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TITLE: The Real Other Universe
By Dave Kissling

Even though it references a work of fiction, this commentary comes down to a nonfiction point. I hope I chose the right category.
Secondary universes. Alternate dimensions. Secular science fiction has long been fascinated with these ideas. Generally, such a place is thought to coexist with ours, to operate by different laws, and sometimes beings from there can enter our universe at will. However, it is commonly assumed that as a rule, the reverse would not be true, unless those from the other side decided to bring us. Some bright mathematician somewhere has even come up with a scientific formula suggesting that such a thing may well be true. As Mr. Spock once said, "The possible existence of a parallel universe has been scientifically conceded."

In this article, I intend to prove that theyíre right. There really is an alternate universe like that described above, but itís not quite the world that speculative pundits suggest. A typical example of their idea can be found, among many other places, in a Star Trek episode entitled "The Alternative Factor". By countering some of these claims, I am not casting aspersions on anyone involved in its production; without knowledge of God, they simply expressed the ideas that came to them. But for any Christians who have been drawn into such ideas, I wish to respectfully offer another explanation.

"The Alternative Factor" speculates that a galaxy-wide shutdown could occur if two physical universes should ever meet. These universes are described as "positive" and "negative", or as "matter" and "antimatter". Itís of little consequence to identify which is which. At first the point where they meet is described as a "rip" in the universe, then a "hole", then a "door", and finally a "corridor". Putting aside the problem of how the void of outer space can develop a hole or a rip, the neutral ground seems to be a kind of safety valve that keeps both ends safe.

Enter an insane character inexplicably named Lazarus. His confusing story claims that his entire race had been destroyed by some humanoid monster that he must find and take vengeance upon, but the "monster" turns out to be his own sane counterpart in the other universe. Eventually Capt. Kirk finds his way there, and here is part of the conversation between him and the sane Lazarus.

Kirk asks, "Exactly what did I pass through?"

"I call it an alternative warp," says Lazarus. "Itís sort of a negative magnetic corridor where the two parallel universes meet. Ö It keeps eternity from blowing up."

"Is it what caused the magnetic effect, the winking-out phenomenon?"

"Precisely, Captain, but not because of its existence. Because my foe entered. The corridor is like a prison with explosives at the door. Open the door, and the explosives might go off. Stay inside Ö"

Kirk finishes his thought for him. "Ö and the universe is safe."

"Both universes, Captain," replies Lazarus.

I mentioned before that a secondary universe exists, and that secular sci-fi often goes in odd directions describing it. One of the biggest problems with this show, as with almost every alt-universe show, is that Godís sovereignty is nowhere in the picture. "It keeps eternity from blowing up." God has a monopoly on eternity (e.g. John 17:2-3; Revelation 5:13). "The corridor is like a prison with explosives at the door." With the two universes Iím talking about, no such danger exists.

Kirk tells Lazarus, "Youíll be trapped inside that corridor with him [Lazarusí other self], at each otherís throats throughout time."

Philosophically he replies, "Is it such a large price to pay for the safety of two universes?"

A large price to pay. That brings me to my main point, for the secondary universe I speak of did require a large price to be paid to secure life and a future for humans, for this universe is called "the spirit realm". Far from being unstable in its coexistence with the physical realm, the two are constantly interacting with each other. Both good and evil spirits often enter our universe through dreams, visions, and other phenomena, and we in turn can enter the spiritual universe through various means, many of them as volatile as the corridor Lazarus describes. For Christians, however, that means daily prayer and Bible reading, both perfectly safe doors, and edifying after we have accepted Godís offer of deliverance.

Isnít it remarkable that many people willingly accept the ideas in "The Alternative Factor" at face value, yet totally reject the reality it vaguely represents? Jesus Christ came to us directly from the other universe, and paid for our sins with His very life. Is it such a large price to pay for our safety, our hope and our future? And itís a price that is valid throughout time.

And in reality there is also a constant battle taking place, not unlike the surreal image of two Lazaruses clutching each otherís throat, neither able to prevail against the other. The Old Testament prophet Daniel discovered this reality when he prayed for some answers to perplexing questions, and three weeks later a personage from the real other universe appeared to him.

"Do not be afraid, Daniel," the angel said. "Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me 21 days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future" (Daniel 10:12-14 NIV, italics mine).

Just before the angel explained the future, he also said, "Soon I will return to fight against the prince of Persia, and when I go, the prince of Greece will come; but Ö no one supports me against them except Michael, your prince" (Daniel 10:20-21 NIV, italics mine).

Who are these princes? They are the real powers behind the rulership of each nation, denizens of that spiritual universe who control material government. This angel and Michael are the good guys, while these other "princes" are the bad guys. Every time a prayer to God goes out, He dispatches the good guys to do battle with the bad guys, a battle we never see because the spirit world is invisible to us. These princes have a vested interest in seeing us live in despair. They want to prevent the Calvary from coming to our rescue on time. They want to convince us that there is no hope, that life is so unstable that itís likely to fall apart at any moment.

This is not to say that all governments are evil; thatís a popular notion in sci-fi that I reject, based on Romans 13:1-7. But even where righteous men have office, there are always those led and controlled by the "princes of Persia and Greece" who will lie about him, denigrate him, and try to force him out of office so their own selfish whims may be satisfied.

Now let me tell about another Lazarus, a real-life one who lived almost 2,000 years ago. By all evidence, he mustíve been a young man and he had two sisters, all of them among Jesusí most ardent supporters. They would entertain Him and His disciples in their Bethany home whenever He came near Jerusalem.

One day while Jesus was gone, Lazarus took sick, and Jesus was called from Galilee to heal him. But Jesus said, "This sickness will not end with death. No, it is for Godís glory, so Godís Son may be glorified through it" (John 11:4 NIV).

Two days later He goes to Bethany, only to learn Lazarus had died four days before. Nevertheless he assures Martha, "Your brother will rise again."

Poor Martha regarded him with tears in her swollen eyes. "I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day."

Smiling kindly, Jesus replied, "I am the Resurrection and the Life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die." (John 11:23-25 NIV, action enhanced). With that He proceeds to the tomb and raises Lazarus bodily from the grave. Not long after, the Lifegiver Himself also bodily rises from the grave.

Notice that though this Lazarus experienced the pull of both universes, he never was in danger of meeting himself, no more than Daniel was. On the other hand, Jesus is the ultimate Door to both universes, no explosives on either end, and there we can meet and defeat ourselvesóour own sinful natureóand experience salvation so grand and so fulfilling that weíll wonder how we ever got along without Him. Eternity is never in danger of blowing up as long as He is around, and He is forever. Amen!

On Star Trek, after the whole ordeal is over, Capt. Kirk sits back in his chair and contemplates his experience. "How would it be, trapped forever with a raging maniac at your throat, until time itself came to an end, for eternity? Ö What of Lazarus?"

How would it be to hang on a Cross, rejected by the world, abandoned by your closest friends, so you can beat a raging maniac named Satan at his own game? And how would it be to feel so secure in the validity of that sacrifice that you could also beat down the enemy until time itself came to an end, for eternity? Everyone on Earth can know how that would be, just by accepting Him as their Savior.

And what of Lazarus? He was resurrected from death, just as all believers will, as Martha believed. But the more pertinent question is: What of Jesus? What of Jesus?

"I am the Resurrection and the Life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die" (John 11:23).
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