Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Arthur Clarke and a Space Odyssey

On Wednesday, March 19, Sir Arthur Clarke passed from this world into the next. His passing is lamented by thousands of his readers and fans. Though as a child I had seen with great curiosity “2001: A Space Odyssey” I never read any of his 100 works nor followed his accomplishments in science. However, a friend of mine today shared his own personal sense of loss referring to Clarke as his distant mentor. Thus, I was stirred to look at Clarke’s life and reflect.

My friend pointed me to YouTube and Clarke’s last public comments recorded on his 90th birthday. I loved Clarke’s reference to his “90 orbits around the sun”. He also stated his final three wishes in life that he hoped to see before he died.

1. To see some evidence of extra-terrestrial life
2. To see our world kick the addiction to oil
3. To see lasting peace in his adopted country of Sri Lanka

Certainly Sir Clarke didn’t see wishes 2 and 3 come to pass. As I’ve scanned biographical material I would also say that it is probable that Sir Clarke didn’t see wish #1 either.

Though I’m sure it doesn’t fit Sir Clarke’s definition, many of us have seen evidence of extra-terrestrial life and by that I mean the out-of-this-world arrival of God in the person of Jesus Christ living among us over 2,000 years ago. Clarke longed to see evidence of life that was not from our planet and the Bible is clear that Jesus Christ was not from our planet.

Clarke corresponded in the 1940’s and 1950’s with C.S. Lewis and read Lewis’ writings which are heavy-laden with Christian themes but I could find no indication that Clarke became a follower of Christ.

Sir Clarke was renowned for pointing out the ironies of life--
“The truth, as always, will be far stranger.”
“How inappropriate to call this planet Earth, when clearly it is Ocean.”
Speaking of UFO’s, “They tell us absolutely nothing about intelligence elsewhere in the universe, but they do prove how rare it is on Earth.”

Yet, Sir Clarke may have lived an awful irony, “Ever looking for extra-terrestrial life we miss the Extra-Terrestrial that comes looking for us.”

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