Traveling to the Stars, Part Three: Motives and Expectations

In part one we summarized what we actually know, by divine revelation, about the cosmos and its raison d’etre. We underscored the primary purpose of the heavens, so coldly and clinically called “outer space” by many. That purpose is to give glory to God. Our part is to recognize that glory, give Him thanks and praise for it, and to have magnifying His glory as our prime directive.

In part two we considered the logistics (especially the chronological ones) and known obstacles to be overcome in traveling to the stars. The most valiant effort at addressing the potentialities of such an endeavor is inadequate, for who dares claim a foresight that spans millennia?

Now, let’s examine our motives for wanting to visit Trappist-1 or Vega or Arcturus and their neighborhoods, and ask ourselves what benefit we can expect besides a mighty sense of accomplishment, which by no means is to be despised! Our knowledge about the true nature of the universe and the obstacles and logistics we have contemplated must guide our motives and inform our expectations about venturing so far from this Earth…this home God gave to us.

According to the apostle Paul at Romans 15:4, the record of the Old Testament is for our learning. After the Great Flood of Noah’s day (memorialized in ancient legends of peoples all over the globe) eight souls disembarked onto what was essentially a new world. We rightly infer that from that juncture an era of exploration, migration, and re-population of the Earth began.

Let’s compare the motives and expectations of Noah’s more immediate descendants with those of us his latter day descendants, contemplating explorations off this globe.

As He had commanded Adam and Eve, God commanded Noah and his sons to be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth. Sin would eventually beget the imperialism and other evils, as the account of the tower of Babel makes clear. But at least in the earliest post-diluvian years, the divine mandate provided a great motive for the exploits of Shem, Ham, Japheth and their offspring. But we “go beyond what is written” if we believe we are called to fill the heavens as well. Can we expect God to bless our efforts to move on to other potential worlds in light of our stewardship of this one?

One eager hope of many regarding traveling to the stars is exemplified by SETI – the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence. Once again God’s word provides information about this. YES! Extra-terrestrial, non-human intelligent beings do exist. They are called angels and demons. Attempts to communicate with the latter are forbidden and dangerous. Communications from the former have always been at God’s instigation and according to His purposes (cf. Hebrews 1:14). Are there other orders of intelligent beings we can expect to meet?

Enter another truth we glean from the whole counsel of God. That is, the entrance of sin into the cosmos, and death by sin (Genesis 3, Romans 5). Because of man’s sin, the Earth was cursed and the creation subjected to a futility which one day will be removed (Romans 8, Revelation 21:5) . How would this apply to hypothetical intelligent or even animal life elsewhere in the creation? Speculation could go in several directions at this point. In this writer’s opinion, there is no scenario in which discovery of the existence of such life is likely. He does not say it is impossible.

In this as in all arenas of human endeavor, examination of motives is in order. Why do we want to travel to the stars, as opposed to continuing to observe them and learn more about them from Earth? Do we want to travel to the stars to glorify God and benefit humanity, or to exalt humanity and marginalize God? Can we travel to to other worlds without exporting the ravages of sin and death to them? Think of the surfaces of the moon or Mars eventually being littered with human garbage…grotesque emblems of the fallen condition of mankind.

Therefore here is the summation of one opinion on the entire matter. Travel to the stars by human beings will probably never happen, although we may achieve great things in our more immediate neighborhood, commonly called the solar system. The search for non-human intelligences other than those we already know about (angels and demons) is probably a vain one. And yet the drive to explore and learn as much as we can to the glory of God is a good thing.

May informed, disciplined, truly scientific and truly ethical inquiry and exploration into all realms of God’s amazing creation continue, for His glory and our good as He defines it!

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