“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.”
As I was writing this script, I was listening to Herschel’s Symphony number 8 in C minor. Yes, he wrote symphonies and was an accomplished composer of music for orchestra, organ, solo instruments and choir, as well as a very able organist.
However, William Herschel was much better known as an astronomer. Born in Hanover, Germany, in 1738, he moved to England in 1757 at the age of 19. He built his first large telescope in 1774 and began work, meticulously cataloging the sky. He was particularly interested in double stars and did a considerable amount of work on this subject. It was in March 1781 that he discovered a new disc-shaped object and thought, at first, that it must be a comet. However, subsequent observations, and correspondence with other scientists, eventually persuaded everyone that Herschel was the first person since antiquity to discover a new planet, which he named Uranus, for the Greek mythological god of the sky.
Herschel was able to make his discoveries because he expected the universe to show order and logic. This was because of his Christian faith. The universe was designed by God, and He is a God of order, so it was logical to assume that ordered measurements and observations could be made. The maturity of Herschel’s faith can be ascertained from his correspondence with his brother in Hanover, which dwelt frequently on theological matters.
One of Herschel’s favorite sayings summed up his belief: “The undevout astronomer must be mad!”
Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for the wisdom and intelligence that You gave great men in the past. Help us to recall that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Amen.
Author: Paul F. Taylor
Ref: Lamont, A. (2000), Great Creation Scientists: Sir William Herschel (1738–1822), Creation 22, no 3 (June 2000): 24-27. Image: Portrait by Lemuel Francis Abbot, 1785, Public Domain image.
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