Writings and News
Mar 19, 2013
Recently, in an interview with Rainn Wilson, Elon Musk—founder of Paypal, champion of atheistic science and aspiring Mars Colonizer—in response to a question about why he would want to colonize Mars said this: “Because, uh, I think that’s the best place where humans can become a multi-planet species, and a space-bearing civilization, cause I think that’s one of the most important things that we could accomplish. Uh, in fact I think it’s important enough that it would actually fit on the scale of evolution itself. You know, I think perhaps it is at least as important as life going from the oceans to land. The probability of consciousness existing for a long time, uh, would be much greater if we were on two planets.” Later, he answered the question, “What do you worship?” with, “Well, I don’t really worship anything, but I do devote myself to the advancement of humanity, uh, using technology.”
So his highest goal in his life is to ensure the existence of the human race as long as possible. But, I suppose as an atheist, it is the highest “good” to which he can aspire. What struck me was how his words echo, almost exactly, the sentiments of the atheist, Mars-colonizing villain, Weston in C.S. Lewis’s Out of the Silent Planet. When faced with an alien civilization that asks him why he would want to colonize Mars and disposes them Weston gives the following response:
“To you I may seem a vulgar robber, but I bear on my shoulders the destiny of the human race. Your tribal life with its stone-age weapons and beehive huts, its primitive coracles and elementary social structure, has nothing to compare with our civilization – with our science, medicine and law, our armies, our architecture, our commerce, and our transport system which is rapidly annihilating space and time. Our right to supersede you is the right of the higher over the lower . . . Life is greater than any system of morality; her claims are absolute. It is not by tribal taboos and copy-book maxims that she has pursued her relentless march from the amoeba to man and from man to civilization.”
“Well, I don’t really worship anything, but I do devote myself to the advancement of humanity, uh, using technology.” “Life is greater than any system of morality.” You’d think Mr. Musk and Mr. Weston had been sharing notes. Even in our ironic era, the goal of atheistic materialists has not changed. And C.S. Lewis is still a genius.
R. Eric Tippin
In The Study on 8th Street
Mar 15, 2013
"Why should not a man say, ‘I like this cozy little cosmos, with its decent number of stars and as neat a provision of live stock as I wish to see.’”
Every now and then I wonder at the size of the universe, and every time I come to the same conclusion: Either it is very large or I am very small. It is true, the universe is the largest thing we know, but we know so little, really. We think it is gigantic, romantic and hauntingly cold and beautiful, but as universes go It could be a rather medium-sized, homely one. The truest statement we can make about the general size of our personal universe is, that in comparison to us, it is rather hefty—like the bags.
The next question to be addressed is, “Why?” Why is our universe so large, so spread out, so maddeningly outside our ability to explore it? Space may be the final frontier, but it is a frontier into which we have barely inched. Our little attempts at going to the moon and mars are like swimming a couple meters off the coast of California and claiming we have explored the Ocean. We could go farther, but current technology only allows us to reach the nearest star system as decayed bones or at best, fossils—not an ideal condition in which to go exploring or collect data.
It seems that God has ordained humankind to stay on earth, at least for now; it is also clear he has not told us directly what is reasoning is for this. So I would like to guess. You will be tempted to call some of my conjectures science fiction, but I answer that it is only science if it is practical and only fictional if it is untrue. The following guesses on the reason for the size of the universe are neither practical nor, provably untrue. Better call them “Impractical Possibilities,” or better yet, “Silly Guesses.”
1. God made the universe so colossal in proportion to humans simply to show them his grandeur--as a sort of exhibition of lights soely for the benefit of Earth's inhabitants. In this view, the far flung galaxies, nebulae and gas clouds are as they appear through telescopes—lifeless and beautiful to behold from earth. They are simply signposts on a cosmic scale pointing to the work of a powerful creator and sustainer. Earth may not be at the center of the universe on the “Atlas of the Cosmos” but it is the cultural, spiritual and biological center—the only life-sustaining planet fashioned by God, when he created the universe ex nihilo (out of nothing).
I would guess this is the view held by the vast majority of Christians. It also happens to be the most uninteresting and, to be frank (sometimes I get tired of being Eric), boring option. It also has two major flaws: (Run away! It’s a list within a list!) 1. It presumes that humans are the most significant thing created in the material universe—a tad bit presumptuous for a race of beings that gave “Captain Underpants” a Kids Choice award in 2007. 2. It makes God seem arbitrary and the rest of the universe superfluous. I’m sure there are nooks and crannies out there between galaxies or behind dark matter that are lovely places to look at, but due to our spatial and visual limitations, we are unable to see or enjoy them. If humans are the only really significant material life-form in the universe, it is hard to see a purpose for all the vastness and intricacy of the second heaven—outer space. In defense of this view, God may have created those unobservable nooks and crannies for his own pleasure, without mankind in view. But, in my estimation, this theory is quite limiting and narrow for a God who is anything but limited or narrow.
2. The universe is gigantic because it was made to be explored/exploited by unfallen men and women. Now this view fires the imagination a bit! If physical death was one result of the fall (not a given, but certainly possible), then humans were made to stay in the physical universe indefinitely, procreating and recreating in innocent bliss. But, in that case, the earth would be inadequate to hold all these happy, good humans after a certain number of centuries. What a lovely thought it is that after the earth was filled, as God had commanded, there would be millions of other verdant planets, waiting to be populated with perfect humans—planets covered in lush, exotic, edible plants and colorful wildlife, never before seen by human eyes; forests of unimaginably large hardwoods ringing with unrecorded bird songs; blue and green oceans, spangled with islands and teaming with, as the French say, “the fruits of the sea” (only they say it in French). Maybe, just maybe, the universe was made to be filled by humans, but that option was removed at the fall of mankind by the elimination of some interstellar highway or mode of travel. Maybe, as you read this, those beautiful planets are quietly spinning in a solar system millions of light-years away, filled with all good things for humans to enjoy, waiting patiently for the day when all things are made new and the plan of redemption is complete.
Call it fantasy; call me crazy, but this theory is just as possible as the first, maybe more. It’s certainly more logical. It gives the universe a purpose outside of the impression it makes on humans. It gives it living purpose—to be explored and settled.
3. Now we come to my personal favorite of the possible reasons for the universe’s immense girth. God made the universe so unfathomably large to keep humans out of it—to keep us from soiling other planets and races who did not fall into sin as we did. We are quarantined by light-years of space that we have no hope of traversing alive, and the last frontier is really only the inside of a generously large but barren prison cell.
Are we so audacious as to presume we are absolutely the only intelligent life God created in this entire universe? Humans, made in the image of God, have prolific imaginations filled with visions of intergalactic alliances, elves, boy wizards and those little furry guys from Star Wars. Must God’s creativity be relegated to Earth? Granted, Earth is a lovely, romantic, complex and mostly comfortable place to live. But I would argue, there is more life in the mind of God than we see across our land and in our oceans. This theory makes the scientists’ desperate attempts to find microbial life in the underwater oceans of Jupiter’s moons comic and a little sad. They don’t realize it is our sin that makes finding life on other planets and planets’ moons impossible. God has a plan to redeem the Earth; part of that plan may be to keep us and our sin on that earth and not to spread the disease of our selfishness to races who chose not to eat their forbidden fruit—or whatever form it took on their planets (forbidden fish jerky?). The implications of this view are highly fascinating and give a new meaning to “the great multitude” of Revelation seven and an expanded view of what the new heaven and earth imply. It is important to note, each one of thse views, though differing in details, has one constant: "The heavens declare the glory of God." Whether the universe is burgeoning with life or completely sterile, its function never changes.
In 1977, the United States launched the voyager spacecraft. On that spacecraft was a golden record with a voice recording from then President Jimmy Carter (brother of the highly esteemed Billy Carter) that said in a silly southern accent to any alien life form that may find that record,
“This is a present from a small, distant world, a token of our sounds, our science, our images, our music, our thoughts and our feelings. We are attempting to survive our time so we may live into yours.”
President Carter (brother of the esteemed Billy Carter) in his little recording may have been entertaining prophecy unawares. But those who “survive our time” will be the redeemed of the LORD and not scientists with the highest IQs. So to all of the NASA scientists and space nerds longing to explore the billions upon billions of Galaxies filling our universe, your best chance of doing that will come when you fall on your knees in repentance to the God who made those Galaxies and will someday open their mysteries to the redeemed inhabitants of Earth.
R. Eric Tippin
In "The Study" on 8th Street
October 26, 2012
 Chesterton, G. K. (Gilbert Keith) (2009-10-04). Orthodoxy (p. 58). Public Domain Books. Kindle Edition.
Mar 5, 2013
On the recommendation of Gear Patrol’s list of “100 Best Books for Men: The Definitive Men’s Library” I recently read (just finished it today) The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy, the Victorian novelist and poet. I knew it was a classic, and I had a vague idea of a story about an Indian brave who escapes to the city but in the end learns the value of tribal living; boy was I wrong. It is a flowing third person narrative about country folks living on a rural heath in Eighteenth Century England. I mention the third person aspect of the book because Hardy brilliantly utilizes that voice in creative ways unknown to most books. The only other time I have been floored by 3rd person omniscient storytelling is in one of the Master and Commanderbooks by Patricky O’Brien. In the book, Captain Jack Aubrey and a woman are fox hunting (on horses of course); suddenly, as they are about to jump a hedge the perspective changes to that of the horse Captain Aubrey is riding. Hardy is no less creative with his omniscient narration power.
He considered himself a poet and it shows in his prose. Here there is no Hemmigway choppy brevity, but lovely colorful accounts of landscapes, weather, people and events. He delves into psychology, but avoids spending the entire story in the brains of his characters as many modern novels do. It isn’t too long, and the story is riveting, sad but morally astute and correct. It is a masterpiece of Victorian literature and worth the read.
R. Eric Tippin
On Victoria Road, Newton, KS
March 5, 2013