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Are you searching for a better Earth?

George Musser recently wrote a fascinating piece 'The Roadmap to Alpha Centauri' where he discusses the possibility of interstellar travel within our lifetime :
"..When it comes to starships, it's best not to get hung up on details. By the time humanity gets to the point it might actually build one, our very notions of travel may well have changed. "Do we need to send full humans?" asks Long. "Maybe we just need to send embryos, or maybe in the future, you could completely download yourself into a computer, and you can remanufacture yourself at the other end through something similar to 3-D printing." Today, a starship seems like the height of futuristic thinking. Future generations might find it quaint...."
Musser presumably wants to reassure us that in the end, as George W. Bush once said, "we do not know where this journey will end, yet we know this: human beings are headed into the cosmos". This eagerness of human beings to dominate the cosmos is in fact quite expected from the Christian perspective.

God has given human beings the creation mandate. We are created in the image of God and have been given a special task of not only multiplying but also to rule the earth and subdue it. Human beings are to rule over creation by living out God's creative purpose and thinking God's thoughts after Him. The quest to fill the universe is an expression of that mandate. Therefore there's something God honouring about it.

It is also equally true that the Bible does not end at Genesis 2. It continues to tell us about the fall of human beings and the curse of sin. We chose to eject God from his place in our hearts. Now what remains is an empty void. The search for the stars is an attempt to fill that void. Like Star Trek's captains Jean-Luc Picard and James Kirk in the movie Generations we are searching for a Nexus that will meet our needs. We are longing for a better world -to live the dust behind!

This is why people get excited by the idea of interstellar travel. The search is for'Another Earth' but with 12 moons and where you never age. Where all your wishes come true. The pursuit is therefore not one only of mastering the cosmos but a genuine longing to escape.

Again nothing illustrates this more powerfully than in cinema. In the movie, Independence Day there is a scene where people camp below the invading ship - praying to it and waiting for redemption. Of course it turns out the new masters are not bearing good news. Similarly, Prometheus presents a longing for alien gods who have left (with clues behind) and somehow if found can answer all our questions, especially how to solve the problem of our mortality. There again tragedy strikes as new saviours turns out to be no predators. These things speak to humanity's deeper longings that can never be answered by reaching out to stars.

There's another group of people in the past who looked for another home. The Bible says these people called by God were "strangers and exiles on the earth". These people were "seeking a homeland". Here is what it says about them : "they desired a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city" (Hebrews 11:15-16). This city has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. (Hebrews 11:10). The problem is not looking. The trouble is where we look. We are to be like these exiles and strangers who looked to God himself.

But now it gets better. You see, while we were search for the stars God has already sent his rescue mission to us! As Louie Giglio and Matt Redman say in their book ('Indescribable') : "The world was so intrigued by the universe that it sent a space shuttle. God so loved the world that He beat us to it and launched His own mission, sending His only Son. The miracle of the Christian gospel is that the One who was quite simply beyond our grasp drew near to us. He who was out of reach reached down to us"

Through the cross of Jesus Christ, we encounter the one true God on a mission to seek and save the lost. He might simply have impressed us with the creating another Earth with 12 suns and 12 moons, and awed us into submission. Yet our God chose to go much, much further—not simply wowing us with scientific greatness, but wooing us with Himself. God became flesh and dwelt among us.

Copyright © Chola Mukanga 2013

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