Journey to Alpha Centauri
Never mind that the Alpha Centauri star system is 4.367 lights years away—some of the world’s richest and brightest minds have announced a new collaboration to get there. From here!
This week famed physicist Stephen Hawking, internet investor Yuri Milner and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg formally teamed up to launch project Breakthrough Starshot—a space expedition to our closest star (beyond the sun). How far is 4.367 light years? Trillions of miles—nearly 300,000 times the distance from the earth to the sun. Traveling at the speed of the Space Shuttle it would take a leisurely 165,000 years to reach Alpha Centauri. (It’s the return trip that really ages you!)
Actually these collaborators are not planning on sending a “who” but rather a “what.” “Yuri Milner said the eventual goal is sending hundreds or thousands of tiny spacecraft, each weighing far less than an ounce, to the Alpha Centauri star system. . . . Propelled by energy from a powerful array of Earth-based lasers, the spacecraft would fly [with actual extended sails a few yards wide] at about one-fifth the speed of light. They could reach Alpha Centauri in 20 years, where they could make observations and send the results back to Earth” (www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/stephen-hawking-joins-bid-to-seek-life...).
Too crazy an idea for us humans? Not according to Hawking. “‘We commit to the next great leap into the cosmos because we are human and our nature is to fly’” (ibid).
He’s certainly right about the “our nature is to fly” notion. The Creator-Designer of this universe gifted intelligent life with a capacity to know, to question, to explore—a capacity we earth inhabitants have clearly yet to maximize. That the most well-known thinkers in our midst are so preoccupied with this quest to “search for extraterrestrial intelligence” (SETI) should be no surprise. As the wise man Solomon observed, “[God] has put eternity in [our] hearts” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). This embedding has fueled exploration from the beginning of time. For at its core is the longing to make contact with the Eternal. “He has put eternity in our hearts.”
That’s why this campus was raised up over a century ago—to send into the world the brightest and best of Adventist young—to make contact on behalf of the Creator with other intelligent earth inhabitants—to tap into that latent longing for eternity and the Eternal. “Our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee,” Augustine wrote. The God-shaped vacuum within us makes the mission of Christ’s followers simpler. All we need to do is to cross the relational bridge into the lives of those we know, those we work with or play with or occasionally socialize with. A simple relational bridge to cross over and connect with the Eternal already in our friends’ consciousness.
Coming this fall (October 14-22) is “Hope Trending: A Crash Course on How to Live Without Fear” (www.hopetrending.org) —the perfect opportunity for you to now begin composing your prayer list of friends and acquaintances you are positioned to reach for Jesus. Pray over their lives, pray their names to the Savior who emptied His life and treasury to win their minds, their hearts. He’ll do the winning—let us do the bridging that begins with praying.
Think about it. Someone this fall is going to meet Christ in an eternally life-changing way. Why not pray that God will guide you to put that someone on your prayer list now? He will do the winning—we must do the praying and then the bridging.
Because Yuri Milner is right: “We can do more than gaze at the stars. We can actually reach them” (ibid). Your praying, your bridging can become for someone a one-way ticket far beyond Alpha Centauri—why not a one-way friendship into Eternity?