The Apollo pictures of the whole Earth conveyed to multitudes something well known to astronomers: On the scale of the worlds – to say nothing of stars or galaxies – humans are inconsequential, a thin film of life on an obscure and solitary lump of rock and metal

You are a collection of almost identical molecules with a different collective label. But is that all? Is there nothing in here but molecules? Some people find this idea somehow demeaning to human dignity. For myself, I find it elevating that our universe permits the evolution of molecular machines as intricate and subtle as we.

But we have no [Marian] apparitions cautioning the Church against, say, accepting the delusion of an Earth-centered Universe, or warning it of complicity with Nazi Germany – two matters of considerable moral as well as historical import….

Not a single saint criticized the practice of torturing and burning “witches

I find these comparisons particularly poignant: life versus death, hope versus fear. Space exploration and the highly mechanized destruction of people use similar technology and manufacturers, and similar human qualities of organization and daring. Can we not make the transition from automated aerospace killing to automated aerospace exploration of the solar system in which we live?

Or consider the mainstream religions. We are enjoined in Micah to do justly and love mercy; in Exodus we are forbidden to commit murder; in Leviticus we are commanded to love our neighbor as ourselves; and in the Gospels we are urged to love our enemies. Yet think of the rivers of blood spilled by fervent followers of the books in which these well-meaning exhortations are embedded. In

we have a theology that is Earth-centered and involves a tiny piece of space, and when we step back, when we attain a broader cosmic perspective, some of it seems very small in scale. And in fact a general problem with much of Western theology in my view is that the God portrayed is too small. It is a god of a tiny world and not a god of a galaxy, much less of a universe.

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