It seems that everyone has space travel on the brain these days, thanks in large part to Christopher Nolan’s epic sci-fi bonanza Interstellar. While the movie was certainly enjoyable, it is a far cry from being the “best movie EVER” as many people are proclaiming on Facebook and Twitter, though it’s certainly one of the best cinematic blends of intelligence and lunacy I’ve ever experienced.
If you’ve seen the movie or its trailers, you know that the plot involves a dying Earth and the need to find a new home. This is a very intriguing challenge on many levels, but even more so for Christians.
How does space travel factor into the Christian worldview? What would happen, say, at the Rapture to those who would be traveling or living off-world?
First things first: God is lord of the entire universe, not just Earth (Psalms 115:16). Regardless of whether or not humanity ends up leaving Earth, this won’t screw with His plans. But the frustrating thing for us mortals is that we don’t know His plans, and preserving our species is a pretty big deal. With conflicting news reports assaulting us from all sides, it’s hard to gauge when finding another habitable planet might become a pressing need, but it’s clear that things aren’t getting any better. In Interstellar, an unexplained plague called “Blight” accelerates the world’s degradation and ravages food supplies. The Earth was clearly trying to hurry us out the door in that movie, but something similar happening in real life is not that far-fetched.
What does the Bible say about space travel? Nothing, really, except reaffirming God’s dominion over the stars (Genesis 1:14-18, Job 38:31-32, Psalms 8:3, etc.). However, it doesn’t refer to people residing somewhere else (the events of Revelations appear to involve everyone still living on Earth). So does this mean that we shouldn’t try to reach for the stars, since we’ll never make it that far? Or that it’s somehow wrong, that we’d be intruding on God’s domain?
These questions popped into my head several months before I had even heard about Interstellar, when I was writing my latest book. It’s called Cyn, a sci-fi/horror novel set about one hundred and fifty years in the future. Space travel has been figured out and is made available to the masses (but only to the super-rich so that they can escape to other planets and set up colonies that aren’t bound by Earth’s laws and morality). In my book, space travel is not the focus of the story but it is essential, and it got me wondering about how such a future would fit into my faith.
The good thing is that this book and movies like Interstellar are science fiction and it’s permissible to let one’s imagination run wild (within scientific parameters of course; this is the difference between science fiction and fantasy). And as a Christian author, I have a responsibility to make sure my story gels with the Scriptures as well.
Does it? I honestly don’t know. But here’s what I do know: there is nothing in the Bible explicitly or implicitly forbidding space travel. There is nothing that indicates space travel is a reality in the end times. There is nothing that alludes to the possibility of people being outside of God’s jurisdiction if they were not living on Earth.
And here’s one more thing that I know: 1 Thessalonians 5:2 tells us that Jesus’ return will be unexpected, like a thief in the night. We don’t know when He will come back, and though we should be ready for it at any moment, we shouldn’t pause everything in our lives and go sit on top of a mountain and watch the clouds. We should act like tomorrow will arrive just as expected, as will next year and next decade and next century. We have a responsibility to tend to our immediate duties, and if that means getting off this rock, then we should develop those plans. We should hope that we never have the chance (or the need) to leave Earth, but we can’t assume that Jesus will come back before this situation becomes a reality. People have been proclaiming the end of days for a long time, and I’m sure a lot of Christians two hundred years ago would never have believed that we would still be around in 2014.
So I guess the moral of the story is to plan for the future, but hope it never comes. Though, to be honest, it would be pretty darn cool if humanity really did become “interstellar.”