Posts Tagged ‘science’

Star Trek: The Motion PictureEven me, who figures anything with the words “Star Trek” in the title MUST be good, has to admit that the first Star Trek movie was long, sloooow and generally underwhelming.

But when I sat down recently to watch 1979’s Star Trek: The Motion Picture again for the first time in decades, I was struck by the plot and how it speaks to the human condition right now.

Admiral James T. Kirk busts himself down to captain in order to retake command of the Enterprise and help the United Federation of Planets fight off a truly gigantic threat.

The threat is called “V’Ger” and eventually Kirk and company find out it’s a 20th-century Earth space probe believed lost. But it wasn’t lost; an alien race figured out its mission — to gather information, then return to its creator — and massively upgraded it to complete the mission.

Over 300 years, the probe gathered so much information that it achieved consciousness. But returning to its creator? That was a problem. And without its creator, the probe “finds its existence empty and without purpose” (thank you, Wikipedia).

Perhaps this sounds entirely alien to you. But it hit home for me during a scene where Spock (the Enterprise’s science officer) tells Kirk, “V’Ger has knowledge that spans this universe, and yet, V’Ger is barren. It has no meaning, no hope, no answers. But it’s asking questions. Is this all that I am? Is there nothing more?

This monologue strikes me as describing the condition of humanity. And the questions V’Ger asks probably occur to any thinking person who has achieved what our culture considers success (even if that success is “just” a middle-class life).

“It knows only that it needs,” Spock relates a little later. “But like so many of us, it does not know what.”

Is this you? It certainly was me. I had the middle-class success our culture sets up as nirvana — good career, satisfying relationships, disposable income with little debt. And yet it seemed superficial. Boring. Meaningless. I was a miniature V’Ger.

If you’ve found yourself sometimes occupying this mental and emotional space, then be bold. Ignore the relentless call of our world and investigate the questions.

That’s what I did. After much thinking, talking, reading and praying, I came to know there’s a Creator. Bigger than all humanity. Bigger than V’Ger. I came to know this Creator loves His creation — you, me and every other human being on this planet — but we had turned away from Him. So He offers us a gift, a way back to Him.

That gift is Jesus of Nazareth, who many people believe is the perfect Son of God. Jesus sacrificed Himself to make up for all the wrong things we’ve done and all the right things we’ve failed to do. Because there’s no human way for us to do that on our own.

Furthermore, original-source biographies of Jesus’ physical life on earth tell us Jesus rose from the dead after three days, thereby destroying the permanence of death that we horribly imperfect humans brought on ourselves.

When you accept the gift of Jesus, all this is open to you. The need is satisfied. The questions are answered.

Sound interesting? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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In my younger years, I was sure that two kinds of people made up a vast majority of North American Christianity: children who were too young to know any better and seniors too old and frightened to think clearly.

Yes, I knew it all – and without the annoying, time-consuming bother of checking out the claims of Christianity or having any meaningful conversations with Christians. All the knowledge I needed came from superficial newspaper articles or scornful remarks by equally ignorant friends and family members.

This ‘approach’ to faith went far beyond me. Consider these words, written in 2011 by blogger Chelsea Hoffman: “Atheism isn’t so bad; you don’t have to feel guilty for hanging up your entire existence on the idea that you’re being watched and judged by an archaic deity that is universally accepted among the science community to not even exist.”

The truth, as I’ve found out since becoming a Christian in 2002, is startlingly different. Wikipedia lists a whopping 24 living scientists who stand in direct opposition to Chelsea Hoffman’s sweeping pronouncement.

And just in case you think – as I might have 10 years ago – that they’re all doddering seniors, consider just these two: Physician-geneticist Francis S. Collins (famous for helping to map the human genome) was only 56 when he published the 2006 bestseller, The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief.

Collins, now the director of the National Institutes of Health in the United States, wrote, “Science is not threatened by God; it is enhanced” and “God is most certainly not threatened by science; He made it all possible.”

Astronomer Jennifer Wiseman is chief of the ExoPlanets and Stellar Astrophysics Laboratory in the Astrophysics Science Division at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (wow!). She is also director of the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion.

I couldn’t find out Wiseman’s birth date, but she earned a Ph.D. in Astronomy from Harvard University in 1995, so she’s likely still in her 40s. Wiseman has commented on movies from a Christian perspective, and written about how to encourage young Christians in science. (You can find both online.)

She notes, “Churches and Christian schools are sometimes heavily influenced by the perception that Christianity and scientific processes (e.g., Big Bang cosmology, evolution, etc.) cannot mix, and that Christians must always have a ‘defensive’ stance toward science. This is tragic because our Christian friends can miss out on rejoicing in some of the discoveries that reveal God’s glory and creativity.”

I wish I’d known, before 2002, about Wiseman, Collins and all the other brilliant minds doing scientific work while having a fulfilling, authentic relationship with the creator of the universe and His son. It might have changed my life much earlier.

Does this knowledge make any difference to you? Type your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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