God and Space

There’s been so much attention and focus on the ongoing pandemic and all that entails (e.g., Trump prevarications), I thought it might be good to switch gears and elevate our thinking to another realm.

It has been reported that NASA is developing the capabilities needed to send humans to an asteroid by 2025 and Mars in the 2030s. In fact, according to the NASA.gov website, “Mars is a rich destination for scientific discovery and robotic and human exploration as we expand our presence into the solar system.” (emphasis added)

I’d be curious to know what Christians think about this. According to scripture, God created the heavens and the earth. There is no mention of other planets and, in religious vernacular, “the heavens” denote the place where beings such as gods, angels, spirits, saints, or venerated ancestors are said to originate and/or abide. Rarely, if ever, is the scientific definition used in religious circles, i.e., “the expanse of space surrounding the earth.”

So when scientists talk of humans traveling to Mars — and expanding our presence in the solar system — (even possibly encountering alien life), what role does God play in all this? From all spiritual indications, humans were created to live their lives on earth

Interestingly, it’s been reported that C.S. Lewis, the highly-venerated religious writer, opined about space exploration and alien life in one of his lesser-known books. He felt that should such life exist, it would be necessary to determine if the alien beings were rational, had a “spiritual sense,” and were “fallen” as humans are. If all qualities were present, the human task might be to evangelize them.

REALLY??!!?

In any event, I would be interested in hearing from the religious sector on whether you think God or the bible addresses the potentiality of traveling to and/or living on other planets. And of course, please share your thoughts related to encountering alien life.

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22 thoughts on “God and Space

  1. Vatican official Father Gabriel Funes, a respected astronomer in his own right, released an article titled “Aliens Are My Brother”, detailing various extraterrestrial scenarios as they relate to Christian theology. He compared the potential multiplicity of life forms in the universe to that here on Earth, and goes on to speculate that such alien life forms could even be free from Original Sin. The Pope has said, however, that if exterrestrqals do require communion he wants to do it.

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  2. I know a lot of Christians who believe in space travel, but I don’t think they look at it through the lens of the bible. Conservative Christians, especially Evangelicals, would probably try to keep us on earth (I sort of agree, but for a whole different reason).
    As for myself, as a kid and young adult I absorbed all the science fiction I could find, as my mind travelled the spaceways. Aliens would be ubiquitous.
    Then one day, about 25 years ago, I was auto-writing a poem for a character I invented, an insane person trapped alone on a rocket ship in space, and I wrote the lines, “The most amazing thing about the universe, we never met another intelligent race! Ever!” Where had that line come from? Not from me! But it made me think, and, after a while, I found my position on alien life changing. Not that we humans were something special, but just that conditions on our home planet produced a one in a trillion trillion trillion chance to develop intelligent life, which many of our predesessors also have. So, as ridiculous as it sounds, especially to me, I no longer believe in intelligent alien life.

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  3. I don’t think we can know for sure at this point, and it seems that Scripture doesn’t really address the issue one way or the other. But, I feel that life on other worlds is certainly a possibility. I’ve always been interested in astronomy and space exploration, so the prospect of humans exploring the stars feels exciting to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hmmm. Strange request nan.
    You have admitted you have no use for opinions such as mine, nor do u give a whit about visiting believers blogs.

    I have no shortage of opinion as to ‘life out there’ but it seems my insight/or lack thereof/ would only be fuel for the atheists, so catch u later.

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    • So if you’re not going to share your opinion, why bother to leave a comment at all?

      Actually, I’d be rather interested in what you have to say — provided you can offer your thoughts without dressing them up with a bunch of unnecessary platitudes.

      P.S. I do visit believer blogs from time to time, but most owners seem unable to speak anything but bible-ese so the visit ends up being rather unproductive.

      Liked by 4 people

  5. Just a fleeting thought…
    If there really was a god who created this vast universe, seems reasonable that this god would experiment with various kinds of life to various degrees of intelligence and a sense of self or not and we would be a mere one out of millions of experimentations.

    There would be none of this right and wrong, heaven or hell business because each species capable of deeper thought would have its own unique brain design with perceptions dependent on various senses, how information translates into the brain and the very structure of the brains, indeed if they even had a brain such as we do.
    The experiment would be vast and give god plenty to fiddle with.

    So if there is no life elsewhere, it’s pretty much proof that there is no god and we are just a fluke.

    Now having said all that, I don’t believe either scenario because I do believe there is life “out there” (no proof…yet) and I don’t believe in a god and certainly if a one were to exist, not in a personal god, but a god of pure unadulterated science.

    Sorry Nan, I’m not the kind of person you are seeking an answer from. I would think when the Bible was written…all those books written years apart, added, left out, translations lost in different language rewrites, early additions from Greek, Pagan, Roman and Hebrew influences, would have little if any mention of alien life. It just wasn’t an issue back then. Even considering other religions besides Christianity, alien life was out of the sphere of thought at that time.

    So anything now that may be explained to support some view or another by clergy would be simple man’s thought on it ….man’s invention.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Some pretty darn good “fleeting” thoughts, Mary. 😀

      I agree with your analysis related to the writing of the bible … and as I mentioned to Mel, who among the people of that time would have even dreamed of traveling to other planets or meeting the inhabitants (if any) of same.

      However, since it IS a possibility in today’s world, I question how the faithful can correlate it with their understanding of the bible story.

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      • Maryplumbago wrote: “It just wasn’t an issue back then.” Much like having sex with a minor was not an issue back then to the people who lived in that primitive culture (even though it should have been, because it was just as harmfull back then as it is today), and that is why there are no moral guidelines about it in the Bible.

        The thing is, that the Bible as a whole does not make much sense to the modern person who has any clue as to how the universe actually works because it is an obvious fairy tale and how actual morals are formed, because if one reads the book, the god-entity in it does not present itself as a moral entity at all. There are quite a lot of things in the world, that the Bible does not concern, because it was written in a series of stories throughout centuries and in many related, but different cultures. It contradicts itself again and again, wich is one of the reasons why it is so popular. A person can find excuses and divine authority to back themselves up for what ever sort of behaviour they prefer to engage in, from the book. And they have done so during the past two millenia at least. Most people who would consider themselves as devout Christians have never read the damn book and have no clue as to what it incorporates, and those who have read it have no clue about the cultural context, so that they can look at it through their own cultural biases and form their interpretations to fit what they would prefer the book to teach them.

        The universe is vast and ancient and a creator entity who supposedly dabbles in human affairs only through some humans who make the claim to be prophets or sons of this or that god, seems puny in comparrison. Ad to injury, the fact, that if one reads the ancient tome called the Bible, one can hardly miss the point, that this god is presented in it as an immoral, authoritarian tyrant (not much unlike all the other gods in the same cultural sphere during the writing of the book), one wonders what sort of lack of moral backbone would lead anyone to worship this god character, even if it could be somehow even remotely reliably shown that this god actually even exists, though not within the universe, but by some unnatural means outside it and still has some sort of effect on it.

        Liked by 2 people

        • I agree, the bible as a whole, or even in sections, reads like fairy tales on the order of Cinderella and Snow White. The lead in, the event, the evil, the denouement, and the summing up. They are all fables for their time, and as you say, presented as a way to live IN that time.
          People sort of forget that we no longer live that way, with the terrible justice (cutting off of hands and noses, bashing babies to death because Dad was an evil man) meted out regularly. It was a harsh time, and people were just learning how to survive in those places.

          We still write cautionary fables, only we call them novels.

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  6. I’m not sure you’re not being disingenuous in asking this question, Nan. I’m am sure most people who come here don’t care about our response. But I will briefly say this: the Bible specifically addresses the context of human’s lives and their relationship with God on earth. It doesn’t address or deny space travel or life on other planets. It’s not written that way at all, nor was it meant to be understood that way. It’s about our relationship with God, redemption, our purpose, and the many facets of human nature in relationships. It’s metaphysical and spiritual in nature.

    And while Scripture does address the cosmos in one of the many definitions of “the heavens,” that is not the realm of God or angels, etc.. They are not in physical space at all. You won’t find “heaven” in the physical realm.

    Got to go and spend time with family. Happy Easter to you all, however you may celebrate it. Regardless, I wish you all well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It may seem “disingenuous” to you, but I don’t think I’m the only one that wonders about this.

      As you well know, the bible was written for and by a rather unsophisticated crowd. As the years go by, each generation has understandably attempted to “modernize” its words and events to fit the times in which they live. So, to ponder how bible-believers that live in the current era feel about the idea of space travel–and potential alien life–doesn’t seem all that strange to me.

      I trust you enjoyed your Easter celebration. May you and your family stay well and safe during this trying time.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Fair enough, Nan. And I hope so.
        The Bible was written over many generations to a very different culture with a very different style of language, called High Context, rather than Low Context (how we write today). They may have been unsophisticated by our technical standards but we could learn a lot from them in other important ways.

        Anyway, thanks for your response. Stay safe. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  7. During my days as a Christian, I was vastly interested in the physicality of heaven: a place where God sat on a “throne” and folks “stood” to the left and right letting him know that he’s a supreme being. Sort of like tRump’s daily WH briefings. Ha!

    But back to heaven. There are any number of verses in the Bible that explicitly describe heaven in physical terms. Even Jesus, when he showed up after being executed by the Romans, told his stunned disciples that he was solid as can be and not a spirit. And then after eating some broiled fish, we are told in the book of Luke that “he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.” (Along with that broiled fish!) This verse is written in passive voice thereby hiding the subject. We have no idea who “carried” him up. God? Angels? Who knows, but whatever “carried” him up had to obey certain physical laws. It doesn’t matter one bit if early Christians who wrote all this down, understood gravity or not. What’s interesting is that Christians in the year 2020, believe that Jesus was physically lifted into the atmosphere, and beyond, undamaged and off to some “place,” i.e., heaven–a place, a grown man told me not so long ago, that had “streets of gold.” Okay. So heaven is a physical entity. In short, it’s a planet–where folks walk around.

    So if it is a planet then we can reach it perhaps with a space craft and send down a robot to dig up some dirt and bring it back and, what the hell, maybe a note from one of the residents.

    And here’s something else to consider: when referring to heaven, most people use the phrase, “in heaven.” My mother’s in heaven. or When I’m in heaven. As opposed to “On” earth. Take the famous line: “on earth as it is in heaven.” Heaven, like its counterpart, hell, is a container of some sort. I’ve never heard anyone say: “Well, ON heaven you’ll find streets of gold.”

    This interesting semantic difference speaks volumes. Christians speak of heaven in physical terms (there’s a throne where God sits) and simultaneously assign it all to a realm akin to Plato’s abstracted notion of ideal forms where nothing is solid.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Mostly I wonder if Jesus died for E.T.’s sins or just for ours. I wonder what the alien Jesus looked like on the cross under a dual sunset.

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  9. We have pondered upon what a mission to Mars would involve. Being one who’s always been curious, reading and researching here and there, more so talks with friends and watching some shows, we’ve had lively discussions. After calculating all the parameters for building a ship large enough, and technically prepped to make the journey, having the ship arrive when Mars is at it’s nearest, so many other things to consider. 1) How many unmanned visits are necessary, how many probes, and what can we do here on Earth, and perhaps on the moon, to simulate and test prior to men and women ever going? 2) What preparations might we need, seen and unforseen, should we land people there: medical, food, gravity, mental health, technical, and so much more. What tools and resources would we need to meet the challenges? 3) What needs to be on Mars before humans get there? And would we need to first orbit humans there, to do studies near, perhaps sending man-like robots on to study? Certainly, buildings with life support, generating oxygen and other gasses, ways to grow food, and we would certainly need to have placed animals on the planet before ever humans, to see the effect on them. 4) Rotations. Days. Studies. At all levels. And when humans do arrive, with building already packed with resources, what will they have to contrive and develop in addition. What will be the support from orbiting stations, and should we first have habitable orbital stations prior, bringing astronauts back and forth to continue and compare studies> Biology, materials, and more. And additional support if needed. Should we have a station on the moon, or something closer? 5) I think humans living on Mars, even if just astronauts, is far into the future, but what complexities and education we will enjoy. Books to be filled. Wow.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi dolphinwrite! It’s been awhile since I’ve seen that handle. Nice to have you “back.”

      I really appreciate your comment. Off and on I’ve considered writing a post on the potential of establishing “life on Mars,” but quickly became overwhelmed as I considered all the things that would be necessary to make it happen. You’ve covered many of them quite well.

      I tend to think many (most?) people are like me. We enjoy pondering such an event but in reality, we simply don’t have a clue.

      Look forward to future visits from you.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hey, Nan. As a kid, looking through those children encyclopedias, while in kindergarten, I was fascinated. Jupiter, Venus, and Neptune really stood out to me. I enjoy when others share their discoveries and ponderings. Like you, we enjoy looking at data, but also know we know so little, much we probably haven’t imagined as yet. But the research and wonder?

        Liked by 2 people

  10. I do not recall the C.S. Lewis quote you mention, but do recall reading something where he said that he thought, should such life exist and be found by human beings, that human beings might exploit and abuse the other species and/or try to force on them a way to redemption that has nothing to do with their existence, possibly that human beings might even think they were sinning when they were doing what was right for them, being the species they were, even though it would be wrong for us. I particularly like this last point. (I think it is a problem even within our own species, that people readily think if something would be wrong or unsuitable for them, it must be wrong and unsuitable for everyone else.)

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    • Welcome Raina! I’ve “seen” you on other blogs and am pleased that you’ve visited mine.

      I definitely like your last sentence. Too many judge others by their own beliefs. They seem to forget that we are all individuals with our own histories and experiences.

      I hope you’ll visit again … and often.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. There’s a funny joke. A man asked a scientist if he thought there was intelligent life on other planets. The scientist thought for a second, then said, Gee, I don’t know. We still haven’t found any here.

    Liked by 2 people

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