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> Monday, October 27th, 2008 > Opinion > Faith Meets Life: Finding God in Space
Faith Meets Life: Finding God in Space
Click here to read more Interrobang articles written by Michael Veenema
Published: Monday, October 27th, 2008
Canada can boast a few firsts, but being first in sending someone into space is not one of them. Even the United States canít make that claim. The country to first send a person into space was Russia, and the astronautís name was Yuri Gagarin. The year was 1961.
Thereís a story that while circling the earth Gagarin quipped that he couldnít see God in space. But according to Wikipedia, that remark was made by Nikita Krushchev, then the leader of Russia, as he bragged about the success of his space program. Krushchev, as Stalin before him, rejected belief in God.
According to the Wikipedia posting, a close friend of Gagarin, Colonel Valentin Petrov, claimed that Gagarin himself had been baptized into the Russian Orthodox Church. The implication is that Gagarin would probably not have made such a remark.
Yet, that remark itself still has some cash value. If there is a God, why isnít he more visible? If you canít see him anywhere, why would you bank on his being real?
C. S. Lewis, Oxford professor of literature and author of the Narnia Chronicles, responded to the story of Gagarinís in-flight comment. He compared our human existence in the world to the existence of a Shakespearian character in a play, say Banquo in Macbeth. Shakespeare is the creator of the play just as God has created the world.
Letís say that Banquo wants to meet the creator of the play. Is he likely to meet Shakespeare in the forest or in some other setting? The only people he would meet there are the characters Shakespeare has created.
He wouldnít see Shakespeare even if he built a 16th century rocket and launched himself into space (although he would have been able to claim to have beat Gagarin into orbit). The only beings Banquo, either as a ghost or pre-ghost, would encounter in Macbeth would be the ones Shakespeare had created.
And so, the only way he would ever meet Shakespeare himself is if Shakespeare had written himself into his own play.
Lewis was a subtle thinker. He had a way of getting you to think about the Christian view of things without necessarily telling you that thatís what he was up to.
Shakespeare creating the world of Macbeth nicely compares to God creating the world. Youíre not going to see God by poking around the different parts of his creation; visiting space, staring at the Big Bang or examining the results of physics experiments in the Hadron Collider (if itís been repaired).
But you could encounter God if he writes himself into his own creation. And, as Lewis observed, in the Christian understanding the world, God does write himself into the ďplay.Ē
In a few weeks the Christmas season will start. As a way of remembering the birth of Christ, the season has become a little problematic. But it can still serve as a reminder of the Christian view that God can be encountered in Jesus Christ; that Christ was God writing himself into the story; that he lived and traveled very visibly for a time, left behind a host of remarkable stories and thousands of eye witnesses, and started a movement that in our present time is growing explosively.