Did the star of Bethlehem exist?

December 20, 2007 6:06:34 PM PST
A bright star appeared in the night, lighting the way to where Jesus was born. It's the story of the star of Bethlehem. It's been passed down for generations, but did the star really exist?

Rick Larson teaches law at Texas A&M, but his real passion is the stars, one in particular.

He has spent thousands of hours combing the Bible and star maps trying to figure out if the story of the star of Bethlehem is fact or fiction.

"I'm not an astronomer, I really don't have a science background either," Larson said. "But any lawyer is going to be a relatively good researcher."

Larson's journey began while he and his daughter were putting up a Nativity scene in his front lawn several Christmas' ago.

"After we had the wise men, Marian says, 'Daddy make a star,' and that's really the genesis of the project," he told us.

Larson went to the book of Matthew in the Bible, where he created a list for himself. A list of nine qualities that he believes a star would have to have before it could be considered the Star of Bethlehem.

Things like:

  • The star would have to rise in the east
  • It would have to appear at a precise time
  • It would have to stop over Bethlehem

    "That was the real set of clues right there and most researchers don't pay that close attention to Matthew," Larson said.

    With his list in hand, Larson compared the criteria to modern day star maps. Much to his surprise, he actually found a star that matched up! Thus, discovering what he believes is scientific evidence, that yes, the Star of Bethlehem really did exist.

    "It's pretty close to overwhelming," he said.

    But do scientists agree with Larson's discovery?

    "We look at all of the things that could have happened at the time of the birth of Christ," said Houston Museum of Natural Science astronomer Carolyn Sumners. "We rule out most of them, comets, meteors, novas. And we're looking for something so obscure that astrologers know it's very rare and very special."

    "What I'm putting on screen for people to see is not my opinion," Larson said. "It's objective, it's science, it's math, it follows the laws of planetary motion that NASA uses to launch their space probes. It's everybody's math."

    One thing is certain. Larson's theory is drawing a lot of attention. People from all over are flocking to his presentations.

    "You may be surprised, you may be coming in here with one idea of what it is and leave with a totally different idea," Britt Curless said.

    "It just makes you look at the stars more intently and just appreciate the creativity of God's hand in everything," Laurie Grawl said.

    "Whether or not you choose to see the meaning of it is up to you, but it's pretty hard to miss," said Larson.

    Rick Larson will be giving a presentation in Houston Friday night, but it is sold out. If you are interested in other dates or more information on his theory, click here.


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