In a whirlwind of news from space, we have seen pictures of our beloved dwarf planet, Pluto, learned the broader scope of New Horizons, and geeked out about the revelation of Kepler 452b.
Laying on my back on the hood of our Jeep last year my husband and I picked out the Summer Triangle, Scorpio, and the many stars that burn so brightly above our apartment. As a child, I devoured books on astronomy, reveling in the science, mythology, and wonder of our accompanying universe.
This is why I read Jeff Schweitzer’s article a couple minutes after it had been posted . Responses to his work, Earth 2.0: Bad News for God, were many and varied, but noticeably filled with both confusion, anger, and insults. Good answers were lost underneath speculation and those who tried to redirect people to other resources didn’t explain what to look for on the websites.
Many pointed out the faulty sightings in Genesis or the noticeable bias Schweitzer approached the issue with, however very few addressed the topic directly.
Does the prospective discovery of sentient life on other planets destroy Abrahamic faiths?
This is a very direct question that recognizes many things:
Kepler 452b is in the habitable zone of a star. This means is in the area where planets with enough atmospheric pressure can possibly have liquid water on their surfaces. Many planets have been found in this zone including roughly a dozen that are half the size of Earth in Kepler.
What is special about Kepler 452b is that it is “roughly Earth sized” – really rough – in that it is 60% percent bigger which will have a huge effect on atmospheric pressure and gravitational pull. At this point they don’t know if it has water, if it has rocky or smooth terrain,or how the extra distance from it’s higher energy star effects it.
We are a long way from declaring this Earth 2.0, but the possibilities are opening up.
What bearing does this have on the issue?
Schweitzer assumed that the possibility of discovery precluded faith. He wasn’t willing to look at what we know for a fact now and how that effects faith.
Sentient meaning life that can be held accountable for moral actions. Bacteria on Mars and the possibility of something more on a planet we have only just peaked at don’t count at this point. In order for this to be a faith based question, there has to be a people able enter into a relationship with a Creator.
At this point, there is little more than speculation.
3) Abrahamic Faiths
Schweitzer was not picking on Eastern religions or New Age philosophy, he particularly chose those faiths that source their belief in the Bible.
His arguments are as follows:
Life on Earth, much less in all of the universe, could not have been made in 6 days. Life on another planet is completely incompatible with religious tradition. If Earth is the center of the universe, where God place man, then no other living creature in relationship with the Creator can exist. No Biblical account mentions extraterrestrial life, therefore its existence disproves the account.
Considering the question:
How often we overlook the all-powerful nature of our God. Life on earth and in all of the universe was made in six days. Because Schweitzer left it as a side note, I will too. Six days is nothing to the Omnipotent. What we try to quantify in our finite consciousness will never do justice to Him.
The crux of his thoughts rests on the Catholic Church’s response to Galileo during his trial as a heretic. This is not an example of Biblical fallibility, but human error. The purpose of keeping Galileo silent was to maintain the Catholic Church’s control over the interpretation of God’s Word and, by extension, the actions of the people in fear for their souls. This was wrong and Galileo’s work, which was reminiscent of Protestantism, was later recognized after the close of the Inquisition.
The assumption of Biblical error by the verdict of a human Pope is an example of a parts-to whole fallacy.
The Pope was a Catholic
Catholicism is denomination of Christianity
The Pope made a mistake
Therefore: All of Christianity is wrong.
If this sort of argument is acceptable, the same thing could be done to prove my point:
Jeff Schweitzer is a scientist/writer
He made a mistake
Therefore: All of science is not right/ All of his writings are not right.
Clearly, That is utter codswallop.
This article was meant to be speculative and sensational. Schweitzer was expressing his belief that religion is a chameleon, an opiate for masses and grand manipulator by powerful people who will be fighting for their thrones in the face of ‘new life’. His purpose was not to make a defense for his beliefs, but to shoot something into the ether and cause a ripple.
A relationship with Christ does not change based on our perception. Every time man discovered things that made us smaller, it made our God greater. The problem came when man tried to use other’s faith as their power source.
Man placed man at the center of the universe. We assumed we were central and supreme, but as faith in Christ shows that is not the case. We are not the beginning and end of all creation, Christ is. On the outskirts of a galaxy, I am reminded that I am always on the cusp of something so much greater than myself.
If we are not alone, then how much greater is God’s mercy, grace and love?
He directed the Bible to us, to tell us His story of redemption for us. Finding life beyond us would not destroy a Biblical faith. It would mean He has a story much bigger than us, something we can share in and worship Him for.