Imagining God

 

I’ve been watching episodes of the original Star Trek. The special effects of the 1960s crack me up, not to mention the costumes and hairstyles. I’ve been laughing out loud at the “camp and circumstance.”

In this series, the crew of the starship Enterprise frequently encounter beings of superior intelligence. Sometimes these beings dismiss the humans as violent and destructive, not worthy of their attention. Other times they manipulate and play with the crew, either for amusement or to accomplish their own ends. In one episode, humans are captured and put on display in a type of zoo.

It’s interesting these stories were written at a time when many seemed to be breaking away from traditional beliefs, choosing instead to believe in science. The idea of a being superior to man became passé to the more intellectual types. I remember learning what every school child learns as the basic principles of science – only trust what can be measured and duplicated. Thus God couldn’t possibly exist, as he can’t be seen, measured or duplicated.

I wonder if the writers imagined some of their virtual inventions might actually come true. Many devices we saw in Star Trek were futuristic and unbelievable, but surprisingly have been realized as technology has developed. Cell phones bear quite a resemblance to Star Trek communicators. Did any of them think the superior beings they also envisioned could be based on the truth?

The beings in Star Trek ranged from giant, disembodied brains to alien-looking creatures in ethereal robes. Some appeared as globes of light with strange voices, while others looked human but appeared and disappeared at will. All had one thing in common: extraordinary power and enlightened ideals of peace and harmony.

I find it fascinating that the original series featured many encounters with superior beings, but later spin offs rarely did. Subsequent series seemed more concerned with fighting and conquering enemies. I guess the innocence and wonder at what might be out there gave way to cynicism, at least on the part of the writers.

I laugh when I see the enlightened beings of Star Trek. The writers were on the right track, but they couldn’t begin to imagine the One they were subconsciously looking for. Not a disembodied brain but a living being with unimaginable powers, knowledge and wisdom. Not an alien who gets his jollies out of displaying humans in a zoo or manipulating them for fun, but a loving Father who cares for his creation and wants to adopt us as his children, with only our good in mind.

God isn’t a creation of science fiction writers. He cannot be reduced to a globe of light, flitting through the universe. He’s real but hard to imagine. Augustine said, “God is more truly imagined than expressed, and he exists more truly than is imagined.”

Watching old Star Trek episodes reminds me of how small our imaginings of God are, and at the same time, of how great he is. Let him be praised!