Aliens & Space, Theology & Dreams [justin]

Only twelve people have been to the moon. None of them women. It wasn’t until the 80′s that women astronauts became more common place and that was well after the Apollo missions of the late 60′s, early 70′s. Russia kicked our butt in this regard, having a woman in space a good 20 years before. Femininity did leave it’s mark on the moon, however. Shortly before Apollo 17 (the last moon mission) left the lunar rock, Eugene Cernan scribbled “TDC” in the sand, his daughter’s initials. Due to the lack of atmosphere on the moon, her initials will be there for longer than you can imagine.

LanaMoonThis is my youngest daughter, Lana, pointing to one of her most affectionate objects, the moon. Brother moon, as  I call it. She is a bloodhound for finding it, doesn’t matter if it’s day or night, in the sky or in a book; she’s drawn to it, declares it, and makes sure you know where it is too. It was one of her early words, if not her first.

I dream about her being the first woman on the moon. I dream about her dreaming about that, too. It would be sweet to get her a $150 Million dollar ticket for her 21st birthday. I wonder, though, if she ever made it to the moon’s surface if she would feel enveloped with cosmic love, or disappointed because she couldn’t see the thing she loved in the way she loved to see it. Perhaps the big blue Earth would be her next affair.

One of the things about dreams is that they are almost better out of reach… I’m not saying that’s a good or a bad thing, it just is what it is… and that it shouldn’t stop us from dreaming.

* * * * *

Science and the church haven’t played nicely together historically. Copernicus, Galileo, the whole earth-not-being-flat heresy. Psalm 104:5 was used to condemn the scientists, which is a shame because whenever the Bible is used as a scientific proof text in this way, you tend to miss the meaning and the beauty. That being said, science has it’s own dogma at times that  prohibits discovery. Just cause you have a lot of so called fact, doesn’t mean you know how to think. (Listen to this RadioLab about the Hayflick Limit.). Plus, what is “fact” in one generation, could be dismissed in another.

When science and faith are in the same rooms together, a couple thing should be remembered…

  • the Word of the Lord stands forever, not our interpretation of it
  • both science and religion are used to manipulate worldview
  • grace is needed  [see Theory Ladeness of Observation]

There is the dangerous task of imagination needed when it comes to faith and science. Granted there are certain things that we “know” and certain things we “believe” as followers of Jesus, but some of us need to think: “So I know this certain scientific fact is true and I know that God reveals himself through the Scriptures here; even though these seem contradictory how can I enlarge my mind (use my imagination) to honestly bring these things into some type of harmony together?” There are always certain things in Christianity that won’t vibe with science (miracles for example), but there are other things that are simply about a lack of seeking God though imagination.

* * * * *

Sufjan Stevens kind of cracked open the door for me regarding faith and aliens a couple years ago. The opening track of his 2005 album, Illinois, is one of my favorites. My only qualm with it is that it’s too short. Lyrics below (most profound is “history involved itself”). Song (video) HERE. A paragraph of the historical inspiration came from HERE.

Jesus, in some ways, is alien to us. We don’t get Him; we don’t understand why he would do this or say that. He intrigues us and frightens us at times. His resurrection confuses us. His perfection makes us think he’s deformed. In his holiness he is other, in his grace he is knowable.

When the revenant came down
We couldn’t imagine what it was
In the spirit of three stars
The alien thing that took its form
Then to Lebanon, oh God
The flashing at night, the sirens grow and grow
Oh, history involved itself
Mysterious shade that took its form
Or what it was, incarnation, three stars
Delivering signs and dusting from their eyes

I have yet to read the third book, but C. S. Lewis’ Space trilogy is possibly better than the Narnia series and shouldn’t be overshadowed by it. I’m hoping in my life time someone will make it a cinematic series. We have the technology and screenplay ability now to do it justice. Just please limit the CGI and neither secularize it nor “Christianize” it.

One of the big, you might just miss it, concepts of at least the first book, Out of the Silent Planet, is a difference in literary/scientific mindset of Lewis’ time. You can read more here [PT1 & PT2], but the long and short of it is this: H. G. Wells (The War of the Worlds) had a worldview that  aliens and space were evil and against us; Lewis reversed it saying that we, Earth/humanity, are the sinful, fallen ones, whereas the aliens are actually more righteous than us.

Speaking of sin, Martin Luther (the reformer, not the King) has written about the need to receive wholeness from outside of ourselves. Here are some excerpts from his sermon “Two Kinds of Righteousness.”

There are two kinds of Christian righteousness, just as man’s sin is of two kinds.  The first is alien righteousness, that is the righteousness of another, instilled from without.  This is the righteousness of Christ by which he justifies though faith…

…this alien righteousness, instilled in us without our works by grace alone—while the Father, to be sure, inwardly draws us to Christ—is set opposite original sin, likewise alien, which we acquire without our works by birth alone.  Christ daily drives out the old Adam more and more in accordance with the extent to which faith and knowledge of Christ grow.  For alien righteousness is not instilled all at once, but it begins, makes progress, and is finally perfected at the end through death.

The second kind of righteousness is our proper righteousness, not because we alone work it, but because we work with that first and alien righteousness… This righteousness is the product of the righteousness of the first type, actually its fruit and consequence.

* * * * *

Dreaming is not something I do very well for myself, maybe because I’m a realist (or is it a cynic?). I could say now and then and especially in my past I’ve had destructive fantasies, but that’s almost the opposite of dreaming. Dreaming is fantastical, teetering on the edge of insanity, but it’s more pure, it’s more about going towards something rather than trying to escape.

Recently I’ve had a dream for the first time in a long time, one that I can not only think about but feel about, too.

Some rationalize that finding life on other planets will be the death blow to religion, will disprove God, destroy Scripture, and dismiss Jesus as anything more than a good teacher. I disagree and think it’s due to lack of imagination that people couldn’t reconcile the two. Lack of imagination might just be a syndrome for a lack of faith.

So if this ever happens (discovering aliens) and the space program of planet Earth increases exponentially and get’s a Millennium Falcon, I want to study and become an Astrophysicist-Theologian-Ambassador-Pioneer (with a minor in Quantum Physics). This would be so bitchin’. Dangerous, sure. Challenging, you bet. Intellectual honesty combined with the humility of mystery and human limitation.

Just for the chance to further discover how the Creator of the cosmos formed it all, to travel in space… to converse with creatures from other galaxies about their culture, traditions, faith-revelations, knowledge of redemption… to declare our own galaxy’s revelation and hear about other worldly-false doctrines, to meet and worship and pray and think and hear of doubts and demons and to experience God’s glory with others who have been born of the Spirit, and to have my concept of Jesus’ salvific work melt my heart and blow my mind over-and-over-and-over again… and to have paradigm shift after paradigm shift occur yet be rooted and grounded in faith, hope, and love… it’s almost too much to handle.

But that’s what dreams are supposed to contain… the uncontainable.

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