Our Rare Earth
by Tom Stewart
February 21, 2000
An article appeared in the newspaper on February 8th 2000 by William
J. Broad of the New York Times New Service, entitled
"Maybe we are alone in the universe". Two noted scientists
from the University of Washington, Peter D. Ward-- a paleontologist specializing
in mass extinctions-- and Donald C. Brownlee-- astronomer and chief scientist of
NASA's $166 million Stardust mission to capture interplanetary and interstellar dust--
have challenged the "belief that myriad
alien civilizations dot the universe." Though Broad's
article makes no attempt to support the Biblical position that God created the "heaven and the earth" (Genesis
1:1), nor does it represent Ward or Brownlee as Christians, it is understandable
that Christians would receive Ward and Brownlee's argument favorably, that "humans might be alone-- at least in the stellar neighborhood,
and perhaps in the entire cosmos." "3
When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which
Thou hast ordained; 4 What
is man, that Thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? 5 For Thou hast made him a little
lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.
6 Thou madest him to have dominion over the
works of Thy hands; Thou hast put all things under his feet" (Psalm
Brownlee and Ward have authored a book, "Rare Earth" (Springer-Verlag), that came out last month. William J. Broad comments on the book:
"For the invisible things of Him from the
creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made,
even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse" (Romans 1:20).
Since modern scientific cosmology-- bulwarked by Albert Einstein's work in special relativity and further applied by Edwin Hubble's 1929 measurement of the value of the red shift of distant galaxies-- views the universe as expanding, equivalent to a period of 10 to 20 billion years; the scientific community would most likely view the possibility of another planet like Earth, as quite probable-- and, even pedestrian. And yet, as insignificant as the Earth and man is, Scripture testifies that the Creator condescended with Almighty Love and Omniscient Attention to atone for the sins of all mankind. "But we see Jesus, Who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man" (Hebrews 2:9).
Even recent Christianity has viewed the cosmos as having the age of approximately 6,000 years, rather than tens of billions of years. For instance, in the latter half of the 1800's, D. L. Moody wrote in his evangelistic book, "The Way to God": ---New Window
"For God so loved the world, that He gave
His Only Begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have
Everlasting Life" (John 3:16). [See an article,
"World Population Reaches
6 Billion" ---New Window, for a discussion of the 6,000
year concept.] Philip H. Gosse (1810-1888), a British ornithologist,
Christian, and author of the book, "Omphalos: An Attempt to Untie the Geological
Knot", put forth the theory that God gave His creation the appearance of age,
i.e., Adam was created with the appearance of a mature adult capable of procreation.
Hence, God's command to "be fruitful,
and multiply" (Genesis 1:28) was potentially doable. "By the Word of the LORD were the heavens made; and
all the host of them by the breath of His mouth" (Psalm
All True Saints ought to magnify the Power and Wisdom of God that created the universe. "Thou art worthy, O LORD, to receive glory and honour and power: for Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created" (Revelation 4:11). Brownlee and Ward point out that the conditions for the Earth's placement in a "Life Zone", are so complicated, that Earth may be the only home of complex life in the universe. This "Habitable Zone" is dramatically a "Garden of Eden" compared to the vastness of the "Dead Zones" in the universe. The Earth, and man in particular, is "fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psalm 139:14).
Consider the following points made by Ward and Brownlee:
William J. Broad's article concluded with the remark, "Some advocates of the search for extraterrestrial
intelligence, known as SETI, see the new book as a heretical assault that could endanger
the financing of the hunt." "O
Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings,
and oppositions of science falsely so called [i.e., SETI]" (1Timothy 6:20). As we have
pointed out in another article, the extraterrestrial phenomenon-- which are demonic
(2Thessalonians 2:9)-- is being promoted for the express purpose of giving a so-called
scientific explanation for the Pre-Tribulational Rapture to those who are left behind.
"And for this cause God shall send them
strong delusion, that they should believe a lie" (2:11).
On the other hand, the Godly know that we are alone in the universe. But, we are
secure in the hands of God! "28 And I give unto them Eternal Life;
and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand. 29 My Father, which gave them Me,
is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father's hand" (John 10:28-29).
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