Yesterday several media outlets prominently featured a story on the possibility of “many earths out there.” The realities of scientific knowledge of these potential planets, thirty of of which have been confirmed as real (out of 2,326 sightings of distant spots that might be planets), are a long ways from finding a livable planet. Statistically only 48 of the total sightings of “something” fall in a potentially habitable range in terms of temperature in relation to the nearest star at sighting. But the variables that need to be met beyond this are vast and complex. At this point the only certain reality is that this is an appeal for continued funding for SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) and NASA.
But why the drive to find “life out there?” Could it be because man is created with an innate knowledge of life in the farthest reaches of the universe – the omnipresent God who is the Creator of all things? (Romans 1:20) Could it be because of human awareness of the realities of existence beyond death, the realities of heaven and hell? Deeply religious quotes mark the SETI website. One declares that “astronomy compels the soul to look upwards and leads us from this world to another” – echoing the truth graciously revealed by God:
“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.” (Psalm 19:1-3)
The desire to explore and know the heavens, and the God to whom they belong, is part of the divinely created identity of and purpose for man, whether astronomer or not. While distorted and futile apart from God, for the Christian, transformed by grace, it results in wonder and worship: “when I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and stars, which You have ordained, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him?” (Psalm 8:3-4)
If you have a chance to watch the video clips below (aurora borealis, an asteroid, and a recent solar plasma twirl), consider that the same Triune God who created and sustains all the vast, mysterious, powerful complexity that is, the universe itself, is the God who is so graciously mindful of us that He has visited us for redemption in and through Jesus Christ. He is “not slack concerning His promise” and so we look forward to the day of His appearing, and the “new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” (2 Peter 3:9, 13)