Vastness of the Universe

Just how large is the universe God created? In our galaxy alone, there are about 200 billion stars. Do you comprehend the number 200 billion?

  1. If you counted one number per second (an impossible feat for large numbers), it would take you about 7000 years to reach 200 billion. In other words, if you started at the beginning of the first day of creation to count the stars in this galaxy, you would still be counting.
  2. If each star was the size of a match, how big a matchbox would it take to hold the stars in this galaxy? Well, I had some extra time this week. They would fill up a medium-sized church about twelve times.

Yet this galaxy is just a speck of all there is. Based on what we can see with the most powerful telescopes, astronomers estimate that there are 100 billion galaxies. But we know from Scripture that there is more out there than mortal man will ever be able to see (Jer. 31:37). If we could measure the actual size of the universe, God would cast off Israel, in violation of His own promises. But God cannot lie, so the size of the universe will always be a mystery to man in his mortal state.

Uniqueness of Man

Why did God create a universe so vast? To provide a home for many other races of intelligent life? Certainly not. Man is unique. The whole universe, enormous beyond our conception, was created for man's benefit. How do we know that besides man there is no intelligent life in the universe? If such life exists, its place in God's plan for the ages must be highly inferior to man's. Three facts in particular display how special man is.

1. The earth is the center of the universe. I do not mean that the earth is the center of motion—in other words, that everything else revolves about the earth. By "center," I mean that it dwarfs all other celestial objects in its importance.

According to Genesis 1, the earth was created on days two and three, before the sun, moon, and stars were created on day four. Its priority in creation shows that the earth has a special place in the grand scheme of things. It is not simply one of many habitable worlds. The Bible calls it God's footstool (Isa. 66:1). The image suggests not only that the earth lies in His power, but also that He constantly keeps it before Him and gives it His primary attention. If any intelligent life exists other than man, it lives in a world that is a mere satellite to the earth.

2. Man is so special to God that God Himself, in the person of God's Son, became a man. The Son will be a man forever and will always be known as the Son of man (Rev. 1:13). If any extraterrestrial race exists, it will therefore never enjoy the close relationship to God that God offers to man.

3. God has provided a Savior for man alone (Heb. 10:2). Christ died once for sin forever. Writers like C. S. Lewis who have imagined that the Son has also appeared to other races and died as their Savior are ignoring Scripture. The Son's death on a cross outside Jerusalem was a unique event, and it was solely for man's benefit (Heb. 2:9). He did not die to save the angels that sinned. Nor did He die for any race besides man. He was able to suffer in our place, drawing God's wrath for our sin upon Himself, only because He bore our likeness, the likeness of Adam; that is, only because He belonged to the race of man. His sacrifice was therefore of no value to any other race.

Someone might retort, "You have proved that man is special, but not necessarily that other races do not exist." Consider this. If they exist, they have either sinned or not sinned. But if they have sinned, God would not tolerate sin without remedy. He would instantly exterminate any sinful race without a Savior. Is it possible that there is some race of intelligent beings out there that has never fallen from innocence? But it is obvious that such a race, which had never gone astray from God's will, would hardly deserve to be treated as inferior to man, like a mere footnote to the story of the universe.

Besides, the history of Adam and Eve shows that pure innocence cannot resist the desire for greater knowledge of good and evil. Pure innocence linked with complete ignorance of evil is an unstable condition. In eternity we will not be naive like Adam and Eve. Nor will the angels be naive. We will know enough about evil and its consequences to abhor it. Therefore, we will never sin. But it is unlikely that any race unacquainted with evil could remain ignorant of it forever.

So, we have finally come to the conclusion that races of aliens do not exist. The space program has found no evidence of life elsewhere in our solar system, although at one time science fiction writers were telling us that there is life on Mars. For a whole generation, scientists have pointed their radio telescopes at the sky, hoping to pick up some signal from intelligent extraterrestrial life, but they have heard nothing but noise.

The Impossibility of Space Exploration

Why then did God create such a big universe? So that man in his present mortal state can explore it? Certainly not. Science fiction portraying man as an explorer of the universe is a lie designed to deceive the simple. People accept Star Trek, Star Wars, and similar fantasies as believable outcomes of human progress in technology because they do not understand the restrictions God has placed on man in his fallen state. God will never permit fallen man to travel to the stars.

It is a physical impossibility. In imagining space travel, science fiction assumes that people do not know the basic laws of physics. Space travel is a mere humanistic dream with an unscientific foundation. How close is the nearest star? About twenty light years away. The distance to any significant star in the night sky is at least a hundred light years. To go across our galaxy would require a journey of about 100,000 light years. Millions of light years separate us from the nearest galaxy.

A light year is the distance light travels in one year. So even if you could go at the speed of light, it would take you years just to reach the nearest star. To reach any of the familiar stars would require whole lifetimes. To penetrate deeper into our own galaxy would take more time than the span of recorded history. To visit other galaxies would consume eons and eons of time.

Is it possible to travel at the speed of light? Light is very fast, as you doubtless know. It goes 186,000 miles per second. In one second a beam of light could circle the earth seven times. Will man ever build a spaceship capable of such speed? No, he never will. It is a basic principle of relativity that the speed of light is an absolute upper limit on speed in the universe. The reason is very simple. As a body goes faster, it gains mass. A satellite orbiting the earth weighs perhaps a few grams more that it did at takeoff. As a body approaches the speed of light, the gain in mass sharply increases. In fact, it approaches infinity. To acquire infinite mass would require an accelerating force imparting infinite energy to the accelerating body. Since there is no available source of infinite energy, it is impossible to reach the speed of light or anything close to it.

When you see a Star Trek episode featuring a spaceship with Warp drive capable of five times the speed of light, remember two things. 1) This is unadulterated nonsense. 2) Even at that speed, you would never get anywhere.

The Wonderful Future of God's People

No, man in his present condition is confined to this world. Why then did God create such a vast universe? So we can explore it not in our present state, but in our glorified state, when we have immortal, powerful, spiritual bodies untainted by sin. Our possession of glory implies that we will have an immense power plant resident within us, and our access to the spiritual plane of reality implies that we will be able to go wherever we want in a relatively short time.

Therefore, when you look at the night sky, you should say, "God made this for me." The riches of our inheritance in Christ include the whole universe. God probably intends to give you whole galaxies as your personal possession—galaxies abounding in worlds filled with life and adorned with landscapes and seascapes of breathtaking beauty. He will give these to you as a gift because He loves you. What does someone give his beloved except his very best?

I can hardly wait. I am by nature a curious person. The desire for knowledge has driven me to delve into many arcane subjects. But this world is not very satisfying. It is a world where men are stupid and cruel like beasts, where happiness is a fragile thing, where every flowering of goodness succumbs to decay and death. But the world to come is the real world, and I can hardly wait.