Hearing about a dinosaur alive in the jungles of South America, a professor launches a scientific expedition. After several weeks he stumbles upon a little man wearing a leopard skin, standing near a 300-foot-long dead dinosaur.
The scientist can't believe his eyes. "Did you kill this dinosaur?" he asks.
"Yep," replies the jungle native.
"But it's so big and you're so small! How did you kill it?"
"With my club," the fellow answered.
"How big is your club?"
"Well, there are about 100 of us."
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Unknown Worship Jill Carattini
The re-releasing of the movie E.T. on its 20th anniversary brushed the dust off the alien story loved by so many, and lured a whole new generation into a fascination with space. But as one movie critic observed, the storyline never really retired in the first place. A quick overview of Hollywood's handiwork over the years shows a consistent interest in the possibilities of life in outer space.
Scientist Carl Sagan hosted the first television program dedicated to the great unknowns of space. The show was an instant hit, viewed by half a billion people. Of the show's success, Sagan once made the comment: "I was positive from my own experience that an enormous global interest exists in space and in many kindred scientific topics--the origin of life, the Earth, and the Cosmos, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, our connection with the universe."
Indeed, Sagan names inquiries globally sought after: Why am I here? Where did we come from? Are we really alone? We find throughout each generation a hunger to know and a compulsion toward the unknown. The mysteries of our universe can fascinate us, compel us, and give us great hope. Such mysteries can also become a stumbling block if the means is inquiry, but the end insists all remains unknown.
As Ravi Zacharias has observed, in the mind of a skeptic, no matter how many of his or her peripheral questions are answered, the fundamental ones still elude. The great unknown becomes the fixation--the meaning and not the means to find truth. But the great unknown, however great, cannot fill the holes in our hearts and minds, until it is known.
To the Athenian thinkers centuries ago, the apostle Paul spoke words quite fitting for present times. As his eyes scanned that culture, he saw their fascination with knowing--so strong they even ventured to know what was unknown to them. A sign over one of their many altars read, "To the unknown god." Seeing this, Paul declared to them on Mars Hill: "What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you as known" (Acts 17:23).
The universe is indeed vast and fascinating, and there is unmistakably something imperative in our yearning to know we are not alone. Perhaps Ted from the movie Contact sums up our curiosities well: if we are alone in this vast universe, he says, "It would all be an awful lot of wasted space."
But what we worship in this world as unknown, Christ gives us the chance to know, while physically and mysteriously reminding us that we are not alone. Within the marvel of the Incarnation is the answer we desperately need: "Therefore God will give you a sign: a virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"-which means, "God with us" (Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:23). This mystery, the apostle proclaims, can be known--as if knowing a person. Let us hear again that which Christ's life, death, and resurrection allow us to personally encounter:
The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of humankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us (Acts 17:24-27).
The maker of heaven and earth gives us hope to know both outer space and inner space, for in Him we live and move and have our being. He is worth knowing, and we are not alone.
Jill Carattini is senior associate writer at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.
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