By the Way With Joel Meeker

What’s on Your Golden Record?

A recorded message NASA designed for aliens recently left the outer limits of our solar system. The recording raises a question vital to our lives.

On Sept. 12, 2013, NASA announced that the space probe Voyager 1 had, in late August 2012, left our solar system. It had taken 35 years to travel the 11.25 billion miles (18.11 billion kilometers) to make its escape. It was the first human-launched object to enter interstellar space.

As fascinating, perhaps, are the golden records carried by both the twin Voyager 1 and 2 probes. These gold-plated copper phonograph records contain images and sounds intended to introduce earth life to any extraterrestrials they might encounter. Altogether 115 images and a variety of natural sounds are included, such as those made by surf, wind and various animals, along with musical selections from different cultures and eras, and spoken greetings in 55 languages, living and dead. Each record is equipped with a cartridge, a phonograph needle and instructions.

Scientists will have to wait a while to see if this galactic outreach is successful. It will take about 40,000 years for either probe to reach another solar system. 

What would you want to preserve?

What a challenge: to sum up the diversity, cherished qualities and accomplishments of millennia of life on earth on one phonograph record. Reading about the Voyagers led me to wonder what I would want to record as an account of my life. What would you want to preserve?

Favorite family photos or videos perhaps: the first day of school, graduation, a wedding portrait, that family trip. We might record the voices of our parents or our children, memories of treasured friends, proud professional and personal accomplishments.

A higher account

Whatever we might select to highlight our lives, it’s worth noting that a higher account is being maintained.

NASA created this montage of images taken by the Voyager spacecraft of the planets, four of Jupiter’s moons and Earth’s moon.

NASA created this montage of images taken by the Voyager spacecraft of the planets, four of Jupiter’s moons and Earth’s moon.

The apostle John was given a glimpse of what will happen after our physical lives end. He described a resurrection and a judgment: “And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened [the books of the Bible opened to their understanding]. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books” (Revelation 20:12). 

God is keeping track of what we all do, and there will be a personal accounting for every human being.

The Bible makes clear that what interests God most are our spiritual accomplishments—our growth to resemble Him in character, to reflect His altruistic love, to seek the values that are His: “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).

This is what our Creator is inscribing on our golden record. It is for us, with God’s strength and guidance, to provide the material.

Read more about this in the article “The Book of Life.”

Joel Meeker
@JoelMeeker
 

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