Cosmos or Chaos: Theology for the Space Age
The upcoming “Inquiry on the Societal Implications of Astrobiology” of the Center of Theological Inquiry with support from the NASA Astrobiology program will contribute to heal the rift between increasingly specialized fields of research. Understanding the workings of life — its origins and evolution, and reflecting about the meaning and purpose of life have become almost completely separate endeavours, as though the laboratory and the observatory on the one hand and the study of theologians and scholars in the humanities belonged to parallel worlds. A brilliant exception to that rule, and an example for all, is the theologian and paleontologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. Teilhard’s book on The Place of Man in Nature (1950) thinks “cosmically” about the adventure of life. Although it is not possible to predict the outcome of the dialogue, I know from experience that the confrontation with scholars from other disciplines is extremely fruitful. As a theologian, I expect to make a contribution to the best of my capability to the interdisciplinary dialogue and will certainly benefit greatly from the extended and intensive collaboration with scientists and with scholars from the humanities.
Anne Marie Reijnen is a Protestant theologian. After many years as the chair of Dogmatics at the Faculté Universitaire de Théologie Protestante in Brussels, she is currently the Kairos Chair of ISEO, at the Institut Catholique de Paris. She was ordained in 1986 and has been a commissioner of Faith and Order. She is the past president of the Frenchspeaking Paul Tillich Association (APTEF), and since 2010 a member of the Groupe des Dombes.