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On Feb. 15 an asteroid will pass by the earth in what is considered by NASA to be a close approach (see record setting asteroid flyby). There’s no danger of collision, and even if there was, it wouldn’t be the end of world. But what if it was? Or to put it another way, do you believe God would allow an asteroid to end it all?

Asteroids and annihilation

On Feb. 15 an asteroid will pass by the earth in what is considered by NASA to be a close approach (see record setting asteroid flyby). There’s no danger of collision, and even if there was, it wouldn’t be the end of world. But what if it was? Or to put it another way, do you believe God would allow an asteroid to end it all?

Think about that old song “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.” World religions teach that God will never allow anything to happen to the earth, at least not before its time, before the apocalypse, before the End Times. This is the thinking behind much of the opposition to global warming. God is in control, so why should we worry? We’re the center of God’s creation, right? If not physically then at least metaphorically. We’re made in his image. How could God ever let an asteroid annihilate us? 

But let’s take a step back. In late antiquity (something like 300 to 700 CE), people believed Jerusalem was the center of the world. See the ancient map below. Notice also it’s a sphere, not flat. Don’t believe the popular myth that people once believed the earth was flat. They never did. But I’m off topic.

Then in the high middle ages, Christianity taught that the earth was the center of the solar system.  If you know the story of Galileo, he showed that wasn’t true either. In many respects, world religions still hold we’re the center of God’s universe. Unfortunately, we’re just one of more than 100 billion systems in the Milky Way galaxy, and the Milky Way is just one of over 100 billion galaxies in the universe. Do the math and there are over 10 sextillion stars (1 followed by 22 zeroes). We’re an insignificant star on the edge of an insignificant galaxy. And who knows how many other life forms are out there on other planets? Are we so much better than all of them that God should make us the center of it all? 

Think about this scientific idea called the Copernican Principle, named after Nicolaus Copernicus, that says our place in the universe is not special. One place is pretty much like any other place. There are no privileged positions in regards to the laws of science or asteroids. Einstein used this principle in developing his theories with regard to relativity. An asteroid is just as likely to strike the earth as it is any other object in space. 

This can be seen historically also. Take the black plague as an example. When it was all done, the plague killed something like one-third the population of the earth, something that might happen if we were struck by an asteroid. The fascinating question for me is why did it stop? Why didn’t the plague just go ahead and annihilate all of us? It certainly could have. Somewhere around 99.9% of all species that have ever existed are now extinct. So is it by genetic variance, luck, or God’s providence that we are still here?

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14 comments

  1. Interesting question — questions, really. I believe God’s providence has something to do with it, but God’s providence isn’t necessarily limited to our tiny planet in our insignificant galaxy. But I don’t profess to know how God’s providence interacts with the created universe and its attendant laws.

    Though I agree that nothing will happen to the entire earth before its time, I don’t think this rules out cataclysmic events that happen to parts — or even most — of the earth. The black plague is a great example of this. And I am definitely not in agreement with those who choose to ignore the mandates for humans to care for creation because it’s not God’s time to destroy the entire earth. There’s a whole lot that can happen between Eden-esque conditions and total annihilation. At the very least, we should consider quality of life an issue when pondering things such as global warming.

  2. One could easily see all of human life as existing in the short span between catastrophic impacts. The earth and moon show all the evidence of being continuously pummeled by giant space rocks. We are just too short-sighted and short-living to imagine how actually frequently our earth is violently shaken.

  3. Amy and Sam- Good/interesting observations!

  4. From one of my favorite essays:

    “From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest. But for us, it’s different. Consider again that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.” — Carl Sagan

  5. Sagan had such a great way of communicating! He could put some difficult ideas into pictures everybody could see.

  6. Sam,

    Wow, Sagan’s quote is poetic! Thanks for sharing

  7. Good article! Have you heard that some have blamed this on global warming? Seriously…

  8. Thanks Joe. No, I haven’t heard that. If you get a chance, post the link here.

  9. I still believe that Jerusalem is the center of the world prophetically speaking. The Bible says that The Lord Jesus Christ will yet rule the earth from there. That’s also why I believe that an asteroid will not destroy the earth. God is already working out plan A exactly according to schedule and when One is in possession of all His attributes plan B is unnecessary!

  10. Also, when the late Mr. Sagan wrote that all those we ever loved, every king, every moral teacher, or supreme leader was from here, he forgot (or more likely purposely left out) the Son of God. Thank God that He willingly chose to enter our world from His glorious position and kingdom outside of ours to do for us what no one else possible could, in order to secure, for all that would wholly trust in Him, a place outside this present world for eternity!

  11. One more thing, in regard to our not being in a special place in the vast universe. Rather than take up the space here, look up a video entitled, “The Privileged Planet”. It will thrill you to the core and give you conviction that we are located in the exact position for maximum ability to view God’s amazing universe, and more.

  12. Thanks for thoughts Dennis. What about the possibility of life on other planets? Are we the only intelligent life forms in the entire universe, then? Are we the only ones made in the image of God? And how does Jerusalem become the center of their world too?

  13. Hi Bruce. I see the universe being created for God’s glory according to His revelation of Himself in scripture. When it comes to what’s in scripture, I’m all in in terms of believing all of what it has to say. That includes, then, God’s attribute of omnipotence. To me the universe is mind-boggling in size, content and operation or precision. But to an omnipotent God, creating the universe was as easy as speaking the words, so I don’t find it unusual that He would do it by focusing on one planet and the beings on it created in His image. If the Son of God Himself came here, suffered and died as the God-Man to redeem His own creatures, then I have no problem thinking we are at the center of the plan. It doesn’t make me feel big or important, mostly humbled that God would do such a thing. I don’t believe there are other inhabited worlds, but I’m not sure how angels and the fallen angels, satan’s demons, operate in the universe. They don’t seem to be isolated to earth yet, but not sure about that. I do believe they will be bringing false wonders in the heavens, at some point, to deceive those who reject Christ.

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