Humans: Small, but Beloved

The Appetizer is the Article…

In Creation Evolution’s Headlines “SETI Communication Only Outward So Far“, the author starts out with a swift overview and critique of the search for (probably) non-existent aliens. This remark is particularly choice:

How is our own intelligence to be explained? One remarked that “‘exaggerated’ intelligence, as in humans, may be a rare accident of chance, as rare as a peacock’s tail.” Stuff happens. Maybe that’s why Space.com’s opening graphic shows constellations: the peacock, an octopus, and the profile of Charles Darwin, author of the Stuff Happens Law.

Now, you might wonder how on earth did science ever get started with such a dismissive attitude to reason, logic, and the order of the universe? It didn’t of course: it is rooted in a Christian worldview, where 1) a God who loves order and creativity, law and liberty, created  the heavens and the earth, and all that is in it, and 2) God wants us to understand it. We are not God, so we can never understand everything: but we should understand as much as we can, without breaking the Commandments.

[So, you can’t stuff infants in ovens, set the heat to 350 C, and see how long it takes before the infant stops screaming. I can already hear the materialists screaming about God daring to tell them what to do… or is that Planned Parenthood?]

…But the Meat is in the Afterward

First, the author touches on what is common knowledge…. but is forbidden to say in the Right Circles.

Isn’t it ironic how the believers in SETI hate intelligent design, but find it very useful? They use intelligence to project messages, and they would certainly infer intelligent causes if they detected complex specified information from space. They know it’s possible to distinguish natural causes from intelligent causes, even when you can’t identify the designer. That’s the core principle of intelligent design.

But now, comes the part that is germane to the core principle of Across the Stars: “God don’t make that vast lifeless and dead cosmos to stay lifeless and dead!”

The possibility that Earth is unique in the universe as an abode for intelligent physical beings should not be dismissed too quickly, even with quintillions of stars out there. For one, it fits the empirical evidence from SETI (i.e., complete silence). For another, humans are not obscure, being about halfway in size between subatomic particles and galaxies.* Finally, we have the Creator’s word that he formed Earth to be inhabited (Isaiah 45:18–20). Nowhere did He say that He created other physical beings with souls outside of the Earth. And Earth was so special in His plan, He sent His Son to redeem the rebels that turned from Him.

That should not imply, however, that the rest of the universe is wasted space. Nothing is wasted if He creates things for His own pleasure (Revelation 4:11). We don’t know the abode of the angels, who are extremely numerous according to the Bible, with ranks and hierarchies of power. And God’s future plans for the universe, and humans within it, are only vaguely revealed. Furthermore, heaven may not be limited to the dimensions we can currently sense.

*Consider these four arguments for the unique existence of humans in a vast universe. (I, your humble commentator David Coppedge, have not found these discussed by others, so I’m going to claim priority unless shown otherwise. I’ve taught these ideas at star parties for several years.)

..and, highlighted in a different colour…

Why are humans so small in a vast universe?

  1. We appear small by necessity. Given the laws of physics that make atoms and stars possible, human beings must be smaller than rocky planets of a limited size with sufficient gravity to hold them to the planet’s surface. They must also orbit a star with the right mass and type to permit a suitable environment on that planet.

  2. If God had made us larger than planets and stars, we could not exist, because our mutual self-gravity would destroy us. We would become black holes, not people. We would be incapable of communicating as God intended.

  3. If God had made us larger than planets and stars, He could easily have extended His creation by the same amount, leaving us with the same conundrum, “Why are we so small in such a vast universe?” His purpose was to declare His glory, including His omnipotence (Psalm 19:1).

  4. In the spectrum of size—from subatomic particles to galaxy clusters—there is only a narrow range suitable for the existence of complex, communicating life. At the extremes, diversity decreases, but in the middle, the capacity for individuality skyrockets. Consider: stars and galaxies fall into a limited number of categories; for the most part, they are much the same, and certainly incapable of constituting intelligent beings able to communicate. Planets, being smaller, are very diverse, but they are prisoners of gravity and the vacuum of space (SETI doesn’t plan on communicating with stars or planets, but with beings roughly our size on a planet somewhere). At the other end of the size spectrum, subatomic particles and atoms can be classified on a single sheet of paper. Diversity starts climbing with molecules, but they are too prone to atomic and electrical forces to have free will. Cells are extremely diverse, and they communicate profusely, yet only over limited areas, and without sentience as far as we know. It is only at the size range we inhabit (plants and animals) where true sentient communication between intelligent beings possessing free will is physically possible. And as humans, if Philip Rubin is right, we could theoretically project signals of our presence across the whole universe.

I like his arguments, and I think you should consider and ruminate on them.

Side Notes

The discussion of alien civilizations assumes evolutionary time scales of billions of years. Given the evidence we have, this makes intelligent alien civilizations impossible, as the universe should have been covered with the evidence of their existence by now, from radio signals to STL starships to reorganized star systems. On the scale of even 100 million years – never mind billions – there should be reorganized galaxies by now!

But, if you assume a universe of ~6000 years of age, it’s perfectly possible that there could be tons of alien civilizations out there…. who merely happen to be back in the stone age, or have just started STL settlements, or discovered radio communication 1000 years ago (and happen to be 1,100 light years away…)

The scientists won’t like it, if they discover alien civilizations… and 1) they are all horrified/disgusted by our sinfulness, and 2) they are far closer to the Christian God than we are.

As God sent His Son to die for us, and as there is no hint of alien life in the Bible, I’m confident that there is no such thing. But if there is any, I’m sure that we will meet them only after Christians have finished their duty to disciple all the nations here on earth, and Christ has returned to rule in the flesh… and has disposed of all of His enemies, dead and alive, human and otherwise.

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