ExoTheology & Space-Age Interpretations of the Bible

(religious implications of an inhabited universe)

Monthly Archives: April 2012

Simon Conway Morris: extraterrestrials will likely be like us

Professor Simon Conway Morris on the question of what ET life will be like (dissimilar or similar to us)…

Aliens according to some people will be genuinely alien. […] I think evolution is by and large constrained. […] [after minute 3] I would argue that effectively life has so few options that in fact if you want to learn how to swim, how to fly, how to walk, if you want to learn how to breathe, if you want even to learn how to reproduce, even things which go down to rather settled business about why we have sexes and things like that, even the nature of the chromosomes on this planet actually have various sorts of predictabilities about them. And I’m taking a gamble here[…]. But I think that when we do detect alien life, it will be well, strikingly embarrassingly, well, it’ll be like us.


If creation is credible, resurrection is credible as well

In “The Mystery of the Resurrection,” Regis Nicoll critiques the view (in this case, of Lisa Miller, a journalist) that the resurrection of Jesus (or of anyone) is incredible. In the end, Nicoll emphasizes, if one cannot accept the miracle of creation, in the first place, one will have a hard time as well acceptin the possibility of resurrection (i.e., re-creation).

After pointing out that Miller seems to find reincarnation more plausible, Nicoll gives this great response:

If Ms. Miller is as appreciative of reincarnation as that statement would suggest, one wonders why the ability of an unintelligent karmic force to transmogrify a human being into a beetle, buffalo or rose bud is any more credible than the ability of super-intelligent Being to raise a decayed corpse or cremated ashes into a reconstructed body.  [emphasis mine]

He then goes on to point out that, even though Christians as a whole are tending to believe less in a physical / literal resurection and more in a spiritual / symbolic one, that tendency is contra to the long-term traditions of biblical interpretation (since the time of the early church), pointing to the examples of Job’s, Daniel’s, King David’s, the prophet Ezekiel’s, and of course Jesus’s belief in a real resurrection, and to the examples of accounts of actual resurrections (Elijah raising the Shunammite’s son; Jesus raising Lazarus, Jairus’ daughter, and the widow’s son; Paul raising Eutychus, and Peter raising Dorcas).

Recognizing and admitting that these resurrections were not permanent, were not resurrections to an immortal life — these bodies were raised “with the same abilities and limitations as they had before” — Nicoll emphasizes that Jesus’ resurrection is something “wholly different.” It is

The resurrection is the reconstitution and reanimation of remains that have decayed beyond all recognition and, sometimes, widely dispersed in the ecosphere. As Tatian, the second century Christian apologist wrote, “Even though fire may destroy all traces of my flesh… I am laid up in the storehouses of a wealthy Lord.”  [emphasis mine]

Nicoll ends by re-emphasizing that the miracle of resurrection is really no different from the miracle of creation in the first place. If one cannot accept the latter, it’s not suprising that the former would seem incredible as well.

The resurrection is one of Christendom’s deepest mysteries and, yet, no different in kind than the mystery of creation—whereby, man was formed from the dust of the earth, and the earth, ex nihilo, by the utterance of God. Consequently, folks who are put off by the resurrection of the dead will likely find the creation of the living a difficult pill as well. [emphasis mine]

It suggests that the real objection to the resurrection mystery is not so much over the process, but over what the process implies. Someone who is able to reassemble, refurbish, and reinvigorate our remains is Someone who can assert cosmic authority over us and make demands of us. And that is Someone some people would rather not think about, for now.

Really nice article.

a Muslim version of 1 Corinthians 15

This is kind of a Muslim version of 1 Corinthians 15. Interesting extra-Quranic stories.

From Washington: ‘How will God judge over six billion people?’
By Afis A. Oladosu

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent the Merciful.

“WHEN is this your “judgment day” by the way? How many people will be judged on this memorable day? Everyone, who ever lived since Adam? Or only those, who came after Jesus the Christ, since there were no Christians before his coming to create them on earth? As of last count, the Chinese alone now number some 1.5 billion souls – alive, be it noted!

How many judges will this your God need for the Chinese alone (since they were never Christians anyway, so they are already doomed even before their trial – what a fair God!) on that faithful day, this famous “judgment day” sold to my Nigerian brothers and sisters of the Christian faith (like the 70 promised virgins of the Moslems heaven!) Or will your God do all the judging by himself – with no assistant judges? And why wait till “judgment day” before delivering “judgment” since we already know pretty much who is going to heaven anyway?

Read more of this post

“the Bible has absolutely nothing to say about an invisible place that the dead go to called heaven”

Yes! I love it.

Why the rush in going to heaven?
April 15, 2010 9:32 am
Patrick Hall wrote:

Most Christians are in a pretty big hurry to get somewhere else. Maybe you’ve heard of that somewhere else. It’s often referred to as “heaven.” Supposedly this place has pearly gates and really soft toilet paper.

Maria Shriver, apparently an expert on Christian doctrine, wrote a charming little bit of heaven-fluff aimed at grieving children. It’s utterly unimaginative and objectionably boring depiction of the Christian “hope” is as follows, “Great grandma’s body is in the wooden box, but remember, her soul – all the things that made her a wonderful person – has already been taken up to Heaven by the angels.” How sappy can you get?!

Yet this is what Christians have been promulgating as our great “hope” for at least the past 200 years.

What could be more boring than an invisible place where the dead float around without bodies? Think of all the awesome stuff you did today. For me, today’s awesomeness included a double scoop of Marble Slab peanut butter ice cream in a chocolate dipped waffle bowl, and a gloriously interesting, absurdly long, deeply personal lunch with one of my favorite parishioners – a lunch full of good food and laughter and even a tear or two.

Read more of this post

false dichotomy: either diminuitive ETs or holy angels

I was thinking the other day of doing an rhetorical analysis of the discussion (if it can be called that) between ancient astronaut theorists and those who think the AATs are crazy.

Came across this satirical review of G. Cope Schellhorn’s Extraterrestrials in Biblical Prophecy, entitled “Jesus the Messiah-astronaut, C-3P0 rocks an ascot, and other craziness from Out of the Closet on Sunset” and filed under “Studies in Crap.”

This is a good example of the way in which AATs are accused (and, I think, often rightly) of taking a too-low view of Jesus, the angels, and “God.” In other words, AAT cannot be valid because it sounds absurd to think of God that way.

Scherstuhl comments on Schellhorn’s ideas about Jesus:

Aping the language of a president addressing the State of the Union, Schellhorn writes:

“The evidence of extraterrestrial involvement in the birth of Jesus Christ is strong.”

Yes, meet E.T. Jesus! When He walks on the beach, there’s one set of footprints and a trail of Reeses Pieces.

In other words, “It’s absurd to imagine Jesus in extraterrestrial terms because that must necessarily mean Jesus would be lowered to the level of the diminutive and vulnerable character “E.T.””

It’s a kind of false dichotomy: there are either the ETs of our sci-fi imagination (or, similarly, the astronauts of NASA in the late 1960s / early 1970s) or there are holy angels, Jesus, and God. No in-betweens.

Lamsa: “Until recent times [Near?] Easterners believed that clouds were living creatures.”

I pulled this paragraph from an article entitled “Our Galactic Family & the Bible” by Nancy B. Detweiler, M.Ed., M.Div., published Jan 18, 2011 here.  I assume Lamsa meant / said Near Easterners, not just “Easterners.”

[…] “And when he had spoken these things, he ascended while they were looking at him; a cloud received him and he was hidden from their sight.” (Acts 1:9) A footnote related to this verse, in Lamsa’s translation from the Aramaic of the Peshitta, states: “Until recent times Easterners believed that clouds were living creatures.” Was Jesus beamed up into a space ship—shrouded by a cloud-like formation—as he ascended into the heavens? (According to telepathic information from our galactic family, extraterrestrials create a cloud-like formation around their space ships while in Earth’s atmosphere, particularly when over the United States. Why? Because our military has standing orders to shoot them down whenever spotted. The technology possessed by our galactic family far exceeds our own and they are safe. However, the Galactic Federation of Light avoids confrontation with our military because they come in peace and do not want to engage in battle. They await the time when our new government will declare peace and allow them to land en mass to assist us in re-creating our beautiful planet. Peace is the Way of Love.) Could the extraterrestrials have used this same cloud-like cover while interacting with the ancient Israelites? It appears so. […]

“Are the Gliesans Going to Hell?”: Extraterrestrial implications of cosmic view of the fall

From Christianity and Extraterrestrial Life: Are the Gliesans Going to Hell? (Karl Giberson, Ph.D. BioLogos Foundation. Posted: October 10, 2010 09:00 AM, Huffington Post)

I almost didn’t read this article — even with a title like that — because I’ve seen many articles that only repeat the kind-of old refrain, saying “Oh, look — this extraterrestrial thing could become an issue for Christianity.” But in this article, Giberson makes a point I haven’t seen before: that interpreting Genesis traditionally literally (i.e., as if when it refers to “heavens and earth” it means the whole universe) means having to draw some absurd conclusions in regards to possible extraterrestrial life.

This is the last part of the article.

The creative interpretative scheme used by the Young Earth Creationists leads them to find biblical support for claims about laws that science discovered centuries later. Other Young Earth Creationists suggest that the Second Law of Thermodynamics actually appeared for the first time as the scientific consequence of sin.

In this view, the sin of the first human affected everything, even stars trillions of miles away. Read more of this post

Note to self: Marcion and the Old Testament “lower” God

During Christianity’s early expansion, many converts to the new faith either had no interest in preserving Jewish Scripture as part of the Christian sacred books, or believed that much in the Old Testament was inspired by a “lower” God who could not be identified with the Father of Jesus.

Most significant example = Marcion

— from The Oxford Study Bible (REB with the apocrypha), 1992, p. 131.

“Said one demon to another: If Christ ever gets out of that tomb, hell help us…all heaven will break loose!”

From a sermon by Jerry Shirley, “The Message Left in the Tomb,” found on sermoncentral.com:

Said one demon to another: If Christ ever gets out of that tomb, hell help us…all heaven will break loose!

Jesus didn’t die to make bad people good, but to make dead people alive!

“[Christ] has made [the earth] blossom afresh with men brought back to life.”

I love this line by St. Maximus, quoted by Randy Sly, found on catholic.org, in a sermon entitled Inspire: Easter Beyond the Octave. Why Do We Celebrate for Fifty Days?

The Season of Easter is not just about His resurrection but also ours.  St. Maximus of Turin wrote in the 5th Century, “Christ is risen! He has burst open the gates of hell and let the dead go free; he has renewed the earth through the members of his Church now born again in baptism, and has made it blossom afresh with men brought back to life.

“His Holy Spirit has unlocked the doors of heaven, which stand wide open to receive those who rise up from the earth.” [emphasis mine]


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