Sunday, July 19, 2015

Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial?

Witty and thought provoking, two Vatican astronomers shed provocative light on some of the strange places where religion and science meet.

“Imagine if a Martian showed up, all big ears and big nose like a child’s drawing, and he asked to be baptized. How would you react?”                                      – Pope Francis, May, 2014

Pope Francis posed that question – without insisting on an answer! – to provoke deeper reflection about inclusiveness and diversity in the Church. But it's not the first time that question has been asked.
Brother Guy Consolmagno and Father Paul Mueller hear questions like that all the time. They’re scientists at the Vatican Observatory, the official astronomical research institute of the Catholic Church. In Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial? they explore a variety of questions at the crossroads of faith and reason: How do you reconcile the The Big Bang with Genesis? Was the Star of Bethlehem just a pious religious story or an actual description of astronomical events? What really went down between Galileo and the Catholic Church – and why do the effects of that confrontation still reverberate to this day? Will the Universe come to an end? And… could you really baptize an extraterrestrial?
With disarming humor, Brother Guy and Father Paul explore these questions and more over the course of six days of dialogue. Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial will make you laugh, make you think, and make you reflect more deeply on science, faith, and the nature of the universe.

My Thoughts: 
I have to admit this book got lost in the shuffle of life (and my tbr book basket) for quite some time. I chose to pick this book up again during the heat of summer and found it to be much more readable than the first time I attempted. There are six chapters; each is a discussion between Brother Guy and Father Paul trying to explain the answer to readers. There is LOTS of science and theology along with humor; some is comprehensible and some is way over my head (just the science and theology; not the humor).
My favorite chapter was "What Happened to Poor Pluto?" I am one of those school children who memorized our solar system's 9 planets (My very educated mother just served us nine pizzas) and was not happy about Pluto's demotion. While I am still not happy about the situation; at least now I have a better understanding.
My least favorite chapter was the one about Galileo. It just didn't clarify things for me to understand what happened between Science and the Church. If anything, the chapter confused me even more. It may be this chapter is one I need to read again while taking notes and highlighting but that was just not something for enjoyable summer reading time.
Living in a town full of rocket scientists in the south, I know many folks that will better understand this book. I know one in particular to whom I will be passing along this book before sending to my daughter in Washington.

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.

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