How would alien life impact Christianity?

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The James Webb Space Telescope is bringing scientists closer to the possibility of detecting life beyond Earth. NASA launched this successor of the Hubble Space Telescope on Dec. 25, 2021. It's expected to begin capturing high-resolution infrared-light images of other galaxies later this year.

University of Cambridge
“It will allow us, for the next years ahead, to observe parts of the universe in more detail than we ever have done before. There are some peculiar balances of gases, which give away the presence of life. And we hope that by looking at the atmospheric composition of exoplanets, planets around other stars, we might be able to detect telltale signs of life elsewhere.”

These exciting technological advancements bring with them a number of questions for the Christian community. Questions about the implications for Christian theology of finding life elsewhere.

It's these questions Andrew Davison, an associate professor in theology and natural sciences at the University of Cambridge, tackles in his forthcoming book on astrobiology and Christian doctrine.

University of Cambridge
“I went through the major topics in Christian theology, so creation, sin, redemption, Christology, the theology of Jesus, the life of the world to come. And I asked, If you open the newspaper tomorrow, and there was evidence of life elsewhere in the universe, what would the impact be on each of these areas of dogmatic theology? And I have to say, generally, the answer is, There's no threat.”

In fact, Davison says Christian theologians have been writing about this topic since the 15th century.

University of Cambridge
“Nicholas of Cusa, for instance, perhaps the greatest Catholic theologian of the 15th century, mentions it in passing. And this is the story really, that Christian theologians have been thinking about this for a long time, but they've generally been so unconcerned about it, so unworried about it, that they've just mentioned it, noted it and moved on.”

Even the former director of the Vatican Observatory once said “there is no conflict between believing in God and in the possibility of extraterrestrial brothers perhaps more evolved than humans.”

As the mysteries of the universe are slowly unraveled, Davison hopes scientists, theologians and experts in other fields will bridge the gap between the sciences and the arts and humanities.



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