Detailed, scholarly study examines the ideas that developed between 1750 and 1900 regarding the existence of intelligent extraterrestrial life, including those of Kant, Herschel, Voltaire, Lowell, many others. 16 illustrations.
Were the Middle Ages dark for science? Did the pope say Darwin was right? From the Big Bang to Galileo, from the origins of life on Earth to the existence of life on other planets, The Catholic Church and Science clears away the fog of falsehood and misunderstanding to reveal a faith whose doctrines do not contradict the facts of science, but harmonize with them and a universe whose uncanny order and precision point not to chance assemblage by random forces, but to the purpose-built design of an intelligent creator. Author Ben Wiker (The Darwin Myth, A Meaningful World) takes on the most common errors that modern materialistic thinkers, convinced that faith and science must be mortal enemies, have foisted into popular culture. With great learning, clarity, and wit he tackles stubborn confusions many people have about the relationship between Christianity especially Catholicism and the empirical sciences, and separates truth from lies, the factual from the fanciful.
This book presents key documents from the pre-1915 history of the extraterrestrial life debate. Introductions and commentaries accompany each source document, some of which are published here for the first time or in a new translation. Authors included are Aristotle, Lucretius, Aquinas, Nicholas of Cusa, Galileo, Kepler, Pascal, Fontenelle, Huygens, Newton, Pope, Voltaire, Kant, Paine, Chalmers, Darwin, Wallace, Dostoevski, Lowell, and Antoniadi, among others. Michael J. Crowe has compiled an extensive bibliography not available in other sources. These materials reveal that the extraterrestrial life debate, rather than being a relatively modern phenomenon, has extended throughout nearly all Western history and has involved many of its leading intellectuals. The readings also demonstrate that belief in extraterrestrial life has had major effects on science and society, and that metaphysical and religious views have permeated the debate throughout much of its history. "This is a valuable book that is not available anywhere else. . . . Crowe's purpose is to let the reader see the original words of the authors who discussed other worlds. Crowe puts these documents in context by his substantial introduction and commentary. . . . Such a source book serves an important purpose, and is ideal for teaching and generating discussion in class. The subject is of increasing importance as we find more and more about the possibilities of extraterrestrial life through current disciplines such as astrobiology, bioastronomy, and the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence." --Steven J. Dick, Director, NASA History Division, NASA "Having established himself as the world's authority on the history of the debates about extraterrestrial life in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Michael Crowe is perfectly positioned to produce this source book. The introductory commentaries on the excerpts from primary sources he has so judiciously selected reveal again and again that no one else knows this subject as well as he does." --Frederick Gregory, University of Florida "The Extraterrestrial Life Debate gives new meaning to the word 'treasury.' Michael Crowe offers us more than 2000 years of golden materials--wrought by the astonishing alchemy of science, religion, philosophy, and sheer imagination--about a topic as alive today as it ever was: ET, with all his cousins and ancestors. The range of authors the book showcases, and the depth of context Crowe provides, will make his monumental anthology the starting point for future explorations of this rich vein of human thought." --Dennis Danielson, University of British Columbia "There are loads of books on ET, but only a small number of them take a historical approach . . . Anyone interested in the history of the extraterrestrial life debate will be interested in this book; it does complete in a certain way previous historical work done by Steven Dick and Michael Crowe by providing large portions of original texts rather than merely short quotations from them. . . . All the various perspectives, religious, literary, astronomical, philosophical, seem adequately represented. The multidisciplinary aspect of the debate comes across well from the authors selected." --Marie I. George, St. John's University "Extraterrestrials may not have invaded the Earth physically but for centuries they have done so mentally. In many a guise they have appeared not only in works of fiction but also in serious astronomical, philosophical and theological debate. It is impossible to open Michael Crowe's handsome and fastidiously prepared anthology of primary sources without being drawn into endlessly fascinating disputes concerning the possibility and character of extraterrestrial life. Savoring the many twists and turns in controversies that have extended far beyond the confines of popular astronomy, Professor Crowe has provided students and experts alike with a generous and indispensable resource. It is difficult to resist his invitation to investigate for ourselves the innumerable, and often surprising, ways in which the idea of intelligent life on other worlds has shaped and been shaped by perennial Earthly concerns." --John Hedley Brooke, Andreas Idreos Professor Emeritus of Science and Religion, University of Oxford
This is an unusual book, combining as it does papers on astrobiology, history of astronomy and sundials, but—after all—Woody Sullivan is an unusual man. In late 2003 I spent two fruitful and enjoyable months in the Astronomy Department at the University of Washington (UW) working on archival material accumulated over the decades by Woody, for a book we will co-author with Jessica Chapman on the early development of Australian astronomy. The only serious intellectual distraction I faced during this period was planning for an IAU colloquium on transits of Venus scheduled for June 2004 in England, where I was down to present the ‘Cook’ paper. I knew Woody was also interested in transits (and, indeed, anything remotely connected with shadows—see his paper on page 3), and in discussing the Preston meeting with him it transpired that his 60th birthday was timed to occur just one week later. This was where the seed of ‘Woodfest’ began to germinate. Why not invite friends and colleagues to join Woody in Seattle and celebrate this proud event? I put the idea to Woody and others at UW, they liked it, and ‘Woodfest’ was born.
In 1833 John Herschel sailed from London to Cape Town, southern Africa, to undertake (at his own expense) an astronomical exploration of the southern heavens, as well as a terrestrial exploration of the area around Cape Town. After his return to England in 1838, and as a result of his voyage, he was highly esteemed and became Britain's most recognized man of science. In 1847 his southern hemisphere astronomical observations were published as the Cape Results. The main argument of Ruskin's book is that Herschel's voyage and the publication of the Cape Results, in addition to their contemporary scientific importance, were also significant for nineteenth-century culture and politics. In this book it is demonstrated that the reason for Herschel's widespread cultural renown was the popular notion that his voyage to the Cape was a project aligned with the imperial ambitions of the British government. By leaving England for one of its colonies, and pursuing there a significant scientific project, Herschel was seen in the same light as other British men of science (like James Cook and Richard Lander) who had also undertaken voyages of exploration and discovery at the behest of their nation. It is then demonstrated that the production of the Cape Results, in part because of Herschel's status as Britain's scientific figurehead, was a significant political event. Herschel's decision to journey to the Cape for the purpose of surveying the southern heavens was of great significance to almost all of Britain and much of the continent. It is the purpose of this book to make a case for the scientific, cultural, and political significance of Herschel's Cape voyage and astronomical observations, as a means of demonstrating the relationship of scientific practice to broader aspects of imperial culture and politics in the nineteenth century.
In this comprehensive and interdisciplinary volume, former NASA Chief Historian Steven Dick reflects on the exploration of space, astrobiology and its implications, cosmic evolution, astronomical institutions, discovering and classifying the cosmos, and the philosophy of astronomy. The unifying theme of the book is the connection between cosmos and culture, or what Carl Sagan many years ago called the “cosmic connection.” As both an astronomer and historian of science, Dr. Dick has been both a witness to and a participant in many of the astronomical events of the last half century. This collection of papers presents his reflections over the last forty years in a way accessible to historians, philosophers, and scientists alike. From the search for alien life to ongoing space exploration efforts, readers will find this volume full of engaging topics relevant to science, society, and our collective future on planet Earth and beyond.
While astronomy is a burgeoning science, with tremendous increases in knowledge every year, it also has a tremendous past, one that has altered humanity's understanding of our place in the universe. The impact of astronomy on culture - whether through myths and stories, or through challenges to the intellectual status quo - is incalculable. This volume in the Greenwood Guides to the Universe series examines how human cultures, in all regions and time periods, have tried to make sense of the wonders of the universe. Astronomy and Culture shows students how people throughout time have struggled with the complexities apparent in the night sky, complexities that modern science has only just begun to understand.
Unbelievable explodes seven of the most popular and pernicious myths about science and religion. Michael Newton Keas, a historian of science, lays out the facts to show how far the conventional wisdom departs from reality. He also shows how these myths have proliferated over the past four centuries and exert so much influence today, infiltrating science textbooks and popular culture. The seven myths, Keas shows, amount to little more than religion bashing—especially Christianity bashing. Unbelievable reveals: · Why the “Dark Ages” never happened · Why we didn’t need Christopher Columbus to prove the earth was round · Why Copernicus would be shocked to learn that he supposedly demoted humans from the center of the universe · What everyone gets wrong about Galileo’s clash with the Church, and why it matters today · Why the vastness of the universe does not deal a blow to religious belief in human significance · How the popular account of Giordano Bruno as a “martyr for science” ignores the fact that he was executed for theological reasons, not scientific ones · How a new myth is being positioned to replace religion—a futuristic myth that sounds scientific but isn’t In debunking these myths, Keas shows that the real history is much more interesting than the common narrative of religion at war with science. This accessible and entertaining book offers an invaluable resource to students, scholars, teachers, homeschoolers, and religious believers tired of being portrayed as anti-intellectual and anti-science.
Speculation regarding the plurality of worlds and the existence of intelligent extraterrestrials has remained an important question for Christian theology from antiquity until modernity. Advancements in space science now reveal a vast universe containing trillions of galaxies, and new discoveries of exoplanets, providing an unprecedented greater context and perspective in consideration of the place of humanity, possible intelligent extraterrestrials, and the role of divinity in relation to creatures. These scientific discoveries have increased the importance of understanding the relation of extraterrestrials to the Christian doctrines of the incarnation and redemption. An examination of the history of developments in scientific and theological thought on extraterrestrials, from antiquity to the twenty-first century will demonstrate a consistent pattern of theological formulations of extraterrestrials and their relation to Christian theology, however, without sufficient resolution. En route, this book explores ideas of extraterrestrial ‘anthropology’, psychology, morphological possibilities, sociological compositions, extraterrestrial religions, implications of contact, and argues for a ‘divine pedagogy’ of potential modalities of supernatural presence and action with extraterrestrial intelligences.
This book aims at providing a brief but broad overview of biosignatures. The topics addressed range from prebiotic signatures in extraterrestrial materials to the signatures characterising extant life as well as fossilised life, biosignatures related to space, and space flight instrumentation to detect biosignatures either in situ or from orbit. The book ends with philosophical reflections on the implications of life elsewhere. In the 15 chapters written by an interdisciplinary team of experts, it provides both detailed explanations on the nature of biosignatures as well as useful case studies showing how they are used and identified in ancient rocks, for example. One case study addresses the controversial finding of traces of fossil life in a meteorite from Mars. The book will be of interest not only to astrobiologists but also to terrestrial paleontologists as well as any reader interested in the prospects of finding a second example of life on another planet.