Lost Sheep of the Universe

The Vatican’s concluded its Astrobiology Week today. CNS featured the story. From Chris Impey of the University of Arizona:

The astronomer said it is widely believed that life needs three basic ingredients: carbon-based material, energy provided by stars, and water, “which is one of the most common molecules in the universe.”

Energy provided by a star: that assumes that we’re talking planet-based life on the surface of a body orbiting a star. I think the scientist is thinking too narrowly. The three basics are right. Carbon–there’s just no other element that could possibly bear the basis for the chemistry of life. Water, certainly, is everywhere in the universe. Energy, however, is not just a factor of stellar radiation. There are other forms of energy in the universe. The moons of Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus have subsurface water and plenty of energy from gravity and tides.

What of intelligent life? Father Jose Funes, SJ, head of the Vatican Observatory addressed this at a press conference, and cited Jesus telling of the lost sheep:

God’s incarnation in Jesus Christ was a singular and “unique event not only in human history but in the history of the universe and the cosmos,” he said.

The existence of evil and original sin on Earth meant God, the good shepherd , had to leave behind his entire flock to go get his one lost sheep, he said.

“Humanity would be this lost sheep and in order to find this lost sheep (God) became man in Jesus,” Father Funes said.

Are we the lost sheep of many? Or are we the only sheep in the cosmos?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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5 Responses to Lost Sheep of the Universe

  1. Liam says:

    Revelation does not address this issue. We may the only creatures with intelligent souls in the theological sense that “fell”; we may not be. Medieval scholastics anticipated this issue with some speculative theology on the issue of plural worlds and how the natures of Christ might be implicated in them.

  2. Jim McCrea says:

    What a blow it would be if we discover that humans are not the Grand Poobahs that we think we are.

  3. Jim McK says:

    Perhaps all of the creatures with intellectual souls are us. There may be a biological reason to distinguish life from one planet from life from another, but what is the moral reason for such segregation? If they have a body and an intellectual soul, why would they differ from ‘us’ in terms of original sin, salvation, etc.? If they share with us, they share our sin and our salvation.

    I am not sure I agree with Todd about energy. As presented, it is a Theory of Everything argument, ie there is not just energy, there is also gravity (including tides). If energy and gravity can be unified, as most hope, then just naming one is sufficient. If they cannot, then there is gravity as well as energy that might contribute to the energy of life.

  4. This is an issue I work with and continue to work with in my thoughts and writings. The Church has a long history of thought on the issue of a plurality of worlds, and has long found it acceptable to hold such a view, and even someone like St Thomas Aquinas said we could even accept multiple incarnations. Of course, I don’t think multiple incarnations are necessary, but I am less against the idea as I used to be.

  5. Jimmy Mac says:

    And don’t be surprised if, in another universe, life was propogated by Adam and Steve!

    ‘God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform’. William Cowper

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