Cosmology in Theological Perspective
Understanding Our Place in the Universe
Cosmology in Theological Perspective explores questions concerning the place and significance of humans in the cosmos. Some of the questions addressed include: How did early Christians understand the relationship between cosmology and their faith? How have changes in the world picture challenged Christian convictions and what can we learn from previous encounters? What is the proper theological attitude toward new discoveries?
Olli-Pekka Vainio, a leading expert in science and theology, introduces cosmology from a "state of the question" perspective, examining the history of the idea in dialogue with C. S. Lewis. This work, which is related to a NASA-funded project on astrobiology, ties into the ongoing debate on the relationship between Christian theism and scientific worldview and shows what the stakes are for religion and theology in the rise of modern science. It will appeal to professors and students of science and religion, Christian worldview, theology, and philosophy as well as theologians, scientists, and science and religion readers.
Introduction: Close Encounters
1. Every Saga Has a Beginning: Philosophical Cosmologies in the Ancient World
2. The Voyage Home: Cosmos in Early Christian Thought
3. Resistance Is Futile: Galileo, Newton, and Darwin
4. All These Worlds: On the Multiverse
5. If It's Just Us, It Seems Like an Awful Waste of Space: On Human Uniqueness
6. Infinite Space, Infinite Terror: Our Cosmic (In)Significance
7. In Space No One Can Hear You Scream? God and Being
8. There Is No Gene for the Human Spirit: Images of God
9. Come with Me If You Want to Live: Incarnations
10. To Boldly Go: Beings in Search of Greater Understanding
"This book is a serious theological treatment of questions that astronomers and laypeople often ask about the cosmos. If scientists were to discover intelligent aliens, or that our universe is part of a vast multiverse, what would that mean for human identity, uniqueness, and significance? These critical questions are too often overlooked in modern discussions of science and faith, so this book is a timely and welcome addition. Vainio offers a knowledgeable and balanced guide through strands of ancient thought, medieval Christian views, atheist claims, philosophical frameworks, and modern christological approaches."
Deborah Haarsma, astronomer and president of BioLogos
"Using C. S. Lewis as an intellectual conversation partner, Vainio has produced a learned, wide-ranging, and judicious exploration of cosmology from a theological point of view. As clear and engaging in its expression as it is balanced and fair-minded in its conclusions, this is a considerable achievement that I warmly commend."
Michael Ward, University of Oxford; author of Planet Narnia: The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C. S. Lewis
"Outer space seems not to hear us scream. Can we say this vast cosmos is personal, meaningful, and purposeful? How can we construct a cosmology that testifies to both God's creation and our personal home? Olli-Pekka Vainio asks these profound questions while walking us up a path toward a scientifically informed theological answer."
Ted Peters, coeditor of Theology and Science
"In conversation with C. S. Lewis, Olli-Pekka Vainio tackles a set of theological challenges presented by contemporary scientific cosmology. Rooted in the ecumenical traditions of the church and informed by knowledge of recent work in the sciences, he has provided us with a reliable, accessible, and imaginative study. This should prove of much value to a broad readership."
David Fergusson, professor of divinity and principal of New College, University of Edinburgh
"Discussion on religion and science is often beyond the comfort zone of historically minded theologians. On the other hand, scientists are not always careful with historical details. Olli-Pekka Vainio is both a professional historical theologian and a NASA-funded cosmologist. This volume witnesses Vainio's exceptional talents in an ambitious, interdisciplinary exchange of ideas."
Risto Saarinen, University of Helsinki