Believe It or Not
Disclaimer: This Blog post is the opinion of the author. Be warned that this article may challenge your beliefs in theology and the after life. If you have a firm belief and practice a particular brand of religion do not continue to read this Blog post as it may offend you. It is not the intent of this article to deny or challenge anyone's choice in believing anything they want. This article is just for fun and means nothing.
This summer I started watching one of my favourite TV shows on NetFlix, Star Trek: Voyager. Like all of the Star Trek series and science fiction in general I like the way the stories challenge you to think differently about what you think to be real. Sometimes what we continue to believe can be a blind spot to acquiring new information. A lot of scientific breakthroughs in the history of this planet have had to face opposition from the established beliefs that were being challenged by new ideas.
[caption id="attachment_2228" align="alignleft" width="214" caption="The Voth"][/caption]
One episode that I really like came out in 1997 during Season three titled Distant Origins. The story revolves around the idea that race of beings evolved on earth and were descendants of saurian reptiles. They eventually developed the abilities to travel in space and left earth. Humans developed later and now the two species have met in the Delta Quadrant and both belief systems are challenged.
As with any science fiction story you as the audience have to identify with the characters to really engage the plot lines. For me it is always easy to identify with the hero in this case the Star Trek characters, but this time I was really looking at the saurian species who called themselves the Voth. The Voth scientist was trying to prove that his race did not evolve in the Delta Quadrant, but actually migrated to this region of space and evolved on the same planet as the humans. The Voth status quo hates warm blooded species especially mammals. The Voth particularly hold humans with disrespect and see them as an inferior species and they did not like the fact this scientist was trying to challenge a long held belief that they did not originate where they currently are living. The ruling matriarch especially did not like the fact that this scientist was linking the evolution of the Voth to humans because they share 47 chromosomes with all live forms from planet earth.
So here I was watching this story play out and I started to think about what is going on on this planet now. I thought about how some folks do not like to think about how all humans evolved from one species. I think about how some folks think that we did not evolve at all and were just created like a poof of magic. Does it really matter how we got here? Does it prevent us from communicating honestly and working together to make things better for everyone? I wonder how much our world has missed opportunities to make great leaps forward in knowledge just because we have a blind spot blocking a new idea just because we will not open ourselves up to letting go of the past.
[caption id="attachment_2239" align="alignleft" width="200" caption="Rev. Lonnie Charles Wormley And Son Lonnie (me) Oct 19, 2003 19:51:56 "][/caption]
I have always been fascinated with the origins of the universe. My dad was a minister and presiding elder in the AME Chruch so I had an interesting perspective of theology and science when I was growing up. My dad got me interested in archaeology as a boy when he took the family to the Grand Canyon. We made several trips to Texas from California to visit his birth place and mother when I was a boy. These visits through Arizona and New Mexico made an impression on me that to this day I always enjoy being in the desert and exploring rocks. I studied astronomy and archaeology in college and these studies furthered my interest in how we got here and where are we going.
The creation theory has as many solutions as there are organized trains of thought on this planet. I will only address the ones that I was subjected to as a child and relate them from the perspective of what my dad told me. One of the big deals in Christianity is the notion that a omnipotent being, God, created the earth (or universe if you believe in it) in seven days. From my trips to the Grand Canyon I found it hard to believe that the earth was created in seven days like I had read in the King James version of the Bible. So I asked my dad to explain this to me, was I not calculating time correctly? Was the Nation Park service ranger lying to me about how long it took to carve out the Grand Canyon? My dad told me about the Geologic Time Scale and neatly mapped out the seven days to this scale. He told me that God was beyond the human concept of time and space and that the Bible was not to be interpreted literally. I would learn later as an adult much to my amazement that there are a lot of folks who believe in written holy scriptures literally.
[caption id="attachment_2237" align="alignleft" width="243" caption="Q, the omnipotent being in Star Trek"][/caption]
This brings me to another episode of Star Trek Voyager that includes one of my favorite characters, Q or the Q Continuum. The Q in the Star Trek series represent a full frontal assault on the notion that there is an all knowing omni present singular being who is responsible for creation of the universe. Star Trek goes even further and introduces the concept that the Q Continuum is not perfect and sometimes suffer from the same emotional aliments that us mere mortal humans endure.
In season three of Star Trek Voyager episode 11 titled The Q and the Gray the concept of Q having a war is the heart of the story. The Q are at a disagreement with allow the freedom to commit suicide. Here we have a immortal all powerful being which struggles with being bored. We humans make up stories to explain every sort of un-explainable phenomena and sometimes we get it wrong so we back it up by creating a religion to support our theory. Take Jesus Christ, did he really come to die or did he come to help us understand how to live as one family. When a bunch of folks killed him because he threatened established ideas his death was turned into a religion to support the murder. Is there really someone up there watching over us or are we just making all of this stuff up because we really do not know what is going on?