The vastness and unexplored mystery of outer space has inspired many. But is it truly the final frontier? What other vistas await the human race?
As a boy in the 1960s, I think I learned to count down from 10 almost as early as I learned to count forward. The thrill of each rocket launch in the race to the moon began to make anything seem possible.
When the original Star Trek television series launched in 1966, it seemed that space truly was “the final frontier,” as Capt. James T. Kirk declared at the start of each episode. Our collective mission was “to boldly go where no man has gone before.”
To boldly go
In the years since Star Trek’s short three seasons (1966-1969) and the brief period of human exploration of the moon (1969-1972), the excitement of space seems to have faded a little. But for many people it never lost its pull.
Now private companies have begun to take up the mission “to boldly go,” with space tourism serving as a stepping stone to the moon, Mars and beyond.
Feeling the overview effect
In October 2021, the actor who played Capt. Kirk finally got his chance to experience space in real life. William Shatner, then 90 years old, spent only three minutes in space with Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos. But the effect was powerful.
The Atlantic reported that, with tears running down his cheeks, Shatner said, “What you have given me is the most profound experience I can imagine.”
What was it like touching the edge of his final frontier? “It’s extraordinary. Extraordinary. I hope I never recover from this.”
Shatner is not the only one who has felt powerful emotions upon looking down on our precious planet or out into the universe. The experience has even been given the name the overview effect.
- “No one could be briefed well enough to be completely prepared for the astonishing view that I got,” wrote astronaut Alan Shepherd in 1962.
- “If only everyone could relate to the beauty and the purposefulness of it,” said Gene Cernan, one of the 12 people who have walked on the moon. “It wouldn’t bring a utopia to this planet for people to understand it all, but it might make a difference.”
For more about this phenomena, see our blog post “The Overview Effect: Why We Need to See the Big Picture.”
While outer space has gotten most of the headlines as the final frontier, others have suggested that inner space is where it’s at. Of course, this term has been defined in different ways. Merriam-Webster.com says the first known use of inner space was in 1958, in the sense of “space at or near the earth’s surface and especially under the sea.”
It has also been used to describe the microscopic world, as well as the inner self.
All of these frontiers, though closer to home, may be as mysterious and challenging as outer space.
The bottom of the sea
As man headed into space, undersea exploration was also taking off.
On Jan. 23, 1960, Jacques Piccard and Don Walsh descended for nearly five hours to reach the Challenger Deep, the deepest known point in the ocean. It is 6.83 miles (10.99 kilometers) below the surface of the Pacific Ocean near Guam.
Ever since, oceanographers have made amazing discoveries in an unseen world every bit as fantastic as science fiction:
- “In the coastal waters of Shark Bay, Australia, scientists discovered that a seagrass bed of Poseidon’s ribbon weed (Posidonia australis) is actually one plant. The massive organism covers an area of 77 square miles” (Smithsonian).
- Off the coast of Antarctica, “scientists discovered 60 million icefish nests covering an area the size of a small city” (ibid.).
- “From 13m-long (43ft) voracious carnivorous squid, to scuttling Yeti crabs huddling near hydrothermal vents, to tusked whales dwelling thousands of feet down to avoid predatory orcas, sizeable marine animals new to science are still being documented every year” (BBC).
- The deep ocean seemed to be “a harsh, monotonous place of perpetual darkness, frigid temperatures, limited food and extreme pressure—conditions that should make complex forms of life impossible. But new tools . . . have demonstrated that biodiversity in the darkest depths may rival that of rain forests and tropical coral reefs” (Scientific American).
But even with all the exploration that has been done, only 5 percent of the ocean has been explored.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, “Humans know more about the physical and chemical properties of outer space than about planet Earth’s deep ocean regions.”
Inner space remains an exciting frontier for future generations. “The generation of kids in middle schools right now will explore more of Earth than all previous generations combined,” said National Geographic explorer-at-large Robert Ballard.
The microscopic world
Within the earth’s biosphere, the life-forms visible to the eye are outnumbered by the microscopic ones. This invisible world could also make a claim to the title final frontier.
Consider these amazing facts:
- “Right beneath your nose—on your face, in your gut, and everywhere in between—trillions of bacteria, viruses, and fungi are so abundant in your body, they outnumber your human cells” (NOVA).
- “Microalgae in the ocean produce half of all the oxygen in our atmosphere. Fungi and bacteria convert the organic material from dead animals into new raw materials. And intestinal bacteria help you digest your food. Without any of them, life on earth wouldn’t be possible” (Micropia.nl).
- “Microbes eat almost everything, including metals, acids, petroleum and natural gas” (ibid.).
The human mind
Lawrence Galton wrote in 1958: “Of all things known in the universe, the human brain is by far, the most complex. As a subject for scientific study it presents infinite intricacies and difficulties.”
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke said in 2023: “The brain is the most complex part of the human body. This three-pound organ is the seat of intelligence, interpreter of the senses, initiator of body movement, and controller of behavior. Lying in its bony shell and washed by protective fluid, the brain is the source of all the qualities that define our humanity. The brain is the crown jewel of the human body.”
Beyond the gray matter of the brain itself, deeper questions arise about the difference between animal brains and human minds. In this frontier we are still probing the mysteries of memory, creativity, consciousness and the subconscious. What gives us the ability to think, plan, calculate, design, enjoy, love and so many other things?
The human mind itself is a worthy frontier.
For more on this, see our article “The Miracle in the Mind.”
Our minds have allowed us to study and explore all of these frontiers. And beyond that, they have conceived of other frontiers of creativity and imagination, such as time travel, the metaverse and multiverse.
Is there anything that all these frontiers have in common? Space, the oceans, the microscopic world, the human mind and the cyber world are all based on some combination of space, time, matter and energy.
In that sense, they are all physical.
In considering what our final frontier is, we should ask:
Is there anything beyond the physical?
Beyond space and time
While human beings enjoy imagining fictional multiple dimensions and universes, our minds can’t truly comprehend realms beyond dimensions and unlimited by time and space.
As incredible as our imaginations are, they are shaped by what we know—matter, energy, space and time.
Yet there is a source that claims to be a message from beyond space and time. In fact, it claims to be from the Source of space and time. And it offers glimpses into that realm, translated into concepts humans can only begin to perceive.
Most amazing of all, it reveals directions that lead to a portal into that realm.
The Source—the Creator—had a reason for making us as finite beings who are always searching for new frontiers. In His unbounded love, He deeply desires for us to become like Him and to join Him in eternity!
This loving plan—this path leading to our transformation—is truly the final frontier that humanity has always sought.
A peek into eternity
The greatest library of inspirational literature ever written, which claims the Creator God as its Author, gives us tantalizing glimpses into our destiny.
God has big plans for His children, and they are never-ending plans (Isaiah 9:7). This final frontier will be an ever-increasing one, with fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16:11).The Holy Bible reveals that from the beginning, we were actually created in the image and likeness of the Creator (Genesis 1:26). And though we are now mortal and corruptible, God plans to give us immortality and incorruption (1 Corinthians 15:53).
God is offering to share all things with us and to give us amazing glory (Hebrews 2:6-10).
What does this look like? The Bible hints that God’s plans for us are beyond what our senses can experience and beyond even our wildest dreams:
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).
God has given us “exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these [we] may be partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4). He gives us divine power through His Holy Spirit to begin our metamorphosis.
God wants us to begin the transformation process from the inside:
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2).
Those living by the perfect will of God in this world will run into obstacles and enemies, but even these are just part of the training program God has for us.
In this world of dust, challenges abound. But God’s love for us is far more powerful than anything we face. The apostle Paul penned these words of encouragement:
“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).
The apostle John summed up God’s awesome plan in these immortal words:
“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! . . .
“Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.
“And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:1-3).
This is our ultimate purpose. It gives incalculable value to our lives. It provides profound meaning.
Whether this article has convinced you or not, you owe it to yourself to explore this further.
Study the inspiring human potential using our free booklet God’s Purpose for You: Discovering Why You Were Born. This booklet can enlighten and empower you to boldly go where your Creator is leading you!