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Earth Is Our Final Destination

I love to take hypothetical and speculative romps through the imagination but I consider myself to be a realist. I find the media and the public’s enthusiasm for the rather frequent discovery of “habitable” worlds to be silly groupthink excitement.
| Mar 8, 2017 | 10 comments |

A common theme of modern sci-fi has been the exploration and colonization of other worlds. As humanity’s technological prowess has grown, so has its ambition. For a while, the moon was the fixation of mankind’s wanderlust, and tales of its exploration started appearing in early science fiction stories, such as Jules Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon and Edgar Allan Poe’s The Unparalleled Adventures of One Hans Pfaall. The moon was so near yet so far, and so mysterious. Mars also crept into science fiction, with H.G. Wells’ War of the World creating quite a sensation as the first portrayal of an invading alien race.

As our telescopes and satellites improved, we realized that these worlds were not hostile; they were just dead. Our moonwalks revealed a gray rock with hardly any atmosphere, and while Mars has proven to be a lot more intriguing scientifically and speculatively, it’s still just a windswept red desert. However, numerous efforts are underway to get people there (hopefully Matt Damon is not being considered). The frigid red rock for which I am named is being looked at as a serious contender for humanity’s next home.

But that’s not all. Our telescopes and satellites are probing the depths of the universe deeper and deeper every day, and scientists have discovered a whole buffet of “habitable” worlds, planets that could conceivably sustain life. Only a couple of months ago, the news media went bonkers over the discovery of seven possibly habitable worlds only a mere forty light years away. If you read the articles, you would have thought that NASA was already firing up the rockets. Of course, more terrestrial concerns quickly reclaimed the headlines and people went back to regular life.

I love to take hypothetical and speculative romps through the imagination but I consider myself to be a realist. I find the media and the public’s enthusiasm for the rather frequent discovery of “habitable” worlds to be silly groupthink excitement. Yeah, it’s cool that we’ve found other planets that we might have a chance to explore many centuries from now. But the fact remains that we have several right here in our solar system, and they contain countless mysteries we have yet to fathom, and the world at large hardly seems to care. Perhaps it’s because they aren’t “habitable,” a convenient though scientifically dubious label, with possible exception of Mars. It’s like someone saying, “Hey, guess what? They found a new island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean!” Okay, so? How does that make a shred of difference to a family in suburban USA or on the plains of Siberia or a Chinese mega-city?

The idea that we can just pack up and move out like the pioneers heading out West is a romantic notion that remains strictly in the realm of science fiction. My favorite sci-fi whipping boy, Interstellar, took this concept to ludicrous heights. So it’s easier to head out to a wormhole near Saturn and blast off to a distant galaxy to find a world that could support human life (what idiot thought that a planet next to a blank hole would be a viable candidate?) than to fix our own planet? Instead of remodeling our existing house which has some problems, let’s move out to that rocky little island in the middle of the Pacific and see if we have a better shot out there. Seriously?

Regardless of where humanity ends up, we know from the Bible that our final destination will be Earth. Now, it doesn’t seem to be this Earth, but Revelation 21:1 tells us that after Christ’s return, there will be a new heaven and a new Earth, one without any sea. 2 Peter 3:12-13 says that the heavens will be burned away and the elements will melt. It seems to me that no matter where humanity goes, whether we stay Earth-bound or, by some miracle, actually make it to the stars, those who belong to God’s kingdom will spend eternity on a new Earth, not in some heavenly city in the clouds. Mankind was not meant to live among the stars; we were meant to live in the world that God created for us. Unfortunately, it was corrupted by sin, but after judgement and purification, we will be given a new home that will be even better than the first.

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Travis Perry
Editor

I keep in mind that the Scripture states that “eye has not seen nor ear heard” what God has prepared for them who love him. The New Earth in Revelation is probably only the beginning of God’s eternal plan for the redeemed. I don’t regard it as ruling out travel between the stars.

E. Stephen Burnett
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E. Stephen Burnett

I wouldn’t rule this out either. But not based on 1 Corinthians 2:9 — that passage is not about the Afterworld but the mystery of salvation now revealed (verse 10).

alexanderpres20
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alexanderpres20

Good thoughts, Mark. I actually did a blog post last month on a similar topic. Just my two cents. http://alexanderprestonauthor1.blogspot.com/2017/02/faith-and-final-frontier.html

Zack Russell
Member

“Mankind was not meant to live among the stars; we were meant to live in the world that God created for us.” // This is an argument from silence. While it’s true that Earth is humanity’s home, and the end of Revelation specifically details how God will remake the Earth for us to live and reign on, it never says humanity will *only* live there. The Bible is very narrow in its focus, so its silence on some matters should not be taken as a negation or prohibition on those issues.

Perhaps our resurrected bodies will be able to travel instantly to other worlds, as Jesus appeared instantly to Thomas. Or maybe without the restrictions of sin, we will be able to create technology like nothing we can imagine.

What’s going to be very interesting in the next 18 months is when the next generation of telescopes are able to tell us whether or not these Habitable Zone planets have habitable atmospheres. They will also be scanning for biomarkers like methane or even CFCs. Whether or not life will ever be detected is a fascinating question, and our Biblical worldview should be able to provide an answer to either possibility.

Back to the original point, I really enjoyed reading Kim Stanley Robinson’s “Aurora,” for its exploration of how exoplanet colonization may not go as intended. It very much has the tone of realism that you shared about.

Kessie Carroll
Member

What? Nobody’s arguing that since Randy Alcorn says that 1 Peter is wrong and the New Earth is just our old Earth getting recycled? I’m shocked!

I personally think that all those planets out there would have been our worlds to live on before the fall. I outline this argument on my blog here: https://kmcarrollblog.wordpress.com/2016/12/09/my-personal-theory-about-aliens-and-the-universe/

Zack Russell
Member

Great thoughts about the Fermi Paradox, Kessie. I just started reading “The Lamb Among the Stars” books, and that seems to be the author’s framework as well.

Autumn Grayson
Guest
Autumn Grayson

This is where it can get complicated, especially since back then they didn’t necessarily think about these things the same way. Translations and language can be a tricky thing. Earth may not literally mean our world, planet earth, but may instead refer to the physical realm itself.