S.E.T.I. and Jehovah

S.E.T.I. and Jehovah

Pentecost 72

Are we alone? Do we want to be alone? If we are not alone and/or if we do not want to be alone, what do we do next? How do we live or work or simply coexist in a relationship? How do the relationships we have in our lives impact us? How does a relationship or lack thereof with a deity affect us? IN the next several weeks I hope we think about those questions. Our ancestors certainly did. Their faiths outlines how to worship their monotheistic faiths as well as how to lie one with another.

Recently the University of Minnesota reviewed almost one hundred and fifty studies on relationships and discovered that strong relationships can lead to a healthier and longer life. A 2012 international Gallup poll found that people who feel they have friends and family to count on are generally more satisfied with their personal health than people who feel isolated. Dr. Sheldon Cohen, psychologists and professor at Carnegie Mellon University, conducted a survey of college students and found those with strong relationships were fifty percent less likely to catch the common cold when exposed than their peers without strong relationships.

How does one have a relationship with a deity that cannot be seen or touched? How would that affect us? Jehovah is the name given for the relational god, the god with whom they interacted. However, the name itself is something of a relationship in and of itself. In history we have a group of people that are completely unrelated, span countless decades and centuries and yet are referred to by one single name – explorers. That is because although they were not of the same cultures or doing their work during the same time, they did share a common goal – that of exploration.

The documents we have written for the Abrahamic Faiths are thought to have taken the idea for such transcription from Greek scholars. Somewhere during the second century ACE, these Greek scholars began recording their history and in so doing, developed a written language based upon their oral dialects. They did this by adding what we call diacritic marks to the ancient texts, marks that indicated the meaning or distinction of a word to add clarity to it. Hebrew scholars worked over centuries to maintain their culture. These scholars were known by the term Masoretes and came from regions such as Babylon, Palestine, Europe, and Yemen. Like the explorers of history, these scholars were of different cultures and different times, sharing the desire to save the Hebrew academia and faith. The people of the region became obsessed with saving their culture which seemed to be slipping away from them with the advancement of time and science. Even Muhammed became a part of this movement, urging his kinsmen to return to the monotheism of Moses. His efforts resulted in the production of the Quran.

Because of the efforts of the Masoretes, we have the name Jehovah. It was first introduced in 1520 allegedly by Galatinus. Hebrew script had previously contained mostly consonants so when something was read aloud, vowels had to be inserted. The Masoretes developed a vowel-notation system like the Diacritical marks of the Greeks to preserve and unify pronunciations. However, the word was considered to be so holy that it could not be pronounced and was written as YHWH, which we briefly discussed yesterday.

The three Abrahamic faiths are very different and have accounted, in some way, for major conflicts and deaths on this planet. A visitor from another galaxy might question just what kind of deity do they worship if by doing so, they kill and maim their fellow beings. Another might wonder if three such different religions could really all be discussing the same one god.

The Search of Extraterrestrial Intelligence is something similar to the explorers and Masoretes we discussed earlier. It is not, as some believe, one large project but rather a series of activities all with the single purpose of determining if there is intelligent life outside our planet and perhaps galaxy. In 1896, Nicholas Tesla suggested that his wireless electrical transmission system could possibly be used to contact any beings living on Mars. Three years later while doing research and experiments in Colorado, he thought he had received a signal from mars. How does this project define whether or not it has verified such existence? What are the parameters of such a relationship?

Simply put, S.E.T.I. seeks to do what mythologies have done throughout the history of mankind. Through a variety of exercises conducted by a host of experts in several different scientific disciplines, S.E.T.I. is looking for repetitive patterns among the chaotic clutter of space. It is believed that, amid all the electromagnetic static that comprises what we call outer space, intelligent beings would create repetitive patterns, much like living beings do here on here.

The SETI League, Inc. is a membership non-profit organization with members in sixty-two countries. The grassroots alliance made up of amateur and professionals echoes the efforts of the early explorers and Masoretes in their communal efforts across the globe. Through the use of home satellites they are adding their research to that of government and scientific entities in this quest to develop a possible relationship with any extraterrestrial beings. Their main project is known as Project Argus, named after the Greek mythological god and seeks to cover the sky with reception continually.

It may seem odd to have a scientific project named after a mythological deity but the relationship between the two is really quite common. Argus was the Greek beast who stood guard with his one hundred eyes that allowed him to see in all directions.   The name was used by Arthus C, Clarke and Carl Sagan in their science fiction. Ohio State University is currently developing a radio telescope that would be omnidirectional which will be named Argus. The NASA study now known as Cyclops, another name from Greek mythology, was originally termed Argus.

The best relationship examples are probably those found in nature. It is in nature that we can easily see the majesty of creation and the miracle of life relating us all that the Abrahamic faiths and their stories portray. Jehovah was said to create and protect all and certainly the relationship found in nature would uphold that belief. Take for example the simple raspberry. Not an actual berry but rather an aggregate fruit, the raspberry is a design known as a Fibonacci sequence. The Fibonacci sequence is often called nature’s numbering system. It is the arrangement of petals on a stem or sections of a fruit that best allows the plant to grow and (pardon the pun) be fruitful. Found in every aspect of nature, the sections of a raspberry comprise a Fibonacci sequence. Perhaps more interesting is that the flavor of the raspberry results in part from its composition of ethyl fornate, a substance newly discovered to exist in outer space. Does this discovery relate a fruit found on earth to the rest of our galaxy?

Jehovah was a mighty name for a mighty god. It was the name given to a deity found in many cultures and, if following the search parameters established by S.E.T.I., such a belief in this one deity would indicate intelligent life. It was not an all-encompassing name, however. Like many relationships, the relationships between mankind and its one god needed to evolve, to continually adapt and grow. Just how it adapted we will discuss tomorrow. Today I hope you enjoy the nature around you and perhaps, have a bowl of raspberries. You just might be taste the air of another solar system. Certainly, you will be enjoying the creation of and a relationship with an amazing fruit, the work of something other than mankind.

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