Messiahs false and true

 December 23, 2023

This story was originally published by the WND News Center.

Decades ago as a young person, I liked to visit the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., where one exhibit featured a nine-minute film that played continuously in a loop. I would stand there, in awe, watching it over and over again.

It was called "Powers of Ten: A Film Dealing with the Relative Size of Things in the Universe – and the Effect of Adding Another Zero."

Narrated by MIT physics professor Philip Morrison, the short movie takes viewers on a virtual high-speed voyage into outer space, zooming away from Earth another order of magnitude (10 times farther) every 10 seconds, thus traversing through our solar system and vastly beyond, eventually past the Milky Way galaxy unto the outer reaches of the known universe – ending up 100 million light years from home. Upon returning to Earth, the cosmic roller-coaster pauses temporarily at its initial starting point at the planet's surface, but now continues on "in the other direction" – that is, inward. Microscopically traveling by a new order of magnitude (10 times smaller) every 10 seconds, the same rate as the previous journey, this time the "fantastic voyage" ventures inside a man's hand. We survey skin cells and other structures, then chromosomes and DNA, and, as the magnification increases exponentially, molecules and atoms, until finally, we arrive at our destination: a single proton within the nucleus of a carbon atom.

Not only does "Powers of Ten" (as well as a later remake called "Cosmic Voyage" narrated by Morgan Freeman) provide a glimpse of the astonishing complexity and magnificence of creation and the relative size of all things known, it also, intriguingly, shows man to be more-or-less right smack in the middle of two universes, one infinitely larger than us and the other infinitesimally smaller.

Think of it: Zoom out to, say, one light-year of distance from Earth (10-to-the-16th-power meters), and our sun is seen as a tiny speck in space. But zoom inward, toward the center of a carbon atom, and you've traveled the same number of orders of magnitude, sixteen (10-to-the-minus-16th-power meters, or 0.000001 angstroms), and the atomic nucleus is likewise seen as a tiny speck in space.

With this mind-blowing relativity in mind, man is obviously not "small," as we're often told, except when compared to the distances, speeds, and heavenly bodies inhabiting outer space. But relative to the equally mind-bogglingly small universes of inner space – well, let's just say, you and I are to the tiny particles in the nucleus of an atom as the Milky Way galaxy is to us.

Thus perched between these "parallel universes," we human beings exist on this remarkably beautiful blue-green-and-brown spinning sphere called Earth. And as such, we are faced with a great enigma – a Creator who can conceive universes large and small, both equally incomprehensible in their largeness and smallness (not to mention their infinite complexity and wonder), and yet Who places, right in the middle of it all, human beings, full of all our vexing and even malignant flaws.

For what purpose?

That's a mystery. It is THE mystery.

In our life on this Earth, our first and most tangible reality is the wondrous natural world surrounding us and providing all our material needs. We are likewise blessed with marvelous faculties – two little spherical cameras called eyes with which to see, ears to hear, plus all our other senses and abilities, all topped off with an astonishing super-computer – our brain. All this, so that we may perceive, navigate, and live our lives successfully within this natural world, like the rest of the animal kingdom.

Alas, we're not just animals, ordained to live in an ecosystem, locate food, procreate, and try to steer clear of predators. For co-existing with this natural world is a mysterious moral dimension in which we humans are also immersed. Animals don't share this moral realm, nor do plants, rocks, mountains, or oceans, nor for that matter do atoms, molecules, planets, stars, or black holes, all of which "act" in accord with their given nature, all without honor or dishonor, reward or punishment. Kittens aren’t good, and man-eating sharks aren't evil. Only man dwells in this peculiar moral realm wherein good and evil not only manifest but seem to be focused directly on recruiting us! As such, we inevitably assume the role of conduits of good, or of evil – or more often, of both good and evil, since both realms relentlessly strive to claim our minds, hearts, loyalties, and ultimately our souls.

It is this moral dimension that is the matrix from which most of our problems emerge, overshadowing and often overwhelming everything else in our lives.

For despite all that is truly amazing about human beings – the civilizations we've built, literature and art we've created, diseases we've conquered, our dizzying scientific and technological achievements, and, most importantly, our genuine capacity for nobility, generosity, and self-sacrifice – we are seriously troubled, problem-ridden creatures. The human race is a giant mess, and from everything we know, always has been. Along with our conscience (a little speck of God's mind that he graciously enfolds within each one of us) and the many virtues with which we are blessed, we're also mightily beset by pride, doubt, anger, selfishness, greed, lust – in fact, by ignoble impulses and destructive proclivities of every imaginable sort, almost as though we had a genetic predisposition toward them. Some of us become full-fledged monsters.

As a result, our world includes entire nations that resemble insane asylums where the most deluded and dangerous people are those in positions of authority. Moreover, each culture, religion, and political ideology has a set of core beliefs about which adherents are absolutely certain, yet which are utterly at odds with the core beliefs of all other cultures, religions, and political systems. Even worse, in the case of major utopian systems like communism, Nazism, and Islamism, millions are brainwashed into not only embracing impossibly irrational, degrading, and destructive beliefs but into believing they are required to force everyone else on Earth to adopt their beliefs – or else be subjugated or slaughtered.

False messiahs
Clearly, there is something in our makeup, some mysterious inheritance from ancient times, that beckons us to so easily cross the line of conscience, morality, and reason – to violate God's laws, to become spiritual outlaws. In Christian shorthand, we're all "born in sin."

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