In the film King Arthur:
Guinevere: This is heaven for me.
Lancelot: I don’t believe in Heaven, I’ve been living in this Hell. But if you represent what Heaven is, then take me there.
Perhaps, what Lancelot had in mind was not what Guinevere meant. For Lancelot the joys of earthly pleasures were all that humans could expect from this mortal heaven. A place up there and out there among the stars was just a wish upon a morning mist arising from a bog.
Today the belief in an afterlife is like a boxing match. The champion of belief is on the ropes and about to go down for the final count.
However, it is interesting that in the popular culture of superheroes, starships, etc. the concept of a heaven is alive and well. When you hear the name Thor, Asgard soon follows.
Before the current crop of superhero films, Star Trek mythology explored the concept of heaven among the various alien races that were encountered. These aliens seemed to have their belief system more intact than did the Terrans.
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
Sha-Ka-Ree… the source… Heaven… Eden… call it what you will. The Klingons call it “Qui-Tu”. For the Romulans it’s “Vorta Vor”. The Andorian word is… is unpronounceable. Still, every culture in this galaxy shares this common dream of a place from which creation sprang. For us, that place will soon be reality.
Vulcan has a highly sophisticated religion with a High Priestess. On earth some male-dominated religious systems could profit from reviewing the Vulcan religious system.
When you toss in the Klingons and the Romulans, the distant cousins of the Vulcans, you have an intricate system of belief. The Bajorans had their “Prophets” and the mysterious wormhole to an alternate reality where the Prophets could alter a spacecraft occupant for a little talk.
Coming back to earth, the ancient inhabitants along the Nile had their Book of the Dead and a whole host of deities. The Greeks had their Hades and Elysian Fields which were integrated into Roman belief after Greece was conquered by Rome.
The Ancient Hebrews had Sheol where humans gradually became shadows, faded images, after death. As time went on the Hellenic concept of immortality of the soul was adopted into Hebrew thought and belief of Judaism.
Christianity came out of Judaism and was eventually embraced by the Romans; it became the religion of the empire with a lot of trappings from Greek and Roman mythology as time passed.
We could continue this history review or science fiction references, but the point here is that intelligent life seeks answers to the age-old questions of origins and death. What happens when a human dies? When our progenitors sat on the coastal shores and viewed the night heavens, their thoughts and voices asked the whys of human existence.
Now, if there is extraterrestrial life, which I believe there is, their belief system is as old as this planet traversing the cosmos. It is human arrogance to believe that humans are the only life forms in this universe and will be the only ones to inhabit “heaven”” someday.
The concept of heaven is more than a private club as one well-known personage advocated recently. The universe is filled with grand mysteries and teeming with intelligent life forms.
“I have long thought that anyone who does not regularly—or ever—gaze up and see the wonder and glory of a dark night sky filled with countless stars loses a sense of their fundamental connectedness to the universe. And as the astounding vastness of the universe becomes obscured, there is a throwback to a vision of a universe that essentially amounts to earth, or one’s country, or state or city. Perspective becomes myopic. But a clear night sky and a little instruction allow anyone to soar in mind and imagination to the farthest reaches of an enormous universe in which we are but a speck. And there is nothing more exhilarating and humbling than that.” Professor Brian Greene
“The Cosmos is all that is or was or ever will be. Our feeblest contemplations of the Cosmos stir us–there is a tingling in the spine, a catch in the voice, a faint sensation, as of a distant memory, of falling from a height. We know we are approaching the greatest of mysteries.
“The size and age of the Cosmos are beyond ordinary human understanding. Lost somewhere between immensity and eternity is our tiny planetary home. In a cosmic perspective, most human concerns seem insignificant, even petty. And yet our species is young and curious and brave and shows much promise. In the last few millennia we have made the most astonishing and unexpected discoveries about the Cosmos and our place within it, explorations that are exhilarating to consider. They remind us that humans have evolved to wonder, that understanding is a joy, that knowledge is prerequisite to survival. I believe our future depends powerfully on how well we understand this Cosmos in which we float like a mote of dust in the morning sky.” Carl Sagan, COSMOS
G. D. Williams © 2014
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Star Shadows Remote Observatory and PROMPT/CTIO
Meet NGC 253; a beautiful island galaxy located in the constellation of Sculptor, some 10 million light-years from Earth. As you can see from this nearly-edge on vantage point, its beauty is rivaled only by its sheer dustiness. Other than the dust pervading the galaxy’s spiral arms, tendrils of dense collections of dust extend from its tilted galactic disk and beyond. This extra material has spawned an impressive collection of stars, with the combined light making the galaxy one of the brightest galaxies known to man. Also helping make this galaxy so spectacularly bright and impressive is the ionization these stars induce on the galaxy’s extensive gas reserves.
NGC 253 — also known as the Silver Dollar Galaxy (because of the way it looks when viewed through a moderately powerful telescope) — spans some 70,000 light-years across. As such, it is the largest member of the Sculptor Group of Galaxies, which is the closest galaxy group to our own local group.
Sources, Another Image & Other References: http://bit.ly/1nrAyAz
Northern hemisphere summertime view of the Milky Way in Sagittarius.
Spiral galaxy ESO 137-001
Spiral galaxy ESO 137-001 hurtles through massive galaxy cluster Abell 3627 some 220 million light years away. The distant galaxy is seen in this colorful Hubble/Chandra composite image through a foreground of the Milky Way’s stars toward the southern constellation Triangulum Australe. As the spiral speeds along at nearly 7 million kilometers per hour, its gas and dust are stripped away when ram pressure with the cluster’s own hot, tenuous intracluster medium overcomes the galaxy’s gravity. Evident in Hubble’s near visible light data, bright star clusters have formed in the stripped material along the short, trailing blue streaks. Chandra’s X-ray data shows off the enormous extent of the heated, stripped gas as diffuse, darker blue trails stretching over 400,000 light-years toward the bottom right. The significant loss of dust and gas will make new star formation difficult for this galaxy. A yellowish elliptical galaxy, lacking in star forming dust and gas, is just to the right of ESO 137-001 in the frame.
A Tour of M106
NGC 4258, also known as Messier 106, is a spiral galaxy like the Milky Way. This galaxy is famous, however, for something that our Galaxy doesn’t have – two extra spiral arms that glow in X-ray, optical, and radio light.