Today, it is difficult for us to believe that as recently as the time of Shakespeare no one knew that other world’s existed. Though the Greeks had surmised it, there was no direct proof until the invention of the telescope circa. 1608, and so to almost all educated men to that point, our planet was the universe. One might even say that this was still true for 90 per dent of the human race until John Glenn orbited the earth.
The expansion of the time scale has had equally striking effects on human thought. Until well into the nineteenth-century, much of the Western world believed in the literal truth of Archbishop Ussher’s date for Genesis, 4004 B.C. , which may still be found in some Bibles. It is indeed curious that so many devout men, during the three hundred years between Galileo and Darwin, stubbornly refused to recognize the grandeur of the universe is space and time; almost as if determined to disparage the power of God. The eastern religions avoided this mistake ,
which has done so much to weaken the prestige of Christianity.
As mankind’s modest place in the scheme of the universe is more and more widely recognized, on the emotional as well as on the intellectual level, the effects on our racial pride will certainly be profound. To the Psalmist’s question, ”What is Man , that thou art mindful of him ?” the Future may well give the ironic answer ”What , indeed?” Our species has come into existence in the last five-thousandth of the Earth’s history, and the entire span of human civilization extends over barely a millionth of that time. Unless we exhibit a conceit, which can be aptly termed astronomical, we must assume that there are many species in the universe far more advanced than ours, intellectually as well as spiritually.
Indeed, the extreme youth of homo-sapiens on any cosmic time scale makes it likely that the vast majority of rational extraterrestrial creatures must be superior to us by millions of years of development.
- The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown. (Genesis 6: 1-2, 4)\’\'”]
- ”When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose […
This prospect has been viewed, not without some alarm, by many Christians who find it hard to reconcile the existence of other intelligent species with the doctrines of Incarnation and Redemption. If God made man in his own image, what of all the other creatures who must be made in different images, if they are to survive on alien worlds? And if Christ had saved us alone, what have we done to merit such special treatment? This sort of problem, which once seemed quite as abstract as the classic question of the number of angels who could dance on a pin, has engageda number of theologians of note in the past.
Undoubtedly, one of the most stimulating on the subject was author C.S. Lewis. In two novels, ”Out of the Silent Planet”, and ”Perelandra”, Lewis developed the theme that only humanity had fallen, and that the creatures on other planets are free of the guilt that requires our redemption. This view of humankind’s particular depravity, perhaps well justified, implies that our planet is under quarantine, a cosmic purgatory in which attempts to escape are viewed with great disfavor.
”Space, as such, is full of life and the domain of the eldila and Earth has become a planet that is the odd one out in the solar system because of its “bent” ruler. ”Because the eldila, who fill space (or “the heavens,” which are depicted as warm and bright under the influence of the Sun) know nothing about what goes on inside those boundaries, Earth is called Thulcandra, “the silent planet”. While Earth has fallen into evil, Mars has not. This represented one of Lewis’s concerns about space travel: that fallen humanity would have nothing to offer other life in space other than our depravity.” In view of this it is not surprising to find that author and alternative historian Michael Tsarion lists Lewis as a highly recommended author. Tsarion believes this planet was taken over by an evil alien race – the Nephilim of the Bible – who interbred with humans and became imprisoned here and are in quarantine for the safety of the other worlds, but who seek to esape and spread their evil thoughout the universe.
Another possibility, but one so flattering to our pride that it is hard to believe it can be true, is that the redemption of other races will proceed through us; that humans in fact, may one day take salvation to the stars. Remembering how gun and gospel have been combined in the past, and the manner in which so many missionaries have attempted to ”civilize the natives”, Lewis was not at all happy with that prospect.
”You and I should resolve to stand firm against all exploitation and all theological imperialism…Our loyalty is due not to our species but to God. Those who are, or can become His sons, are our real brothers even if they have shells or tusks. It is spiritual, not biological kinship that counts”. ( C.S. Lewis )
Still, it must be assumed that when and if we make contact with superi
xtraterrestrial intelligences, there will be a finding that belief in a supernatural order of things marks an early stage of development amongst most rational creatures and perishes with the rise of science. Most disconcerting of all would be the discovery that human beings are myth making animals; forever impelled to fill the gaps in knowledge by fantasies.
Yet if this be the price we have to pay for the whole realm of art, which is always an attempt to create the non-existent, we need not be ashamed. We will be better off than beings who possess all knowledge but know nothing of poetry and music. The fact remains that the real universe is more miraculous than any miracle worthy saints have accomplished. Perhaps when God reached zero of the cosmic countdown, its attention was turned elsewhere, knowing that Its work with us was done. It will certainly not diminish Its glory, rather the reverse, if we discover that in all the ages since time began, It has never tinkered with the mechanism of the universe. Only an unskilled craftsperson is forced to make perpetual adjustments to their handiwork; the real expert packs their tools and walks away when the job is done.
- ”After three decades of hoping, 10 years of training, and at least 12 hours preparing his spacesuit, Zhai Zhigang is expected to make history in just 20 minutes tomorrow as the first Chinese astronaut to do a space walk. The 42-year-old former fighter pilot will don a £2m, ten-layered Chinese-designed suit, weighing 120kg (265lb), to exit the Shenzhou VII module.”