Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 18, 1971

This Lonely Earth


The more we learn of space, the more awesome and frightening becomes our isolation upon this tiny planet. The idea of vast empty reaches of nothingness has always been difficult for man to accept. Primitive man filled the space above him with fairies, ghosts, spirits, invisible beings of all sorts. The universe was a rather snug little place, much like a bowl inverted on a plate. Above the bowl were the gods who were superior beings (although their conduct was not always what it should be); and beneath the plate were the demons, terrifying, to be sure, but company of a sort.

Then came Galileo with his telescope and destroyed this neat boxed-in cosmos. It was hard for man to accept the new world into which he gradually came — a very tiny ball whirling through empty space at the rate of a thousand miles a minute. Suddenly man feels as lonely as Robinson Crusoe cast away on a remote island. Our very nearest neighbor is over two hundred thousand miles away, and nobody lives there, not even lunatics. At least Neil Armstrong and the other earthlings who have walked the surface of that neighbor made no contact with any intelligent beings. Next after the moon comes Venus, twenty-seven million miles off on the road to the sun; while in the other direction is Mars, which is more than forty-eight million miles away. The four big planets farther out are so cold (three or four hundred degrees below zero Fahrenheit) that it seems highly improbable that any kind of life could exist there, besides which they are gaseous in substance so that a man would sink in their depths as he would in the ocean. The only other planet, Mercury, is so close to the sun that it has a temperature of 450 degrees, and no life such as we know could survive in such heat.

Human existence requires such a close adjustment of both physical and chemical conditions that it is extremely unlikely that it will ever be found anywhere other than this tiny planet. And even here, both science and Scripture speak with a single voice (for once) telling us that the time will come when this earth will no longer be habitable.

So what? As we face the inevitable extinction of the human race, the final death of all living things, are we filled with a sense of futility and despair? Are all our hopes and dreams and longings to end in a gigantic conflagration (as the Scripture says) in which the earth will disintegrate and melt with fervent heat? or (as some scientists say) on a frozen planet whirling endlessly through the darkness of outer space while uncounted eons of time continue to go by?

The Christian feels neither lonely nor isolated. He is in the hands of a Father who loves him. The vastness of the universe does not overwhelm him; he is not frightened when someone compares our planet (in relation to the universe) to a single grain of sand in the Sahara Desert. For God knows where that grain of sand is; He sent his Son to die for the few miserable beings who inhabit that grain. And for those who recognize and follow Him, he has provided a destiny beyond the wildest dreams of even the most imaginative. Man may be utterly lost and bewildered in this awesome universe; he may shrink, in comparison with it, to the proportions of a germ too tiny for even the most powerful microscope to find. But God knows! And God loves him. That is all he needs to know.

As our knowledge of the universe expands — and even yet the most knowledgeable men in astronomy cannot conceive of its borders — the dull and stolid ones are likely to grow frightened and fearsome. We are so small, so isolated, so lonely! But the believing ones have a spokesman who has put their feelings into words of truth and beauty, "I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto hint against that day." With such a friend, earth loses its loneliness; and mankind lives in hope of a better day and a better life.

— F. Y. T.