Throughout history, as far as we can tell from ancient literatures and from more recent preliterature societies, humans have dreamed of many of the same magical powers:
- to fly
- specifically, to fly to the moon
- to talk with animals and birds and fish
- to be able to live and breathe underwater
- to have a magic mirror that lets you see what is happening in distant lands
- to know the future
- to go back in time
- to shrink to the size of a mouse, or grow to a giant
- to change into a different creature
- to turn a common substance into gold
- to turn a large number of small common objects (ants, seeds, teeth) into an army of warriors
- to heal sickness with a word or a touch
- to come back from the dead
- to live forever
- to climb up and live on the clouds
- to live in a palace in the sky forever, doing whatever you most enjoy doing.
Some people were said by storytellers to have done these things. Some people claimed to be able to do them. Followers of Jesus thought he rose from the dead, followers of Muhammad thought he went up to Heaven one night, followers of Odin thought that his ravens told him all the doings of the world – and of course many, many religious authorities promise you unverifiable after-death benefits in exchange for a cash contribution in the here-and-now.
But let’s face it: the dreams are cool! We wanted to do these things as kids, and we want to do them still. And better yet: we ARE doing them. Flying, in various ways. Walking on the moon. Looking at distant lands with our “magic mirrors”, whether phones or big-screen TVs.
And we keep working on the rest: trying to talk with dolphins; bringing people back from clinical death; planning for permanent colonies in the sky; and – the big one – trying to figure out how to live forever.
The dreams are the same as the dreams of those old religions. But now we know what we have to do, to make them become reality. (P.S. It involves work, not prayer.)