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Thinking about Heaven on Earth Day

The findings of astrobiology put today's environmental concerns into perspective.

When Frodo sailed into the West, never to return to a Middle Earth that was itself slipping away, I got choked up. When Narnia was no more, I felt a longing of regret:

The spreading blackness was not a cloud at all: it was simply emptiness. The black part of the sky was the part in which there were no stars left. All the stars were falling: Aslan had called them home.

As a billion people observe the 40th Earth Day today and think about the noble goal of preserving (and for Christians, stewarding) the planet on which we live and move and have our being, I am thinking about heaven.

There's a reason the Bible promises us a new heaven and a new earth. This world, as seemingly solid and as breathtakingly beautiful as it is, is transient beyond our comprehension. And despite our best (and sometimes misguided) efforts, this pale blue dot in a sea of inky blackness is headed for extinction. That's not a world-denying premillennial eschatological perspective that cannot be verified. It's the latest findings of the new science of astrobiology.

According to Peter D. Ward and Donald Brownlee, life on earth is the result of a precarious - and temporary - balance of air, rock, and solar activity. In The Life and Death of Planet Earth, They write, "Our neighboring planets, Venus and Mars, one blisteringly hot and the other frozen, have provided valuable insights into how rare, unique, and wonderful our own home is."

Ward and Brownlee, authors of Rare Earth, say the planet is already in decline and make the following predictions related to earth's eventual demise:

- The long-term climate threat to human civilization comes not from global warming, but from a new ice age: "Human civilization has arisen in a brief ?interglacial' that has lasted only about twelve thousand years and may already be ending."

- The loss of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in 100 million years will spell the end of plant life (meaning the Age of Plants is 95 percent over);

- All life, even microbial life, which most scientists believe began 3.4 billion years ago, will be extinct in a mere 500 million years;

- When earth, currently estimated at 4.5 billion years old, is 12 billion years old, it will be swallowed by an expanding sun.

Given these projections, the old hymn, "This World Is Not My Home," resonates with me on this Earth Day.

This world is not my home, I'm just passing through.

My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue.

Yes, while we pass through this world, let's take care of it for our good and for God's glory. But let's remember that Jesus has promised to prepare an even better place for his followers. For us, the end of the world represents the beginning of something far better.

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