What’s the Point?
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JR. Forasteros - January 10, 2021
What's the Point?
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One of the reasons I’m so fascinated by space is the pure vastness of it all. We’re 93 million miles from the Sun. Dallas to Houston is about 225 miles. Imagine that distance is a millimeter. In that case, the Sun would be 4 ½ football fields away. If we wanted to travel to the Sun, well, the fastest manned airspeed ever recorded was in the X-15 rocket in 1967, at 4500 mph. If we left right now, we’d get there around Easter of 2023.
And we’re the third closest planet! Some of the other planets take hundreds of years to complete one orbit of the Sun. And did you know that it would take 1300 earths to fill up Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system?
But move outside our solar system and things get really nuts. We’re 4.3 lightyears from the nearest star, which translates into 25,000,000,000,000. If the distance from the Earth to the Sun is 1 mm (show), then the distance to Alpha Centauri is 3 football fields!
At that speed, it would take over 600,000 years for us to make the trip. That’s three times longer than humans have existed on earth.
And that’s to the closest star.
Trust me – space only gets more mind-bending from there.
One of the unending questions that the unfathomable vastness of space raises is… Where is everybody?
In such an impossibly enormous universe, there should be countless alien civilizations. So where are they all?
This is a serious question serious scientists ask – they even have a name for it: the Fermi paradox. Why is space so… empty?
There are a number of potential answers – everything from the cynical idea that civilizations that reach a certain point in development always destroy themselves (like once you go Facebook it’s all over).
Another is that space is SO vast that we’re all just missing each other. After all, if an alien species has their radio telescopes pointed right at us (a huge coincidence), but they’re say 200 light years away (not very far in space terms), our first broadcasts won’t reach them for almost another century!
In other words, fear not true believers. There may be some great reasons we haven’t heard from aliens yet.
But I bring up the Fermi paradox because it highlights something pretty profound: human life is incredibly precious. Well, not just human life, but all life on Earth. We’re finding more and more exoplanets, after all, and nearly none of them have even the potential for life. The few that do hold at most hope for single-cell life (which, while still incredibly cool, isn’t anything like intelligent civilizations).
No, so far as we can tell, intelligent life is vanishingly rare. It’s wondrous. We might even say… miraculous.
I want to begin here because we’re going to be talking about God as creator. What does it mean for us to talk about God as the creator? For us, that role emerges from the miracle of life: we have a sense that we were created for a purpose.