Thursday, June 14, 2012

What is Space Theology?

For the fundamental basis of Space Theology see God of Israel's outrageous claims

Why bother?
Shouldn't the theologians just give up on messing with the purest of sciences that astronomy represents? They have apologized to Galileo Galilei, haven't they - although some four hundred years later.

First of all, it happens to be true. In the beginning God has created heavens and earth. Science should not ignore what is true.

The truth of Creation is not a scientific observation, deduction or induction from what can be seen. Rather, it is based on an outrageous claim by the God of Israel, who is the only real God there is, that He has made everything, including you and me. The distinction between scientific observation and knowledge based on revelation is a vast subject for theological study.

God's outrageous claim is made in the Jewish scriptures and there is a right way to go about them and a wrong way. Hermeneutical analysis between the right and wrong way of understanding revelation and what the Scriptures are and are not is fundamentally important in today's confused Christian world.

Sun, moon and stars play a significant role in religions, not only in the Judeo-Christian heritage. Geocentric view of the world is natural for humanity before the arrival of better tools of observation. Calendars, yearly feasts of nature and religion, are intimately tied to the movement of stellar objects and astrology was the respected science of yesteryear. Theological study of all this is going on and belongs to the field of Astrotheology, as well.

Men and women of science, astronomers, cosmologists, theoretical physicists and others make themselves outrageous claims about religious matters. The theological statements from Albert Einstein to Carl Sagan, from Sir Isaac Newton to Sir Fred Hoyle, not to forget Stephan Hawking, require theological scrutiny.

Last but not least, it is a duty and privilege of all theologians to get better acquainted with modern scientific research of the heavens and earth made by God. Duty because not everyone has the possibility or time to study these things - and it takes hard work to gain even elementary understanding of what is going on in the fast developing fields of space research - and theologians should be guides and teachers assisting all to deal with the implications of ongoing research.

Science without Religion is lame - Religion without Science is blind
Albert Einstein

Hidden treasures in Christ
Uncritical and anti-scientific attitudes and opinions are unfortunately often considered signs of Christian piety and true faith. But how can anyone be a true believer without loving truth?

In contrast to blind faith on any religious authority Apostle Paul gives a challenging and wonderful view of true wisdom and knowledge in the Letter to the Colossians that was written in the early fifties A.D. Since the treasures of knowledge are all hidden in Christ we obviously need to search for them with all the means at our disposal!
My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.  I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments.
Colossans 2:1-4 NIV

The One of Israel
The Jewish confession of faith Shema originally consisted of only one verse of the Bible
שׁמע ישׂראל יהוה אלהינו יהוה אחד׃
Shema, Israel, Adonai Elohim, Adonai ehad Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one.
Deut 6:4
No other branch of human knowledge have underlined the essential oneness of everything in the Universe as Astronomy and Cosmology - everything is contained in the one point from which all began.

And now these same sciences are busy smashing the Universe into an infinite Multiverse - what in Astrotheology could be more interesting and challenging then that!

People in Biblical time surely knew nothing of microwave scanning but there is an interesting expression telling about multi-layered reality when King Solomon talks about his plans to build a temple in Jerusalem for the God of Israel.
And the house which I build is great: for great is our God above all gods. But who is able to build him an house, seeing the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain him? who am I then, that I should build him an house, save only to burn sacrifice before him?
2 Chronicles 2:5-6

 Space Theology is used here instead of Stellar Theology because theologians are supposed to be humble.

Astrotheology is better as it follows other astro- names, such as Astrobiology, Astrophysics, Astronomy and so on. Astrobiology is genuine Biology with all that it involves - it just focuses on researching life in the entire Solar system and beyond. Similarly, Astrophysics is Physics in grandiose scale that still cannot work without studying the microcosm in the tiniest structures of atoms. Similarly, Astrotheology is Theology in every sense of the word - it just focuses on researching the impact of scientific and other knowledge about space on Theology.

(There is a problem with this word that it is used in English language also for in the sense of Astral theology which has absolutely nothing to do with Theology.)

Astronomers and Cosmologists study the Universe using the Scientific methods available in penetrating ever deeper to the secrets of Nature. They may ask "what does this mean to us humans" also in terms of Philosophy and Religion and thus step into the realm of Astrotheology.  For as the term suggestrs, Astrotheology deals with past and present beliefs and knowledge about the Universe and what it means to us humans from a Theological point of view.

A genuinely Theological point of view is possible only in the presence of the Word of God through whom everything has been made.

Examples of Space Theology
A Hebrew poet over 2500 years ago wrote in a very deep and touching way theological thoughts that we can still fully share with him even the world view has changed so much from those days

The heavens declare the glory of God the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world. 

Psalm 19:1-4

J. L. Heilbron Harvard University Press 2001
Professor J.L. HeilbronmyBlogwould probably not call himself a theologian but rather an astronomer and historian. His books on Galileo Galilei, Catholic Church and the Sun are nevertheless outstanding examples of what Astrotheology (aka Space Theology) is also all about. Theology and Science of Religion meet here because of the subject of his research including detailed knowledge of both modern and historical Astronomy and an understanding of the ways religious and scientific humans relate to the heavenly objects and use their movements for calendars.

Cosmologists Carl Sagan myBlog may be called the High Priest of New Atheism. But his famous statement "We are all made of star stuff" is a resounding truth that brings the stars and the nuclear reactions in distant supernova explosions so much closer to us uniting us physically with the entire cosmos. Sagan's simple yet powerful words have deep Theological resonance, as well, bringing amazing new dimensions to the words "from dust to dust"..

Sir Fred Hoyle myBlog also defined himself as an Atheist. Yet, the Anthropic principle that led to deep  understanding of carbon production in the stars has important theological connotations.

Search for extraterrestrial intelligence SETI originally suggested by Sagan requires the scientific methods and techniques developed in radio-astronomy. This research obviously is also of utmost theological interest. Astrotheology also studies the various ways in which ideas about extraterrestrial life ET are expressed in popular modern myBlog and in ancient myBlog cultures.

Astrophysicist Stephen Hawking and his friend theoretical physicist Leonard Miodinow have asked "Is God necessary for the Cosmos to exist?"  This is a theological and philosophical question that does not belong to the field of hard sciences such as Astrophysics. Or does it?

Herrman J. Oberth myBlog, the father of modern rocket science, was quite a theologian and thinker besides helping humanity to reach the Moon. In a very deep manner Oberth emphasized the essential importance of teaching and learning. With the experiences of World War II Germany in fresh memory he was asking does humanity have any moral right to conquer space (Oberth's answer was a resounding yes, space exploration and travel is not only human right but a sacred obligation).

Astrobiology searches for extraterrestrial life in Solar system, the Milky Way and in deep space. It involves also the study of the origins of life on planet Earth such as the study of the Ediacaran and Cambrian periods myBlog and even much earlier living things on our planet as well as theories about the origins of life here and out there (f.ex. Hoyle's pansperm).

But let us be honest with ourselves - the furious nuclear soup of Big Bang and the enormous astrophysical powers in early Universe are extremely hostile to life. Today we do not know what is life or from where it originally came to the Universe  - all we know for sure that planet Earth is full of life. And we suspect today that entire Universe is also full of life.

The meaning to humans of the search for life is one of the more important frontiers of Astrotheology, as well with so many ethical and moral underpinnings.

The Bible tells in mythological words that the path to the Tree of Life and eternal life is violently blocked for the children of Adam and Eve.

After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.
Genesis 3:24 NIV

However, this Biblical statement has not and does not prevent us humans from searching answers to the ultimate question - the origins of life and the cycle of birth, growth, getting old and death, stages of mass extinction and radiation of life on our planet and in the Cosmos.

"It's my party, and I'll cry if I want to..."

This blog tries to present a proper mix of religion and science by taking both faith and reality seriously and by being critical.

Together we can achieve a more balanced and richer view then me alone.

So if you disagree with the methodology underlying these posts let me hear from you.

And let me hear of you if you do agree with the basic approach and/or if you have yourself write on Astrotheology.

Most importantly, let us all search for the hidden treasures in Christ - it takes quite an effort and plenty of prayer to find the beautiful jewels of knowledge and wisdom that are hidden in Jesus Christ through whom God of Israel has created everything. Everything - including me and you who are reading this text.

For the entire Universe even with everything it contains is a lonely place without Him.


  1. I have a theory that our desire to explore space is a God given one bearing in mind that we are created in His image. Could it be that God's original intention was for Adam and Eve and successive generations to continue to re-produce and when this earth became too small, we would have populated other planets?
    Russell Bayliss.

  2. I believe you are right! The matter has been seriously discussed for example by
    - German Father of rocketry and missiles, the respected teacher of Werner Braun, Hermann Oberth. After Second World War he wrote about the question whether humanity has the right to colonize space and said, "not only right but obligation".
    - Carl Sagan, who emphasized the need for human explorers and conquerors to respect all life forms encountered in space even if they only consists of microorganisms.

    Bible is written in the period of human history when geocentric world view prevailed. Bible does not speak of the future in space but rather talks about a major upheaval in which God brings this era to an abrupt violent end and starts the era of "new earth and heavens".

    "Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind." Isaiah 65:17

  3. Dear Mikko,

    Thank-you for replying to my post and encouraging me to study this further, giving me some useful names to bear in mind as I do so!

    In your opinion, am I right to interpret Gen 1:1 as the record of God creating space ("the heavens") and the potentially inhabitable planets ("the earth"). I am basing my interpretation of "the earth" in this verse as referring to planets on the fact that Strongs says that the Hebrew word translated "earth" can simply mean "to be firm"?

    If I am right, I'm thinking that seeing as this earth was the first and last planet that could be inhabited by us before Jesus returns due to Adam and Eve's sin and death's entry into the world, this explains why the rest of God's revelation to us in the Bible deals almost exclusively with God's dealings with this particular "firm place" in the universe and our living on it prior to Christ's return.

    Your comments will be very appreciated!

    Yours in Christ,


    1. Hi Russell, you seem to look for ways to expand Biblical revelation to the entire Universe by looking at the Hebrew word aretz.
      This is only tip of the iceberg as Bible is universal but also very focused -
      This raises significant Theological and Cosmological issues. I tried to express something in the Truth trip ( If you are interested in this line of thinking I can open a text for this.

  4. "Today we do not know what is life or from where it originally came to the Universe - all we know for sure that planet Earth is full of life. And we suspect today that entire Universe is also full of life."
    Can a universe full of life itself be dead? Not in my humble opinion, so long as my body is alive, I can safely assume my organs, tissues, cells, etc., are alive.

    1. Yes, Universe is full of life. But the Big Bang is not a good place for Life as we know it.

  5. Hi mikko....the big bang is a theory...and under growing pressure from a number of fronts. First is the fact that standard model universal macro scale gravity does not work at micro scale (quantum gravity) level and so a lot of work to be done there to reconcile the ongoing theoretical problems. Second is that dark matter and energy which constitutes 95% of the universe, of which there is little to no understanding....except that some dark energy has been found to be flowing in a direction contrary to the expanding big bang expanding universe model, and thus raises the question of another universe's gravitational pull....thus the birth of the multiverse theory.

    I am naturally skeptical of the big bang theory as I subscribe to the concepts of eternity and infinity which are not violated by the multiverse model in which there can be infinite universes coming into manifestation in time and space throughout all eternity.

    Iow, I understand the reality represented by the concept of God to be beyond mere material forms manifested in time and space...and the multiverse model does not violate this understanding. So while there is a beginning and an ending to all material forms, be they universes, galaxies, humans, etc., there is no beginning or end to the underlying source of creation.

    God bless...

    1. I fully agree with you that Cosmology is far from "okay, we now can explain it all by Planck second" state and rather every major step forward in Science opens yet another challenging and amazing front for exploration, theory formation and testing, calculations and calculations... Much is beyond our sophisticated research tools as you say and much of Gods creation remains in dark, probably more than we can even imagine.

      I was trying to point out at Astrobiology and questions of origins of life. We do not need to go as far back as the origins of Cosmos. Modern astronomers are truly amazed and surprised by the violence of the formation of solar system some 4.5 billion years ago. In that fiery furnace and extremely violent collisions, whirling, tossing and crashing there seems to be no place for anything living to survive.

      If we say that once Earth cooled and got solid surface some 3 or 4 billion years ago life came from somewhere as Hoyle suggests in his pansperm theory, we just push the problem back to elsewhere in the Universe.

      If we say that once the conditions cooled life spontanously began some 3 billion years ago, we adopt a strange belief in the ability of matter to produce life. That is one Philosophy, popular ever since the Greek Democritos, but extreme materialism does not satisfy at least my curiosity about the reality.

      Also, the view that Earth in the right distance from Sun generated life by itself from the organic matter present already in the protoplanet disk ignores the fact that first known signs of life on Earth are extremely sophisticated cyanobacters that are capable of producing oxygen. In fact, the source of atmosphere is in these tiny things breathing for about two billion years before the Cambrian explosion of life.

      So this is not place for empty speculation or relying on outdated Philosophies but a place for intensive study of Astrobiology!

  6. Ok mikko, I think I understand where you are coming from....I was and am for this post coming from probably what you call philosophical or speculative...but I truly understand in my mind that the reality represented by the concept of Divine Omnipresent Spirit is that and more than that represented by the concepts of Quantum Vacuum, Dark Energy, Zero Point Energy, Higgs Field, and the Aether of Metaphysics. That the many different disciplines of Science, Religion, and Metaphysics all accept there is an invisible omnipresent universal field in which matter exists, is an indication that they all pertain to the one and only omnipresence....Divine Spirit...and although each discipline generally dismisses the others as incompatible with their own, this only shows that the apparent different opinions reflect the truth of metaphorical story/poem of the blind men trying to describe the elephant.

    So during this "...violence of the formation of solar system some 4.5 billion years ago. In that fiery furnace and extremely violent collisions, whirling, tossing and crashing there seems to be no place for anything living to survive."...God as spirit was the actual underlying background in which this violence was taking place. (Btw, in passing,,,whenever I read about the early formation of the solar system, I think of the war in Heaven of Rev 12:7). Anyways....God as spirit is the source of life (Gen 2:7) is omnipresent and so when the Earth's condition was appropriate,,,God manifested the plant, animal and human kingdoms, etc.. So imho, God manifests forms from the inside...the spirit creates and gives life to the elements from the inside, not like a factory externally manipulating the parts to make the whole. That there are quantum leaps in so called evolution according to such theories as panspermia, etc., does not conflict with the idea the God creates from Spirit...both the material forms and the inner life which gives rise to the soul and mind in man.

    So mikko...does my post represent an acceptable line of thought within the theme of Astrotheology?

    1. Hi Ben D
      1. One should be very careful when trying to figure out the relation of God the Creator and what He has created. God is spirit according to the Scriptures but that does not reveal to us much anything about the "how". Both atheists and theists have erred when building on some fundamental human concept of "how" God relates to His creation. Theology can pinpoint these errors and warn "not like this" but Theology cannot make positive statements "this is how God creates". Simply because this has not been written in the Scriptures.
      2. Astrotheology relates to Astronomy and Cosmology and if these are irrelevant to the discussion than there is not necessarily much astro in it. Hawking relates to theories of the origins of Universe and makes a huge theological negation, no God is needed in making all this. The argument does not rise from scientific study of the origins of the Universe but rather on his philosophical personal views. God is spirit and science knows little if anything about human spirit not even to mention God. Rather, there seems to be a tendency to avoid anything spiritual even as the human spirit explores the cosmos in an amazing way.

  7. Thank you for your points mikko, I will need to reflect on them. I think you have a great blog and there are so many interesting posts, I intend to explore and read more of them

  8. "*Science without Religion is lame - Religion without Science is blind*"
    - _Albert Einstein_

    I invite everyone to read, "Ideas and Opinions", a collection of essays and letters written by Einstein, in order to see that this quote cannot be used in support of the ideas that this website is attempting. Einstein did not believe in the God of the Christian Bible or any other personal divinity.

    It has been claimed that Einstein was a deist, along the lines of Baruch Spinoza but reading Einstein's own opinions gives no credence to this either. He used the word god simply as a metaphor for the orderly (physical) laws of the universe.

    Einstein complained many times about people misusing his ideas (and misquoting him about) religion. Read his own ideas!!

    1. Stephan..Einstein made it clear that he did not believe in a personal God, an anthropomorphic God...but nowhere in "Ideas and Opinions" does he deny a pantheistic God..

      Do a Wiki search for... "Religious views of Albert Einstein" and check all the references that support the evidence of his deeply religious nature.....

  9. Stephen and Ben thank you for your comments on the monumental subject of Einstein. The focus of this bolock tries to be on the impact modern cosmology has on Judeo-Christian religious heritage and Biblical interpretation. Einstein had difficulty with his own religious background Judaism which contains many rotuals and traditions his brilliant mind could not digestc