This post was born out of a liking of science-fiction movies and my recent viewing of the Ridley Scott film Prometheus. (Also, for part 1, please click here.)
I will not spoil it for anyone here, but I will say that the movie which is excellent deals with 2 primary questions: 1) Where do we come from?/Who created us?, and 2) What is our purpose?/What purpose did they create us for?
The questions are all too common in science fiction, but I think every person asks themselves the same questions in life. Though, not everyone starts in the same place and indeed not everyone arrives at the same conclusions, I believe there is a reason we all ask these questions. I believe there is a reason that there is something in our conscience that asks what is there to life? Is there more to life? Is there more than the world I see around me or is it all simply organized specks of dust?
The interesting thing about science and Christianity is that both affirm that we all come from at one point specks of dust. The difference is one believes that dust became earth and that earth accommodated conditions conducive to life and suddenly organic life was born in the water, eventually moved to land, and eventually became humanity. The other believes that God spoke the earth and everything in it into being by His Word, and God created mankind from the dust of the earth, from the ground. The very name of the father of humanity A-dam which means in Hebrew mankind is a play on the word for ground, A-dam-ah.
Science and Christianity certainly disagree with the how of creation, but there can’t help but be some crossover when it comes to the why or the question of human origins. The question in science which remains complex and to this day a difficult one to answer that vexes most scientists is ‘why something rather than nothing?’ Life exists and the universe exists, but why? I believe there is still room here despite the constant debates over the compatibility of science and religion. I believe there is still room for agreement and that the two don’t necessarily have to be at odds with one another.
Science, after all, is an attempt to understand the world or space around us. In order to do so one must ask questions. I grew up in a church culture and went to Catholic mass when I was young, but joined my father’s Protestant tradition when I was 7 years old. I tried to force a sort of conversion experience at the time because in all honesty, I wanted to be like my father. So, I prayed and asked for forgiveness and then much later on I was baptized eventually. However, I didn’t really believe. I went to church services, Sunday school classes, Christian camps, and even owned a Bible. I discussed theology and church history with my mother’s priest on occasion and was a leader of some Christian groups in school, but though my head was in it my heart was far from it.
In high school I took an interest in science and math. I suppose math was appealing because there is a problem that has to be solved and then there is a solution. It is pretty clear. Science was appealing to me because it deals with the big questions of life and the world around us. I fell in love with biology and physics in high school. When I went to college I studied biology and psychology, being enamored with the intricacies of human thought and behavior as well as the natural processes of the world. It seemed my heart was overflowing with questions about the world, about life, about existence, but more and more I found that though there were some interesting options proposed in science I was not finding answers to the bigger questions of life.
So, my sophomore year of college I turned to prayer and Bible reading. Eventually, I met a group of Christians for before then I was living the typical partying lifestyle and I began meeting weekly for a Bible study. In time, I prayed more and went to a ski trip in Colorado in which I couldn’t ski because of a significant previous injury, and went up on a mountain to spend time in prayer. While praying and journaling, I sensed a call to commit my life to Jesus Christ, to believe and trust in Him, and to follow Him into a life of ministry. It was then, at that moment, on that mountain, that God graced me with the faith to believe in His Son Jesus Christ and the atoning sacrifice that He gave on my behalf and for all those who would put their trust in Him. Afterward, I went to the Bible and the pages which looked like dated stories glowed with the aura of God, and I was intoxicated with the Holy Spirit upon flipping through the pages. Pieces of a puzzle which were my many questions slowly were being answered and though imperfect with my imperfect mind and limited understanding, I was beginning to understand where we as human beings come from and what our purpose as human beings is.
I understand now that we were created by God and that we were created for a good purpose being made in the image of God to serve as the stewards of God in creation, loving God by obeying His commands and trusting in Him for His provision and loving others through loving the community of humanity also being made in God’s image. In Christian terms, we were created to bring glory to God which comes through loving God in all we do, abstaining from sin, trusting in His Word and promises, being thankful for His provisions, obeying His commands, taking care of the world around us that has been given, and loving others as ourself and in particularly loving our husband/wife which is a means of imitating the perfect community of the Triune God (Father-Son-Spirit; Husband-Wife-God).
This doesn’t mean I am at odds with science now. I have a profound appreciation for science and philosophy because they were tools that God used in guiding me through His providential hand to Himself. When I watch movies like Prometheus that search for human origins and pander questions of existence, I can’t help but identify with them in my own life and quest for truth. The good news is not that I have found that truth by my own efforts, but rather that Truth has found me and is known only through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
So, when you go and watch Prometheus or some sci-fi movie which questions our origin and existence, I pray that you may be able to think on these very questions yourself and I also pray that God in His providence might guide you to Himself. We cannot ascend to God, after all, but God has to condescend to us in order to reveal Himself. The Good News is that He has done precisely this through His Son Jesus Christ wherein God assumed human flesh, was born of Mary the virgin (conceived without human effort but by the Spirit), perfectly obeyed God’s will in His perfectly sinless life, went willingly to the cross to suffer and die for the sins of humanity, and after being dead and buried, He arose from the dead as He said He would because death cannot hold God. In doing this Jesus conquered sin and death in the past Himself so that we in the present and fully in the future might share in His victory and have life everlasting.
This is what we call as Christians, the Gospel, who Jesus is and what He has done. I pray that as you watch sci-fi movies and ask similar questions, you might come to know the Truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and your quest for the otherness which Plato and Kant have depicted might find it’s destination at the cross of Jesus Christ.