“Inhabit other worlds? », Theology in the age of exobiology

Live in other worlds?

by Anne Marie Reijnen and Christian Pian (eds.)

Labor and Faith, 254 p., 19 €

Man always sees high and further, to the confines of the galaxy and even beyond, to better understand the Universe but also with the secret hope of discovering other worlds and other intelligences. Theological reflection cannot fail to be concerned with a possible unearth of life forms outside the Earth. This is the task of this collective, which brings together the contributions of eight theologians from various specialties.

A very anthropocentric representation of the world

By taking the extraterrestrial hypothesis seriously, we discover that we have a very anthropocentric representation of the world: we imagine the possible other forms of life from our representations, our culture, our science, underlines the philosopher and theologian Jean-Luc Blaquart. .

The scenario of discovery of a plurality of worlds also disturbs “The classic scenario of the history of salvation as transmitted by Christianity”. What then of original sin? What does the designation of Christ as the Savior of the world mean? Doesn’t humanity have a necessary connection with the Earth where we emerged? If so, does man have a vocation to seek to inhabit other worlds? What consequences can be drawn from this for our way of inhabiting the Earth?

→ PODCAST. Jean-François Clervoy: “In space, we inevitably ask questions about Creation”

These questions are so many provocations for theology. All its disciplines are concerned: fundamental theology, exegesis, morality… But this is not the first time that it has been confronted with major advances in knowledge which are transforming the way of representing the world. In a close reading of Thomas Aquinas, Dominique Waymel, apostolic sister of Saint John, thus shows how the angelic doctor knew, in his time, to rely on the philosophy of Aristotle to develop “A theology capable of being part of the renewal of contemporary reflection on creation which attempts to found a new posture of being in the world”.

Earth, our environment

Several contributions question the fascination aroused by the conquest of space and the dream of fleeing the Earth (not unrelated to the transhumanist project) for a hypothetical planet B. Stéphane Beaubœuf interprets this aspiration, in the light of the Book of Job, “As a modern version of the apocalyptic myth of the ascension into heaven of the righteous saved”. The vision of the world that the Book of Job unfolds, writes the biblical scholar, is realistic, without being really consoling: instead of wanting to flee it, she “Allows at least to look at it in a lucid way, which is a necessary prerequisite to be able to engage in it usefully, by constantly improving it”.

“Nothing prevents us from dreaming of the plurality of habitable worlds and from following with fervor the exploration missions (…). To put it positively: a Christian theology of creation will find in the hypothesis and the plurality of inhabited planets a reason for wonder, and not for sorrow ”, writes Anne Marie Reijnen, Protestant theologian.

“The Earth is this environment – in an ecological but also theological sense – which is given to us to live our vocation as terrestrials, namely this part of the world, of the Universe, in which we can be in contact, in relation with d ‘other men, other living beings… ”, writes Christian Pian, Catholic moralist. An invitation to resist “The temptation to be above ground” by keeping our feet on the ground and taking care of our planet that we have not finished inhabiting.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.