Why are we so afraid of the unknown? When we were colonising the new world, the idea that we could meet humans that looked different, acted different and believed in different things to us, terrified us so much we dehumanized them, made them into something other, to better quieten our conscience when we removed them, massacred them, resigned them to the fringes of acceptable society. Yet we take that fear of the unknown into other parts of our lives too. Unsure of what may be around the corner, or who may be knocking at the door, instead of looking for the most simple, most obvious and most normal answer, we create ghoulish fantasies which have a taste for the…uncomfortable, the dark.
The same concept is taken towards space. Having watched Jodi Foster and Matthew McConaughey star in the not-too-remarkable-but-not-shockingly-banal Contact, I was slightly peeved at the all too readily delivered role of the religious fanatic, complete with wizard-white hair and demon possessed eyes. No he couldn’t be a normal church-goer, he had to err on the side of the vampiric, the possessed, the maddened crazed weirdo that no-one wanted to be friends with. Suffice it to say, in the mildest of terms, he is against the project that pertains that crux of the story.
The idea is that we make contact with Space through receiving a signal which translates into a mathematical formula which enables us to create some form of equipment to transport ourselves into the great-unknown *phew*. Great. Until the Christian-fanatic starts casting the scientists as the Anti-Christ, people begin to worship the anonymous Aliens and low-and behold a religiously inspired terrorist attack takes place to prevent the ‘launch’ from occurring.
Why is there this animalistic fear in such a developed society? Why do we fear the other? Particularly I wonder, in view of the possibility of making contact with ‘Space’, why do we fear what’s out there? As is regularly repeated in the movie, if in the entire Universe we are the only life forms, then that’s a pretty big waste of space. An extraordinary waste of space considering the numerous galaxies and universes we are continuously discovering.
What gets me most though is the religious fervour and out right dismal of the potential of other life forms. The fear that anything out there must be evil, demonic, and counter to what our faiths, what our very concept of God is.
It seems to me the fear, especially from a religious perspective comes because we limit the potential of that Divine Creator, whatever people want to call Him. In the beginning there was a phenomenal architect who had a vision which was executed on the minutest scale to perfection, a harmony that the universe resounds with. Poets have encapsulated it in the signing of the celestial spheres, musicians in the structure of harmony which is in accordance with mathematical harmonics. There is a sense of congruent unity that rules all conceptions of life, whether that be Earth, the Universe or a grasshopper. And so I say to the crazy-suicidal-fantatical-apocalypse-screaming religious fantastic who fears the potential of what is beyond our horizon: don’t we proclaim that the infinite God wherever He might be created Life, the Universe, everything that is?
Then if there is alien life out there – didn’t He create that as well? And if so – why are we afraid?