Wednesday, May 18, 2005

SETI is Lost in the Cosmos

Dr. Russell Moore blogs in Touchstone Magazine's Mere Comments about the problems that lie behind the desperate Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. As I read Dr. Moore's post, I couldn't help but think of Walker Percy's wonderful book Lost in the Cosmos.

Percy makes a strong (and very funny) case that the real issue behind modern angst is a deep discomfort with the self. I think C.S. Lewis termed it Sehnsucht, or a certain longing for something that just can't be described. The SETI folks clearly have this longing, this sense of loneliness, and instead of searching within themselves to see why they have this yearning, for which God and Christianity is the answer, they listen to the stars for an answer. In order to attempt to fill their God-shaped holes, they scan the universe for evidence that we are not alone and therefore not significant--because, to search within would mean to embrace a faith that they have deemed obsolete.

Dr. Moore suggests that SETI "looks to the sky for rescue." But as I think about it, I'm not sure if it's rescue they want, but rather, confirmation that humanity is as minuscule and unimportant as they, as followers of scientific materialism, insist it to be. If SETI does look for rescue, it is for a final rescue from their consciences, from their Christian heritage. It would be ironic if they do get an answer from another planet (which I doubt they will), if the aliens had faith in our transcendent, omnipotent God and proceeded to tell SETI just how foolish they have been.

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