|Posted on August 1, 2012 at 7:05 AM|
In 1994, a new sci-fi series began (and lasted only one season). On Earth 2, the world as we know it is so polluted, only a handful of residents remain; the rest have escaped to space stations. The evil government (a common stereotype) had agreed to let Devon Adair’s crew leave to search for another Earth to colonize. But then they hear a broadcast scheduled for the next day, reporting an “unfortunate accident” in which their ship blew up, and no one survived. So while the stiff shirts try to bluff them into staying, they look for a bomb on board.
Of more interest to today’s blog, Devon’s eight-year-old son Ulysses has contracted a strange sickness. As her voiceover explains: “Six years ago, Uly was diagnosed with a disease our medical community hesitates to even recognize. A disease caused not by the presence of a virus, but rather an absence—an absence of what nature can provide. An absence of fresh air and fresh water.” But doesn’t the space station have fresh air and water?
This pessimistic view of Earth’s future is popular in many sci-fi stories. Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, for instance, gives us a countryside around New Chicago, full of mutants and radiated land for hundreds of years, so they rely on computers to sequester them from the horror outside. However, the scientific fact is, even the most virulent radiation takes a couple of decades at most to clear. God in His wisdom has designed His creation to heal, to rebuild itself.
In The Martian Chronicles, characters had escaped to Mars, the same way Earth 2 people escaped to space stations. Eventually Earth explodes, thanks to escalating upheavals of violence on our world. And the Martian colonies are left to survive on their own.
Of course, these stories fail to take into account God’s hopeful prophecies for Earth. After man’s violence is brought to a screeching halt when the Lord intervenes, we will enjoy about 1,000 years of total peace, prosperity, righteousness, and joy—popularly known as the Millennium. However, we cannot expect secular writers and producers to factor in the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
Anyway, back to Earth 2. The spaceship crash-lands on planet G889, and the pioneers must make do with only a few of the supplies they intended to have. Not only did the supply pods get scattered across the landscape, but ugly and slobbery creatures known as grendlers had broken in and taken what they wanted.
The pioneers also meet an indigenous race whose very existence is tied with natural life, called Terrians. In some ways, they remind me of native Indians, only their link to their world is much more intimate. They rise from the earth and drop back in. They have energy staffs which can glow and protect them against all other weapons. A visit to their subterranean home, where they rest in cave walls, resonates with whale songs. They utter trilling yells like groundhogs warning their friends.
Most of all, they cure Uly of his disease—for which Devon is happy—but he then becomes part of Terrian culture. They involve him in their Moon Cross celebration and teach him how to rise and fall in the earth. One downside is, Terrians don’t forgive those who do them wrong.
But is it possible Ulysses would suffer a disease caused by no disease, or at least one he can’t get rid of because of bad air and water?
Star Trek’'s “Mark of Gideon” took a wholly different tack. This Gideon has nothing in common with the biblical hero, whose tiny 300-man army faced down a massive Midianite force. Gideon is the planet where overpopulation has become a problem, for the world’s scientists have eliminated all diseases and the people live longer now.
So the Gideon Council came up with a unique, if not outright deceptive plan, to reintroduce a new virus into the populace so they can start dying off again. I think it’s supposed to be a commentary on the contemporary fear of too many people on Earth in the future, but the whole situation feels contrived to me.
The biggest question: How did they manage to stop all diseases in their tracks? On Earth, several diseases have been cured, or at least slowed down to manageable levels. Second biggest question: Since the Bible clearly indicates bad health is part of the curse since the days of Adam and Eve, every time one problem is solved, a new one crops up—either related to the first, or more likely a separate illness. How did the Gideons get around this fact?
Anyway, according to the episode, Captain Kirk beams off the Enterprise and onto an identical copy, though this one is devoid of a crew. Here he meets Odona, a Gideon lass who twirls and dances, rejoicing that she seems to be the only person present.
Kirk and Odona may be the two the only living creatures on board, but they hear an overwhelming sound of heartbeats. A screen shows crowds of people passing each other, people who say not a word to each other. Since each wears the same color hood, I suspect they achieved the effect by having a handful appear, then going back to do it again. The forward viewer shows a field of faces instead of the usual field of stars. Of course, Odona acts like a scared little girl, so Kirk can coddle her and assure her everything’s all right.
Aboard the real Enterprise, meanwhile, Mr. Spock deals with political posturing and accusations from the council leader Holdin. But of course it’s all an act to keep Spock thinking he’s as flabbergasted as the crew about what happened to Kirk. Spock begins to suspect something wrong when two coordinate numbers are transposed. (It’s the only time such numbers are broadcast in an episode.)
Turns out Odona is Holdin’s daughter, part of an elaborate ruse to introduce a new virus into Gideon society. Earlier in life, Kirk had contracted Vegan chloriomeningitis, a rare but treatable disease which leaves pieces of itself in one’s body. It sounds a bit like chicken pox turning up as shingles when one gets older.
Somehow during transport, Kirk’s arm had gotten scraped, apparently to expose his still tainted blood to Odona. She in turn begins to contract the same strain of meningitis. And this, in some macabre way, is considered a victory for Gideon?
A lot of other disturbing things here. What kind of father is Holdin to allow his daughter start a new plague? In real life, how many men would be willing to use their beloved offspring in such a deadly experiment? Odona seems happy to die for her planet’s sake, which is also odd for a young girl. She’s like a human sacrifice deliberately walking into the fire.
And we’re left with the same biggest question as in Earth 2. Is it possible for men to wipe out all diseases? For that matter, is it possible Ulysses Adair cannot be cured, even on the space station? Otherwise, what would be the point of fleeing there?
Viewed from a biblical perspective, neither of these scenarios is possible.
“Surely [Jesus] took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered Him stricken by God, smitten, and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:4-5).
The immediate application is that He healed our spiritual infirmities; but long-term, I believe physical healing would come as well, especially in ages to come. And this is seen as a good thing, not a “good idea” that backfires. This is demonstrated in the many people Jesus had cured during His time on Earth.
“Through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field” (Genesis 3:17c-18 ). Clearly the pains we struggle with today are part of the curse. So are physical ailments.
Those who teach that faithful Christians should have no sickness at all are deluding themselves and others. Physical healing often happens as God’s will only; we cannot order Him to do it all the time. If the context of their Scriptural support includes salvation or being saved, it’s talking about spiritual healing.
Do remember what the Lord told Paul, when he prayed for healing? “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9a). A disabled person who loves the Lord can be a powerful tool for bringing others to Christ.
Nevertheless, in the Lord’s future, I will no longer have congestive heart failure. My TRYAD friends would find their bodies have healed. Kitty will no longer be blind, Bernice would not be hard of hearing, Mike would no longer need a wheelchair, and palsied Aaron would be able to speak clearly. But all this is in the future, barring the Lord’s early intervention. Today, if we stay true to the Lord our God, it will happen.
Never in this life will we see all temporal diseases cured, contrary to many sci-fi authors. And never in this life will Earth become one big landfill. It’s just not in the Lord’s master plan.
“Heaven and Earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away” (Matthew 24:35).
JULY THEME: “CELEBRATE”
AUGUST THEME: “MEMORY”
August 1: Chris Stachura at Recovery along Route 66
August 3: Bill Jones at I was Thinking the Other Day About …
August 4: Mike Johnson at The College Field Manual
August 7: Tracy Krauss at Expression Express