December 30, 2014

In Their Own Words XXVI: Pale By Comparison

As much as I loved Carl Sagan’s Cosmos miniseries on PBS in 1980, many of the things he said before his death leave me reeling in disbelief at their banality and lack of insight. What is even more disheartening for me is he made mistakes similar to Stephen Hawking and Richard Dawkins when he dared to venture into theological territory to make incorrect theological assumptions. In some cases it was clear he didn’t even know what he was talking about theologically. By doing so he bit off more than he could chew and it was clear from his comments that he was theologically and biblically out of his depth. His comments show sharp discontinuity with the truth of Scripture and its underlying purposes and narratives. The following quote is a perfect example of his ignorance of the Bible.

“Ann Druyan [Sagan’s wife] suggests an experiment: Look back again at the pale blue dot of the preceding chapter. Take a good long look at it. Stare at the dot for any length of time and then try to convince yourself that God created the whole Universe for one of the 10 million or so species of life that inhabit that speck of dust. Now take it a step further: Imagine that everything was made just for a single shade of that species, or gender, or ethnic or religious subdivision. If this doesn’t strike you as unlikely, pick another dot. Imagine it to be inhabited by a different form of intelligent life. They, too, cherish the notion of a God who has created everything for their benefit. How seriously do you take their claim?” ~ Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space

Theologically, this is a fail from the start. Logically, the entirety of the quote is also a fail as it takes in too many assumptions and builds arguments and false dilemmas from them. They, whether it be Carl or his wife Ann are asking us to look back at earth from a physical and emotional distance with man and the Earth as reference points. It then tells us to imagine that this “dot” (a euphemism for Earth) was created for one of 10 million species that inhabit it. This is an incorrect framing of the truth. Although the universe and all within it were created to specifically support our lives and the things within the universe lend themselves to our discovery (dominion) was not created for us in actuality. It was created so that we as humans would thrive but that was not the sole purpose for its creation, this is a misunderstanding by Sagan and his wife. They along with others misunderstand the theological purpose of Creation of the heavens, earth and man. The fact of man’s creation is missed entirely in Druyan's statement, probably because the hypothetical scenario is being formulated by an evolutionist.

The correct way to view the creation of the “pale blue dot” and mankind is simple to state but harder to elaborate on. The entire Bible points to the purpose of the Creation being for God’s glory. Here’s the thing. God is brought glory through His Creation, specifically the salvation of man in the Gospel. This is part of the reason Man was created in God’s image. Think about it, images are specifically made to represent the original. Why? It brings attention (glory) to the original. God puts man on Earth so there would be direct images of Him in the world. God allows man to fall in sin so that he could redeem them Himself through His own Son, the God-man Jesus Christ.

Isaiah 43:6-7 ~ “I will say to the north, Give up, and to the south, Do not withhold; bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”

The Heavens that Sagan often spoke of were made for the same purpose.

Psalm 19:1 ~ “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.

So when Sagan and his wife paint this image of man's insignificance in the face of such vast odds and an expansive cosmos, they miss the point of the Creation entirely. They are using mankind and mankind’s perspective as a point of reference for scale and meaning but in reality the true measure of man, the Earth and the Universe is in reality...God. So, it is clear why agnostics like Druyan and Sagan would miss this point. They have no desire to glorify an entity that they don't want to believe exists. On the other hand, as any believer knows, next to God, everything in the Creation pales by comparison (see what I did there?). This then changes the importance of man in the big picture. They are instrumental to God's purposes and His will but they are not the primary focus as Sagan and Druyan suggest.

So when people like Carl Sagan or Ann Druyan ask why Earth is the only inhabited planet, why man is the only rational inhabitant in the Cosmos or why there is such a large and empty universe...the answer is actually rather simple. The answer needs to be understood as matched and measured against God Himself. When we have such an unimaginable infinite reference point like God…even the finite universe seems to look a little smaller. Mankind and the Earth are not the correct reference point to understand life and purpose (which was the original premise for the Cosmos series). 

It’s about God, not man. 

We were only created to know Him to our benefit and to love Him as He loves us. The universe in its incomprehensibility and vastness then serves as the grandest and most expansive thing in the Creation by which we can understand God…and even the universe falls short in this endeavor. The scale and the enormity of the Cosmos is only a hint of the infinite nature of God. The irony is that we can barely get our minds around the universe that we can see. God is something else entirely.

If there is something that is pale in this analogy it is the complexion of man when matched against and infinite holy God who greater than the expansiveness of the Creation itself. The prophet Isaiah said it best when the same reality hit him too.

Isaiah 6:1-5 ~ “In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. Then said I, Woe is me for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!

Contrary to Sagan's/Druyan's statement, it is not unlikely that God created the universe or the Earth and mankind in it. What is unlikely is that there is another world inhabited by another species or race as fancied by these two. If this was true it would diminish that which Christ did on the cross to save humanity. 

1 Peter 3:18 ~ “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit…”

Hebrews 9:28 ~ " Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him."

In my Christian worldview, this is not tenable. There is no second world, there is no second death and Resurrection. It was done once and it was finished. To believe anything else is to deny the truth of Scripture. I am staking my entire worldview on the fact there is no such thing as sentient extraterrestrial life. Sagan and his wife want to believe that there are other worlds with sentient beings like humanity and it is exactly because this would diminish the need for God in their worldview. I on the other hand believe there really is no other inhabited world for the exact reasons I just explained. This isn’t really about the numbers and statistics in relation to mankind. It is about bringing glory to God. The universe was indeed created in an anthropocentric (man-centered) manner. It is in an optimal condition to support human life but it was done so to show that God did it specifically for mankind on Earth so that it would inevitably bring glory to only Him. There are no others. There are no aliens. That is topic for another post and it revolves around preconditioning humanity for accepting the demonic. As much as aliens make for really good science fiction, they don't make for good reality. Demons on the other hand do make for exceptional reality and in the movies it is sometimes called horror.


I'll leave you with a video of Vangelis' Heaven & Hell - Space Time Continuum, Part I which was one of the songs that played behind the original Cosmos miniseries in 1980. I do so mostly because of the images of the universe it shows which are pretty darn cool.

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