“Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilisations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.”
The draw of Science Fiction for me was the future. That’s because I learned very early the proverb, “the only thing we’ve learned from history, is we don’t learn anything from history.” This saying was never meant to convey the meaning we’ve given it. It was supposed to mean, “come on, folks, let’s not re-invent the wheel! Let’s learn something from history— because everything that ever happened to THEM will eventually happen to us.” Even the Bible says the same thing—“Now all these things [lots of bad things] happened unto them for ensamples [examples]: and they are written for our admonition,[to warn us], upon whom the ends of the world are come.” [1Corinthians 10:11]
That’s what high school history was supposed to be about. Learn about other people’s circumstances and the choices they faced— and the choices they made— and don’t make those same bad choices again, but this time make good choices.
Anyway, the past was disappointing and the present was appalling. “Bad news on the doorstep— I couldn’t take one more step,” sang Don McLean in American Pie — and every new day proved him right. If there was going to be any relief, it had to be in the future— and that’s why I was drawn to SF. Murray Leister, Cordwainer Smith, Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clark, H.G. Wells, the list goes on and on. As I grew up, these masters of the genre supplied the ideas, and Hollywood turned them into films. The films were often visually pretty lame, but mostly because the technology had not caught up with the genre. Then along came George Lucas and he changed all that.
But before Lucas there was Star Trek.
There was always Star Trek.
The first episode aired Sept 8th 1966. That was (almost) 50 years ago.
Why the popularity of the show? There are many different reasons, but I want to highlight a reason you may have never considered.
I want to highlight the Analogyman perspective.
Now that in itself is odd. I’ve watched hundreds of episodes of Star Trek and all the recent major movies and yet I’ve never thought of doing an analogy. Why not? Because an analogy from the Analogyman perspective highlights a striking similarity between a concept dealt with in the movies and an eternal truth found in the Bible. The purpose of these Analogies is to show that in everyday life— art, literature, music, current events— we all brush up against eternity. It’s just that we don’t know it. The only way we can know it, is if we have an eternal Book to act as a benchmark, a fixed, immovable reference point by which to judge which concepts really are truly eternal— and the Bible is that Eternal Benchmark.
Now Star Trek has deal with some pretty profound concepts over the years. All the major ideas particular to the genre have been dealt with in one way or another. Such expansive themes as immortality, time travel, alternate universes, alternate realities, travel in hyperspace, robotics, mutants, organic hybrids, anti-gravity, alien mindsets, lost civilizations, the Galactic Encyclopaedia, giant super computers and symbiotic parasitic infestation, mind control— the list goes on and on.
I suppose the reason I’ve not done a series of Star Trek Analogies is — where would I start? The canvas is too wide.
But after seeing the recently released Star Trek movie— STAR TREK BEYOND— and watching the closing scene, I thought it was appropriate that as STAR TREK approaches it’s 50th anniversary I ought to focus not on the details but on the big picture.
What has attracted several generations of fans to this series?
The promise of the Universe, which is infinitely bigger than any of our imaginations. We think of the vastness of outer space and we know that although we are presently earthbound, there will come a time when mankind will travel to the stars. Why is this so encouraging? Because men do not thrive without frontiers. We cannot stay focussed only on survival. There has to be more. And as we consider the more, the sense of adventure stirs in our hearts, and there is the euphoria that comes from the possibility of discovery, which drives us ever onward.
So the prime directive of the series is repeated continually: Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.
That’s why we are fascinated by Star Trek. It gave us an endless taste for adventure.
But as we grow older and “wiser” we begin to lose that thrill. Why? Several reasons. First off, the exploration of space is still many years away. There are some reading this who will perhaps visit our first space station. Maybe there are some who will walk on Mars. But there will really only always be a very few who will experience this. James Michener in his marvelous novel Space puts it into perspective. Writing a fictional account of two astronauts, Claggett and Pope, circling the earth in their Gemini capsule, Michener observes: (NOTE: CapCon is the voice of Mission Control, Stanley Mott, on the ground.)
‘Stand by for engine shutdown.’ CapCon said. He was the final link in a tremendous chain of persons and machines around the world. At Mission Control in Houston hundreds of highly skilled men traced every item of the flight with their computers and charts. At radio stations in Australia, Spain, Madagascar and across America, men listened to signals which assured them that this Gemini was sailing serenely, and on all the oceans ships kept silent watch.
Also, in the headquarters of every one of the 319 private companies that had supplied parts for the flight, men waited on call to provide immediate analysis if one of their parts failed to function, and in some ways they were the most expert of all, because they had made the parts and were intimately familiar with them.
Finally, in each of the many simulators in Houston or Canaveral or the other sites across America, men familiar with their operation waited in case it was necessary to visualize just what was going wrong in the capsule. At a signal, they would jump into the simulators and feed in data which would place them in a jeopardy imitating the one aloft.
When Ferdinand Magellan explored the Earth’s oceans he and his men travelled alone in their frail ships, out of touch for years with their supporters in Spain, but when Claggett and Pope sought to explore the oceans of the upper sky they had immediate call upon about four hundred thousand assistants, and at times it was difficult to determine who was doing the exploring, Claggett and Pope or the men like Stanley Mott on the ground their information and their commands.”
James A. Michener, SPACE Random House, New York ©1982 Pg394
Ultimately, most of us will experience vicariously what only a privileged few will experience actually. This means that all those marvellous adventures— to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before— will always be somebody else’s adventures.
But this is true only from the secular humanist perspective. There is another perspective, but most of my readers will never even have heard of it. (This is primarily what Analogyman is all about— giving you a chance to see familiar things from another perspective. I’ll explain more in a minute, but let me first add one more reason why the thrill I mentioned earlier tends to disappear as we get older.)
You see, when you’re young, you think you’re going to live forever. So you really have no idea how far away the starship Enterprise is in terms of technological feasibility. Furthermore, you probably have very little understanding of how far away even the closest star is to planet Earth:
Voyager 1 was launched in the Summer of 1977.
In March 2013 it finally left the solar system.
It took 36 years to travel from Earth into interstellar space travelling at 35,000 mph.
At this speed, it will take another 40,000 years for Voyager to make it HALFWAY to the
nearest star, PROXIMA CENTAURI.
So although all our hope is in the future, the PROMISES are all based on the physical limitations imposed on us by the laws of physics. Unless we can find ways of breaking those laws, or circumventing them, the chances of any of us ever realizing the actual thrill of exploring strange new worlds, seeking out new life and new civilizations, boldly going where no man has gone before— are slim.
That’s from the secular perspective. Secular humanists are people who believe that only the material universe exists— the stuff we can see and hear and touch and smell and taste. They do not believe in a supernatural universe. They don’t believe there’s a God, and that He lives outside the material universe, that he made the universe, and that He has plans for each and every one of us— and part of that plan is to prepare us for the infinite.
You see, that’s what makes the Bible different from all other books. It reveals a realm greater than the visible universe. The Bible perspective is BIG. But it also has this amazing aspect which no other book or philosophy offers: it contains personal promises to each and every individual. This means YOU. God is preparing you for BIG THINGS. The whole process of what we call salvation is to prepare you for the amazing things to come.
So in the 50 years I’ve been watching Star Trek, I’ve gone through an amazing transformation: I’ve gone through the elation of exploring the Universe vicariously. I’ve gone through the stage of realizing that most of these adventures will never occur in my lifetime or happen to me. They may not even happen to my children, or my children’s children. And at the rate the human race is rushing towards self destruction, who knows, it may never happen.
Then I’ve gone through the stage of realizing that I‘ll never live long enough to get to enjoy even a smidgen of the thrill of discovering new worlds, new vistas, new civilizations.
But then I found Jesus Christ. I was 31 years old when I met Jesus, back in 1980. He changed everything. He refreshed my soul and gave me a new zeal for life. Why? Because of his promises. I have a promise from almighty God, the Creator of the Universe, which has transformed my perspective about the future. The future is BIG, and BRIGHT, and full of challenge and adventure. Why? Because Jesus Christ made his disciples this amazing promise: “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” [John 14:2] Down through the centuries, people have read this passage in the Bible and thought in terms of houses and buildings. But this was before telescopes were invented. It was before mankind realized the vastness of space. Now that we know that the universe is almost infinite in size, we have a bigger perspective of the Creator than we ever had before.
This said, “in my Father’s house are many mansions” takes on a whole new meaning. God’s capacities are infinite. Don’t you think his plans include his created Universe?
In the film CONTACT young Ellie Arroway is overwhelmed by the size and scope of interstellar space, and she asks her dad, “Dad, do you think there’s life out there somewhere?” He replies, “Well Ellie, if there isn’t, then it’s an awful waste of space.”
It doesn’t make sense that the Creator would make a universe of this size, and then people this tiny little planet with creatures made in his own image, and let them stand on the earth looking longing up at the stars, and saddle them with a lifespan of less than a hundred years— when He could have done otherwise.
What do I mean? Well, if he can make interstellar space, and create life in every nook and corner of the earth, and if he himself is infinitely wise and powerful and immortal, surely He could have created us immortal— and surely He meant for us to walk amongst the stars.
And this is exactly what He did. He created us immortal. And He meant for us to never die. But a great calamity befell the first man. The Bible documents this calamity in great detail— and also describes what God has had to do to recover us. That’s the whole purpose of the Bible— to record the story of the fall, and the recovery of the human race.
The details of this are covered in other places within the Analogyman site. I want everybody to go to these places and discover the remedy for mortality. But for now, before I close, I want to concentrate on a few more thoughts.
Number one, I want to draw your attention away from fiction— (and Star Trek of course is fiction)— to fact. The Bible is fact, and its legacy and promises are truth— and its story is spread out over a much wider canvas than Star Trek. So those of us who spent the last 50 years watching Star Trek, we’ve got a lot of catching up to do when it comes to understanding the Bible. I’m just challenging everybody to consider that Captain Kirk may have had a crew of a thousand to boldly go where no man has gone before— but the Creator has a crew of trillions…and you are one of them.
What are you going to do about it?
Number two— people may find it hard to believe that Jesus Christ’s father has “many mansions” and that they are there for us to inhabit, but let me remind you that this is a promise— “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.”— and God has a record of keeping all his promises. Jesus promised to die for the sins of the world, and he promised to rise again… may I remind you that this has already happened….and if it already happened 2000 years ago, it’s important to point out that he also added this promise— “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you…and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”
He has promised to return. It won’t be much longer. Are you ready?
Number three— remember the comment, “men do not thrive without frontiers”? We need to seek and find and explore what it is we don’t know yet, what it is we still need to know. Man has a need to boldly go where he has never gone before, not just in space, but more importantly, into the “supernatural universe”— the realm where the Creator “inhabits eternity”. (“For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” [Isaiah 57:15]) After all, the Bible says that the Creator has implanted “eternity in their hearts” [Ecclesiastes 3:11]— we are driven internally by a longing for immortality, put there by God, to lead us to Himself.
Space is astronomically huge, but eternity is bigger yet; it is infinite. God in His love for us, gave us the frontier of eternity to explore boldly. That is why it is so essential that we find eternal life through Jesus Christ. If you want to go beyond Star Trek, you must first explore the gift of immortality— “for the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord.”