…in the Universe.
Down, down, down sank the pod. It was now a kilometre below the surface, the water pressure above it equivalent to 100 atmospheres. Yet even at this depth, the lights of the pod revealed the presence of strange creatures, fish with remarkable lights to guide them, or to attract prey. And finally, down to a deep sea hydrothermal vent with its white coral-like structures and tube worms, weird life forms that don’t breathe oxygen.
Yes, I was glued to ‘Brian Cox’s Adventures in Time and Space.’ I find his programmes compulsive viewing. It’s so exciting to wonder whether similar creatures exist within the deep sea volcano vents that we now believe exist on several of the moons within our solar system, as in Polly’s New Home. Even, perhaps, on Mars?
It’s exciting to savour the future missions to the moon and to Mars, the establishment of a colony there, the potential for mining operations. Will this give us a deeper understanding of who mankind really is, of our place in this incredible, vast universe?
In recent years, national governments have struggled to fund the ongoing space exploration. Thank goodness the mantle has been grasped by an enlightened breed of philanthropists, such as those who have gained their wealth through Amazon, through the manufacture of Tesla cars and through the Virgin empire!
Brian Cox’s enthusiasm is inspiring, a joyful contrast to the programmes about Greta Thunberg that we watched last month. Wave upon wave of misery was heaped upon us, from the devastation of the Californian forest fires to the starving polar bears. From the evil oilfields on the tar sands of Alberta to the disappearing glaciers of the Rockies. The smouldering stumps of the Amazon. The many threatened species…Greta seems such a killjoy when compared with the passionate cosmic identity-seekers.
Our homegroup is half way through a course about climate change and our response to it. This last week, we were challenged with the same question asked by Brian Cox. Who are we, and what’s our place in the universe? It’s a question that we as Christians need to rethink. But the course isn’t questioning our core understanding that we are created in the image of God. It affirms God’s deeply personal love for us, his desire that we should know him, and the central place of the Cross in reconciling us to him. We’re learning that our role is not to see ourselves as above creation and so to exploit creation. Rather, that we are a part of creation and have a role to care for it, both for its people, its creatures, and for Nature itself. And that God is passionate about it, laments the mess we’ve made, and is already acting to help us in our quest to put things right.
I love the way St Paul puts it (Romans 8 vs 19-21). The sense is that Creation itself is struggling because of mankind’s wrongdoing. As God’s people themselves fulfil their role of caring for creation, “the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.”
Quite simply, space exploration is an expensive luxury. This is surely a time when the cream of our best scientific brains, and the most influential entrepreneurs on our planet, need to invest the lion’s share of their prowess and wealth into the battle against climate change. There is almost infinite scope to realise our dreams. The way to find out ‘who I am’ is not to reach up to the stars. Rather, it’s to listen to that inner voice that tells me I’m created by a God who cares enough to want a relationship with me through Jesus Christ. In him I can discover my true identity, and find his purpose for my life.
So, what else could you buy from the money being invested in our ‘common future’ in worlds beyond? FusionX maybe – an intensified global research programme, to unleash clean nuclear power? Virgin desert reclamation? And for Mr Bezos, The Amazon reforestation programme? Or, you could develop heat pumps to make this a winning technology to replace gas central heating. You could invest in a wholesale programme to insulate draughty houses… Someone even suggested re-freezing the arctic to reflect back more of the sun’s radiation. It would cost £500 billion, less than The UK Covid-19 support programme. Come on, trillionaires – roll up! Put your fortunes into it!
Whilst I shall still be watching Brian Cox’s adventures, I thank God from the bottom of my heart for Greta Thunberg. We need her!