Friday, March 28, 2008

Up, Up and Away

The writing prompt from Sunday Scribbles this week is "Out of This World." Basically, talk about your feelings and thought about things outside the Earth's atmosphere.
Okay. I can do that.

I remember in 3rd grade, we were introduced to the idea of living on the moon. As a class, we brainstormed what life would be like. We talked about Jetsons-esque bubble cars, fully enclosed cities, really awesome zero gravity basketball games.

Then a little while ago, Guy Kawasaki's Truemors site twittered a link to this story about signs of life being discovered 63 light years away. So I talked to Chris about it. Mostly, I was musing about the baiting, irresponsible journalists who wrote the headline that seems to indicate that life was discovered on another planet. The story itself clarifies and says that a single sign of life, or a single element required to sustain life, methane, was discovered. The planet is too close to its sun, so life is not sustainable, and the scientists used the search as practice for discovering signs of life on planets that are actually capable of hosting life.

Though it goes against my Christian upbringing, I've always left the possibility of life on other planets open for debate. When dealing with something infinite like the universe, I prefer not to make blanket statements either way. You know the old monkeys with typewriters thing... how eventually, due to the whole infinite random chances in an infinite universe, the monkeys would produce the complete works of Shakespeare. I certainly don't know about life on other planets.

I don't go in for conspiracy theories, and I just tend to smile and nod when confronted with narratives of abductions and such. My fancy gets tickled with stories like Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle In Time, which I had the pleasure of listening to again recently. I love the flight into the unknown, the discovery of the new and the intensely beautiful. I love the possibility of entire civilizations of beings who are closer to God than we ever dreamed. And I love boiling the struggle between Good and Evil down to something so intrinsic as to bridge the culture gap between human and non-human beings.

So, my brain foray into other worlds has led me inward instead of outward. That's what happens when I try to wrap my brain around a concept so huge as outer space: I wrap myself around the infinite that I can feel so tenderly. And I wonder if that happens to other people... or even those curious little guys on other planets. I wonder if they find themselves musing on the nature of God instead of trying to figure out ways of reaching out to other planets.