Philosophy Magazine

The Meaning of the Pale Blue Dot

By Stuart_gray @stuartg__uk

The Meaning of the Pale Blue Dot

It was 1990.

The Voyager 1 spacecraft was 4 billion miles from home. And as it left the solar system, it turned round for one last look at the Earth. That planet where a team of smart engineers constructed it, and continued to control its actions…tho not for much longer. The Voyager 1 camera caught sight of a pale blue dot.

Planet Earth.

The thing we think is the center of our existence, our experience and our home is actually just a tiny blue speck amongst seemingly infinite vast, hostile, empty space. We think home is meaningful. Clearly – its hardly anything at all, a shard of blue caught in star light.

So – given that is true, then why would human beings think they were special? Sure, primitive humans might engage in religious activities and write religious texts. But they knew nothing about what’s actually going on in the Universe. Now – thanks to Voyager 1 – we know something. And what’s going on is – we are virtually nothing and of no apparent significance amongst billions of galaxies that occupy a hostile Universe.

Carl Sagan put it like this:

“Our posturing, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.”[1]

Christians think humanity is special, but isn’t this just solipsism? Mistakenly thinking too highly of oneself, acting in a self-centred, so unhealthy way?

I completely agree that selfishness is harmful and should be stopped. But I want to challenge the notion that the pale blue dot picture REALLY tells us the Earth, and the human race is NOT special.

First – how does the vast hostility of the Universe argue against God? Doesn’t the existence of the beautiful earth, and the incredible degree of fine tuning involved for the support of carbon based life on our planet, suggest the reverse? We have the right density of atmosphere, at the right distance from the sun, with a moon…and the life permitting parameters continue on. Given all the odds against life being here, and the hostility of cosmic the environment, doesn’t the fact we are here and smart enough to build and launch space probes…provide evidence that argues FOR divine intervention? Not against it?

Jim Wallace goes further. He asks, doesn’t the pale blue dot within a hostile cosmos, “show us the need for the intervention of a creator?”[2]

Second – imagine this for me. You are walking thru a desert. There are sand dunes in ever direction, and around you there’s an endless desert filled randomly with rocks and gravel. And as you are walking along, sun beating down on you, you stop. You reach down, and you turn over one particular rock that is lying in front of you. And you find writing on it! In dried blood, you find the words “Help, I’ve been kidnapped and I’m being held against my will a mile away in a red shack.”

Who in their right mind is going to ignore this stone and claim it is of no consequence? Who would shrug and throw it back on the ground amongst the countless rocks in the desert? Why would the stone with writing on it be special among millions of desert stones?

Wallace again suggests the size and age of the desert, and the number of the stones filling it has no bearing on the importance of that one stone. Because when you are holding that one stone, it shows evidence of design and intelligence. Someone had to write that message on the back of that one stone. What does the message do? It causes an urge within us to find the one who wrote it. Right?

Now think again about our planet.

Biologists are discovering just how much information is transcribed throughout biological life. An example of this information is the DNA molecule found throughout the life forms who inhabit on our planet. Even evolutionary biologists claim that life LOOKS designed, even tho they don’t agree that it is. It doesn’t matter how vast or how old our universe is, and it’s irrelevant how many star system and galaxies fill it. When we consider our beautiful, blue, life filled home, we are considering a place literally COVERED and FILLED by with information. And its hanging amidst an empty, hostile and barren vacuum. Like the rock in the desert, doesn’t that points to an originating design and intelligence?

Doesn’t the biological information covering the rock of our planet cause an urge within us to seek out the author of it?[3]

[1] Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space, (Random House Publishers, 1997).

[2] J Warner Wallace, Quick Shot Responses to “Earth is Just a Pale Blue Dot in a Huge Hostile Universe” [Cole-Case Christianity S5E19], Cold-Case Christianity with J. Warner Wallace, accessed 9th August 2019,

[3] Wallace.

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