Will Earth Die a “Natural” Death?
According to recent research, the devastating, although not very urgent, news on the long-term status of planet Earth is now in. Clara Moskowitz, a staff writer for Space.com, recently reported that new calculations suggest the Earth will be sucked into the Sun and burned to a crisp in 7.6 billion years (2008). The new “findings” come from work done by Robert Smith, former professor at the University of Sussex, in association with astronomer Klaus-Peter Schroeder.
Smith warned that while 7.6 billion years might seem like too far in the distant future to cause concern, things would get deadly several billions of years before that. He proposed that in about one billion years the Earth will be so close to the Sun that there will be “no atmosphere, no water and a surface temperature of hundreds of degrees, way above the boiling point of water” (as quoted in Moskowitz).
The reason for Earth’s expected demise is a slowing down of the Earth’s orbit caused by gravitational forces from the Sun as well as forces from gas that the Sun expels. As bleak as Earth’s eventual destruction sounds, Smith is still upbeat. Moskowitz reported: “Some scientists have proposed a scheme for down the road to use the gravity of a passing asteroid to budge Earth out of the way of the sun toward cooler territory, assuming there is life around at the time that is intelligent enough to engineer this solution” (2008). Concerning this bizarre solution, Smith commented that it sounds like science fiction, but “[i]f it is done right, that would just keep the Earth moving fast enough to keep it out of harm’s way. Maybe life could go on for as much as 7 billion years” (as quoted in Moskowitz).
The problem with all this doomsday talk is that the biggest factor in the equation is left out—God. Humans have become so conceited and filled with a false sense of importance that some actually think we not can only predict our planet’s ultimate destruction, but also postpone it if there are still some intelligent scientists (like present ones) who are around when the time comes.
The fallacy of this line of thinking was pointed out almost 2,000 years ago by the inspired apostle Peter. In his second epistle, Peter discussed scoffers who would say: “Where is the promise of His [Jesus’—KB] coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation” (2 Peter 3:4). Notice the uniformitarian assumption of Peter’s scoffers. They assume that all things continue as they are now and will continue that way.
Apply that to Smith’s research. Since the Earth’s orbit is slowing down slightly at the present, he assumes that it will continue to do so for the next 7.6 billion years. But Peter reminds the scoffers that they are willfully forgetting something very important, “that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water” (2 Peter 3:5-6). The key factor in the world’s creation, preservation, and destruction is not ongoing, current natural processes, but the “word of God” that created the world and destroyed life on the Earth in the Flood of Noah. Peter concludes his thoughts by saying: “But the heavens and the earth which now exist are kept in store by the same word, reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men” (2 Peter 3:7).
When the Lord enacts His plan to destroy the physical Universe, including our planet Earth, then it will be destroyed, not before (see Butt, 2003). All uniformitarian theories about Earth’s eventual demise are vain mental gymnastics. Instead of looking 7.6 billion years into the future, we all should realize that the destruction of this physical Universe will come as a thief in the night (at any time). “Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness” (2 Peter 3:11)?
Butt, Kyle (2003), “What Will Happen When Jesus Comes Again?,” [On-line], URL: http://apologeticspress.org/articles/2311.
Moskowitz, Clara (2008), “Earth’s Final Sunset Predicted,” Science.com, [On-line], URL: http://news.yahoo.com/s/space/20080226/sc_space/earthsfinalsunset predicted;_ylt=AtenKy4HBtxHEO3FFWp5w.kiANEA.