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What the picture says


NGC 602 in the Small Magellan Cloud

I saw this image today in the Daily Mail. Comments on the story were of the “How amazing and beautiful. We really are quite small and insignificant, aren't we?”

Perhaps, but Stephen Langton, who pressed King John to swear to reaffirm the Charter of Liberties in 1213, and, when John broke his oath, led the struggle for Magna Carta in 1215, would not have agreed.

As you know, Stephen Langton was an archbishop. Like Robert Grosseteste, who was living at the same time and who taught that mathematics underlay God’s universe, Langton believed that God gave us the divine gifts of reason, freedom, and love. He could see the stars shining by night, and the sun by day, but reason, freedom, and love shone as brightly, and we had to be big, not small, to use them well.

Ideas have consequences. Ideas about reason, freedom, and justice gave birth to Magna Carta, and to countries whose people were strong enough and confident enough to explore the universe. . .

The image is free when you credit the source: NASA, ESA, and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)