The Bible’s Viewpoint
Will a Cosmic Disaster Destroy Our World?
ON March 12, 1998, newspaper headlines, TV screens, and Internet sites around the globe spread the ominous news: “Mile-wide asteroid on course for near-miss with Earth.” Scientists and laymen scrambled to assess the actual danger. Astronomers soon concluded that the chance of an impact was zero.
However, amid the hubbub, a new awareness has emerged. “The most remarkable thing about the false alarm may be that, however scary it was, many people treated it as no huge surprise,” said U.S.News & World Report. “The notion that we on Earth should be watching for more such objects—and planning to do something about them—would have been outlandish a decade or more ago, but now scientists and even some politicians think the threat, while slim, is real.”
Some astronomers believe that about 2,000 celestial objects large enough to cause a global catastrophe are hurtling on paths that either intersect earth’s orbit or come close to it. Even if a relatively small one of them struck the earth, researchers say, the explosion would be equivalent to the power of many nuclear weapons going off at once. The consequences of such an impact would be catastrophic for our planet and its inhabitants, human and animal alike.
The one opinion that is often left out of such grim predictions and calculations is that of the Creator of the universe, Jehovah God. (Psalm 8:3; Proverbs 8:27) In the Bible he has clearly made known his will and purpose for the earth and the human race. Will he allow a cosmic disaster to destroy our world?
A Universe Under Divine Control
Since Jehovah is the almighty Creator of the universe, it is reasonable to conclude that he has the ability to exercise complete control over the forces that govern celestial bodies. Wise King Solomon said that Jehovah has “solidly fixed the heavens in discernment.” (Proverbs 3:19) The prophet Jeremiah declared that God is “the One who by his understanding stretched out the heavens.”—Jeremiah 51:15.
Jehovah has set in motion the laws and forces behind the movements of the heavenly bodies, including stars, planets, comets, and asteroids. (Isaiah 40:26) However, it appears that he allows the stars and planets to go through their natural cycles of metaphoric birth, life, and death without his constant intervention. This includes some terrific collisions of heavenly bodies. One recent example is the July 1994 collision in which fragments of the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 slammed into the planet Jupiter.
There is geologic evidence of large rocks from outer space impacting the earth in prehuman history. But will such an event ever take place on our populated planet? What might happen, for instance, if a mile-wide asteroid collided with the earth? Astronomer Jack Hills predicts that its impact would unleash energy millions of times that of the bomb that leveled Hiroshima. If it hit the ocean, the tidal waves would flood the coastlines. “Where cities stood,” Hills says, “there would be only mudflats.” The worst scenario predicts the complete annihilation of the human race. How does this doomsday forecast fit in with our Creator’s will for the earth? The Bible shows that this planet has a special place in Jehovah’s purpose.
Our Earth—Made for a Purpose
Regarding our planet, the psalmist states: “The heavens, to Jehovah the heavens belong, but the earth he has given to the sons of men.” (Psalm 115:16) Isaiah describes Jehovah as “the Former of the earth . . . , the One who firmly established it, who did not create it simply for nothing, who formed it even to be inhabited.” (Isaiah 45:18) The earth is the inheritance Jehovah has given to mankind. And since our Creator has in mind an eternal future for God-fearing humans, the earth will remain forever as their lasting home. Psalm 104:5 assures us: “[Jehovah] has founded the earth upon its established places; it will not be made to totter to time indefinite, or forever.”
True, God has allowed some great disasters on our planet, resulting in death to large segments of humankind. Some of these catastrophes—such as wars, famines, and epidemics—have in whole or in part been caused by the greed, foolishness, and cruelty of humans. (Ecclesiastes 8:9) Others—such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods, and storms—have been caused by natural phenomena not fully understood by mankind. Contrary to God’s original purpose, humans are no longer perfect; they are sinful. As a consequence, on an individual basis, we cannot at this time count on divine protection from so-called natural disasters.
However, in no case has Jehovah permitted man’s existence on earth to be seriously threatened. Since the creation of man, confirmed history contains no incident of a natural catastrophe that threatened the existence of all mankind.*
Survival of the Human Race Guaranteed
From the beginning of human history, our Creator’s purpose has been for man to “fill the earth and subdue it.” (Genesis 1:28; 9:1) He has promised that “the righteous themselves will possess the earth, and they will reside forever upon it.” (Psalm 37:9, 11, 22, 29) Regarding his promises, Jehovah confirms: “My own counsel will stand, and everything that is my delight I shall do.”—Isaiah 46:10; 55:11; Psalm 135:6.
The Bible does not completely rule out the possibility of a small-scale earthly calamity caused by cosmic phenomena. However, we can rest assured that Jehovah will not allow any cosmic disaster to thwart his stated purpose for the earth and mankind. On the basis of Bible promises, we can be sure that our planet will remain inhabitable forever—yes, it will be the home for humankind to time indefinite!—Ecclesiastes 1:4; 2 Peter 3:13.
The Flood of Noah’s day was a means of divine execution, but Jehovah made sure that some humans and animals survived.—Genesis 6:17-21.