We are but dust in the vast cosmos…
I ask in advance if any of this post is bizarre or unsettling to anyy of my fellow devout Christians. Please remember that I was once an atheist (not the angry, zealous kind) and that I am still often haunted by the ghosts of my past denial. Having always marveled at the wonders of nature, I’m drawn toward cosmology and all scientific inquiry into life and matter, enjoying television programs like Nova and Cosmos. But… I don’t always enjoy them. Sometimes, listening to a scientific reduction of the facts of life, my doubting ghosts waft over me again and they, like the wraiths in Harry Potter, try to suck my soul, my faith, right out of me. Ever grateful am I that God’s grace has allowed my light of faith to grow more strongly over the years so that I may send these ghosts, these wraiths, howling away to the dark ignorance from whence they came. What follows was born from one of these moments …
When contemplating the vast stretches of the universe, it is clear that we are a speck of dust in the cosmos. Who knows how many universes existed before ours and how many will be after – or how many universes exist right now? And yet, we open our paper Bibles and read that “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…”[i] and that “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.”[ii] Do we really think that we are so special to the Uncreated Creator of all things visible and invisible? It stands to reason that if, as we believe, the Eternal Source is personal, then God cares and will care about all universes and worlds created and the lives of other lifeforms there. There may be other intelligent beings in unimaginable forms somewhere beyond the knowable universe to whom God sends divine mission with divine purpose. I don’t know. Do you?
What I do know, by the light of faith, is that Jesus the Christ is and always will be God for us. I don’t mean “for us” in any kind of a relativistic way, like that’s who we take him to be, because what’s God for us may not be God for you. No. I mean that, in Jesus, God gave Himself completely to us, for our sakes. For us, for our ultimate fulfillment and joy, the Word of God became flesh and dwelt among us. The Word of God may salvifically take on some other kind of form in some other universe of unfathomable structure – I don’t know, do you? But, Jesus is ours.
To be a true believer in God, we do not need to believe that we are the only creatures ever made, or who will ever be made, in the divine image and likeness. To be good Christians, we do not need to believe that God’s plan of salvation for these other beloved creatures would have to include a mission from Jesus. There is and always will be only one Christ Jesus – for he is both fully divine and fully human. It is with this divinely revealed truth of Jesus of Nazareth’s identity that, through the light of faith, we can make the reasonable conclusion that Jesus won’t be saving anyone else in any other universe. No hard-core scientist would believe that intelligent lifeforms elsewhere in existence would be human (I’m excluding theories of parallel universes here, because I think that they’re just clever nonsense). Human beings, Science-Only scientists understand, are products of this particular planet that we know as earth. Believers, too, understand that God created humans from the earth (the meaning of “Adam”) to dwell in the abundance and beauty that God created here. We are human. And, for us, God assumed human nature.
“For us men and for our salvation,”
the Son of God (who has absolutely no material shape or form)
“came down from heaven,
and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary,
and became man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate,
he suffered death and was buried,
and rose again on the third day
in accordance with the Scriptures.
He ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead
and his kingdom will have no end.”[iii]
Yes, every Christian would agree that Jesus Christ is universally unique. But, I am trying to come at this from the perspective, not only of a Christian, but also of a mere theist who is cosmologically minded, one who believes in “the ultimate reality that everyone calls God”[iv] and wonders about the relationships of other possible universes to God, who is the Unmoved Mover. How has God revealed Godself to other created minds in unknown worlds – if other such creatures and worlds exist? I don’t have the answer and I don’t think anyone ever will. And I also don’t think that we ever, even remotely, need to know. What we can come to know – and what we need to know for our ultimate fulfillment as human beings – is how God reveals Godself to us.
We can come to understand and experience the relationship between our world and God, discovering the intimate and loving plan that God has for us, for each and every human being. How? By turning to the one who is fully God and fully Man; by loving and following the Son of God, who lovingly assumed our human nature and became one of us, living and breathing with a Sacred Heart. Through him, we can touch the starry face of God and know the embrace beyond time and space.
Now, when I look up at the dewy night sky and contemplate the trillions of stars and billions of galaxies beyond sight, I thank God ever more richly for giving Himself completely to me in and through, the one and only, Jesus Christ. The next time that you wonder why we humans think that we are so special, or even doubt the existence of God when hearing scientists talk about the multiverse, remember that the Infinite/Eternal One, the Source of All Life, became one of us in Christ, out of infinite and eternal love. Christ Jesus is the singularly perfect intimate union of human and divine.
©Christina Chase 2014
All Rights Reserved
[i] Genesis 1:1
[ii] John 3:16
[iii] Nicene Creed
[iv] St. Thomas Aquinas