I was sitting in one of our church’s groups some weeks ago when someone asked what was the purpose of the cosmos and trillions of suns, and Earthlike planets? The closest example, is there a purpose in Mars being an Earthlike planet, within the range of supporting life with only a little tinkering. (Mars has plenty of water frozen as its North Pole and in its soil (regolith) etc.) What if there were no other life anywhere in the universe – what would be the point of all that space?
Most of the answers coming back were saying God did it only to demonstrate “his glory.” The way the Bible was being quoted, I got the distinct impression that the way these verses were being interpreted made it out as if God was a ball hog, a glory hound, someone wanting all the attention. Someone who had an inner need to show off so that people would boost his self-esteem and re-assure him that he was ok after all.
I don’t think that’s why God made everything, I said. First, He is obviously creative and loves to create – He is burgeoning with life and love. But secondly, as to Earthlike planets and all of that – I get my kids gifts all the time that they can’t use yet at this stage of their life. But as they get older and mature, they will be able to enjoy the gift. I get the gift ahead of time, looking down the road to when they will grow into it. People didn’t know how to fish for deepwater toothfish, light cities with whale oil or make electricity for most of human history, but we grew into it. Humanity has been too young (technologically) to make use of Mars (and farther places) up until now, but perhaps God made all those good places/gifts for us to enjoy once we’ve matured enough to know how. Of course, this requires a long, not short, view of human history both theologically and chronologically.
Some very fun reads on this subject include (from a large and growing amount of writing on the subject)
Scatter, Adapt, and Remember: How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction by Annalee Newitz
The Case for Mars and Entering Space by Robert Zubrin
Pale Blue Dot by Carl Sagan
And the spectacular novels Red Mars, Green Mars, and Blue Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson