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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Numbering the stars, 2

In a recent post, I mused about how many stars there are (we don't know, but a lot) and pointed out that the Bible teaches that God knows how many there are, and is in control of all of them.

A commenter to the post said this: "It would be pretty impressive if the number of descendants was actually the number of stars! I suppose we would have to hope that life could be sustained on other planets... even if they were of the dwarf variety."

That would, indeed, be a lot of descendants. The comment triggered three more quick thoughts.

1) The previous post was more about the stars than about the number of descendants. The Bible says that Abraham had other children, besides Isaac, the ancestor of the Jews, including Ishmael (who was also promised a large posterity) and some other sons. It also says that gentile (non-Jew) Christians are the offspring of Abraham, by faith. (See here and here -- all the links in this paragraph are to portions of the ESV version of the Bible.)

2) One way that a very large number of descendants of Abraham would be possible would be if the earth, and humans, last for a very long time. Most Bible scholars seem to think that that won't happen. However, they have believed that for nearly two thousand years, and the second coming still hasn't come about.

3) C. S. Lewis, for one, didn't believe that it would be a good idea for humans to populate other planets. He felt that we had messed this one up enough, I guess. There are environmental ethics issues with the possibility of transferring life to other planets, especially if there is any Carbon-based life on them. Even a few bacteria, transferred to another planet, might greatly alter such a planet.

4) On the contrary, I suppose that it could be argued that exploring other heavenly bodies, like, say, exploring Antarctica, is part of the legitimate "dominion" of humans, and that learning about them is part of our stewardship responsibility. It's a complex subject.

Thanks for reading.


elbogz said...

The number of stars is estimated to be 4 to 5 times the number of all the grains of sand of all the earth. The number is so large our itty bitty brains can't even comprehend it.
Number of Stars

Martin LaBar said...

Quite true. I'm not sure we can comprehend a thousand, let alone millions, billions, trillions, etc.