PHAETON THE LOST PLANET
An Ancient World that Perished
AN ASTRONOMER’S ACCOUNT OF THE MISSING PLANET
BETWEEN MARS AND JUPITER
AS INTERPRETED FROM OBSERVATIONS
MADE WITHIN A BIBLICAL CONTEXT
by J. Timothy Unruh (1995)
To one degree or another there is an innate sense in each one of us that there is something very wrong in our world. We see the evidence of this problem in our own lives, in the lives of others, and in the world around us in general. Many of us grow up taking for granted that we are born, we live “the good life” to some extent, we experience tragedy, and then we “go the way of all the Earth” and die. We realize this firsthand on the occasion of the death of a family member or other loved one. When we hear of or experience disasters, suffering, violence, and the like, we duly take that also in stride. Yet deep within ourselves we know that there is a profound cause behind this “something” that all is not quite right or normal about our every day lives. It is a sense that seems to transcend our daily affairs. In other words we instinctively know that we, for some reason, live in a tainted and imperfect world and we quietly yearn for a restoration of that lost “golden age.”
It was not until some years ago when I began studying the Bible that I began to understand this universal problem and of a “paradise lost,” and especially of the promise of a grand restoration some day. This great problem can be traced back historically almost to the beginning of time, shortly after God placed our two distant ancestors into a garden like primeval world. They not only enjoyed the good life but evidently experienced the best life, and the only truly “normal” life, the world has ever known – until a certain fateful day of temptation. The early chapters of Genesis describe the unfolding of this, humanly speaking, most unfortunate yet significant transaction. To most of us the rest is common knowledge. Down through the corridors of time the untold agonies of human suffering reflect the consequences of the action of our first parents and their fall into iniquity, and their subsequent misfortune which was furthermore imputed to the rest of mankind ever since. All of this is the evidence of what Divine revelation calls “sin. This tragic condition of man’s innermost being can be historically attributed to this premier transgression by the world’s first couple. “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) The exact circumstances of man’s original sin are surrounded by a degree of mystique although one thing is certain, it involved, in essence, a sentient moral rejection of God and a personal rebellion against Him. The effect and consequence of this great historic fact has separated man from God and has troubled him ever since. The advent of a second federal head and representative of the human race in Christ to raise man up “out of an horrible pit” has been the only hope of man since his fall in Eden.
Meanwhile a drama of a different nature and complexity involving a higher order of created beings had been unfolding in the heavens above. Before its advent on the Edenic Earth the darkness of iniquity had already begun its chilling work above the firmament and among the stars of heaven. God’s once perfect celestial order had begun to endure the ravages of the curse and of judgment. Just as one primordial human act infected all of humanity on Earth, one betrayal by a solitary cherub initiated a conflagration of unfathomable proportions. An iniquitous prince in heaven had wrought his havoc and, being cast down to Earth, became the dark “prince of the power of the air” in our world and “as a roaring lion” has sought “whom he may devour.” As the reader shall see, the angelic element in the cosmic drama is not to be ignored, especially when we are faced with attempting to explain some of the mysterious aerial phenomenon of our present day.
Ouranos, that starry realm above, was long held by man to be a pure, untainted, and inaccessible sanctuary. It was not until fairly recently, the time of the founding fathers in America, that man began to rediscover the abject affliction and discord sustained in the heavens during the millennia. In our present economy the Sacred Oracles of Scripture declare that all of nature travaileth and crieth out in pain. Thus nature in its own way bears the testimony of creation, the fall, and the hope of redemption. As we will see, this testimony is etched in the sky above in particular.
Astronomy is unique among the sciences. In scope it encompasses the entire physical universe including the Earth itself. It is also the most limited of the sciences in that with astronomy we can perform virtually no experiments. We can only observe from afar. The sheer inaccessibility of the stars is both frustrating and fascinating. That in itself is a good reason why astronomy is so dependent upon Scripture for its understanding. It is perhaps the most intriguing of all the sciences. With telescope at hand, our wanderlust and imagination is easily carried away to the blowing desert sands of Mars, or the cloud tops of Jupiter and the planet’s icy moons, or to a distant star where no man has ever gone before. When we add to this the fact that our generation is just beginning to visit the planets for the first(?) time in human history it is apparent that astronomy is a dynamic science with important implications for everyone. What makes observational astronomy so special is that we can observe and enjoy it in the comfort and seclusion of our own backyard. Just as well, our telescopic sight might take us out to the asteroids where the evidence of nature and the raw material of Divine revelation coupled with our intuition will even enable us to reconstruct a lost planet. When man looks up at the stars sooner or later the truth will be abundantly clear, for indeed, as the Psalmist declared,
“The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament sheweth his handiwork”. (Psalm 19:1)
Equally intriguing as the mystery of a lost planet is the parallel mystery of our own day involving the UFO and related phenomenon. Both can be seen as evident consequences of a dark and unlawful intrusion into physical reality by iniquitous beings who have polluted the once morally and physically perfect universe. That these entities hold great power is evident not only in the present nature of things but as represented in the oracles of Scripture itself. Thus we see that spiritual warfare is both an empirical fact and a present reality.
The story of Phaeton, a once resplendent but now lost planet, has intrigued me since childhood. My interest in planetary observation in general, and in this strange catastrophic loss of an important planetary member in particular, has lead me as an astronomer down a most interesting path of inquiry and personal discovery. When I began studying and contemplating astronomy with Bible in hand, the stars above took on a whole new reality. With its thousands of years, instead of countless millions, the Bible has brought the features and events of the cosmos much closer to home and more relevant to me personally. The cosmos thus has taken on a sensible and unified whole, accessible in the context of an observable, analytical, and contemplative perspective. To share such insights gained over the years is always a great delight. Thus I am compelled to write of this personal odyssey of discovery, as a celestial detective of sorts, that my readers might partake of the same intrigue and be able to confirm with me that the age old Biblical truth is still as valid as ever; and the real truth is that the beginning of knowledge always starts with the Creator Himself (Proverbs 1:7). If nothing else, it is this author’s hope that the reader will gain a fresh insight into an interesting aspect of astronomy from the benefit of my own experience, and especially that he or she might be able to openly approach this regal science and appreciate it under the auspices of a truly Biblical perspective.
J. Timothy Unruh, June 17, 1995