In an earlier post about the deep-sea census and the discovery of new life forms, I wondered about the number of life forms possible in all the space around us–even the immediate space. I was thinking of nutrinos zipping through us, and miniature black holes, and the inner universe in Dickinson’s mind, through which she fell and passed by planets. I understand that inner universe better than the outer. And since everything outer has an inner, then the universes keep opening and opening.
Now a new article has fired my imagination, Seth Borensteins’s “Cosmic census finds crowd of planets in our galaxy.” http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/41686017/ns/technology_and_science-space/#Citing credible sources, he reports the vast number of planets in our galaxy alone where “life could exist”–500 million–and ends with scientist William Borucki ‘s comments about the research: “the new calculations lead to worlds of questions aout life elsewhere in the cosmos. ‘The next question is why haven’t they visited us?'”
Well, surely they have.
In a short story some years ago, a character of mine (daring thing) posited her view that this planet was a penal colony, for the angels that had rebelled against the creator and were cast out of heaven. That’s far from a new thought, of course. Old, old, old. But when the question is posed about our not having had visitors, one of my first thoughts is that visitors are not allowed here. This is the Alcatraz of the universe, or worse. No visitors except guards. That doesn’t explain why there are innocents here, such as children in the hands of a monster mother or a loose pedophile (may they all be imprisoned), but it explains the unbelievable, inhumane practices on this planet. Something most vile works through this world.
Another thought is that we’ve been visited by many others, who have enlightened us, guided us, done their best. Some of them may still be around. Some of these thoughts are fueled or supported by publications such as Chariots of the Gods and the many documentaries about the unexplained mysteries on our planet—how the pyramids were built, who was mining gold 150 million years ago, why the symbols in Peru that can be seen only from the sky, how came the huge stone sculptures on Easter Island. But many questions had risen when I was very young, just from Bible stories, and later from my study of the Bible, which I still love and still study. Why, I wondered, did God hide in a cloud to lead and help in battle? Why did he need to hide? Planes hide. Why did he say “If you will . . .” and, after listing the criteria, say “I will be your God?” He either is God or isn’t. Why did the ground tremble and a sound like a rushing wind accompany the coming of God? Why was touching the soil dangerous? Why did he wrestle with Moses? Was he merely a man? Close to being one? These questions are common now. When I was a kid they were possibly blasphemous. I once dared to ask my mother what if Jesus were an alien, and she responded: “What difference would that make?”
Astonishing. I’m certain it makes a difference. She has her own conjectures.
This leads me to no conclusion. I suspect aliens or traces of them are among us, just as Neanderthals are. (I wouldn’t mind that heritage.) I suspect there is a Comforter here that helps us tolerate a world filled with such struggle, helps us develop understanding, forgiveness, helps us regulate control within humane boundaries or attenpt to do so. We try to understand our natures and the natures of other species, and, of course, God. Some wonderful writers tease him out: The Hidden Face of God, The Language of God, Who Wrote the Bible, Bible Sources Revealed, the History of Satan. He’s elusive. Aliens may be easier to understand. But with imagination, hope, and, of course, faith—however hard it is to come by and hold—he’s probably the best conjecture possible. As long as he’s a good guy.