The universe within one billion light years (thanks to atlasoftheuniverse.com)
The most horrifying form of torture/punishment in the known Universe, The Total Perspective Vortex (it's so mind bogglingly terrifying it even gets Capital Letters) is a small, featureless steel box, barely big enough for one man to stand in.There are probably more than 100 billion (1011) galaxies in the observable universe. Each galaxy has on average between 100 billion and one trillion stars.
The hopeless victims stand in the Vortex, and are suddenly shown, for the merest instant, the whole of the Universe: the whole infinity of creation, spanning over several trillion light years, and countless millennia, with an insignificant dot saying "You Are Here".
The victims, totally demoralised by their experience, fall dead from the vortex, wherupon they become the burden of the Vortex' custodian, Pizpot Gargravarr.
To date, Zaphod Beeeblebrox (former President of the Galaxy, and "The best bang since the Big one") is the only man to have survived the vortex, solely because he is a hoopy frood and the Vortex told him as much.
from Urban dictionary and ultimately the blessed Douglas Adams
Put another way, if we were to represent galaxies as frozen peas (in other words I'm asking you to imagine a frozen pea containing between 100 billion and a trillion stars) then the known universe contains enough peas to fill the Albert Hall.
Such numbers are almost impossible for us to comprehend. And for most of human history, of course, we haven't had to. The great mysteries of the cosmos have been just that - mysteries. Man has made up wonderful stories to put a human scale to the incomprehensible: whether it be a the world carried on the shell of a giant turtle or on the back of Atlas or the stars seen as lamps in a series of "heavens".
But now that we are beginning to fathom the truly mind-numbing immensity of the universe we are left with some awkward questions.
Such as why did God create at the very least 6 sextillion planets? Couldn't that be seen as just the tiniest bit wasteful? Why would God need so many galaxies containing so many solar systems containing so many planets if all he needed to create life was to say "BE!"?
We are told that the creation of life is an incredibly unlikely event....so unlikely that only God could be responsible. And yet what is now finally being revealed to us is a universe that has been mixing chemicals on sextillions of planets for billions of years. THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT WE WOULD EXPECT TO SEE IF LIFE HAD TO EMERGE BY CHANCE BECAUSE THERE IS NO GOD.
For why would God need so many failed experiments?
Where in the Bible or the Qur'an is there the slightest hint that God needed so much time and so much space to finally crack this creation business?
Last word to DA:
Space is big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind- bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's, but that's just peanuts to space. Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams