We may rest a little better tonight knowing that a cadre of futurist thinkers is considering alternative scenarios for the future of the cosmos, and how we as humans might be able to survive.
Graeme Wood, writing in the Boston Globe (May 1, 2011), explains the mission of those who are committed to "looking millions of years into the future and venturing a guess as to what might be waiting." The fact that these thinkers can't know the future doesn't seem to keep them from positing various alternative scenarios and reckoning up what we as human beings need to do if we want to be around to see one of these play out.
Thinkers such as Sir Martin Rees, Britain's Astronomer Royal, and Nick Bostrom of the Future of Humanity Institute in Oxford believe that having "a clearer sense of the future will give hints about how to act now to keep the real doomsday scenarios at bay." Mr. Wood explains that "an essential part of the toolkit of a futurologist is knowledge of the past." That makes future studies a little iffy in my mind because, except for the very recent recorded past, we can't know any more about the past than we can about the future.
Except, of course, as an act of faith. If, for example,we believe in the evolutionary model of cosmic origins, then we can posit all kinds of interesting ideas about the past, and these can help us construct trajectories for thinking about the future. But this is strictly an act of faith, an exercise in secular religion designed to recommend policies for the present based on models of the future which are designed on the basis of beliefs about our cosmic past.
Invariably, futurologists will omit to consider certain facts from the past that some folks might regard as important and that seem to have exercised a formative role on the course of human history. Such as the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Leave out that little bit of the past and how you understand the future will be seriously affected.
But weigh that fact in with all the other facts of the past - even if your perspective on the past is some form of evolution - and suddenly the future looks different. In the light of the resurrection the future is not governed by evolutionary processes and physical laws. It is governed by a King in heaven Who is advancing His rule on earth as it is in heaven, and Who will return at some point to gather His own to Himself in a new heavens and new earth that no amount evolutionary futurology will ever come up with in the framework of its own beliefs.
The facts of the past do, indeed, affect the future of humankind. But if our faith leads us to omit certain very important - but perhaps, inconvenient - facts, then that particular faith could, rather than save us, end up being our destruction.
So let's do, by all means, think about the future. But let's not leave out the resurrection of Jesus in whatever models we might recommend.
Additional related texts: Psalm 2; Acts 17.29-31; 2 Peter 3.1-13
A conversation starter: "Futurologists are trying to create models of the long future of the cosmos, based on our understanding of the data from the past. Do you think they should factor the resurrection of Jesus into their thinking?"
T. M. Moore