Thursday, April 26, 2007

New Neighbor in the Celestial Neighborhood

New 'super-Earth' found in space

Everyone is excited about this find, for different reasons. I admit an unusual excitement which I actually had to stop and analyze; I was delighted to discover that perhaps a little of the adventurous blood of the Pilgrims, pioneers, colonists and explorers was running in my veins.

To think of an entire uninhabited new world! An untapped planetary paradise, similar to our home planet, yet different. We humans, especially in America, haven't seen something so welcoming yet untouched by human hands in so long that we've never had the chance to know what that feeling must be like for our ancestors.

But excitement should be tempered with reality. The planet is 20 lightyears away, or 3.1039 x 1015 miles away, which is 31.039 x 100,000,000,000,000. Like it or not, we have no equipment capable of traveling that far.

The temperatures sound agreeable to our own, yes, but to what extremes do they reach? This new neighbor might have a fever of its own!

Scientists also aren't sure liquid water exists on the planet; only the temperatures suggest that liquid water might be available.

And what about the atmosphere? What's the gravity on this big fella?

From the spiritual angle, we know that God will pour out his judgment on mankind as described in the book of Revelation. This would make me suspect that human beings will not engage in interplanetary travel before the Lord's Return, because it seems reasonable that men might escape the judgments by hiding on other planets. The Bible speaks of increase in knowledge, transportation and communication, but nothing about extra-planetary travels.

On the other hand, God created the earth at just the right position in relation to the sun, to be hospitable for life. To find another such planet so "close" might suggest it was designed for habitation. (It is closer to its sun than our planet, but the sun is smaller and colder.) Perhaps this will be an option when the Earth is made new and sin and death are destroyed. Perhaps planetary travel was in God's original design for humankind, before we sinned.

Many are jumping on this find and thinking it will be the salvation of us all; global warming and pollution and war and disease are killing this planet. If ONLY they could make the leap to another planet, and escape the corruption and sin and greed! (T'would be a futile task; they would only bring their own sin with them, to the ruin of their utopian dreams, just like all the other pipe dreams of communes vowing to separate from the "evils" of the world outside.)

Others suggest that this planet's seemingly agreeable climate might be the contact with other life that we've been looking for. I don't believe we'll ever find life outside of this planet, but truth be told, I don't care if these people are motivated by global warming, oil (which wouldn't be present on another planet anyway, but that's another story) or by aliens. Just so long as something stimulates the free market towards developing the means to travel more efficiently through space.

Oh, and Dave has a suggestion for naming this new planet. Let's call it: Terra.

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