It's been a long time since I've seen the night sky without the glare of city lights. During my stay in rural Oregon I managed to catch a glimpse of the night sky in all its unadulterated glory. It was awe-inspiring. The starry sky looked so magnificent, so enormous, that I felt infinitesimal. As an astrophysicist, I think about vast scales all the time; but it's one thing to look dispassionately at a number on a computer screen -- some particular star in the sky may be at a humble distance of 10 parsecs, roughly 300 trillion kilometers, from the Earth -- and quite another to cast your eyes upon that star amid a thousand others in the sky and ponder that distance in human terms. For the first time in ages, I truly felt a part of something unfathomably large.
I was suddenly struck by how natural a belief in God (or gods) must have been for people in earlier times, before city lights diminished the view. The night sky offers so much perspective. These people were perhaps faced with the nightly reality that they were ever so tiny, themselves floating on a mere speck of dust in an infinite and awesome cosmos. Such a view makes the universe seem like a miraculous place even to this scientist. It was nevertheless a comforting view, somehow, though Oliver Wendell Jones might disagree. All I can say is, no wonder people look up when they think of Heaven.