Tag Archives: Earth

Significance

Mankind’s place in creation.

Pale Blue Dot photograph of Earth taken on February 14, 1990, by Voyager 1 space probe

I think that everyone likes to think that they have some significance, that they mean something or contribute something, that their life has some meaning. At some stage in each life, I think that everyone contributes something to some degree.

For most of us individually our significance is probably within a relatively small circle of people, friends, our employe, maybe clubs we’re a member of. We contribute to the significance of those groups of which we are members, communities, charities, political parties for example.

For a few people, politicians, national and global business leadres, top sportsmen and women, they are individually hugely significant, perhaps too much so especially sportspeople and entertainers.

Often the degree of significance grows with the size of group perhaps even country, sometimes by population sometimes by wealth, But what is the significance of humanity?

We almost certainly overstate our global collective significance. Human arrogance perhaps? I think that the picture I’ve included with this post might be a reasonable illustration of humanity’s significance in the great scheme of things. Can you see the pale blue dot? That’s us, planet Earth.

The picture was taken at the edge of our solar system. The next nearest star to our own sun, Alpha Centauri, is 4.3 light years away. Our sun is roughly 8 light minutes away. Beyond Alpha Centauri are billions of other stars at even greater unimaginable distances. Is this the real measure of humanity’s significance?

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A New Heaven And a New Earth

Are they one and the same?

In The Bible’s book of Genesis, humankind are given “dominion” over the plantet upon which we live. At the end of The Bible, in Revelation, we are told of “a new heaven and a new earth”, which are also the final words of the book Unveiling a Parallel. which I reviewed here, that inspired this post.

At the end of the Unveiling a Parallel story, the unnamed traveller to the planet Mars saw in the society of that planet what could be a different way of living for the humanity of this Earth. He came to appreciate how the people of Mars lived an idyll; a new heaven. Or, what could be heaven like if Earth’s humanity could learn to live peacefully together.

Earth’s humanity has taken “dominion” as giving ourselves the right to exploit the planet, usually for profit. We have forgotten that dominion also confers responsibility to respect and protect, to manage and steward Earth’s resources in a way that does not harm the planet. We have ignored these inconvenient aspects of dominion.

Humankind has taken oil and coal, metals and minerals from planet Earth with little regard to the consequences. We have poisoned great tracts with chemicals and pumped greenhouse gas into the atmosphere. We have cut down great swathes of the trees that make the oxygen we breathe. Ee face global warming and an uncertain future, largely due to our quest for profit, which ignores the inconvenient truths.

What if, taking Revelation as as a illustration, a new parable maybe, the new heaven and new earth were one and the same?

The traveller to Mars sees a society, and a way of living, that he perceives as a potential heaven on Earth, if only we people of planet Earth could overcome our petty squabbles, wars, injustice, violence and exploitation of the the Earth’s resources for profit.

What might be our new heaven and new earth? Could the new heaven and new earth be one and the same? We are, albeit slowly, beginning to realise the harm we are are doing to our planet. The only planet we know that can support human life.

Could it be that if we fully realise the extent of our destruction of the planet, it is not too late to do something about it?

It took millions of years for planet Earth to evolve to a human habitable environment. It took only a few hundred to strip it and damage it, to its present state. As with everything, damage to the planet was inflicted much, much faster than its evolution and our ability to repair that damage.

But suppose for a moment we do repair the damage. It will probably take generations; thousands of years to return it to the state it took hundreds to bring to its current state. If all the people of the planet started tomorrow to repair the damage, it would take generations to repair and recover but at the end of it all, our descendants could once again live on a clean, fecund planet. Perhaps a new Heaven and a new Earth.

Heaven

Is it eternal?

If you ask anyone who believes in heaven if it is eternal, the chances are most people will answer yes. But is it?

In the very first verse of The Bible (NIV UK) it says “In the beginning God created the Heavens” (note the plural) “and the Earth”. This might indicate that it is not just referring to Heaven in the context of being with God, in His realm. It could also also suggests that there are physical heavens, such as we often describe the sky, stars and the universe in which our tiny planet is like a mote.

If we assume that “the heavens” might be a physical manifestation, then Heaven, the realm or kingdom where we will be with God, might be eternal. But, just because it has always existed, does that mean it will always exist?

In 2 Peter 3:13 and also in Revelation 21:1 ” a new heaven and a new earth” is referred to. There is a lot of The Bible that cannot be taken literally, so we need to look for a deeper meaning. Phrased as it is, we cannot dismiss the possibility that Heaven is not eternal.

Is it possible that Earth might become the new heaven? “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good” (Genesis 1:31) .Please note it is only “very good”, not perfect. So before there can be a new heaven, would we first need a new Earth? And if there was a heaven, and then a new heaven, it cannot be eternal.