehow explain this 'phenomenon', have a look at this video: http://www.veoh.com/videos/v856995GxApbE9K The speed of light is constant in a vacuum.
-You can walk away after seeing this image and what it represents with what ever feelings and beliefs you want, obviously. But to me, it shows that something must be wrong with the religions that are based on a more or less literal understanding of the Bible.