A-1 - Encouraged by What You Read?

I often use my blog to alert readers to scientific discoveries that provide more evidence to the Bible’s accuracy concerning nature and science. Occasionally, there are scientific discoveries that could potentially affirm that the Bible may also be on target when it predicts future events in human history. Two such examples appeared in the scientific literature this past week.

One of those examples I will describe in this blog post. The second I will address in my next blog post.

The first example was a NASA scientist putting a price tag on the asteroid 16 Psyche. 16 Psyche is a metallic asteroid measuring 214 kilometers in diameter at its widest dimension and 181 kilometers in diameter at its narrowest dimension. Based on its radar albedo, astronomers know that iron, nickel, and cobalt comprise 95–99% of its composition. The other 1–5% are precious metals and pyroxene. Astronomer Lindy Elkins-Tanton, who heads up the NASA mission to send a spacecraft to 16 Psyche in 2023, calculated that 16 Psyche’s ingredients are worth at least $10,000 quadrillion.1 That sum makes the global debt of $60 trillion pale in comparison.

NASA has made it abundantly clear that it has no plans to bring 16 Psyche into an Earth or lunar orbit and that it presently lacks the technology to mine 16 Psyche in its present location and bring the mined resources back to Earth. 16 Psyche is simply too far away and too big.

16 Psyche, however, is not the only stainless steel asteroid in the main belt of asteroids between Mars and Jupiter. Since about 6% of all recovered meteorites are stainless steel meteorites, astronomers estimate that at least 6% of all main belt asteroids are, like 16 Psyche, comprised of iron, nickel, cobalt, and precious metals.

While it is presently beyond the technology of the space agencies of the world to capture an asteroid the size of 16 Psyche and transport it to Earth where it could be parked in an Earth orbit and mined for the benefit of humanity, it is well within their means to capture and transport to Earth a much smaller metallic asteroid, one perhaps only a kilometer in diameter. Such an asteroid would still be worth at least $1.25 trillion and maybe much more. Thus, while it may cost a space agency a few billion dollars to capture and bring a small metallic asteroid back to Earth where it could be parked in an orbit about Earth. The potential return on investment would make such a project the most lucrative investment opportunity in the history of the human race.

However, the most lucrative investment may not be the safest investment. Small asteroids are unlikely to have spherical shapes or homogeneous composition. Such departures from sphericity and homogeneity will make it challenging, to say the least, for physicists to calculate a reliably safe orbit about Earth for a small asteroid. Of course, the orbit would need to be recalculated and reestablished every time a chunk of the asteroid is mined. An orbital miscalculation, mining blunder, or problem establishing a new safe orbit could result in the fulfillment of Revelation 8:10–11, which reads:

“The third angel sounded his trumpet, and a great star, blazing like a torch, fell from the sky on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water—the name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters turned bitter, and many people died from the waters that had become bitter.”

The Greek word for star in this passage is aster. Its definitions include stars, planets, comets, and meteors (shooting stars). The “star” in this passage that falls upon Earth does not wipe out humanity, but apparently at least some of its composition is toxic. The star, therefore, must be a relatively small object, something on the order of 300 meters (1,000 feet) in diameter upon impact. Its described toxicity closely matches what one would expect to result from a metallic asteroid.

It is certainly possible that Revelation 8:10–11 will be fulfilled by a purely natural event. After all, the 1,200-meter (3,900-foot) diameter Barringer Crater (see image below) resulted from a 50-meter (160-foot) diameter metallic meteorite striking the Arizona desert about 50,000 years ago. If the impact event described in Revelation 8:10–11 is purely natural, however, it likely will not happen anytime in the foreseeable future. NASA knows of no asteroid of sufficient size that has even a remote possibility of striking Earth within the next two centuries.

Image: Aerial view of the Barringer Crater. Image Credit: Shane Torgerson

I personally favor the fulfillment of Revelation 8:10–11 in less than 200 years. I am optimistic that God’s people, in much less than 200y years, will be able to fulfill the last commandment Jesus assigned to his disciples before he ascended from Earth:

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

–Matthew 28:19–20

Since the fulfillment of this commandment occurs after the events described in Revelation 8, it seems that a scenario similar to what I have presented here may occur. Or to word my conclusion differently, given the state of current technology and the demand for high quality raw resources to sustain that technology, it seems possible that the fulfillment of Revelation 8:10–11 would occur in decades rather than centuries or millennia.

Endnotes

  1. Sean Rossman, “NASA Planning Mission to an Asteroid Worth $10,000 Quadrillion,” USA Today Network, January 18, 2017, http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/nation-now/2017/01/18/nasa-planning-mission-asteroid-worth-10000-quadrillion/96709250/.

Subjects: Asteroids, Prophecy, Science & Faith

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About The Author

Dr. Hugh Ross

Reasons to Believe emerged from my passion to research, develop, and proclaim the most powerful new reasons to believe in Christ as Creator, Lord, and Savior and to use those new reasons to reach people for Christ. I also am eager to equip Christians to engage, rather than withdraw from or attack, educated non-Christians. One of the approaches I’ve developed, with the help of my RTB colleagues, is a biblical creation model that is testable, falsifiable, and predictive. I enjoy constructively integrating all 66 books of the Bible with all the science disciplines as a way to discover and apply deeper truths. 1 Peter 3:15–16 sets my ministry goal, "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience." Hugh Ross launched his career at age seven when he went to the library to find out why stars are hot. Physics and astronomy captured his curiosity and never let go. At age seventeen he became the youngest person ever to serve as director of observations for Vancouver's Royal Astronomical Society. With the help of a provincial scholarship and a National Research Council (NRC) of Canada fellowship, he completed his undergraduate degree in physics (University of British Columbia) and graduate degrees in astronomy (University of Toronto). The NRC also sent him to the United States for postdoctoral studies. At Caltech he researched quasi-stellar objects, or "quasars," some of the most distant and ancient objects in the universe. Not all of Hugh's discoveries involved astrophysics. Prompted by curiosity, he studied the world’s religions and "holy books" and found only one book that proved scientifically and historically accurate: the Bible. Hugh started at religious "ground zero" and through scientific and historical reality-testing became convinced that the Bible is truly the Word of God! When he went on to describe for others his journey to faith in Jesus Christ, he was surprised to discover how many people believed or disbelieved without checking the evidence. Hugh's unshakable confidence that God's revelations in Scripture and nature do not, will not, and cannot contradict became his unique message. Wholeheartedly encouraged by family and friends, communicating that message as broadly and clearly as possible became his mission. Thus, in 1986, he founded science-faith think tank Reasons to Believe (RTB). He and his colleagues at RTB keep tabs on the frontiers of research to share with scientists and nonscientists alike the thrilling news of what's being discovered and how it connects with biblical theology. In this realm, he has written many books, including: The Fingerprint of God, The Creator and the Cosmos, Beyond the Cosmos, A Matter of Days, Creation as Science, Why the Universe Is the Way It Is, and More Than a Theory. Between writing books and articles, recording podcasts, and taking interviews, Hugh travels the world challenging students and faculty, churches and professional groups, to consider what they believe and why. He presents a persuasive case for Christianity without applying pressure. Because he treats people's questions and comments with respect, he is in great demand as a speaker and as a talk-radio and television guest. Having grown up amid the splendor of Canada's mountains, wildlife, and waterways, Hugh loves the outdoors. Hiking, trail running, and photography are among his favorite recreational pursuits - in addition to stargazing. Hugh lives in Southern California with his wife, Kathy, and two sons.

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