Skip to comments.Theology professor asks: Are we alone in the universe?
Posted on 11/04/2011 7:57:09 PM PDT by Alex Murphy
Plenty of people throughout history have pondered the possibility that extraterrestrial intelligent life exists on a planet other than Earth, but how does that relate to Christian theology and teachings?
The idea that life could exist elsewhere and how it might relate to Christian and Catholic beliefs will be the topic of a free lecture Tuesday at St. John's Seminary in Camarillo. The Rev. Dr. Thomas O'Meara, retired University of Notre Dame theology professor and nationally renown author and speaker, will present his lecture, "Christian Theology and Extraterrestrial Intelligent Life," at 7 p.m. Members of the public are welcome.
O'Meara, a Dominican priest and professor emeritus of theology at Notre Dame University in Indiana, said the recent and frequent discovery of so many other planets outside our solar system has raised the possibility that extraterrestrial intelligent life exists elsewhere.
"We have entered a new world," he said, quoting the opening remarks for the lecture he will give during his first visit to Ventura County. He will discuss ongoing scientific attempts to examine the stars, planets and outer space, and to look for life on other planets.
"Since 1995, 645 planets have been discovered outside of our solar system: 50 in late September, of which 16 are like Earth. NASA has launched a telescope, Kepler, to study 155,000 suns to find what are now called 'exoplanets,' " he said. "The big new breakthrough is that the universe is so huge and it has so many galaxies with so many billions of stars that it seems kind of unlikely we are all alone. Believers by and large don't have any problem with this.
"Church authority has not made any decisions in this area. They couldn't say anything about this because the Christian revelation isn't about other galaxies; it's about Earth. Jesus and the Bible have to do with Earth.
"A theologian would not presume to decide whether there are other intelligent beings in the universe. Neither theologians nor astronomers should dictate to the divine power. You can't tell God what God can do. ... Other galaxies might produce stars and planets far in the future. God could be preparing intelligent civilizations long into the future," he said.
O'Meara taught at Notre Dame from 1980 to 2007. Recently, he has been a visiting professor at St. Joseph's Theological Institute in South Africa (2005), at the University of San Diego (2006 and 2008) and at Boston College (2007-2008). He has contributed numerous articles to popular journals and has written more than a dozen books, including "God in the World: A Guide to Karl Rahner's Theology" (2007), "A Theologian's Journey" (2002), "Theology of Ministry" (1999) and "Thomas Aquinas: Theologian" (1997). Early in 2012, Liturgical Press will publish his latest book, "Vast Universe. Extraterrestrials and Christian Revelation."
"A theologian would not presume to decide whether there are other intelligent beings in the universe. Neither theologians nor astronomers should dictate to the divine power. You can't tell God what God can do. ... Other galaxies might produce stars and planets far in the future. God could be preparing intelligent civilizations long into the future," [The Rev. Dr. Thomas O'Meara, a Dominican priest and professor emeritus of theology at Notre Dame University in Indiana] said.
“The great dragon was hurled downthat ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.”
“But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.”
“Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspringthose who keep Gods commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus.”
God created the heavens AND the earth. If he chose to create others and keep it to himself, I’m not going to make any demands for answers.
Personally I’m not really concerned about intelligent life in the universe because I think it would be more of an impediment to exploration than anything.
I fail to see how other beings in the universe would invalidate the possibility of their being a Creator.
It should actually increase the possibility, especially if those other beings have similar beliefs to our own.
How is it even remotely possible that we're alone?
And who’s to say the ‘intelligent life’ are MORE intelligent than we are....here on earth. Liberals will say there is, of course. We should all be ‘exterminated’ and are ‘not worthy’.
Bring in the population control.
My feelings exactly.
"Since 1995, 645 planets have been discovered outside of our solar system: 50 in late September, of which 16 are like Earth. NASA has launched a telescope, Kepler, to study 155,000 suns to find what are now called 'exoplanets,' " he said.Thanks Alex Murphy.
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Question: Why is Carl Sagan so lonely? (pick one)
(a) Sagan is lonely because, as a true devotee of science, a noble and reliable method of attaining knowledge, he feels increasingly isolated in a world in which, as Bronowski has said, there is a failure of nerve and men seem willing to undertake anything other than the rigors of science and believe anything at all: in Velikovski, von Daniken, even in Mr. and Mrs. Barney Hill, who reported being captured and taken aboard a spaceship in Vermont.
(b) Sagan is lonely because, after great expectations, he has not discovered ETIs in the Cosmos, because chimpanzees don't talk, dolphins don't talk, humpback whales sing only to other humpback whales, and he has heard nothing but random noise from the Cosmos, and because Vikings 1 and 2 failed to discover evidence of even the most rudimentary organic life in the soil of Mars.
(c) Sagan is lonely because, once everything in the Cosmos, including man, is reduced to the sphere of immanence, matter in interaction, there is no one left to talk to except other transcending intelligences from other worlds.
-- from Walker Percy's Lost In The Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book
With the exception of G_d, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, multitudes of dead saints occupying heaven and untold millions of angels, I would suspect we are alone in the universe.
I feel alone in the Universe.
In the Genesis story, the Earth was created on Day 1 before all other planets, stars and our moon etc on Day 4. Earth is unique and is at the centre of all that God created. And that uniqueness is centred around the creation of mankind.
In Peter 3:7-10 it is stated that God will destroy this present universe and create a new heavens and Earth. Everything in the entire universe will be destroyed and that includes Earth. If one believes in intelligence elsewhere in the universe, that would imply that their future and timetable for their lives is inextricably linked to God's timetable for Earth. Would that make any sense? That the lives of these other intelligent beings in other worlds would be created by God but have their lives tied to the failures and sin of the people that God created for Earth?
Would it make sense for God to create intelligent beings on other planets but mankind ruler over them? Psalms 8:3-6: Thy heavens, the work of the Thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which Thou has ordained
Thou dost make him [man] to rule over the works of Thy hands, Thou has put all things under his feet.
Because the rest of the universe wants absolutely nothing to do with us. And quite frankly, I do not blame them.
And yet we are effectively and practically alone.
The distance is insurmountable in a thousand lifetimes.
You may be right, and you may be wrong. All I can say is, whatever the truth is, it doesn’t impact my faith at all. I’m not going to pronounce that I know the answer with certainty. If the Bible is silent on the subject it’s because God didn’t see it as something important to give us information on (just like He didn’t see fit to give us great detail on what Heaven would be like). It’s enough that I know Heaven is and know what salvation is and what Jesus did for me.
The Bible’s focus is man’s creation and the earth, neither another’s creations nor any other place. The Bible doesn’t talk about atoms or gravity waves either, so I assume your position is that they don’t exist either.
Just because a creation exists and is sinful doesn’t lend credence to the notion that another creation existing is also going to sin.
From what I’ve seen on planet earth I would make any bets that there’s intelligent life out there either.
The cynical human in me agrees, and believes strongly that if aliens are foolish enough to come here, they deserve whatever happens.
My heartfelt, mind-deep believing Christ-follower that knows the real meaning of hope refuses to pretend to limit God. Our wild imaginations can barely grasp what He has said and written, let alone accept the evidence of things not seen.
The child in me that wil one day come before Him, on the other hand, can’t WAIT to find out what He has in mind!! :)