“Eschatology of Habitable Zones”

by Dr. Guillermo Gonzalez

In this chapter expert in astrobiology Dr. Guillermo Gonzalez takes the reader on an eye-opening tour of the contemporary scientific and cultural fascination behind the search for exoplanets, examining some of the more exotic enigmatic orbs orbiting other stars outside of our own solar system and how the search for worlds like our own has taken on a kind of eschatological hope, a hope based on the assumption that there are other planets out there like Earth. The future of mankind does seem to have something to do with the heavens after all. Indeed, the popular headlines are often touting the discovery of an “earthlike planet in the habitable zone” of its host star. Dr. Gonzalez discusses the zeitgeist behind such pronouncements in an accessible and intriguing narrative pointing readers to how the contemporary search for planets, and for possible life upon them, is resurrecting theological discussions within the astronomical sciences once more. As the authors of a recent book on exoplanets write, “If there are living beings on other planets, questions – debated today in the relatively new field called exotheology – must be asked. For example, did the Fall occur on every planet and for every race? If it didn’t, was the Redemption needed for beings who had never experienced the Fall? If the Fall is universal, did Jesus have to go to every world to die and be resurrected, or were the events on Earth enough to cover everyone? If so, why is Earth so central? Are there other paths to redemption on other worlds? It’s not hard to see how this sort of theological questioning could go on forever.”[1] Dr. Gonzalez tackles these and other issues within his contribution.

Guillermo Gonzalez is an assistant professor of astronomy and physics at Ball State University who specializes in astrobiology and stellar astrophysics. Guillermo has published more than 80 research papers in leading astronomy and astrophysics journals and is coauthor of The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos Is Designed for Discovery (Regnery, 2004). Read more about Guillermo Gonzalez here: http://www.ideacenter.org/contentmgr/showdetails.php/id/1451

[1] Michael Summers and James Trefil, Exoplanets, Diamond Worlds, Super Earths, Pulsar Planets, and the New Search for Life Beyond our Solar System (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Books, 2017), 40-41.