Church of God, New World Ministries

Is Planet Earth Unique In The Universe?

In 117 years man has leaped from the horse and buggy to the threshold of interplanetary space travel.  From Orville Wright to Eugene Cernan in the single generation, from the humorous wheeze of the Stanley Steamer to the paralyzing roar of Apollo 10 and the roar of the space shuttles

On July 1969 Neil Armstrong and Col. Edwin Aldrin Jr. and Lt. Col. Michael Collins were the first humans to set foot on a celestial body other than the earth.

Did these men find the mystery of the origin of life? Is there, or was there ever other intelligent life out there?

Beyond the moon lie the other planets of our solar system. Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and others. Landing men on the moon and bringing them back, his infant steps will get stronger. His longer, surer strides will perhaps take him to Mars and beyond. That is, providing his launching pad – Earth – can keep from being blasted into ruin by still unsolved terrestrial problems, while he attempts to solve those of outer space.

The history-old mysteries of the origin of matter, the origin of our solar system and the origin of man are still mysteries to men. Notwithstanding the many popular theories – including evolution and the “big bang” theory of the origin of the universe – man still doesn’t know.  After all, considering this tiny dust-like speck called earth compared to the unfathomable scope of the uncountable galaxies, man really hasn’t seen very much yet – has he? It’s like a tiny amoeba in a drop of stagnant water on a blade of swamp grass solving the geography of earth from his vantage point.

Few people really understand the relationship of earth to the space and matter around us.

Earth is one planet in a solar system of 7 or 8 others revolving around our sun or star. Our sun is one of scores of billions of other suns in a great cluster called the Milky Way Galaxy.

The earth is about ninety million miles from our sun or about the distance light will travel in 8 minutes traveling at 186,000 per second. The most distant planet of our solar system, Pluto, is 4 billion miles distant, or the distance light will travel in 5 ½ hours.

The nearest other sun or star in the Milky Way Galaxy is Alpha Centauri A which is 4.3 light years away or the distance light will travel at 186,000 miles per second in 4.3 years. That distance is so vast as to be unreal to us.

But the star cluster we belong to – the Milky Way Galaxy – is thought to be one hundred thousand light years across. The distance light will travel in 100,000 years at 186,000 miles per second- an utterly unfathomable distance!

Yet, our Galaxy is related to several other “nearby” galaxies forming a galaxy cluster. Intergalactic distance of millions of light years exist in this relationship. Yet, telescopic examination into the distance far beyond these reveals other galaxies and systems of galaxies numberless in quantity - and man has only viewed a minute distance into endless space.

Against the backdrop of measureless space, man’s journey to the moon 250,000 miles away pales appreciably. Certainly the limited knowledge we have of space and matter should tell us something – man can never explore the limitless reaches of space.

Even if we could achieve the speed of light – 186,000 miles per second, a spaceship manned by mortal beings limited to a useful lifespan of less than 100 years couldn’t go far, even if we could sustain our life support systems that long.

Although men have never seen them, scientists have speculated on the existence of planets revolving around other suns in our Milky Way Galaxy. Be this true, they theorize, perhaps one of those planets just might have intelligent life more advanced than our own. Since earthlings don’t’ have the answers, scientists reason, maybe they do – if they’re out there!

One noted space scientist said: “Are there other intelligences in the universe? Is the Galaxy filled with civilized worlds, diverse and unimaginable, each flourishing with its own commerce and culture, befitting its separate circumstances? Or can it be that we are alone in the universe that by some poignant and unfathomable joke, ours is the only civilization extant?”

Just what are the chances?

Few realize the unique nature of our earth and our sun. Few realize the fantastic odds against duplicating the life compatibility parameters of our earth.

Few realize the exacting narrow limits of conditions that would permit even the simplest of life forms to exist elsewhere in the universe.

First, a planet must lie at the proper distance from its sun, too far and life will freeze; too near and life will be destroyed by high temperatures.

This sun must also produce stable, constant radiation and luminosity. Many stars fluctuate greatly. This sun must also be sufficiently distant from other suns as to hold a planet in a correct orbital pattern around itself. A planet trapped in a multi-star orbital pattern – revolving around more than one sun would almost surely experience wide-ranging solar variations, nullifying life. Yet, half of the stars in the Milky Way Galaxy to which we belong are in a multiple-star relationship.

Next, the planet must rotate at just the right speed for its size and distance from its sun. Otherwise, life would alternately freeze or burn.

Another condition that must be satisfied is the relation of the planet’s mass to the chemical composition of its atmosphere. If a planet is not of proper size, its weak gravitational pull (in case the planet is too small) will allow vital atmosphere atoms required to sustain life to escape into space. A planet too near its sun will also tend to boil off its atmosphere into space.

There must be a correct atmosphere composition or else water or liquid cannot exist to support life. Only within a hairline band of immense temperature spectrum of the universe can water manifest itself as a liquid.

This atmosphere must also be thick enough to protect the planet from bombardment by meteors. The atmosphere must also contain an ozone belt to protect life from death-dealing rays from its sun.

We are describing only the very basic conditions required for the simplest forms of life to exist. More complex life forms require far more exacting conditions. The earth has all these requirements plus millions more in perfect harmony to sustain life in all its wondrous forms.

The remarkable picture story relayed by the Mars Rover from the battered surface of Mars emphasized one graphic truth – the incredible uniqueness of the planet Earth among its peers in its own solar system.

The haunting hope that the photos of Mars would reveal some form of life, perhaps evidence of a long-since perished advanced society which built canals and cities slowly faded into impossibility.

As the photos came in, one by one, the Marian landscape revealed a crater-marked wasteland apparently unchanged by any water erosion. The lack of erosion on Mars means that no wind or water erosion has changed or affected Mars’s surface for an untold number of years – scientist assume perhaps two to five billion years.

No oceans, no streams, no pattern of watercourse like we might see on earth – even in our deserts. No sign that there had ever been any seas – ever. NO volcanic evidence, no foliage, no cloud cover, no movement – nothing. Only a wasteland, pock-marked with the evidence of constant meteoric bombardment.

Even the hope that in some remote and sheltered depressions some moisture might collect to sustain some form of life dimmed. Mariner IV’s radio transmission through the Martian atmosphere revealed an atmosphere so attenuated as to approximate a partial vacuum. The Martian atmosphere pressure is only 1 to 2 percent of what we experience her on earth. Even if water did collect in damp recess, it would almost instantly disappear through “flash distillation.”

Even though some hope is still held for some microscopic form of life on Mars –  the undeniable truth is still apparent Mars is a dead planet. Mars is a void and a wasteland - there is no life there.

Mars, said scientists, was by far the most likely prospect for life in some form in our own solar system. The next most likely was Venus, almost the same size as Earth but 26 million miles closer to the sun. United States Mariner probes have revealed the surface temperatures on Venus are an unbearable 800 to 900 degrees Fahrenheit. The surface pressure on Venus, because of its dense and noxious atmosphere is 75 to 100 times what it is here on Earth. Any surface creatures on Venus would have to be capable of withstanding the same pressure we would encounter at an ocean depth of 2500 feet – nearly one-half mile below the surface of the ocean.

All analyses of data concerning the atmosphere of Venus indicates poisonous ammonia and carbon dioxide plus other complicated combinations. These would make impossible any forms of life compatible with intelligence. The inevitable conclusion must be that Venus also has no life.

The other planets of our solar system are either too close, too far, too big or too small. The only planet in our solar system that has the fantastically narrow limits of life compatibility is the planet Earth.

Just the mathematical possibilities of there being intelligent creatures, if there are other planets revolving around some of those other stars or sun out there, is very, very remote.

Some mathematical conclusions have been made regarding these possibilities. Informed scientists have said that taking a quantity of 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (ten sextillion) possible planets out there somewhere, the possibility of a technical civilization on one of them would be ten sextillions to one. Rather slim chances!

Approaching the possibilities another way, Sir John C. Eccles, a Nobel Prize winning scientist specializing in the study of the cerebellum in the brain, said that the evolution of intelligent life was a lucky break and that the chances of it happening again are insurmountable. He stated the chances of the right combination of circumstances occurring again (which circumstances the evolutionary theorists are not sure they know) to produce intelligent life are about 400,000 trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion to one!

One must come to the inevitable conclusion: This “good earth” with its lovely and benign environment, with its abundance of plenty, if we would only learn to use it for the mutual good of mankind, is a rare and choice spot indeed. And, we must also conclude that the unique creature, man, with the attendant creation around him, is unique in the universe.

No wonder the late physicist Enrico Fermi, after he studied contemplation about the relationship of each to the vast but lifeless universe; concluded: “Where is everybody?”

Whatever the process that produced the environment here on earth and the complex life forms including the unique creature man; the process itself must be unique in all the universe. With all those odds, did intelligent life really happen by chance? Was some unique “lucky break” responsible for an unheard-of freak of chances? Did inanimate matter – for some bizarre reason yet undiscovered give birth to living matter? Can inanimate matter by some unknown law begin a process of evolution to produce thought, consciousness and awareness? Is man, with his dreams to conquer space and his sensitive and acute awareness of things around him, the result of the inherent qualities of dust, rock and gas? Can matter truly beget man?

If man is practical at all and sensitive in any way to the reason of the universe around him, he cannot ignore the concept that the human being is not a freak chance spawned from mindless matter, but the unique creation of a greater intelligence than his own, a Creator, God!

The only logical answer that really satisfies all the demands of what man is encountering is that man was designed and thought out. That man’s environment was planned. And that man has an ultimate goal.

Man could know the answers!

What is man? Why is man? What is this vast universe all about? The answers are clearly revealed by the One who made man. They are revealed in the Instruction Book that goes along with the product.

Are you willing to at least take a look? Here is a book that asks the BIG questions: What is man anyway? What is his purpose? Why is he here? Where did he come from? This book – the Bible – asks: “What is man, that thou art mindful of him? Or the son of man, that thou visitest him” (Heb. 2:6)?

The God who speaks in this book doesn’t leave man without an answer? He reveals: “I have made man a little lower than the God Family, but I have given him a measure of glory and honor. I have made him to have dominion over the works I have made” (v. 7).

How satisfying it is to really know that man is here for a reason. How gratifying to know there is guided purpose and plan to everything we see in all the vast creation around us. Have you ever looked into the book of Hebrews in your Bible? It goes on to say: “Thou hast put all things in subjection under his (man’s) feet. For in that He (God) put all in subjection under him (man), He left nothing that is not put under him” (v. 8).

It is therefore right for man to look out into the vastness of the creation with its endless scope and contemplate dominion over it. God intends it that way. But, it ought to be clear to man by virtue of the limitations of his physical makeup and the vastness and fathomless distances of space that he is simply not equipped in his present form to have dominion over all that he sees “out there.”

Again God does not leave man without an answer: continuing in verse 8 we see the answer: “But now we see not yet all things put under him (man).”

Yes, man’s present capacities and conditions are not adequate for a job that big. Man has done too wretched a job on his own planet to be allowed, now, to spread his unsolved problems, lusts and vices around the universe.

God’s revealed knowledge makes clear what is the first step to interplanetary space travel and the conquest of space. Man must be changed!

We do not yet see all things put under man’s dominion, but it is also clear that we can see how they will be. We see how men can be changed in the example of Jesus who is called Christ, who is the Captain or Pioneer of the change that must occur in man (vs. 9-10). Until men have submitted themselves to God and of His ways, men will never conquer space.

Men should look around then into the vast creation of God. There is a God and to Him and to His ways man will submit. Then God shall equip man with the ability to truly conquer all space and, with God, promulgate truth, honesty, love, and peace throughout the creation. Until man does this he will be restrained to this planet.

“The heaven, even the heavens are the Lord’s: but the earth hath He given to the children of men” (Ps. 115:16).

Man’s time is fast running out here on earth. Parallel with his premature efforts to move out into the universe, the degeneracies and problems on earth have proliferated. It is now possible by several different means to annihilate all human life from the face of planet earth. God is not going to permit this kind of leadership and rulership to permeate His creation.

Soon God must intervene in world affairs and enforce peace and order through His personal rule here on earth. Then men will learn the kind of life God wants spread throughout His creation. The lessons of man’s failures will help him to see that God’s way is indeed the only way.

Mankind will undergo a change once these lessons are learned. God will impart to men sonship and membership in the Family of God, which will make them like He is (I John 3:2).

Men, transformed, will then be ready for the purpose God originally created them for. To have dominion over the works of His – God’s hand. Then, and only then, will men conquer and rule space.

The only reason that God granted man to set foot on the moon, to let him see that indeed the heavens are the Lord’s but the earth has He given to the sons of men – until they learn who rules in the kingdom of men.

How graphic and true were the reaction of the astronauts when they turned from their orbital examination of the alien surface of the moon and said: “How are things back there on the good earth?”

If you would like to understand more of the magnificent plan of the great God whose purpose is being worked out here on the “good earth,” read our two articles – God’s Master Plan of Salvation and God’s Plan for Mankind – The Family. Also, be watching for the posting of our two-part sermon message— “Can Man Become God?

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