Each manifestation of being contains its own way of possessing unity, goodness, active and causal power, individual autonomy and immanence, openness to others or transcendence, and teleological dynamism. For example, living beings already manifest a more intrinsic finality, while the human being tends toward an end with knowledge and self-determination.
Cosmic order, then, does not lead us to think only of the distribution of bodies in celestial space. It is more important to think of the cosmic order in terms of ontological levels. Classical authors, before the birth of modern science, often thought of the astronomical universe in a mythological way, as if it were a world superior to the earth and possessing an almost organic nature. In reality, the stellar and extra-galactic universe, as a non-vital system composed of radiation, elementary particles, and chemical elements, possesses much less ontological content than we can observe on earth, the planet where human life is found.
The energies of the universe and its extraordinary dimensions amaze many people, but all this greatness does not decrease, by any means, the ontological superiority of the earth, as the home of intelligent life, notwithstanding its insignificant dimensions and its very small, energetic conditions. In fact, what counts is the superiority of life, rational life especially. Without doubt, such superiority is limited, since that which is higher in the physical cosmos depends materially on that which is lower, depending, as it does, on those lower elements necessary for the energy resources of the ecological sphere in which life can maintain its own existence.
Despite their small physical size, the human beings are superior to the whole physical universe since human intelligence is able to reveal many secrets of the natural world. The immanent or internal order of the cosmos is constituted by the reciprocal relationship of all beings in the universe cf. However, with regard to human beings, we encounter here an essential ontological leap. Human beings are not simply more organized and better endowed animals. With our intelligence and freedom, we enter direct relationships with the being of the entire world in as much as we can understand it speculatively and control it with technology, although within certain physical and moral limits.
Moreover, human beings transcend the universe. We are able to turn our contemplative glance and our desire of love toward God, Creator of the universe. The human soul, therefore, belongs intimately to the universe and at the same time transcends the whole of it. The last point to be discussed here refers to the personal nature of men and women.
In the context of cosmic harmony each irrational being, although one in itself, is fundamentally subordinated to the utility of the species to which it belongs, as if it were a part of the latter. Inferior and less complex species too, even possessing their own proper value, are naturally subordinated to other species in the universe. This point can be linked to the phenomenon of evolution , since in this way the fact that a species can exist for a limited period of time to advantage of other beings, events or qualities later emerging in the development of nature, become more understandable.
However, considering humans beings exclusively from this point of view, would mean subordinating them to nature. In the Christian view of the cosmos, a view that is also philosophical, human beings have a personal value for themselves and not only as part of a universal totality cf. To have a relationship with others and with the world does not decrease the dignity of each person. Instead, it is precisely in these relationships that human beings are fully realized. At the same time, we discover subjects for communicating and sharing life in other members of the human family, in the reciprocity of friendship, to reach together the finality proper to our human existence.
The primacy of person in the universe does not cancel the intrinsic value of nature or reduce it to a merely instrumental function, as is the case with technological ideologies see Technology which are justly criticized today by various philosophical, cultural, and ethical-political analyses, as well as by the perspective of Christian thought cf. Centesimus annus , n. Human beings are not the absolute masters of nature. Instead, we are administrators of creation. We must care for, and not destroy, natural reality in its harmony and integrity.
Technical dominion over material things is expressed by human work, through which we develop the potentialities of nature to surpass, within the limits of the possible, physical evils and, hence, overcome the restrictions of material existence. Such a lordship is also manifested by a sober use of material goods, not seeing them as absolute and unconditioned ends.
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In other words, before the universe, human beings exercise our contemplative, religious, moral, artistic, and technological capacity. The universe renders service to us — although without volition — by showing us its ontological perfection and potentialities, as well as its contingency and limitation. Human beings find in the universe a natural route towards God. According to Aquinas, the immanent order of the universe manifests an internal finality in nature. This finality is conceived of in an analogical manner. The internal teleology of the non-living world stands in its marvelous and inexhaustible articulated organization and, further, in its capacity of serving to sustain life.
In the inorganic world, variability and unpredictability are not an evil. Instead, they are considered conditions of potentiality that render the possibility of physical action richer and more flexible. In living beings, the possibility of disorder and deviation is understood and evaluated in light of the aim of life itself, which is always experienced as a value, whose affirmation conservation, growth, propagation is always a good, while its negation sickness, death is an evil. From the perspective of the levels of being, disorder or evil corruption and death is usually manifested as a decomposition of a superior order predominance of chaos or of pure accidentality , up to a fall into an inferior order where a minimum order, nevertheless, always exists.
Organic life in the cosmos has its purpose in itself, but in a framework of contingency, as it remains limited in time and is conditioned by environmental circumstances. In its totality, the universe of life is harmonious, but carries with it the necessity of struggling against obstacles and finding indispensable resources for survival. According to the Christian view, the natural finality of human beings finds obstacles in voluntary or moral disorder sin , which causes damage to created harmony and brings about the loss of friendship with God.
Not infrequentely, injustice and moral evil have destructive consequences even in the physical domain. Sin implies a mistaken and anti-natural relationship of people with created reality from which is born a situation of disorder and even violence. Looking at the contemporary understanding of the universe and life, it could be said that the phenomenon of evolution, as we know it today, renders natural finality more transparent in its temporal development.
The existence of such finality has been recently invoked by certain philosophical interpretations of the so-called Anthropic Principle: In reality, life itself, even in its simplest forms, requires highly improbable internal and external conditions: This chain of ever more perfect ontological forms would indicate the existence of a natural finality, which appears de facto oriented to the appearance of human beings.
What for authors such as Thomas Aquinas is affirmed in a fixed framework and for others, such as Augustine, is seen in terms of a temporal development, that is, the teleological orientation of the universe towards man, is equally applicable to a philosophic interpretation of the evolutionary development of life in the current scientific perspective.
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The points emphasized here receive a superior light from Christian theology. The biblical Revelation shows a direct divine intention to create our first parents after the creation of the material universe, almost as its crowning achievement. The temporal development of the universe inevitably leads us to ponder the future of the cosmos. Today, the thesis of an eternal cyclical recurrence of the cosmos is practically excluded. The thesis according to which the universe can continue to manifest an unimaginable creativity and emergence, resulting also from the contribution of new forms of life, should not to be rejected a priori , even though for the moment it is without clear scientific support.
A complete and definitive destruction of the order of the cosmos, that is, its decline toward a state that is increasingly more simple and elementary, seems a sort of philosophical absurdity that contradicts the observed teleology which pervades the cosmos and is recognized by scientists and philosophers see Finalism.
Moreover, taking into account the dignity of human beings and the value of the person, a total annihilation of the human species, in the framework of a cosmic death proposed as the last word, would appear to be something anti-natural on the very anthropological level, apart from any further meta-physical or meta-temporal reflections. However, philosophy cannot say what will happen to humankind in the future of the cosmos.
Just as human reason deduces, through immediate sensible phenomena the existence of causes which are true and operating, though hidden to ordinary vision, it seems logical to wonder about the Cause of the universe, its unity, intelligibility and goodness, and the cause of the graduated and evolutionary perfection in being we see in the cosmos. Science presupposes the existence of the universe.
It limits itself to ascertaining or hypothesizing cosmic elements or conditions that may explain its actual state and it discovers cosmic laws that regulate the course of the fundamental phenomena of material reality gravitational laws, electromagnetism, etc. The enquiry about God does not refer to the singular processes of the cosmos, or to the concrete problems for which physical science cannot as yet furnish a reply.
The philosophical or metaphysical question of the Cause of the universe is arrived at from another perspective independent of the state of science in any determined epoch. Because an exhaustive explanation of the creation of the universe is not of a physical nature, the natural sciences are not competent to pose such a question. There are two possible philosophical responses to the radical questioning about God: The first response looks irrational.
In fact, the universe, with all its harmony and laws, is not a necessary reality; it is a contingent reality. Hence, taken as a whole, it cannot give a reason for itself. Its contingency is evident if we consider that it undergoes destruction disorganization or the fact that its specific laws could be otherwise.
In fact, the universe itself could be different from what it is: For example, if it were discovered that the Big Bang is only a particular case of a more general law that involves many other universes or Big Bangs or that it arose from physical conditions different from those known today, the question would nonetheless always remain on the physical level.
On this level, the physical universe as a whole would continue to manifest itself as a realtiy that does not have in itself the ultimate reason for its own existence. Another argument which claims the existence of a transcendental cause of the universe is based on the observation of human intelligence. The human mind manifests itself as superior to all material structures in that it is capable of thinking of the whole order of the cosmos, of discovering its laws, and even of speculating on the existence of infinite possible universes.
Rooted in the cosmos, because it substantially depends in its operations on the human body, the mind transcends the cosmos in as much as it is found to be above every material reality see Mind-Body Relationship. The technical dominion of human beings over nature, even though limited, also demonstrates the superiority of intelligence over physical reality. Consequently, it would be inconsistent to think that the physical universe, which is non-intelligent, has been by alone the cause of the appearance of intelligence.
For this reason, on the philosophical level, Intelligence has traditionally been seen as the cause of the universe. On this point, ancient and modern authors have postulated the existence of an immanent, cosmic intelligence, or a sort of universal intelligent soul, in such a way as to make this intelligence responsible for cosmic evolution and the appearance of man. This solution is usually called pantheism. Consequently, it would not be a true explanation of the whole universe. The cosmos itself, informed by such an intelligence, would be a god, although imperfect, perhaps even a god in evolution that would acquire his full self-awareness through the flourishing of human life.
This way of thinking is not far from mythology. In fact, in many ancient civilizations, religious and philosophical thought made nature divine and saw the manifestation of psychic occult powers in material forces. This is not the place to develop in detail this central point of philosophy. It is enough to remember that the intelligibility, unity, simplicity and consistency of the universe finds a response in light of God the Creator, transcendent but also present intimately in the world in every moment of its temporal development cf.
The universe itself is so much grander than anyone imagined. Cosmology is the biggest picture we have. It can help us find meaning by letting us see ourselves as part of a grand story. There are a lot of people who are scared of these ideas. We have to understand how the universe works and make our spirituality as real as possible. The whole idea of trying to spend your life understanding your spiritual connection to the universe but not having any interest in how the universe actually works seems to me absolutely bizarre.
We need to be coherent beings. Seventh-day Adventism emerged in the 19th century in part as a solution to theological problems stemming from the possibility of extraterrestrial life. Of course, a serious problem could emerge if ET turns out to be evil. Most fundamentalist Christians are committed to a literal interpretation of scripture. Since there is no mention of extraterrestrials in the Bible, they conclude that this proves the absence of any such beings in the universe.
For this reason, first contact with an alien would obviously generate a major headache for Creationists. But this view depends upon a non-literal interpretation of scripture. If ET lands on Earth, denying its existence will become virtually impossible. For Creationism to remain viable, its followers will need to accept divergent views on a wide range of scriptural matters. Many Roman Catholic leaders take the possible existence of aliens seriously, and they tend to agree that ET is sinful. He also suggested that Christ on Earth offers no redemptive value for any other beings anywhere else in the cosmos, and so aliens visiting Earth would not benefit from embracing Christianity.
But Teilhard believed that Christ could become incarnate on different worlds, in forms appropriate for those places and beings. These other saviors could establish Christian-like local belief systems that provide opportunities for the redemption and salvation of those alien populations.
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Consolmagno believes that finding ET would not pose a problem for Roman Catholicism. He argues that there is only one Christ—the one who lived and died and was resurrected on Earth 2, years ago.
If other beings in the universe suffer from original sin, then they will benefit from the life and resurrection of Christ on Earth. This theological approach also makes Roman Catholicism a universal religion and Earth the most important place in the universe. This may also cause the minority members who agree with Teilhard to separate from the church. In fact, Islamic scripture seems to make the case that intelligent life forms exist on many other worlds.
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