What Gives Humanity Purpose?
Long story short, he called and encouraged the leading nations of the world to send astronauts to the moon by 2020, build a lunar base by 2045 (roughly), and send people to Mars by 2025.
The BBC article that featured this news piece wrote that “Hawking said that the goal would re-ignite the space programme, forge new alliances and give humanity a sense of purpose.”
…give humanity a sense of purpose.
I personally don’t have anything wrong with space exploration. In my biblical worldview, space is just a bigger canvas to display the glory of God (Psalm 19:1). But when Hawking says that these goals would give humanity a sense of purpose, my mind thinks, “That’s it?”
I don’t even think I’m being that pessimistic. Don’t get me wrong, building a lunar base would be very cool. But if building the base and sending people to the moon and Mars is what gives humanity purpose, then that’s pretty small. I mean, notice the word humanity. This is Hawking’s idea for what brings purpose to humanity – space exploration and inhabitation.
We need a bigger vision. A bigger goal. A bigger purpose. Something eternal, perhaps.
But, Hawking doesn’t finish there. He goes on to say “We are running out of space [on Earth] and the only places to go to are other worlds. It is time to explore other solar systems. Spreading out may be the only thing that saves us from ourselves. I am convinced that humans need to leave Earth.” (italics added)
So, not only does Hawking propose that these goals will give humanity a sense of purpose, but he almost makes it seem like they’re necessary. As far as he can see and understand, the only thing that can save us is by leaving Earth – and he’s convinced of this.
Two points of reflection based on this news:
1) Purpose does not come from space exploration and inhabitation; it comes from living out who you were made to be. God the Father, who knit you in your mother’s womb, has a purpose for humanity – a purpose for each human. That purpose is to reflect Himself in all aspects of life. And we can only sufficiently do this in the power of the Holy Spirit that comes upon receiving the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.
2) Salvation doesn’t come from fleeing, but kneeling. I know, Hawking was speaking about the physical, but we’re taking this to the spiritual. True, real, and genuine salvation “from ourselves” is not by fleeing the brokenness. Sadly, we’ll never be able to outrun our sin. We need to kneel to Jesus, and believe that on the cross He took on our sin, paid it in full, and rose in victory. When the Christian is confronted with the weight of their sin, they won’t overcome it through fighting or fleeing it, but kneeling – kneeling to Jesus Christ.
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