Saturday, March 9, 2013

If an Asteroid Hit Your Faith

At 2:00 PM Eastern Standard Time today, another asteroid will go  sailing by our planet.  Discovered only last week, 2013 ET is the latest in a series of cosmic objects to go howling by the Earth.

This hundred-meter wide hunk of space rock is almost six times larger than the hunk of space rock that slammed into our atmosphere over Russia recently, injuring hundreds as it exploded with the force of a score of Hiroshima-sized atomic bombs.  

That event was the most impressive impact since the legendary Tunguska impact over a hundred years ago, and coincidentally happened on the very same day another huge asteroid was making a close approach to Earth.

All these cosmic near-misses have gotten me to wondering about the impact a major asteroid strike might have on Christian faith.   It'll happen eventually, kids, and when it would your faith fare?

Obviously, a Chicxulub-equivalent impact would have several significant faith ramifications.   You know Chicxulub, right?  That's the impact that seems most likely to have taken down our dinosaur friends sixty-six million years ago, and it was a huge honkin' deal.  That asteroid wasn't a hundred meters wide, but a hundred miles wide.  And the result?   Earthquakes.  Fire raining from the skies.  Megatsunamis, meaning waves that were nearly two MILES high.  The end of the Mesozoic involved destruction on a gigadeath scale, the veritable Walmart of extinction-events.

The way I figure it, faith responses to such an event now would take several different forms.   For many of us, the most likely response would involve some rather brief but fervent praying, followed by getting to meet Jesus face to face.

But as there are a billion of us evenly distributed around the planet, not all Christians would be obliterated in those first rather unpleasant hours.

The question then becomes: how would what you believe fare in such an event?  For those whose faith is grounded in the desire to prosper, I'm not sure faith would hold out.  Mass-media health and wealth preaching in the face of a global calamity would just seem...well...silly.  Beyond the absence of all media, "just name it and claim it" wouldn't feel quite so amazing if by "naming it and claiming it" you were thinking about naming and claiming a few more mouthfuls of charred squirrel bits.

And those ministries that have focused on end-times prophecy?  I'm not sure they'd be doing so great either.  If your whole faith revolves around getting conveniently raptured away before the cosmological poop hits the fan?   A major disaster would have the unfortunate tendency to make you question it.   How could you preach about the end of the world after the world had already ended?  It'd be a tricky wicket.

But for those survivors whose Christian faith focused on what Jesus actually taught, and how he asked us to live, our faith would be more relevant than ever.  Communities of radical compassion are profoundly resilient in times of crisis.  The ethos of care for the stranger and the neighbor does rather well when the going gets rough.   If by discipleship we mean what Jesus meant for us to do, and not wild theological speculation or selfish grasping, then Christianity would be just as viable after the end of the Cenozoic era.

The further your faith is from the reality of God's creation, the more poorly it would fare in a global catastrophe.

But love?  Love knows the real.  And love adapts.