G.K. Chesterton said he believed that “…the most practical and important thing about a man is still his view of the universe.” (I can’t find the source for that quote; does anyone know it?)
He would have liked this article I read in Touchstone magazine, “Lost in Space.” In it Michael Baruzzini compares the viewpoints of Carl Sagan and C.S. Lewis’s Space Trilogy character Elwin Ransom, and relates what modern astronomers have discovered about just how empty it is out there.
Ransom’s thoughts are quoted in the article, and they are appealing in their expression of what seems to me the nurturing and provision of the Creator:
“…the very name ‘Space’ seemed a blasphemous libel for this empyrean ocean of radiance in which they swam. He could not call it ‘dead’; he felt life pouring into him from it every moment. How indeed should it be otherwise, since out of this ocean the worlds and all their life had come? He had thought it was barren: he saw now that it was the womb of worlds, whose blazing and innumerable offspring looked down nightly even upon the earth with so many eyes….”
Baruzzini: “Where Lewis had Ransom find a life-giving environment, Sagan found affirmation of man’s essential loneliness. While Sagan’s picture of space focused on the vast distances and vacuity of the heavens, Lewis’s character, eschewing the nihilism of modern sentiment, focused on the connections between the planets and space.
“Who was right? Is space really just a vast, empty void, as Sagan imagined? Or is the earth not rolling through emptiness, but floating in a cosmic sea of light and radiance, as Lewis envisioned?
“It turns out that Lewis was largely right.”
“Without the astrophysical processes that power the stars, the very matter that makes up our bodies would not be here. Science writer Simon Singh points out that this means we are made of nuclear waste; Carl Sagan for once got it right, and poetically so, when he stated that this means we are made of star-dust. In either case, Lewis’s instinct is confirmed: Space is the womb of life; it creates the very matter from which life and its home on earth is made.”
Read the whole article here.
Linking up to Weekends With Chesterton.