US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Space: The final mission territory

Bryan Cones | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

If you need a break from more terrestrial concerns--enough with the political attack ads!--you need only look to Religion Dispatches contributor Paul Wallace who asks whether the Glieseans will need to be baptized. (Glieseans are the possible sentient inhabitants of Gliese 581g, a planet that is orbiting in its star's "habitable zone" and is large enough to hold onto its atmosphere.)

Wallace never really answers his question, though his non-answer is thoroughly entertaining. But he repeats a claim that I've never really understood: "The universe has grown enormously since [astronomer Tycho] Brahe’s time, and with every step the earth has become tinier, its inhabitants more inconsequential, and, paradoxically, more ignorant."

It's the inconsequential part that gets me: How does our growing appreciaion of the grandeur of the universe--and its creator--make humanity any less consequential? I never felt less like a son of God just because God also could have children in the Andromeda galaxy (and almost certainly does).

I do like Wallace's conclusion in which he imagines the Glieseans looking back at us: "In this reverse view, looking down on Earth from Gliese 581g, things seem a little less silly and a lot more interesting. Because the truth is, there are creatures, lost somewhere in the vast darkness of the cosmos, who baptize one another, who chatter and argue endlessly about the divine, who pray fervently and without ceasing, who worship and sing and dance before their God. That such exists anywhere is nothing short of miraculous."