With the development of higher resolution telescopes astronomers have been able to locate numerous planets which could be capable of sustaining life. Several websites are now available to learn what current thinking is on this subject. See SITE and NPR.
Vast Universe by Joseph O’Meara is a new book of 100 pages which tries to bring a religious dimension to current research which the author reviews and relates to religion and revelation. If there are intelligent beings on other planets what is the implication for such notions as the presence of evil, the need for redemption and the idea of Incarnation?
In addition to reviewing research on the presence of thousands of planets in the vast universe which could host intelligent life the author presents a theological argument for postulating extraterrestrials: God’s love which would not be limited to having just one planet full of life.
Contact with possible intelligent life on other plants has not been made up to this point because of the vastness of the universe and the time required for communications to travel the many light years of space. The author writes that “the average time required to send a one-way message to one’s nearest neighbor…is on the order of 1,000 years.”
The expectation that we will someday witness anything like flying saucers of intelligent beings coming to earth is practically zero. So, why be concerned about the possibility of intelligent beings in other parts of the universe when we already have enough to occupy of minds, problems to solve and injustices to overcome?
O’Meara says that this reflection on the possibility of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe will make us think differently about who we are and about what it means to be made in the image of God. Reflection on extraterrestrials is about us and our image of God.
O’Meara devotes several chapters to a review of theological speculation over centuries about intelligent life on other planets including some striking insights by Rahner and Teilhard.
Readers interested in the New Story, studies of the Universe and speculative theology will find Vast Universe a good read and a source of additional books and web resources.
Read part of Vast Universe at Amazon