EARTH’S SIGNIFICANCE IN THE UNIVERSE

12/03/15. It bears repeating that the Kepler telescopic photo of planet earth from Saturn shows earth as a very dim and small dot, the size of the period after this D. Earth looks incredibly minute, alone, and insignificant in a universe which expands incredibly at least 13.7 billion light years in time and distance from each and every spot in the cosmos.

But is significance measured only in terms of size or location? There are indications that size is not singularly relevant to importance. For example, the big bang is said to have emerged from a point smaller than the tiniest subatomic component. Analogous singularities within black holes are unimaginably powerful yet infinitesmally minute. In counterpoint to size other evaluative criteria for significance and value include life, intelligence, love, compassion, truth, beauty, etc.

A second question discloses itself in the form of an objection: how could this planet be significant when earthquakes, like Nepal’s 7.8 and 7.3 quakes in April and May 2015, kill and injure thousands and displace many more? How do such catastrophes mesh with the ideas of Intelligent Design or Intelligent Designer? For that matter how does any form of painful suffering seem intelligently designed, especially when its victims are innocent?

Even if the notion of afterlife is introduced as a belated equalizer, defenders of Intelligent Design must wonder whether or not their Designer is limited in capacity to intervene. In this view any Designer would be limited by the very nature of things being what they are. God could not make a circle square at the same time and in the same respect. Bodies could not exist without eventual deterioration. In the formation of continents and land suitable for life, this planet could not exist without quaking and sometimes destroying. For religious or spiritual believers introducing the idea of Deity, limited not in itself, but in its ability to intervene, is not new.

If ideas about a Designer’s inability to intervene seem to cohere logically, how do they appear to those who suffer in actuality? Apart from intellectual comprehension of this paradox, some kind of religious or spiritual faith may comprise the only recourse. Such faith has been alleged by mystics like Theresa of Avila or John of the Cross to be activated in prayer, even if it is not sensed inside-out, but only as a “dark night of the soul.” As their faith in an Intelligent Designer continued to express itself in prayer, it shed little light about how God could exist, much less intervene.

If the framework and conclusions of these conjectures seem unsatisfactory, alternative responses include either a rejection of Intelligent Design or else the notion that human brains are too limited to comprehend it. Minds seem incapable of grasping the apparent limitations and contradictions about Design and suffering; not now, and perhaps not in the future. By logic or even by some spiritual faith, human views seem to be as limited, dim, and distanced as planet earth appears from Saturn.

Or like planet earth, does miniscule knowledge or faith retain some significance, however obscure and limited? We can respond to these questions by repeating what others have said. Or we can try harder to think more critically for ourselves. I have been reminded by Laura Taylor and by an article in the latest National Geographic of this insight: thinking critically means both thinking beyond the box and using far far more of our intellectual potential. Dolphins use a huge amount of their cognitive potential. We use relatively little.

Thinking for ourselves means that we double-check the opinions of scientists. As to whether an intelligently designed universe emerged from nothing or from a Designer who has always existed, we are as qualified as scientists to make that judgment. It reaches beyond science. Evidence for intelligent design exists at many perspectives, for example, in the electromagnetic fields present in the sun, planet earth, Antartica, the human brain, or the make-up of atoms, molecules, and cells. Atoms and galaxies often collide and planets quake, but intertwined with chaos is design. How can this be explained without a source which has always been present?

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