There is a great series of photos over at The Big Picture (http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2008/12/hubble_space_telescope_advent.html) from the Hubble Telescope. These picture are awe inspiring and amazing, especially considering the Hubble's troubled history. As always, it's more my response to the comments that I'm writing about rather than telling you what you can see for yourself.
It strikes me more and more that there is a real anger in the non-Christian community. Anger at being persecuted, anger at not being legitimate to Christians, and anger at not having their rights respected in everyday life. I know this anger - I've lived it, too. An anecdotal story - once, while in college and undecided about religion, I was reclining in the grass and enjoying the beauty around me. Two girls walk over and ask me if I've received Jesus...as I like to call it, "the talk." I'm feeling particularly in tune with nature that day so when they ask me what religion I am (after finding out that I am not Christian,) I tell them "I'm sort of Wiccan." I kid you not, without missing a beat the one girl tells me, "That's okay. We're all wicked before we receive Jesus into our hearts." I'm not calling Christians morons - I'm just saying that a little cultural awareness would be nice, you know, before you try and change us.
So I come from an understanding of the persecution and misunderstandings that come from being nonChristian in a Christian community. There's a lot of damage control - "yes, I still have morals, no I don't believe in Satan, I don't know what happens when we die, if there is a God then he made me who I am and he'll understand"...anyone who has lived this life understands. Family that prays for you, or flat out doesn't believe you. The whole "You're too good of a person not to believe in God" - (yes, that's a real example. On more than one time, too.)
What I don't understand is using the veil of science and technology to hide the fact that athiests/agnostics have an axe to grind. In the comments of the advent calendar, many went to religion. There are comments along the lines of "God is amazing" and "The glory of the Lord shall be revealed." Now I can be as sensitive as the next person when it comes to religion, but are the comments from the athiests/agnostics really necessary? Here's a quote - "it is so sad how ignorance is so alive in the world that when religious nuts who simply can't comprehend such great images see past what is there, and instead start babbling about God and creationism."
Again, I don't know what this particular author was responding to, and honestly after that I didn't read all the comments, but...seriously? Where's all that tolerance that nonChristians so rightly crave? Calling someone a religious nut because their gut reaction in their experience with something so majestic is to call it God? Excuse me, but that is the beauty of faith - to fill up with wonder and awe. Most people who have religious affiliations that they truly believe in look for just that experience, and I think it's wrong to deny them, just as it's wrong to deny me my awe not affiliated with a god.
Athiests/agnostics are crossing their own lines into intolerance by calling everyone a "nut" or implying that they are stupid for believing in God. Faith is not inherently tied in with intelligence. There are plenty of smart people on both sides. The anger there at being persecuted cannot be assuaged by becoming the persecutor.