On December 11, 2023, Annie and I went to the Kennedy Space Center to begin an unforgettable day of exploring space and theology.
My deep thinking about my church’s theology and space began in 1958 the day after a very serious accident in which my best friend was killed and I was badly injured. The next day an Episcopal priest walked into my hospital room and asked, “What had you and Brad done to deserve this?” insinuating that this was payback because of past transgressions. I wanted nothing to do with such a god or church or that priest.
I’m sorry to say that god is still alive and well in seminaries and the institutional church.
I then chose a new name for God: Creation, a force for good that has no gender, judgment, or son to send and instead encompasses universes and every living thing.
Space exploration starting in the late 1960s and the Hubble Space Telescope in the 1990s shared that there may be up to two trillion (that’s twelve zeros) galaxies out there, each with a billion stars. That made the church’s god very small but my Creation even more relevant.
About four years ago, I started calling the church’s god NoOneUpThere. Two years ago, I suggested that god is a human concept. The church doesn’t like that.
That brings me to my reactions after a day at the Kennedy Space Center:
- Most of the institutional Christian churches’ thinking is still based on a god who lives above the third firmament of a flat earth. He (yes, He, Him, His) runs everything. That idea is not very convincing to thinking folks today.
- During a simulated space trip, the space center showed an image from the James Webb Space Telescope of a dying star from 12.5 billion years ago. Scientists think they can find the start of this universe. This plays havoc with those believers who know that life started seven thousand years ago.
- Next, there was no way that Jesus could have ascended to heaven. Space doesn’t allow for that, which then makes me ask, Why does the church still celebrate Ascension Day (May 9 in 2024)?
- A Second Coming is not even possible. Jesus would be fried to a crisp upon the return trip.
- Folks traveling to Paradise better have expensive space suits and vehicles to get wherever they think they’re going.
- There is no such thing as eternity or forever. Everything has a beginning and an ending. To live eternally or forever is simply a figment of one’s imagination.
- Heaven, hell, purgatory, and Sheol don’t exist except in little minds.
- Try this: In relation to the universe, earth equals one grain of sand on a huge beach, like Waikiki Beach in Hawai‘i. If there was a god of the universe, earth would simply be a tiny dot.
- The church doesn’t like space exploration because it destroys much of its antiquated thinking. I love space exploration. It has given me a perspective that the church can’t or won’t have.
- Finally, regardless of what space shows us, the message of Jesus about the power of agape lives on.
What do you think about space and the church?
Peace Love Joy Hope
Photo courtesy of NASA, ESA, CSA, Joseph Olmsted (STScI) (public domain)