“In what capacity does it seem humans are unique? …The answer depends heavily on the findings of further empirical research, the ways in which we understand the concept of uniqueness, and the way we measure what sets us apart from others, whether it be measured in the nanometers of our DNA or the light-years in our galaxy.”
What is the Theology?
Humanity’s place in the universe has been a topic of theological reflection throughout Christian history. From Ancient Greece until Early Modernity, Augustine to Galileo, it was commonly assumed that humans were unique creatures inhabiting a unique planet in which all other life orbits. Sermons might therefore glean from a rich history of Christian thought on humanity’s place in the universe.
Historically, Christians have also agreed that God is the creator, not only of the known world, but of the entire cosmos (John 1:3; Col. 1:15-17; 1 Cor. 8:6). With the mathematical probability of other life in the universe in mind, sermons might reflect deeply on the mystery of God’s sovereignty as they point hearers toward wonder in how the Creator of the cosmos is working out salvation and redemption for all of God’s creation.
What to Consider
- If scientists discovered other (non)intelligent lifeforms in the universe, how would it impact your theological understanding of humanity, God, the incarnation, and salvation?
- If other forms of life are discovered somewhere in the cosmos, how might humanity’s sense of uniqueness be challenged? What pastoral implications might this have for your place in society in general and your church community in particular?
- What Scripture or theology might inform or comfort those who find themselves anxious about the probability of other lifeforms in the universe?
How to go Deeper
- Rent or borrow a telescope as a church activity for families. Spend time stargazing and use the opportunity to reflect on the mystery of God’s creation and the depth of God’s sovereignty.
- Inform your church community on issues surrounding anthropology and cosmology by preaching a sermon series which explores the many Scriptures reflecting God’s status as creator and sustainer of all life.
- Familiarize yourself and your congregation with Christian thinkers who have written faithfully on God and the universe such as Augustine, C.S. Lewis, and Alvin Plantinga.
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