What If Earth is All There Is?

Over the last six months I’ve read at least three articles I can remember that talked about whether or not interstellar travel is really possible. All three articles stood out in my mind because they all came to the same conclusion – it’s not. Possible, I mean. Interstellar travel. Nope. Not gonna happen.

Why? Well, each article had its own thoughts, but it all amounted to simply this – we just can’t make it work in the time we need. It’s that whole, darned, speed of light issue. Overcoming that is, frankly, impossible. The only way to get past it is to find some secret law of the universe that literally circumvents it (I’m betting it will be space folding, tesseracts, you know…). That, or we work with it, and come up with some way to automate hypersleep and reawakening. Yeah, watch Pandorum or any other number of Sci-Fi movies and see how well that typically works out.

The point is, there is very real reason to believe that we will never manage to break free of this solar system. Oh, sure, it’s fun to imagine the future when we’ve figured out hyperspace or whatever, but it’s unlikely it will ever happen, and even if it does, we’ll be dead and gone so we’ll never know how they did it. We only have one other planet in the solar system that we can even imagine making habitable, and that with no small amount of difficulty. So… maybe Earth is all we have.

Which raises the interesting question in my mind: What if the world keeps going for another five, six, ten thousand years? Think about the kinds of changes nations, society, humans in general would go through in that amount of time. If you just think about the last two hundred years and all the things that have happened to change the face of the world, then think about that times fifty? Whoah….

I keep getting this image in my head from the first episode of Futurama, where Frye is in the tube and out the window you see buildings rise, change, crumble, and yeah, get blasted by aliens, but whatever. Ignore the aliens. My point is, how many societies, empires, cities would rise and fall in that amount of time?

The words of the old song by Zager and Evans is ringing in my ears even as I write this. “Now it’s been ten thousand years / Man has cried a billion tears / For what, he never knew, now man’s reign is through.” Haunting. Will we be returned to clay huts and hunter/gatherer lifestyles? Or will we just keep growing and expanding what we are capable of technologically, until we arrive at a point where we don’t even know where human ends and tech begins? It’s all so hard to predict.

One thing I’m convinced of – as long as there is life on this earth, there will be those who seek the true God, and those who know him in his Son, Jesus Christ. No, you don’t need to get on my case about that. If you’ve read more than just this one post on my blog you already know I’m a Christian, and I’ve come to terms with being a Science Fiction nut at the same time, even if you think it’s a contradiction. If you’re in the same boat as me, well, you already know why I think this. I mean about people still believing in Jesus. Suffice to say, I trust what he says about there always being believers until the end of time.

All that aside, I’m fascinated thinking about what the Earth will be like ten thousand years from now. What archaeologists would be digging up and arguing about. Whether or not New York will still be there as a city, or as a fabulous ruin constantly trolled by anthropologists trying desperately to understand this “American” society that dominated the 21st Century. I’d also be interested to hear if anyone can point me to a book or two – and not post-apocalyptic, if possible – that follows this concept. I’m not really putting this out there as a prompt, but I’d also really like to see a story, or a novel pitch, taking off this line of thinking.

Since you’ve stuck through more than seven hundred words of me musing on this topic, here’s that Zager and Evans song. Enjoy!

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4 thoughts on “What If Earth is All There Is?

  1. Brandon: The Lamb Among the Stars series by… Walley(?) posits that earth is here for thousands of years and no alien species are ever discovered. The first book in the series details both interplanetary travel (basically hyperspace) and terraforming — a process that does take thousands of years. The main character is a terraformer, making plans that will be carried out hundreds of years after he dies. I’ve only read book one, but it’s a neat hard science fiction book that’s actually… Christian!

    But as far as remaining only on earth for thousands of years… yeah, I can’t think of one off the top of my head. I’ll have to consider it and see what happens. I suppose you could say Lowry’s the Giver, though we never find out how in far in the future that is.

  2. Well, my brother pointed out via Facebook that there is at least one example, which is the Dying Earth series. Now, I countered that the Dying Earth takes places millions of years in the future and there’s little connection to our times, but he points out that there are a few occasional details that do fit. Nevertheless, he was right that it’s a story taking place on our earth way in the future, with no apparent history of space travel involved.

    The Giver might be an example, you’re right, but it’s also kinda heady and vague.

    Well, perhaps there’s room for another story in this sub-genre…

    1. Since when is heady a bad thing? Though I see your point — it’s not “standard” sci fi at all — to the point that most bookstores shelve it with fiction and literature (or general children’s) and not science fiction.

      Because, you know, it’s so good it couldn’t possibly be that rabble science fiction thing.

  3. That can get you wondering-“Is Earth all we have?” If Earth is all we have, then maybe we should be caring about it. Recycling and stuff. Save the world, cause it’s the only one you’ve got.

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