Science fiction helps explain away a lot of perplexing theological questions.
Familiar with “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”? For those of you for whom this is an arcane reference, let me explain. In the episode “The Emissary,” Capt. Benjamin Sisko uses baseball as a metaphor to explain linear time to an alien species known at the Prophets. The Prophets exist in a wormhole, a timeless plain where there are no beginnings, no endings, no befores, no afters.
Sisko: In the end, it comes down to throwing one pitch after another, and seeing what happens. With each new consequence, the game begins to take shape.
Alien Batter: And you have no idea what that shape is until it is completed?
Sisko: That’s right. In fact, the game wouldn’t be worth playing if we knew what was going to happen.
Jake Prophet: You value your ignorance of what is to come?
Sisko: That may be the most important thing to understand about humans. It is the unknown that defines our existence. We are constantly searching, not just for answers to our questions, but for new questions. We are explorers. We explore our lives day by day, and we explore the galaxy, trying to expand the boundaries of our knowledge. And that is why I am here. Not to conquer you with weapons, or with ideas. But to coexist… and learn.
I imagine God to be like those Prophets. He exists in a place without time — every event in all of history occurs at the same time, all the time. This is how He is omniscient — He knows what the future holds because it already occurred and it’s occurring right now and it’s about to occur, all at the same time. It is us humans who experience life in a linear manner, one pitch after another so to speak. God doesn’t intervene in mundane human events, like the Cubs baseball season, because it’s already over.
See? Science fiction solves this deep philosophical quandary.
In any case, I was amused by the story “What did Jesus do on Holy Saturday?” in today’s newspaper. Read it here.
Apparently, theologians for centuries have been arguing about where Jesus was on the Saturday between his crucifixion and resurrection.
Seriously. God is the great I Am (Exodus 3:14). The Truth and the Life (John 14:6). The Alpha and Omega (Revelation 21:6). And we, lowly humans with teeny tiny intellect, think we can explain Jesus’ daily planner on the day between dying for humanity’s sins and rising from the dead.
Sometimes, we can be so arrogant.
Apparently, some people believe that on Holy Saturday Jesus descended into hell (it’s a line in the Apostle’s Creed, recited frequently in the Catholic and Lutheran churches I’ve attended most of my life), and some Christians have found little Biblical evidence to this “hellish detour.”
I don’t know where the son of God was passing his time that Saturday (and frankly, it seems so trifling compared to what happened on Good Friday and Easter morning), but I’m content with my science fiction explanation: God is everywhere at once, all the time — in the grave, in hell, in heaven looking down, in my heart.
I am willing to immerse myself in Capt. Sisko’s humanity. It is the unknown that defines our existence. I have faith the answers will all be revealed in due time.
Bonus arcane reference: Part of the title for today’s post comes from “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home”:
Chekov: [picks up his phaser from the table, aiming at the FBI agents] Don’t move!
FBI agent interrogating Chekov: OK, make nice, give us the ray gun.
Chekov: I warn you, if you don’t lie on the floor… I will have to stun you.