Unification Sermons and Talks

Reverends Carlson

Planets From Scratch

Paul Carlson

First published in the Unification News in its June and July 1997 issues.

Each year the world celebrates Earth Day, with events ranging from neighborhood cleanups to diplomatic conferences. More significantly, if with less fanfare, we Unificationists celebrate the Day of All Things.

This concern for the environment, and for our planet as a whole, is a sign of God's advancing Providence. While the wealthier nations have made great strides in curtailing pollution, the former communist world is only now coming to grips with the massive contamination of their lands.

Many Third World nations are exploding in population. They're also striving hard to industrialize. Some environmentalists speak darkly of the "massive consumption and waste" that an increasingly wealthy Third World will generate, comparing their typical villager's spartan lifestyle with the profligacy of an American.

In reality, pollution in the Third World is already severe, and they must become wealthy too-so that they can afford to clean things up.

Humanity has been impacting the environment for a very long time. Human-set fires have kept open the teeming tropical grasslands for tens of thousands of years. Primitive hunters wiped out the woolly mammoth and many other creatures.

Scientists, drilling deep into Greenland's annual snowfall layers, found evidence of terrible contamination. Years ago, the globe was blanketed with toxic heavy metals. Who did this? Industrial England? Stalinist Russia?

No, it was Classical Greece and her ancient neighbors. Their metal smelters belched noxious clouds, while so much wood was cut to feed the forges that entire forests disappeared, and the land eroded. Even today much of the Mediterranean remains scrub land; the trees never grew back.


The American government is constantly debating whether to fund "birth control" for poor nations. In reality, prosperity is the surest brake on population growth. Where children have an excellent chance of reaching healthy adulthood, parents can plan their family, and offer their kids the best upbringing possible. But in famine-stricken areas, a woman will bear numerous children, and consider herself lucky to see half of them survive, and grow up to labor stolidly in nearby fields.

Is the world overpopulated? Anyone who's flown across the United States knows just how vast -and largely empty- this nation really is. Some areas of the Great Plains are actually depopulating, as family farms decline and the land reverts to prairie.

Parts of Asia are much more crowded. Still, the ongoing "Green Revolution" has enabled China and India to feed themselves. (Note: most recent famines were caused by socialistic policies, not a lack of foodstuffs.) Ocean farming is opening up a new food supply, and microbial genetic engineering will soon provide another.

True Father applauds large Unificationist families. He explains that, in nature, parents raise all the offspring they can, as best they can. Many religions frown upon birth control.

There are limits. Roughly, the Earth has fifty eight million square miles of land area, and six billion people. That comes to about six acres per person.

But this includes Antarctica and Greenland, mountain crags, sand dunes, Arctic tundra and other inhospitable areas. Leave those out, and the available area shrinks. On average, then, each family of four "has" about a dozen livable acres. That's counting the vast, bitterly cold, northern taiga forests.

To a family with a minuscule city dwelling, several acres may sound big. However, that dozen acres also includes parks, and the farms which provide food, fabrics, etc. Modern farming requires large, open spreads.

In the Third World, most people live in villages scattered amongst small agricultural plots. But increasingly, they're crowding into cities, usually to find work.

How much further can the population expand? Futuristic tales depict a planet covered by towering structures, the bedrock honeycombed and the oceans drained. Several trillion people could fit into such a "world city," and if the population continues to grow at its present rate, they may have to!

Unpleasant as that sounds, there's another bad side to it. True Father teaches that it is unhealthy, physically and spiritually, for children to grow up in cities. He says they should come of age surrounded by nature. (The traditional objections no longer apply, because technology can facilitate jobs, and a good education, for even the most isolated family.)

But is this fully possible? If every family decided to head into the wilderness, those areas would instantly vanish, literally blanketed with a sea of humanity. "Empty stretches" only remain because of crowded urban areas.

Already, then, this planet is too small. What can we do?

New Horizons

Historically, when things got too crowded at home, folks would strike out, seeking new territories. It's hardly been a hundred years since the "wild frontier" days of the American West, South Africa, Australia, and elsewhere. (In Brazil, they're still expanding into the Amazon basin.) In every case, the aboriginals were driven back, or worse . . .

Now those frontiers are gone. Yet in that same hundred years, we've developed aviation, then space flight. New worlds beckon.

There are many reasons to spread out. Deadly plagues have swept the world before, and could again. The dinosaurs were wiped out by a gigantic asteroid that struck the Earth with the force of millions of atomic bombs. It could happen again.

A famous scientist said, "The Earth is our cradle, but humanity cannot remain in the cradle forever." Centuries ago, Galileo studied Jupiter and its four larger moons, which are worlds in their own right. Mars and Venus are nearest -and most similar to- Earth, but no one could live there without substantial protection.

Buck Rogers and Captain Kirk have been "visiting alien worlds" for decades, but only in the past two years have astronomers actually confirmed the existence of planets around other stars. So far they've only been able to spot Jupiter-sized planets around nearby stars. New discoveries are coming in frequently.

When better space telescopes are developed (and funded!), they'll be able to observe smaller worlds. Liquid water forms at just the "right" temperature. In Earth's atmosphere, the oxygen and free nitrogen are maintained by life forms. If these are detected on another planet, we can be fairly certain that life exists there also.

Debate surrounds a now-famous Mars rock, which may contain evidence of life. Recently the Galileo space probe confirmed that Jupiter's moon Europa has water oceans beneath its icy crust. Closer to home, geologists have pushed back the date of the first known Earthly life by hundreds of millions of years. Life developed here very early.

Life forms

It may be that, under the proper conditions, life will arise quickly on any planet. Possibly those conditions are a lot broader than we've supposed. Imagine animals with plastic bones, breathing a chlorine/oxygen atmosphere. Or creatures living in an ocean of ammonia slush. How about fish with silicone blood, swimming in a sea of sulfuric acid? Or creatures that metabolize carbon monoxide, flourishing on a world with iron carbonyl rivers? (It gets even more bizarre. Read World-Building by Stephen L. Gillett.)

Is life common in the universe? We'll soon know!

But what if those other worlds are already settled? For several decades, astronomers have operated SETI programs, listening carefully for extraterrestrial radio messages. (Earth's own transmissions could now be picked up a hundred light years away.) They have detected nothing. Zilch.

Despite the Hollywood hype, there is no solid evidence that any alien spacecraft has ever visited this planet. None. Claimants are either confused, or they're frauds, or they have a screw loose. They may be having spiritual experiences. (The Air Force is, in fact, testing secret "wingless" aircraft.)

Several famous New Agers claim to be "in telepathic contact with the Pleiadians." Others insist that aliens are mainly interested in fooling around in human women's bedrooms. That tells us more about the claimants than it does about the supposed aliens!

If there are any technologically advanced beings out there, they're leaving us the hell alone. Perhaps rather literally . . .

"Life" does not imply intelligence, much less technology. After all, Earth itself was without both for %99.999 of its history. (Not counting the theory that dolphins, whales, chimpanzees, giant squids, etc. are intelligent.)

Barren, lifeless worlds won't be terribly appealing to prospective settlers. We could "terraform" such planets, making them habitable, even pleasant, but that would require centuries at least. As noted above, we'll soon be looking directly for verdant, earthlike worlds.

But any such worlds are very, very far away. Next month we'll discuss how we might reach them, and how best to settle them once we do.

In the previous section we discussed how crowded this planet Earth is becoming. Empty stretches remain only because most everyone prefers to live in developed areas. Humanity needs room!

New worlds beckon. We've developed space flight, and astronomers are finding planets around other stars. No one knows whether any of them bear life, much less, the familiar kind. Apparently there aren't any civilized aliens living on them. If there are, they are deliberately avoiding us.

Humankind may soon settle the Earth's oceans, and then the Moon and Mars. Eventually, millions will dwell there. The centuries will roll on, and we will expand. It won't be easy. The stars are immensely far away.

How far? It takes several days to drive a car across the United States. The Apollo spaceships reached the Moon in several days. But NASA's space probes require years to reach the Sun's outer planets, such as Neptune. (Currently the farthest.)

The fastest existing probes, the Pioneers and Voyagers, would take tens of thousands of years to reach the nearest star, several light years distant. Would, that is, if they were aimed directly towards it, which they're not.

Past explorations were carried out by hardy pioneers, as were the first air and space flights. (As depicted in The Right Stuff.) It wasn't long before air travel became routine. Soon, space will also be opened to regular travel. The Delta Clipper and Venture Star spaceships now being built will likely provide the means. However, those ships (like today's Space Shuttles) can only reach low Earth orbit-only a fraction of the way to the Moon. Better ships will have to be built for routine flights there, much less to the Sun's other planets.

Yet even Neptune is nearby, compared to the stars. They are thousands of times farther still. Presumably, we'd like to complete the journey to another star within our own lifetime!


Enthusiastic scientists are already planning genuine starships. (Unfortunately, the galaxy-crossing ships depicted in science fiction depend upon imaginary propulsion systems that might as well be sheer magic.) The actual plans take many forms. Most of them would accelerate to a substantial fraction of the speed of light, and still their journeys would take many years.

The first starship might be unmanned: a tiny, swift Starwisp. Or crewed: a fusion-driven Daedalus. Or even a populous space ark: a lumbering O'Neill Colony. There are books; one can also visit several web sites. (See: http://www.tasmall.com.au/drmatrix/starship/rockets.htm.)

These plans are entirely realistic. Any computer-company billionaire could, if he wished, invest a portion of his wealth to back such a venture. What a legacy!

The universe has a built-in "speed limit," the speed of light itself. Nothing material can reach, much less exceed that velocity. The universe does provide one helpful advantage, first posited by Einstein. It's called "time dilation." Crudely put: the faster you go, the slower time passes. Atomic clocks flown aboard airliners have measured this effect. Above %90 of the speed of light, time "slows" dramatically. A voyage of a century could seem like only a year-but back home, the full time would have passed. Such voyages will require true pioneers.

Only a handful of people would be able to make such a perilous journey. The first starships will be small, and the cost enormous. Nothing but wilderness would be waiting at the end.

Similar objections were raised when Christopher Columbus planned his voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. Tiny ships, a long and arduous voyage, and no assurance as to their eventual landfall.

Those Thirteenth Century Europeans couldn't imagine that, mere centuries later, jumbo jets would routinely fly thousands of people across the Atlantic, and in a matter of hours. Or that bustling cities like New York would receive them.

It is said that the gap between the stars is too great. We shall see.


Settling the new planets will be different. The Earth is covered by the works of humanity: graded road and rail beds, dams, mines, and canals. Miles of metal and wood pole lines. Huge factories and power plants. Farms large and small.

Need a new world be similarly developed? No!

Technology already in use will enable the settlers to dispense, almost entirely, with those things. Even now, several Third World nations are leaping ahead, installing cellular phone systems instead of wires.

Eventually, flying cars (perhaps hydrogen powered) will be common. Graceful, elevated trains, speeding along on magnetic cushions, will carry passengers and freight between cities. These could supplant surface roads almost entirely!

Prodigious energy, whether from fusion or some other source, will be needed to power a starship. That same source will also power the new cities, so pole lines will never be strung. Such energy could distill plenty of fresh water directly from the seas, or any convenient source. And pipe it, underground, across great distances. Dams and canals will not be as important.

Robotic fabrication, perhaps nanotechnology, will bring clean, compact manufacturing closer to homes and business. Large factories will only be needed for special purposes. Bulk facilities like warehouses could be located underground; this is already done in several cities.

Genetic engineering will allow hardy, custom-tailored food crops to be grown anywhere. Huge, commercial farms and ranches would be nearly obsolete.

The new worlds can remain virtually unspoiled.


Such paradises will be popular destinations. Today many nations are embroiled in arguments over immigration. Whether of the skilled and hardworking-or of the benefit-eligible, the severely ill, or even the known criminal. (Not to mention illegal immigrants.)

Which agency, if any single one, would provide transit to the new worlds? Will it be corporate, governmental, or both?

Who, if anyone, would control immigration? No doubt every nation, company, specialized organization, and visionary religion, will feel that they are best qualified.

If there are many such worlds, all of these entities will probably have a chance. But if, at least initially, there are only a few available planets, this could become a source of great contention.

These same players will vie for control of the new worlds. The initial landings will be tightly organized exploratory parties. The first colonists will be scientists and pioneers; people too busy to quibble. They will have plenty of challenges as they settle their new homes.

Soon enough the populations will grow, and various factions -in the broadest sense of that term- will arise. Each colony, or settled world, will have unique conditions, and differing inclinations.

They will be starting with a "clean slate." Internally there will be no Providential history to replay. Externally, rival castes and cliques can be left behind. The opportunities for manifest wisdom will be great. (Or, all too familiar tragedy. Read Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars series.)

Earth societies host countless "parasitic" individuals and occupations. (To usurp an old communist term.) Investments, advertising and art can help a free society flourish. Bloated bureaucracies, criminal outfits and financial hustlers contribute less than nothing.

Yet the new worlds won't need the infamous communist "no visible job lands you in the gulag" policy. True Father speaks instead of an ideal "hobby culture."

The Ultimate

Hopefully, many habitable worlds will be found. Also, some way to break the "lightspeed barrier."

If only a few temperate planets are found, humans could alter themselves to live on harsher worlds. Gills to live underwater, special livers to neutralize alien toxins, blood that endures tremendous heat; the possibilities are endless.

Still not enough? There are ways to make more room. Asteroids, which are numerous, could be converted into orbiting colonies, each housing thousands. Barren planets could be "terraformed." Robots could go on ahead to begin that work.

Ultimately, a star's Jupiter-sized planets could be dismantled, and a Dyson Sphere built. This fantastic construction would completely surround a star, its entire inner surface made habitable. The livable area would equal a billion Earths!

Spiritual restoration must take place first. The science mentioned above could be turned into weaponry. Among the threats: an unbraked lightspeed ship, impacting a planet, would shatter continents. Chlorine-metabolizing organisms, let loose in an ocean, would convert the salt into poisonous gas. Nanotech machines could inflict bizarre tortures.

Everyone hopes that humanity will "export" its best to the stars. In this regard, we Unificationists have our own special dreams. Perhaps our children will have an opportunity to fulfill them.

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