I am Marvin W. Huddleston, an Amateur Astronomer. Theologian, and Christian Apologist. If you have ever heard of Starving Artists, just think of me as a Starving Apologist!
I am a graduate of Dallas Baptist University (BA, 1999) and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (MA, 2005). I also earned a PhD. from the School of Hard Knocks. I have been active as an Astronomer around 59 Years. I am a member of the Texas Astronomical Society, Dallas and a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, London.
It is my desire to leave a legacy of teaching youth and adults about the majesty that is this Cosmos within which we live. My favorite bible verses pertaining to Astronomy are found in Psalm 111:2, Psalm 19:1, Job 9:9, Job 38:31, Amos 5:8, and Isaiah 13:10.
I subscribe to an old earth Theology (I was old earth before I’d ever heard of Hugh Ross), and find that those who push a young earth philosophy do so at great damage to the Christian faith and cause scripture to contradict scripture. You cannot hold to a 24 hour day (Hebrew word ‘Yom’) in Genesis chapter one then ignore that in Genesis 2 that same Hebrew word is clearly talking about a great period of time:
Genesis 2:4, “These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day [‘Yom’] that the LORD God made the heavens…”
Science and Theology are not at odds, and as a matter of fact state the same Cosmology. Science tells us that the Universe was created in the Big Bang, when a single singularity contained all that is the Universe and begin to inflate over a period of 13.8 Billion years, resulting in the Cosmos as we know it today. A lot of people get the Big Bang definition wrong, it wasn’t really an explosion as the name suggests. The big question, by the way, is what created the singularity and more so what caused it to begin the expansion.
The Bible is not a science text, but the similarities between the Big Bang Theory and Scriptures description of it are remarkable. Isaiah 40:22,
“…who stretches out the heavens like a curtain.” 48:13, “My hand laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand spread out the heavens.” Job 26:7 “He stretches out the north over the void and hangs the earth on nothing.”
John 1:3, “All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.”
Col. 1:17, “And he is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.“
Now this verse is essential. In Astrophysics we learn of a property of the universe sometimes called Dark Matter. A definition of Dark Matter found on the internet describes it as “nonluminous material that is postulated to exist in space and that could take any of several forms including weakly interacting particles (cold dark matter) or high energy randomly moving particles created soon after the Big Bang (hot dark matter).”
My scientific and theological theory is that dark matter is described in Col.1:17 and identifies this mysterious force or material…it is merely a measurement of an attribute of God.
The whole young earth and old earth debate is one of the debatable aspects of theology, it is not an essential element of the Christian Faith. It should NEVER be used to define a Christians faithfulness to the inerrancy, infalliblity and total sufficiency of the Judeo Christian Scripture.
Alone Under the Stars
“Sometimes when I am alone under the stars, I look out into space and wonder if our works look as small to God as his looks Great to us.”
Herbert Clinton Carroll, April, 1938
Astronomes' have Bad Dream's too!
“For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance, he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.”
Robert Jastrow, God & the Astronomers
My Story: the Journey Begins...
I have an insatiable thirst for knowledge. I was never satisfied with something someone told me. I always wanted truth, I wanted the bare facts. If I read a theology book quote an earlier work, I was not satisfied until I personally found that document and preferably secured a copy of it for my personal library. Hearing a claim was never satisfactory. The same philosophy prevails in me in science. I seek out fact.
My Grandfather, Herbert Clinton Carroll, wrote my favorite quote (quoted above) in 1938. Had he not traveled to the Mainland (he lived in Hawaii), I have little doubt that his thoughts one lonely night in April 1938 would have been lost in the annals of history and time. His legacy would be little more than a lonely grave marker in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii. His legacy and his life would have been lost forever.
He was one of those dad’s who never really knew his daughter until very late in life. We suspect he knew he was sick and had been told his time on this earth would be cut short. At any rate, ‘Bigdaddy (a pet name a 6 year old boy called him) came to see his daughter in 1961 and meet my sister and I, his two grandchildren.
One night I am sure without much fanfare or thought he took his grandson outside and introduced him to the Cosmos, pointing out Constellations, Planets, faint fuzzys (Nebulae) and other sights. To him the night was just a moment of stargazing with his grandson, but to his grandson that night grew into a lifelong passion for Astronomy.
I will never be able to thank Bigdady (this side of eternity at least) for that night under the stars, nor God for ordering Herberts’ steps that led to my lifelong passion for the Cosmos…
“The steps of a man are established by the Lord…” (Ps 37:23)
There is no such thing as a consequence. Every action in your life has Kingdom consequences you may never even begin to grasp…
Junior Texas Astronomical Society (JTAS)
Alone, and very cold, under the stars...
In 1969 I joined the Junior Texas Astronomical Society, JTAS, which was the youth wing of the Texas Astronomical Society headquartered in Dallas, TX
TAS was in the midst of a decline in membership. They had an observatory in Ovilla Texas known simply as the Ovilla site. The thrill of my life during those years was attending observing sessions at that location and being able to see the night sky under such (then) dark location. The senior club had a 12 1/2 inch Newtonian Reflector in a barn door observatory, mounted on a massive equatorial mount. It was as I recall a monster! And at that time in Amateur Astronomy a 12 inch telescope was quite large for an instrument in amateur hands.
One funny story I can share was a night when my best friend (Chuck Covey) and I somehow talked my mom and dad to take us out into the sticks in Ovilla Texas for a star party scheduled (we thought) one Friday night. We lived in a different age back then let me tell you. At any rate, my parents took us out and we followed the map marking off directions to the site. It would say take a left at the intersection of such and such, then mark on your odometer .7 miles, and turn into the drive and you will see the Observatory and JTAS observatory which was under construction. Ok, so far so good, we have arrived. My parents hang around for a bit and start becoming concerned. “Is anyone else coming?” “Oh yes I replied, they are just running late, there will be a dozen youth here and many adults for the night. Reluctantly my parents leave us, and we set up for the star party. I set up my trusty Criterion RV-6 Dynascope Newtonian reflector and we are primed and ready. Dusk starts to fall, the temperature begins to drop, yet there we were two young teens, alone in the darkness. Somehow the nights Observing party was the next week, not that night.
It starts to get cold. We had been enjoying views of Messier Objects and other sights, but finally it became very uncomfortable. It got COLD! So here are two teens in danger of frost bite it was so cold by midnight. It was no longer a fun adventure. Frostbite was a real possibility. We were FREEZING!
What’s a teen to do? Chuck and I devised a plan. The senior observatory was a round cinder block structure, with a 4 sided ‘dome’ coming to a point. More of a pyramid actually than a dome. The slit that opened the telescope to the sky was a barn door sort of arrangement. So we climb up onto the structure on the barn door slit side. Low and behold, we managed to squeeze somehow through the dome and drop a few feet onto the telescope platform. ‘Ole Chuck was more, shall we say, athletic than I was. I was a skinny geeky kid, so I am sure it was me that got through the slit. It was a tight fit, but I made it. So after breaking into the Texas Astronomical Societies senior observatory I made my way down through the dark and found the light switch, turned it on, and went over and let my trusted buddy into the door after unlocking it from inside,
The telescope was mounted on a platform at the top of a pier. and there was a single incandescent light under the stars in the middle of the platform. If memory serves me, it was a 60W bulb. We survived the night by hovering around that light trying not to freeze to death from the cold, lonely, night air…By that point who cared if the sky was cloudy, clear, perfect seeing and transparency. We merely were in survival mode!
So I may be the only member of the Texas Astronomical Society who ever broke into the senior club’s observatory. Today we’d be in a lot of trouble. The Observatory the club now has is protected by a welded rebar cage you have to get through before you and even access the lock for the door…and the dome is a traditional round Observatory dome, so there is no barn door to pry open to gain entry!
But back to our story, the Ovilla site was starting to have issues with stellar degradation from the growing light pollution and smog from the large and rapidly growing DFW Metroplex.
The JTAS in those years (late ’60’s to early 70’s) wound up with an observing site in Kaufman Texas along with a more robust and active senior club. The site was much darker and the Ovilla site eventually was completely abandoned.
I was Vice President of the JTAS in 1971, and have never lost my fondness of those memories. A guy named Steven Sebastian was President and John Damn was secretary/treasurer. Both of those guys were students at Saint Marks School in Dallas…and that is another story for another time!
I suppose JTAS faded into history sometime around the mid 1970’s. Life for me had diverted my attention to a young lady I was much more endeared with than JTAS. I still had my telescope and frequently placed many observations. I discovered many Lunar Domes during that time frame, so I was still actively involved in Astronomy. I successfully revived JTAS around the Comet Halley days and regret letting life get in the way of keeping it going. There is a need and interest today stronger than anytime before IMHO…
Astronomy as a hobby is in danger of eventually fading into history just as did JTAS. As older amateur astronomers die off in clubs like TAS they are not adequately being replaced with younger enthusiasts. I believer these societies are making a grave mistake not doing whatever is necessary to get youth STEM work established, especially when they have members with the time, ability, backgrounds and passion necessary to work with today’s youth. But today we live in a different age. Back in the early ’70’s parents never worried about perverts using sports groups, church groups, school classes, camps, bands, astronomy clubs, whatever, for the sole purpose of gaining access to our kids with the intent of molesting or harming them.
It’s a shame. Our kids are missing out on so much that mold young minds and provide them with so many life transforming memories…I fail to understand how society thinks it can ban God, nationalism, patriotism, basically anything good, and not expect evil to take root as we have watched it do over the last half century.
Organizations for the most part do not want the risk and liabilities…and our youth and children are the victims.
Marvin W. Huddleston
This is a picture of me ca. 1970 (JTAS Years), with my Criterian RV-6 Dynascope, a 6 inch F/8 Newtonian Reflector.
Dark Haloed Craters
My journey didn’t end abruptly after my Grandfather left and returned to Hawaii. He visited once more and died in 1965, being honored by the United States Navy for his service during World War II by being buried at the National Cemetery of the War in the Pacific. He’d promised to build me a telescope, but died before making good on that promise.
By 1966, perhaps after memories were aroused when I learned of his death, I begin to search out the Cosmos. I obtained a 2.4 inch refracting telescope, and it became apparent to my parents (especially my mother) that this was more than a passing fad.
Around that same time, I joined the Association of Lunar & Planetary Observers, and began studying Dark Haloed Craters on the moon under Rev. Kenneth Delano, a Roman Catholic Priest who headed the DHC program for ALPO.
Around late December of 1970, the work of cataloging Dark Haloed Craters was coming to a close. I discovered a couple of Dark Haloed Craters in the later part of the program that had previously been unknown. That was an exciting conclusion to my work with ALPO on that project.