Detailed, scholarly study examines the ideas that developed between 1750 and 1900 regarding the existence of intelligent extraterrestrial life, including those of Kant, Herschel, Voltaire, Lowell, many others. 16 illustrations.
This book presents key documents from the pre-1915 history of the extraterrestrial life debate. Introductions and commentaries accompany each source document, some of which are published here for the first time or in a new translation. Authors included are Aristotle, Lucretius, Aquinas, Nicholas of Cusa, Galileo, Kepler, Pascal, Fontenelle, Huygens, Newton, Pope, Voltaire, Kant, Paine, Chalmers, Darwin, Wallace, Dostoevski, Lowell, and Antoniadi, among others. Michael J. Crowe has compiled an extensive bibliography not available in other sources. These materials reveal that the extraterrestrial life debate, rather than being a relatively modern phenomenon, has extended throughout nearly all Western history and has involved many of its leading intellectuals. The readings also demonstrate that belief in extraterrestrial life has had major effects on science and society, and that metaphysical and religious views have permeated the debate throughout much of its history. "This is a valuable book that is not available anywhere else. . . . Crowe's purpose is to let the reader see the original words of the authors who discussed other worlds. Crowe puts these documents in context by his substantial introduction and commentary. . . . Such a source book serves an important purpose, and is ideal for teaching and generating discussion in class. The subject is of increasing importance as we find more and more about the possibilities of extraterrestrial life through current disciplines such as astrobiology, bioastronomy, and the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence." --Steven J. Dick, Director, NASA History Division, NASA "Having established himself as the world's authority on the history of the debates about extraterrestrial life in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Michael Crowe is perfectly positioned to produce this source book. The introductory commentaries on the excerpts from primary sources he has so judiciously selected reveal again and again that no one else knows this subject as well as he does." --Frederick Gregory, University of Florida "The Extraterrestrial Life Debate gives new meaning to the word 'treasury.' Michael Crowe offers us more than 2000 years of golden materials--wrought by the astonishing alchemy of science, religion, philosophy, and sheer imagination--about a topic as alive today as it ever was: ET, with all his cousins and ancestors. The range of authors the book showcases, and the depth of context Crowe provides, will make his monumental anthology the starting point for future explorations of this rich vein of human thought." --Dennis Danielson, University of British Columbia "There are loads of books on ET, but only a small number of them take a historical approach . . . Anyone interested in the history of the extraterrestrial life debate will be interested in this book; it does complete in a certain way previous historical work done by Steven Dick and Michael Crowe by providing large portions of original texts rather than merely short quotations from them. . . . All the various perspectives, religious, literary, astronomical, philosophical, seem adequately represented. The multidisciplinary aspect of the debate comes across well from the authors selected." --Marie I. George, St. John's University "Extraterrestrials may not have invaded the Earth physically but for centuries they have done so mentally. In many a guise they have appeared not only in works of fiction but also in serious astronomical, philosophical and theological debate. It is impossible to open Michael Crowe's handsome and fastidiously prepared anthology of primary sources without being drawn into endlessly fascinating disputes concerning the possibility and character of extraterrestrial life. Savoring the many twists and turns in controversies that have extended far beyond the confines of popular astronomy, Professor Crowe has provided students and experts alike with a generous and indispensable resource. It is difficult to resist his invitation to investigate for ourselves the innumerable, and often surprising, ways in which the idea of intelligent life on other worlds has shaped and been shaped by perennial Earthly concerns." --John Hedley Brooke, Andreas Idreos Professor Emeritus of Science and Religion, University of Oxford
Were the Middle Ages dark for science? Did the pope say Darwin was right? From the Big Bang to Galileo, from the origins of life on Earth to the existence of life on other planets, The Catholic Church and Science clears away the fog of falsehood and misunderstanding to reveal a faith whose doctrines do not contradict the facts of science, but harmonize with them and a universe whose uncanny order and precision point not to chance assemblage by random forces, but to the purpose-built design of an intelligent creator. Author Ben Wiker (The Darwin Myth, A Meaningful World) takes on the most common errors that modern materialistic thinkers, convinced that faith and science must be mortal enemies, have foisted into popular culture. With great learning, clarity, and wit he tackles stubborn confusions many people have about the relationship between Christianity especially Catholicism and the empirical sciences, and separates truth from lies, the factual from the fanciful.
In this comprehensive and interdisciplinary volume, former NASA Chief Historian Steven Dick reflects on the exploration of space, astrobiology and its implications, cosmic evolution, astronomical institutions, discovering and classifying the cosmos, and the philosophy of astronomy. The unifying theme of the book is the connection between cosmos and culture, or what Carl Sagan many years ago called the “cosmic connection.” As both an astronomer and historian of science, Dr. Dick has been both a witness to and a participant in many of the astronomical events of the last half century. This collection of papers presents his reflections over the last forty years in a way accessible to historians, philosophers, and scientists alike. From the search for alien life to ongoing space exploration efforts, readers will find this volume full of engaging topics relevant to science, society, and our collective future on planet Earth and beyond.
If the discovery of life elsewhere in the universe is just around the corner, what would be the consequences for religion? Would it represent another major conflict between science and religion, even leading to the death of faith? Some would suggest that the discovery of any suggestion of extraterrestrial life would have a greater impact than even the Copernican and Darwinian revolutions. It is now over 50 years since the first modern scientific papers were published on the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). Yet the religious implications of this search and possible discovery have never been systematically addressed in the scientific or theological arena. SETI is now entering its most important era of scientific development. New observation techniques are leading to the discovery of extra-solar planets daily, and the Kepler mission has already collected over 1000 planetary candidates. This deluge of data is transforming the scientific and popular view of the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence. Earth-like planets outside of our solar system can now be identified and searched for signs of life. Now is a crucial time to assess the scientific and theological questions behind this search. This book sets out the scientific arguments undergirding SETI, with particular attention to the uncertainties in arguments and the strength of the data already assembled. It assesses not only the discovery of planets but other areas such as the Fermi paradox, the origin and evolution of intelligent life, and current SETI strategies. In all of this it reflects on how these questions are shaped by history and pop culture and their relationship with religion, especially Christian theology. It is argued that theologians need to take seriously SETI and to examine some central doctrines such as creation, incarnation, revelation, and salvation in the light of the possibility of extraterrestrial life.
"Nick Hawkes has written a book on science and Christian faith that is attractive, intelligent, and accessible to general readers. It shows clearly that Christian faith and science are not opposed to each other but in need of each other. This book will be of great interest not only to committed Christians seeking to see how their biblical faith relates to contemporary science, but also to all those searching for an authentic Christian spirituality for the twenty-first century." -Denis Edwards Flinders University "Nick Hawkes looks at arguments for and against the existence for God and comes to the conclusion that faith can no more dispense with science than science can dispense with God. Both complete one another. He knows the terrain well and is able to explain complex ideas in ordinary language. Dr. Hawkes concludes by saying that Christian theology, rather than undermining science, actually provides science with a solid ground of meaning on which to stand." -Mark Worthing Tabor College, Adelaide. "This book should have a prominent position on the shelves of pastors, church leaders, teachers, and anyone who is interested in proclaiming Christianity in our secular society. Dr. Hawkes uses modern science to put forward a reasoned defense of orthodox Christianity." -Ken Smith The University of Queensland
Paul Alkon analyzes several key works that mark the most significant phases in the early evolution of science fiction, including Frankenstein, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, A Connecticut Yankee in King arthur's Court and The Time Machine. He places the work in context and discusses the genre and its relation to other kinds of literature.
If we have learned anything from recent advances in cosmology and astronomy, it is that we have only barely begun to comprehend the vastness of our universe and all that it contains. For Christians, this raises some fascinating questions: If there are intelligent beings out there, what would be their relationship to what Christianity claims is a special history on Earth of life with God? Would the fact of persons on other planets banish or modify our understanding of God? Would it reduce the importance of Jesus? What role might goodness and evil play in extraterrestrial civilizations? Might God have incarnated himself among other races of creatures, as he became incarnate as Jesus among us? Respectful of the sciences that disclose the reality of the universe, Thomas O'Meara wonders about good and evil, intelligence and freedom, revelation and life as they might exist in other galaxies. In this book, one possible aspect of the universe we live in meets the perspective of Christian revelation.