Thursday, October 16, 2014

Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial?

Catholic PRWire
COLORADO SPRINGS, CO (September 24, 2014) - Imagine if a Martian showed up, all big ears and big nose like a child's drawing, and he asked to be baptized. How would you react? Pope Francis, May, 2014 

Pope Francis posed that question to provoke deeper reflection about inclusiveness and diversity in the Church. But it's not the first time that question has been asked. 

Brother Guy Consolmagno and Father Paul Mueller hear questions like that all the time. They're scientists at the Vatican Observatory, the official astronomical research institute of the Catholic Church. 

In Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial? (Image, Oct. 7, 2014) they explore a variety of questions at the crossroads of faith and reason, and show how science and religion can have different but complementary ways of looking at the same issue. 

This book is about what it's like when science encounters faith on friendly, mutually respectful terms, writes Mueller. 

Although the authors are serious scientists, the book is written for an audience of educated laypeople who are interested in both science and religion, and how each operates in our society. 

We simply want to share with you the joy and hope and fun that we find in doing science and living faith, writes Mueller referring to his goal for the book. We hope that our hope and joy will be contagious! 

Written in the form of a dialogue, the book takes place over the course of six conversations between the two authors. The six conversations are meant to recreate the sorts of conversations the authors have had with each other, with other Jesuits, and with people they've met through their work. 

In answering those questions, the authors dispel the assumption that science and faith must be at odds with one another. 
Science and religion have common historical roots the war between them (if there is one) has not been eternal, notes Consolmagno. And many people who do science are also religious. At least for them as for the two of us religion and science are not at war at all. 

Paul and I are very fortunate, Consolmagno writes. We get to live and work with a group of Jesuit scientists who take both science and faith very seriously. We all work together in the lab, but we also pray together in the chapel. In our daily lives, we don't feel any particular conflict or tension between science and faith. 

Six questions that are addressed in the book: 
How do you reconcile The Big Bang with Genesis? 
What happened recently when astronomers debated the status of Pluto as a planet? 
Was the Star of Bethlehem just a pious religious story or an actual description of astronomical events? 
What really went down between Galileo and the Catholic Church and why do the effects of that confrontation still reverberate to this day? 
Will the Universe come to an end? 
And could you really baptize an extraterrestrial? 

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