A Glimpse Beyond the Known World

Alan Stern speaks during an overview of the New Horizons Mission, Monday, December 31, 2018 at Johns Hopkins University
Joel Kowsky/NASA/Getty Images

A Glimpse Beyond the Known World

Your connection to the most-distant object ever explored
From the March 2019 Trumpet Print Edition

In the early hours of the morning on January 1, nasa’s New Horizons spacecraft performed a flyby of the most-distant object ever explored.

2014 MU69 is a chunk of ice or rock over 4 billion miles from Earth. nasa nicknamed the object “Ultima Thule,” after the Latin term meaning beyond the borders of the known world.

It’s an apt name. The New Horizons’ previous big achievement was its flyby of the unimaginably distant dwarf planet Pluto in 2015. Now it is another billion miles further out, into the remote ring of ice and rocks known as the Kuiper Belt.

So much about this mission is astonishing. Before the probe’s visit, humanity barely knew what Ultima Thule looked like. It’s so faint and distant, we didn’t discover it until 2014. Now New Horizons has revealed a brand new world.

But there is something even more impressive about Ultima Thule: its connection to you.

Over the last century, astronomers realized that our solar system is surrounded by massive clouds of debris. Ultima Thule is just one tiny piece.

The Kuiper Belt is the smallest and closest of these debris clouds. The Oort Cloud is much larger and much further away—stretching from around 100 billion miles from the sun to 10 trillion miles. That’s 100,000 times further than the distance between the Earth and the sun.

Some scientists estimate that there could be 1 trillion objects in the Oort Cloud. Scientists’ models of how the solar system formed don’t predict anything close to that amount of debris. This is part of the reason scientists are so excited about the Ultima Thule flyby. They hope it shows how the solar system was formed, and where all the shattered rocks and shards of ice came from.

Herbert W. Armstrong, founder of our predecessor magazine the Plain Truth, was also thrilled about nasa missions. On July 20, 1976, he arrived at Ambassador Auditorium just before 5 a.m. to watch the first pictures arrive from the surface of Mars, sent by the Viking i probe. He wrote that these pictures “showed precisely what I had expected from what is revealed from the God of creation in the Bible. It was a dry, barren surface of decay and futility—total unproductiveness.

“Few indeed have any remote conception of the fact that God Almighty reveals facts about this universe—planets such as Mars, their origin, their present state, and the causes and reasons thereof. Sometimes it seems futile that many of the best minds of humans are devoted to a lifetime of vain speculation, based on erroneous hypotheses totally untrue.

“I had to realize that from this scientific laboratory, right here in Pasadena, great minds are, in fact, uncovering facts actually revealed in the book they do not understand and probably do not accept—the revealed facts and truth of the Eternal living God!”

Romans 8:21 tells us that “the creation”—the whole universe—is in “bondage to decay” (Revised Standard Version). Mr. Armstrong wrote, “[Y]ou can realize the thrill I experienced, seeing in our own House of God Auditorium, the first, real, close-up photographs from the very surface of Mars, confirming the state the Bible reveals such planets are in today.”

The New Horizons mission confirms this on a grand scale. It is not just one or two planets subjected to this decay. Our entire solar system is surrounded by a vast, dead cloud of debris. Only the Bible tells us the origin of the universe and explains all the decay.

The same passage explains that the decay will end. Verse 21 states that “the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God” (rsv). This will happen when God’s people are born as His sons. Romans 8 describes the whole universe yearning for this time. “No more amazing, awesome, eye-opening passage could be written!” Mr. Armstrong wrote in his book The Incredible Human Potential.

The Bible is full of scriptures describing that vision. Hebrews 2:8 tells us that “all things” will be put in subjection to man. In Hebrews 1, Moffatt translates “all things” as “the universe.” All things—the Oort Cloud and far beyond—will be put in subjection to man. We will have the awesome responsibility of cleaning up the decay.

God says in Isaiah 51:16 that He intends to “plant the heavens.” “Understand this deeply!” writes Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry in Jerusalem’s Temples. “God is going to plant the heavens! … God is going to undertake a massive building project out in the cosmos to make the universe exquisite!”

“When we hear stories like Gene Cernan’s [the last astronaut to walk on the moon] and view pictures of the universe, our future among the stars becomes more real to us,” writes Mr. Flurry in The New Throne of David. “Right now the universe is in a state of decay. We will soon change that.”

You can gain a greater vision of that future with our full-color booklet Our Awesome Universe Potential. It will show you why the universe is presently in a state of decay. It will take you through, in detail, what the Bible says about your future. It is full of pictures and facts to make that vision really come alive. Order your free copy.