Stephen Hawking’s new book, The Grand Design declares that God did not create the universe or rather that God is not necessary for the big bang to inflate. As a spiritual person and a fairly intelligent student of science I find that I am offended by his conclusion. To dismiss the idea of a creator due to the law of gravity is ludicrous. Countless times in human history our ideas of religion have been adjusted due to science, and I believe that to be a good thing. I feel that is what we must do now. Copernicus showed us that we were too self centered and that we need to look outside of the box. He did this by proving that we were not the center of the universe (The Earth orbited around the Sun). This suggested that if we were God’s only ant farm we were not the centerpiece in His living room. Ok Copernicus lets look outside the box.
We live on Earth. Earth is one of eight planets in our solar system. Two of the eight may have been habitable at one point in the solar system’s history (one for sure). This solar system is one of a multitude of planetary systems that exist in our galaxy. Our galaxy is one of the hundreds of billions of galaxies in the observable universe. So if we are God’s only ants we don’t live in the only ant farm that he has in his house. I must admit that if God has created other beings that he has not told us about I feel sort of insignificant and hurt.
We have discovered around 500 planets outside of our solar system. Most of these bodies are deemed “Hot Jupiters,” meaning that they are large gas giants close enough to their parent stars to gravitationally disturb the stars orbit enabling us to detect their presence. Although most of these are definitely uninhabitable to humans, some recent large somewhat earthlike bodies have sparked our interest. These bodies are in what is termed the Goldilocks zone, which gives the planet adequate heat and energy while allowing for liquid water to be present. It is imperative to note that these planets have not been proven to harbor life. Ok we have established that if there is a God He does allow for the existence of humans, myself being proof. With all of these things in mind we can come to a variety of conclusions.
The first of these conclusions is that we are the sole beneficiaries of creation and God simply lets the rest of creation exist to impress us or to demonstrate His power and glory for some other purpose such as prevention of boredom. Perhaps it is feeble of me to personify God, perhaps not. If God created other planets perhaps He did it to show us that He could make others and that He chose not to because He loves us, but again perhaps that is wishful thinking.
The other conclusion that rears its head is that there is life out there and that life is either primordial or well advanced. The first of these seems much more likely and a prerequisite for the later. If there is life out there religions will have to adjust to the new knowledge that we consume from this extragalactic Garden of Eden. Specifically, Christianity will be faced with the question of whether or not Jesus visited these planets and died on them. If so that makes us seem even more insignificant and irrelevant. Maybe some of those civilizations even embraced him on first encounter? Maybe that is where God is now? In the Bible God gave man dominion over the Earth. Is that where our jurisdiction ends? We did go to the Moon, and we do have probes flying across our solar system as you read this, with intent on making the first contact with other civilizations. This type of thinking is what makes me lose sleep. I wish there was a, "FAQ to God," hotline that could help me troubleshoot. I am perplexed as to why it seems that the general public doesn’t really care about this issue with the exception of what I consider pitifully funded attempts such as SETI.
The point is I have no idea why we are here. Maybe it is to love one another and live on Earth until our Sun inflates into a red giant and consumes Earth as its oceans boil. Maybe it is to pollinate the beautiful galaxies of the universe for eternal life. Maybe Hawking is right and it was an accident. Although I think it may be possible that God put us in a metaphoric snow globe and is watching to see what will happen after the flakes settle. What do you think?