“Awake, O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Christ will give you light.” Ephesians 5:14
Researchers estimate there are one billion earth-like planets in the Milky Way galaxy alone. Multiply this figure by the over one hundred billion galaxies in the known universe, and you may start to wonder if Star Trek – with its myriad of alien characters – is more science than fiction. Given the odds, the existence of intelligent life outside our pale blue world appears axiomatic. And given the relative youth of our Sun, it’s likely that at least some of that intelligent life is more advanced than we are.
Growing up, I speculated that intelligent life probably did exist elsewhere in the universe, but I was certain we would never encounter this intelligence. I’d been taught that the Holy Bible was a complete guide to the existence we’ve all been birthed into, and I opined that, were a rendezvous with the Vulcans part of our future, we surely would have been granted instruction by the Holy Spirit via the scriptures.
A few more decades of life have demonstrated to me that, were my earlier thinking true, many of the events I’ve experienced should have been impossible. Either that, or the Instruction Manual for Life I was led to believe the Bible is, has lost many of its intended pages. The older I get, the more I see the Bible less as instructions for what or how, and more a library of stories portraying the constant mistakes and fumbling of humanity, as we attempt to figure things out. And through all the mess and the chaos – right here in the midst of it – is a loving Creator, saying, “I am here. I am still here with you.”
There was this Italian physicist back in the 40’s and 50’s by the name of Enrico Fermi; he was one of those Einstein types who contributed to the knowledge of the atoms that make up all matter. Like Einstein, he was dismayed to see his research used for the engineering of super-destructive weapons, capable of killing millions of humans and animals and wrecking the Earth.
When Fermi wasn’t lamenting the misuse of his atomic discoveries, he was busy gazing at the heavens – at all those billions of suns and solar systems – and thinking, In all this vastness, we can’t be the only ones. Where is everybody? I suppose it was Fermi’s wondering, combined with his trepidation over the creation of the atomic bomb, that led to an idea we now call the Fermi Paradox.
Enrico Fermi theorized the lack of documented extra terrestrial contact could be explained this way: Before a civilization of intelligent beings may develop technology advanced enough for intergalactic travel, that civilization is likely to destroy itself through misuse of its own technology. Most days, I look around and agree with Fermi.
Then I look at this collection of ancient stories we call the Bible, and it makes me think there could be Hope for us here on Earth, and perhaps this Hope extends to unknown beings from other worlds as well. Maybe there’s an alien elsewhere in the universe – another beneficiary of Life, fueled by some other dying sun, and just this moment, he records his thoughts on the future of his own race of people, as I do.
Perhaps this alien comes from a race that’s developed its own collection of stories which does for them much the same as our Bible does for us: it describes a grand awakening – one which does not end with the last words of the text, but continues on and on for as long as the gift of life is granted.
I had a youth pastor who used to say, “None of us is saved. We are being saved.” I get that now. I would say it this way:
None of us is awake. We are still waking.
It’s a good thing for us the waking is not complete – that new and better things await us – for we are in a race against our short-sighted selfishness, and this selfishness is fast leading to our own destruction. But we just may have a chance. By the grace of God, we may just wake in time.
If we do, I think it would be pretty cool if we met other awakened folks in the universe. Maybe one of them would look a lot like Spock.