April 5, 2015

Slice of PIE: Easter Saturday Reflections and Intelligent Aliens

Good Friday was two nights ago.

Why do they call it good? Strangely enough, the best explanation I have ever heard or seen popped up one Friday on my niece’s Face Book post in the form of a comic strip drawn by legendary artist, Johnny Hart, creator of the strip “B.C.” and co-creator of the strip, “The Wizard of Id”:

This is the only reason such a day, such a celebration could be called “good”.

Four years ago, my daughter and I were talking about Good Friday on the way to the service and back. She observed that this the only specifically Christian Holy Day that the secular world has been unable to coopt. We decided that there’s no way that such an event could be made cute or represented by cuddly animals, people in costumes or from which candy companies might not spin adorable commercials or bunnies laying chocolate eggs. Any attempt to “cute-i-fy” Good Friday is doomed to failure by the nature of the day.

It’s grim. Gruesome. Dark. It’s all about torture and execution.

Outsiders – those who don’t know of, believe or otherwise acknowledge Christianity – find it offensive and inexplicable; perhaps even insane. “Why would you possibly want to remember the horrific execution of your rabbi and teacher?”

Last night I was reminded again that the events leading up to the execution of the Christ are NOT about the failure of God to accomplish His mission on Earth. The crucifixion was NOT a backup plan and a bad one at that. The events prior to Good Friday were an exhibit  of everything that is rotten in Humanity and a display of ample proportions of exactly why it needed forgiveness and saving.

The infant Jesus was born the involuntary subject to an empire both global and cruel. His birth sparked the slaughter of hundreds of other innocent newborns by decree. His life exposed the tedious, unremarkableness of thirty years of growing old in an ancient world and the loss of his father during adolescence; his three years of ministry exposed him to corrupt government, avarice and greed, ridicule by the intelligentsia, betrayal and abandonment by friends, public adulation turned mockery, lies, a corrupted justice system that did not represent the interests of his people, gambling and drug abuse.

What does this have to do with writing speculative fiction? Ask rather what does it have to do with my love of aliens! While the SF community often aims for inclusion, at times it opts for scorn. Believers in Christ, particularly evangelical Christians are barely tolerated and I have experienced active ridicule of my beliefs. I am not saying my experience is common or usual, but I have experienced this ridicule. The particular mocker I experienced asked how I could believe in something that had not one single shred of evidence to support it. At the time, I was unable to reply. Of COURSE I came up with great answers later.

YEARS later, I finally worked out that I could ask such an adamant detractor a simple question as well: “How can you believe that there is intelligent life in the universe and not have on single shred of evidence to support your belief?”

Of course, as a SF writer and biologist, I've created aliens and I know that many SF folk believe that Carl Sagan’s rhetorical question is sufficient answer to the question…well…because Carl Sagan has a PhD and he’s famous AND he’s Carl Sagan: “The Universe is a pretty big place. If it's just us, seems like an awful waste of space.” (WHERE did he say this, besides in CONTACT?)

However, Carl doesn’t provide a single shred of evidence to support his conclusion.

I know this isn’t about writing SF exactly; I suppose I pulled a Johnny Hart on you all. Be that as it may, my prayer is that you consider that Christ might be exactly who He said He was with as much intellectual honesty as you consider the possibility of intelligent life “out there”.

Those who carry Carl's torch made practically identical, unsupported, evidence-free statements today: "'I think we're going to have strong indications of life beyond Earth within a decade, and I think we're going to have definitive evidence within 20 to 30 years,' NASA chief scientist Ellen Stofan has told a panel discussion into the agency's search for life beyond Earth.
"'We know where to look. We know how to look,' Stofan said. 'In most cases we have the technology, and we're on a path to implementing it. And so I think we're definitely on the road.'"
"Former astronaut John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, agreed.
"'I think we're one generation away in our solar system, whether it's on an icy moon or on Mars, and one generation [away] on a planet around a nearby star," Grunsfeld said."

If you can’t find answers, then I’d be happy to talk with you. Just leave me a comment and I’ll reply…Either that or start with my series here: http://faithandsciencefiction.blogspot.com/2007/10/christianity-anthropocentric-or.html


Gray Rinehart said...

I like it, Guy.

My own thoughts on Easter Saturdays turn toward the disciples, grieving and fearful and hiding. What a dark day.

We are all different, of course, and to some people wondrous things are hard to believe. To me, some things are too wondrous not to believe.


GuyStewart said...

As in all deeply considered answers, that addresses both issues with wisdom.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts!