Significance versus insignificance
Earth appeared as a small, pale blue dot, when photographed by Voyager 1 as it reached the edge of the Solar System in 1990. Carl Sagan asked NASA to take the photo and then used the grainy picture to promote the atheistic idea that humans are insignificant.
The Bible tells us that God made mankind—male and female—“in His image” (Genesis 1:26, 27). This gives us humans a special significance in the cosmos. However, modern secular (godless) thinking minimizes this significance.
As Voyager 1 reached the edge of our solar system in 1990, astronomer Carl Sagan asked NASA to instruct Voyager to turn around and take a picture looking back towards Earth. The grainy image showed our home as a tiny pale blue dot. In a book written soon after, atheist Sagan wrote,
“our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light.”1
Having reduced our significance to near nothingness, Sagan then tried to offer something positive:
“There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”
Just how being insignificant suggests that we should be kind to one another and care for planet Earth escapes me. Who cares, if, as Sagan said elsewhere, “The cosmos is all there is or was or ever will be”?2
The delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe [is] challenged by this point of pale light. Carl Sagan
The big bang idea of the origin of the universe, which Sagan also promoted, has at its core the philosophical (religious) assumption that the universe has no centre, that Earth’s position is not special in any sense, contrary to appearances. This is also known as the Copernican Principle or the Principle of Mediocrity. This is not an observation of science, but a presupposition, driven by a desire for Earth and mankind not to be special.
‘For God so loved the world that He gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life’ John 3:16
Why would anyone want Earth to be nothing special? Because if Earth is in a privileged position, the probability of this happening by chance, in a naturalistic origin, would be so low that it would be much more reasonable to believe in divine creation. And that suggests that God owns us and we are accountable to Him; we are not free to behave as we please.
In an interview on pages 35–37, Professor Stuart Burgess remarks, “If the big bang theory were true, then the Earth and man would be unimportant because we are lost in eons of time and megaparsecs of space.”
Numerous observations contradict the big bang idea, one being its failure to explain the structure and origin of galaxies (see the Focus item, p. 11).
Why did God create such a vast universe that tests our imaginations? The Bible tells us that the creation reveals the power and majesty of God to us (Psalm 8)! Yet God gave man a privileged position in His creation (Psalm 8). Now that makes us very significant!
At another level, society’s institutions bombard us with the idea that man is “just” an evolved animal. Medical doctor Robert Gurney outlines some of the unique human features that make us special (pp. 53–55). “Made in the image of God” is an apt description.
The Creator of the universe ultimately underlined the significance of mankind in God the Son coming to earth as Jesus of Nazareth; God clothed in human flesh. The Creator of the cosmos humbled Himself to be born as a human baby on this pale blue dot and suffer and die for humanity—as the “Last Adam” (1 Cor. 15:45). For God so loved the world that He gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).
Insignificant? No way: God made us in his image and He loves us!
- Sagan, C., Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space, Random House, New York, 1994, p. 9. Return to text.
- In the 1980 PBS series, Cosmos; imdb.com/title/tt0081846/quotes. Return to text.