The idea of space travel was first planted in my head when Space 1999 was broadcasted on national TV in the 1970s. My father told me then, that outer space was purely fictional, but the 8 year old me was adamant that I would be visiting space in 1999, which was 2 lifetimes away for me.
Being a content consuming kid, I used to struggle to wrap my head around materials and information that were presented to me:
National Geographic Magazines – My dad subscribed to this very expensive magazine then. I loved the magificent prints of animals, people and outer space. Yes, many full-page pictures of outer space, sandwiched between photographs of real animals and people, within a very credible magazine. The photos of outer space must be real, right? Or not?
Clash of The Titans (1981) – This was the only English video tape we had alongside our VHS. The gods watched the earth from “up there” (Mount Olympus).
Chinese TV programs – The gods watched the earth from “up there”.
Hindi TV programs – The gods watched the earth from “up there”.
Good News Bible – God watches the earth from “up there”. Heaven is his throne, earth is his footstool.
So,… what am I seeing when I look up, God, gods or outer space? The outer-space believing christians told me that God is near, yet lives far beyond the universe. They say it within the same breath without blinking an eye. How do they reconcile that?
After more than half a century of observation, and armed with the power of the internet, I finally identified the root of my confusion which can be summarised in the next 2 paragraphs:
Galileo Galilei died in 1642 while under house arrest by the Roman Inquisition for arguing that the earth revolved around the sun. Heliocentrism was considered a heretic idea by the Catholic Church then. Up to that point in time, everyone believed that the earth was central and immovable with the sun and celestials revolving around it. In geocentrism, geocentricity or Ptolemaic system (AD 150), outer space doesn’t exist.
Isaac Newton was born in 1642 and he wowed the world with complex mathematics. His hypothesis of heliocentrism and gravity was accepted (by I don’t know who). Within his lifetime, the solar system became no longer heresy, and began to replace the geocentric worldview. We have to bear in mind that people were generally illiterate in those days, and sophisticated observation tools and aeroplanes haven’t been invented yet. The basis of the acceptance of the controversial heliocentric view was Newton’s explanation of commonly observable phenomena using calculus, written in numbers and strange looking symbols that very, very, VERY few people understood.
How the solar system has evolved from a hypothesis in 1642, into a “fact” today, is a mystery to me. The internet tells me:
– I am 150 millions of kilometers away from the sun,
– I am spinning at 1600 km/hour around an axis (since I live almost at the equator),
– I am revolving around the sun at 106,000 km/hour.
I get dizzy imagining myself going around in circles at such speeds, do you? Somewhere in the internet, it also says that when people are presented with quantities that are unperceivable, their brains will switch off and they will simply accept or decline that figure without reason, cognitive dissonance takes place. I am in that place of dissonance. I’ve decided that the pictures in Nat Geo magazine are graphics and “up there” sits God or gods.
20 years past 1999, my knowledge of outer space has developed with further education from Star Trek, Star Wars, Guardians of the Galaxy and many others movies. My father now believes that outer space exists, and I’m trying to convince him otherwise.