Commander Sisko assumes leadership of the hotly contested bit of space real estate, Deep Space Nine. Built by the Cardassians, run by Bajorans as the show starts, employing Ferengi, and peopled by the leftovers from the Mos Eisley Cantina, the station has more forehead ridges than anywhere yet seen on TV.
As a character on the previous Trek series, Captain Picard debriefs Sisko just prior to his taking command of the space station. Sisko makes the rounds, meeting the people and aliens who will serve under him and one or two that will give him headaches throughout the series.
Then something weird happens. Major Kira tells Sisko that he needs to meet this Bajoran religious figure called the Kai Opaka. When he finally meets her, she tells him of these mystical orbs that are sacred to her religion. The Cardassians, ever aggressive towards the Bajorans, have stolen all but the one in her possession. As Sisko encounters the thing, he is mentally transported to the first time he met his wife. When he wakes up, Kai Opaka gives him the orb to study further.
Dax discovers a point in space that is common on all the paths the other orbs had taken. So he and Sisko venture out and discover a wormhole which leads to the Gamma Quadrant. This is a valuable find, which will surely attract the Cardassians. Dax is instantly transported back to Deep Space Nine by whatever aliens are in control there and Sisko is taken to the Celestial Temple and is whisked through a series of flashbacks, unable to control their coming or going.
He’s forced to relive the first time he met his wife. He also relives an afternoon fishing with his son. And he’s continually brought back to the moment in his past that he most wishes to escape: the death of his wife during a space battle with the Borg.
Deep questions are asked by the alien, as it assumes the images of Sisko’s wife and son.
It is discovered that these aliens do not exist temporally, or at least they don’t understand temporal limitations like we do. So they become confused when Sisko explains that his wife is dead and that is why he doesn’t like revisiting the scene of her death. They insist that he “exists here.” He explains that he does not exist there. He did. But it’s over now.
As Sisko tries to explain that his people live finite, temporal lives, he discovers that he’s quite happy with that kind of existence. He likes not knowing what’s next.
“That may be the most important thing to understand about humans. It is the unknown that defines our existence. We are constantly searching, not just for answers to our questions, but for new questions. We are explorers. We explore our lives, day by day. And we explore the galaxy, trying to expand the boundaries of our knowledge. And that is why I am here. Not to conquer you with weapons or ideas, but to co-exist and learn.“
He can demonstrate the function and fun of these limitations in a mock-up baseball game, created by the aliens.
I love Sisko’s explanation of linear existence. We can’t expand the universe at all; it’s going to be big as it wants to be, no matter what we do. But we can expand our own knowledge by experiencing more of the universe. This universe was built to glorify God and designed to be a place for us to enjoy! God brought us into it to tend it and to care for it. He gave us eyes that can love its beauty. He gave us bodies that need to be in constant connection with our world to survive. So then we can value it, at the basest level as our food source, and at a deeper level as our very home which surrounds us in a symbiotic circle of garden-tending and food-growing.
That covers the first two chapters of the Bible.
Then humans made a terrible decision to reject the creator and run the show their own way. So they started starving, hating their jobs, and dying. But our species still retains something of that explorer spirit. As Adam forged through the perfect garden, discovering rivers and picnic spots. He had a great day when he found some avocados and he and wife made guacamole for the first time (with garlic, obviously).
Perhaps if our ancestors would have remained faithful to God their understanding of physics would have grown and they might have even ventured out to the stars.
And though the perfection of that world is gone, the spirit of exploration is not. We see it all the time. As kids we explore different routes home from school. As teenagers, we explore the sciences and learn about some of the strange mechanisms in our very own bodies. And as proper explorers, we open the dark mysterious corners of our world and our universe.
We have different reasons for exploring now. Survival, pride, and fear usually drive us to go out. But as citizens of God’s universe, we can have a purer motive. We can go just to look.
And I think we will. I think when the corruption is removed finally and God’s kingdom reigns we’ll have plenty left to explore – just without the dangers. No Klingons in heaven, just learning. The same way the Bible says that we’ll sing new songs to our God and King, we’ll also find “new questions,” as Sisko puts it.
A lot of people don’t like Deep Space Nine because they think the static space station prohibits exploration. Given Sisko’s poetic defense of it in this initial episode, I think we’ll find plenty to explore.
Tomorrow on Geeks of Christ
Next Trek Tuesday