First Contact and a Firmer Roadmap for Astrotheology – Richard J Tilley: Strategist and Ethicist
Wednesday, July 10, 2024

First Contact and a Firmer Roadmap for Astrotheology

Astrotheology takes on different meanings depending on who is doing the explication. It may range from Christian apologetics to a cycle of understanding creation with a potential discovery of life not on Earth. Now, more properly, this is related to astrobiology. This could be any type of life beyond Earth, not just little green men. Single-celled organisms could offer further contemplation for astrotheology to consider the reality of life beyond Earth in any form. As it stands, often astrotheology is rather limited in its depth of flexibility.

If astrotheology wants to make the claim to be related to or inspired by the realities of astrobiology, it must accept the reality of the potential for life on other planets. This is not a large hurdle to get over. It is simply accepting science. What I argue is that true astrotheology should be embracing life on other worlds. It should be inviting participation in the contemplation of a universal consciousness, a cosmic signature of creation, that moves not just within our little sphere of existence, but also throughout the larger universal constant.

Consider two different perceptions of God demonstrated in Babylon 5. Brother Theo and his order came to Babylon 5 to study the religions of other species. For them, knowing all the many names of God, not just an Earthly God, was a method of getting closer to God. There is an implied acceptance that God is true for all species and that God can be understood, not in terms of limitations, but by exploration. This is like the other method of understanding God in that I want to touch on, Foundationalism. Dr. Stephen Franklin was a Foundationalist. Though this was more like an organized religion, even with specific rituals, it was composed of understanding God as a universal figure not limited to what humans alone traditionally could understand. Foundationalism reached out beyond Earth’s borders.

The current state of astrotheology is immature. There are attempts to appropriate it. These very attempts are fissures striving to acquire God for oneself, one’s human, Earthly self, and all of life on Earth alone. How limited this understanding is. How beneath the possibilities of the wisdom literature of the world’s religions this stifling of astrotheology is.

Let us expel with the truth, not a thought exercise which is what this website is dedicated to, but a truth: First Contact will most likely be in the form of a discovery some form of LIFE on another world and not a sentient being arriving in at the U.S. Capital, waiting to be escorted to the President’s doorway. This is still First Contact. Holistically. This is the moment of truth. And, it is a moment that is entirely expected. As such, there is no excuse for the current state of astrotheology to claim to be attached to astrobiology while only limiting itself with to what has been historically practiced, instead of what is known in the philosophy of mystic exploration towards a transcendent subconscious signature.

Furthermore, let us return to a thought exercise. Perhaps we do make First Contact with a sentient species. Perhaps they too have their established religions. Exactly what do the religious gatekeepers expect to happen? Do they expect is to argue with this alien species about which one of us is right about God? Does that seem realistic? No, the correct direction under such circumstances will, or should, be far more diplomatic, more productive. That being an exchange of cultural ideas so that we can learn from each other, or at least, learn about each other. There is no other way to conduct a First Contact than to express interest in learning. Defensiveness is the posturing of fools. While I do feel astrotheology should continue to be developed, I think it could benefit from being removed from the religious devout, and into the expressive open minds of those with an interdisciplinary background, not limited to specific religions.

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