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Mark Strauss has a fascinating post up on io9 about Christianity’s unique ongoing dance with discoveries and new knowledge gained through the study of astronomy. Although nearly all world religions have to find a particular balance with science, Strauss explains what makes Christianity different:
“But for Christians who believe in the redemption of humanity through a singular event—the Incarnation of God through Christ—the question poses an especially complex dilemma.”
If life were to be discovered elsewhere in the galaxy, would it lessen the magnitude of God becoming man in order to save all of humanity on Earth?
What’s the Big Idea?
Strauss starts with Father José Funes, S.J., the director of the Vatican Observatory. Funes explained in the local Vatican newspaper that the existence of extraterrestrial life would not threaten Christian theology, but rather serve as evidence of God’s unending creative ambition. The argument is a riff off a popular Christian catch-all: “God is a whole lot smarter than you and me so there’s no point in doubting him.”
Strauss poses additional questions. Has Jesus visited other planets? Is there a version of the virgin birth on Gliese 832c? Are humans the only “chosen ones?” Does Christ’s sacrifice on Earth cover all possible sentient beings in the universe? Are human missionaries expected to spread the Word (and salvation) to other planets? Could Earth be the only planet in existence for which God needed to intervene? Each quandary receives attention in the form of quotes from noted scholars.
There’s also the question of whether our religious texts could still be taken seriously if it turns out they were ignorant of something as huge as extraterrestrial life. That’s something Strauss doesn’t cover, though perhaps merits some thought.
Take a look at the article (linked again below) and let us know what you think.
Keep reading at io9
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