"Pastor Dan, do you think there are aliens?"
Wow. I love questions like that. They open up all kinds of avenues of mystery and wonder.
I said, "Yes, very likely!"
Considering there are as many more suns in the universe than there are grains of sand on all the beaches of the world (throw in the deserts, too). And considering many suns have planets going around them (which we can now detect!), I think it is VERY likely that all kinds of life forms in various stages of development have, are and will continue to populate the universe.
But do such life forms visit our planet?
Well, considering the nearest star to our sun is a whopping 26 trillion miles away -- and the chances of advanced life forms on planets around any one star are very slim -- I think it's very unlikely they'll be visiting us! Still, I'd be open for a surprise!
Like many, I think the exciting part of the question about aliens is our ability to imagine. What an amazing and deeply spiritual gift that is.
Can any of us imagine how "big" God is given the size of the universe; the creator of the amazing quarks and beyond? I wonder.
Isn't God bigger than our imagination? I wonder if God didn't give us imaginations to just ... ponder.
Imagine religion and science blending their stories. God asked Job, "Where were you when the world was formed? I was a Singularity!"
When we know and admit what we don't know, we can all be more like children -- always smiling and learning. Sometimes I wonder if there might be other childlike aliens sharing a similar smile, pursuing truth; never claiming to possess it? Just taking in the wonder of it all.
Truly, "alien thinking" provides rich opportunities to tap into wonder!
I grew up singing, "My God, how wonderful thou art." Now I think ... yes. Wonder-full! Wonder humbles mind and heart inspiring awe -- true worship.
And don't Christians wonder?
We celebrate waters parting, a virgin conceiving, angels visiting, bread multiplying, bodies rising. We experience God's powerful love in baptism and communion, prayer and meditation. It's all mysterious, but we love it -- being loved, too! And the mystery deepens as we welcome people of other faith traditions to deepen our sense of mystery and wonder in their experience of God.
Do aliens ever look in the mirror? As products of God's timeless patience, we are always invited to the awe within our traditions; the adventure of imagination and acts of love to show our gratitude.
Are there aliens, Pastor Dan? Wow. That's a good question.
-- Pastor Daniel Rieke serves at Lord of Life Lutheran in Kennewick, with prior ministry in Africa and the U.S. Questions and comments should be directed to editor Lucy Luginbill in care of the Tri-City newsroom, 333 W. Canal Drive, Kennewick, WA 99336. Or email lluginbill@tricity herald.com.