Wednesday, June 20, 2012

What Space Theology is not?

This blog on Astrotheology is not yet another layman's introduction to scientific astronomy and cosmology. Internet has made easily available many very useful and educational sources on information about space on pages written by professional astronomers.

Scientific sites rarely talk about God and creation. This is more often than not left to a diversity of Creationist writers or Atheists mocking Christianity and all religion.

Space theology is not limited to scientific argumentation and is not limited to creationist hermeneutics on Bible. Rather, it studies both of them in the freedom of academic Theology not being afraid of Philosophy, either.

Not seeking evidence for God from Science
Space Theology aka Astrotheology is NOT Natural Theology trying to prove the existence of God a la William Paley (1809), Natural Theology: or, Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity (12th ed.), London: Printed for J. Faulder.

Astrotheology is NOT Christian apologetics seeking evidence for God from Science. The mangled masterpiece of Michelangelo from the roof of the Sistine Chapel in the web site referred above is a symbol of what should not be done. Michelangelo is Michelangelo, atoms and DNA are atoms and DNA, let us not mix improperly potatoes and perfumes!

The fundamental difference between such apologetics looking for scientific facts that could prove God exists and proper Theology is in the respect for God of Israel. He is secret, invisible, someone humans cannot see face to face or understand let alone use as an argument in scientific inquiry. Most importantly, God of Israel who is the only real God there is a Person having dangerously hot temperament, not some cool philosophical principle behind the design of DNA.

Faith is personal relationship, not just knowledge
Theology underlines that true faith in God is something else then knowledge. Faith has its own eyes and these eyes see the works of God in the grandeur of Nature as Psalm 19:1 writes. Faith can also distort the world view when it lacks the essential element for love for truth. Faith in God is not a prequisite for good science and good scientific knowledge is not a prequisite for faith. Biblical faith is a very personal matter, a Me-You thing as Martin Buber wrote, and it goes much deeper into the person than our brilliant God given brains can ever reach.

It is so important to make the theological distinction between Nature and Grace and realize that the book of nature is open to all to read while the divine revelation in the Bible calls for faith.
And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil people, for not everyone has faith.
2 Thess 3:10 NIV
Not everyone believes in God - the Bible tells us so. Faith in God is the greatest gift but it is also a rather powerful one that can turn a man into a monster. There are scientists who are sceptical about all religions and consider religious belief systems a hindrance to proper scientific inquiry. They have full right to question the role of religions considering, for example, the history of natural sciences and the Christian Church.

Science of Religion is something else then Theology
Science of Religion also studies the crucially important role heavens have on human religions and religiosity. The range of subjects to study is vast including sky gods, worship of celestial bodies, myths about the creation of the world, legends about the sun, moon, planets and stars, principles and practices of Astrology just to mention a few examples. Cosmological beliefs have affected prehistoric art and architecture, ancient Sumerian city planning, Third Reich warfare, Medieval dresses, Scandinavian folklore, modern music, yearly feasts of the classical Roman society and so on. Scientists of religion do also research modern attitudes towards events in the skies, such as the Comet Halley crisis, and effect of the rapidly growing information about the origins and evolution of the entire Universe on Philosophy and Religion.

Good examples of this type of research is the work done on Lakota Astronomy. In 1992 Ronald Goodman published Lakota Star Knowledge: Studies in Lakota Stellar Theology (

Astrotheology  is not Creationism nor ID
Astrotheology is not Creationism. Instead it examines the claims and theories of modern day creationists and examines the Biblical roots of fundamentalism so prevalent among some parts of Christianity today.

We let the heavens speak for themselves without messing the majestic declaration with our small talk. Astrotheology does not try to propose any explanation based on divine intervention to the scientific study of the Universe. More specifically, Astrotheology is neither Intelligent Design (ID )nor Creationism. Astrotheology is critical branch of Systematic Theology working on academic level to examine past and present relationship between humanity and the cosmos.

Astrotheology differs from Science of Religion. It shares the interest in the entire human experience with heavens but has its roots in the sacred Scriptures written by the people of Israel and inspired by the Holy Spirit. The fundamentum of Astrotheology is the God of Israel, who is the only real God there is. His voice is today heard all over planet Earth in great multitude of human languages from sunrise to sunset saying "I have made all this - and you too". The voice is clear and the message majestic but who is listening?

Astrotheology is Fundamental Theology but not fundamentalism 
Astrotheology is not preaching of religious truths as in synagogue or church hall but critical search for truth as in all academic Theology.

The search for truth involves taking seriously the historical-critical study of Biblical texts and how they have been understood through times. Thus, the Biblical creation stories must be understood by taking into account also their deep roots in Ancient Near Eastern cultures. Biblical texts concerning sky and celestial objects must be studied also in historical and archaeological context to discern and understand correctly different attitudes of the people of the Bible towards the heavens. Hermeneutics are critical to the use of Bible.

The marvellous night sky above Abraham, the Ladder of Jacob's Dream, the Sun and moon and stars bowing in front of Joseph are all of interest. The Queen of the Heavens in the times of prophet Jeremiah is as relevant as the militant Mars worship of the Romans occupying Palestine in the times of Jesus. The Sun worship of Constantine the Great and Julian the Apostate are as interesting as the application of Bible against Copernicus by Dominican father Giovanni Maria Tolosani.

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