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Vast Universe: Extraterrestrials and Christian Revelation.

VAST UNIVERSE: EXTRATERRESTRIALS AND CHRISTIAN REVELATION. By Thomas F. O'Meara. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical, 2012. Pp. ix + 104. $12.95.

Contemporary astrophysics aided by increasingly acute reception of various electromagnetic wave-lengths opens to view a vast physical cosmos more than 90 billion light years across with around 125 billion galaxies, each with billions of stars. O'Meara embarks on a readable, exciting reflection on a hypothesis: nonhuman, extraterrestrial, corporeal intelligences exist on some exoplanets. O'M. acknowledges contemporary critics of the hypothesis but appeals to theologians, including Origen, Thomas Aquinas, Teilhard de Chardin, Paul Tillich, Yves Congar, and Karl Rahner, who allow for it. O'M. argues that Scripture and tradition present an incommensurable, maximally generous divine wisdom that creates and redeems out of love and goodness. A major, welcome theme is O'M.'s removal, with the help of Aquinas, of customary limits imposed on the infinite love, power, generosity, and creativity of divine self-communication. Infinite divine love and generosity are a reason for thinking that God creates a plurality of corporeal, evolving, intelligent species. A lower probability attends contact with extraterrestrials because it would depend on similar capacities for communication in a given time frame.

O'M. contests a presumption in some scientists, philosophers, and authors that evil plays a necessary role in evolution and history. Whether innocent or sinful, how are other intelligent species related to the Trinity and to the terrestrial, redeeming missions of Word and Spirit? Any such creatures would have their completion in loving union with God their source. O'M. finds nothing in revelation against the infinite divine Word incarnate in Jesus of Nazareth adopting other modalities of divine presence to intelligent, nonhuman species elsewhere. Multiple missions of the Spirit are less an issue, because the terrestrial mission does not involve the temporal effect of hypostatic union and so can more easily be understood to occur in multiple modes.

O'M.'s stimulating, nonpolemical argument invites further theological consideration of the extraterrestrial hypothesis and proves that Aquinas inspires venturesome wisdom. Still, to what extent are probability evidentiary and compatibility with revelation normative, given the actual terrestrial economy of redemption?


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Author:Hughson, Thomas
Publication:Theological Studies
Article Type:Book review
Date:Jun 1, 2013
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