We live in a mysterious and wonderful universe. According to Stephen Hawking, scientists believe that when the universe emerged some 13.7 billion years ago, it was infinitely hot. One second later, the universe had expanded enough to reduce its temperature to 10 billion degrees Celcius. After another 99 seconds, the temperature would have fallen to one billion degrees.
If space had unfolded one-trillionth of a percent more slowly, the expanding universe would have collapsed back into quantum foam. If space had emerged a similarly miniscule percentage more rapidly, the elements of the universe would have been dispersed at too great a distance to have produced even simple life forms. Scientists estimate that there are more than 300 billion galaxies in the universe, each estimated to have from 10 of millions to 500,000 million stars. This magnificent universe has, from the beginning, maintained a delicate balance.
However, the universe has not received the attention from theologians to match the discoveries in physics and the other sciences.
“…There is a vital theme largely absent from the thinking of most North American theologians, namely, the whole world as God’s good creation. There are a few notable exceptions, but surveying our work as a whole would quickly make this absence clear.
“This mainstream neglect of ‘the cosmos’ by recent decades of mainstream Catholic theology has two deleterious results. It enfeebles theology in its basic task of interpreting the whole of reality in the light of faith, thus compromising the intellectual integrity of theology. And it blocks what should be theology’s powerful contribution to the religious practice of justice and mercy for the threatened Earth, thereby endangering the moral integrity of theology.”
– “Retrieval of the Cosmos in Theology”
Elizabeth Johnson, CSJ
An excerpt from
“Turn to the Heavens and the Earth: Retrieval of the Cosmos in Theology”
Catholic Theological Society of America, Presidential Address (1995)
Let the journey begin!
To learn more about the Universe Story, check out our annotated bibliography.