Last night we pulled out our sleeping bags and slept under the stars. Gazing at the cosmos stimulates questioning. The boys are asking the age old questions that there are no concrete answers for…yet. “If God made the universe, then who made God?” “If the Big Bang made the universe, who caused the Big Bang?” “Are we really the only planet with life in the entire universe?” “Are aliens real?”
For the first time I didn’t find myself reverting to the answer as old as the questions. I simply answered with “I don’t know. Nobody knows for certain. I have ideas but I really don’t know. What do you think?” Each boy, unique and individual, had a theory that he believes could be 100% true.
They all fell asleep and I stayed awake in awe of our galaxy and the universe. I used to just accept that God is and always has been. He made the earth and everything on it a few thousand years ago. Evolution is a crock of you know what straight from the schemes of Satan. Hmmm? The sky looked different to me tonight. It was unimaginable to ponder being one species, on one tiny planet in one gigantic universe. Maybe my friends who deeply believe in the presence of aliens are not so crazy. Humans have been concocting stories of life outside our planet for as long as they’ve been creating gods. And if the big bang did cause our existence it doesn’t seem so unreasonable to believe that galaxies other than the Milky Way hold life. And that life could be millions of years older than ours which means humans could have evolved in to what we have depicted as aliens (human like species with extra large heads). They would likely be more advanced than us and have figured out a way to travel beyond their galaxy. That doesn’t seem beyond impossible to me anymore.
And I recognize if I’m going to believe in the possibility of aliens I have to leave room for the possibility of God. And I do. I don’t think He exists, at least not in the way we have always believed Him to, but it’s certainly possible. In my mind He can’t be wrapped up in one religion. Because if He did create all the billions of galaxies it seems really odd to believe that He only made life on this one tiny, miniscule speck of a planet. But if He did create life on more than one planet we can’t all share the same creation, the same prophets, the one Savior. Unless He just played the same game with the same characters on all the planets. That sounds a little contrived and boring and less than God spectacular.
Which then leads me to believe that maybe He just created everything and that was His only role. And that thought process just left me speechless. Why make animals only to have them become extinct? 600 species of hermit crabs? All these billions of galaxies? Really? Seems if God does exist He is a bit of a show off.
That’s really unnecessary.
And then I am distracted…
“Oh, how beautiful, a shooting star….I wonder how long ago that star died? “
Here’s an activity to help your children grasp the vastness of our galaxy. This is taken from the book Raising Freethinkers:A Practical Guide for Parenting Beyond Belief by Dale McGowan
The Size of the Solar System
Materials: a soccer ball, several peppercorns, several pins (w/pinheads), a ping-pong ball, a marble, and an open field
Find a large open space. Put a soccer ball in the middle to represent the sun. Walk ten paces from the ball and stick a pin in the ground. That’s Mercury. Take nine more full steps and drop a peppercorn for Venus. Seven more steps, drop another peppercorn for Earth. An inch away from Earth, stick another pin in the ground for the Moon, remembering that this inch is the furthest humans have been so far. Another fourteen steps , drop a very small peppercorn for Mars, then continue another 95 steps and drop Jupiter, a ping-pong ball. 112 paces further, place a large marble for Saturn. Uranus and Neptune are still further apart, and recently demoted Pluto would be a small pinhead about a half mile from the soccer ball.
So how far would you have to walk before you can put down another soccer ball for Proxima Centauri, the very nearest star to our Sun? Bring your good shoes-it’s over 4000 miles away at this scale, New York to Berlin. That’s the nearest star! And there are about a trillion such stars in the Milky Way galaxy alone, and roughly a hundred billion such galaxies, arrayed through billions of those light years in every direction.