The Doctrine of Atonement and Extraterrestrial Life
If extraterrestrial intelligent life (ETI) exists, one of the greatest challenges to Christian faith will concern the doctrine of atonement. In fact, there are diverse models of atonement in the history of Christian thought. It will be very interesting to see which models of atonement could survive the discovery of ETI, and which turn out to be too anthropocentric and geocentric to be tenable. This thought experiment on the premise of the future discovery of ETI will shed light on several uncritical prejudices underlying traditional Christian doctrines and help reconstruct a Christian theology of atonement for an age of science, even if the premise never turns out to be true.
Junghyung Kim is a GTU graduate, who wrote his Ph.D. dissertation on "Cosmic Hope in a Scientific Age" (2011). He is now teaching as an associate professor at Presbyterian University and Theological Seminary, Seoul, South Korea. His recent publications include "Toward a Constructive Eschatology: An Appraisal of Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen’s Contributions'' (2020), “Six Different Theological Responses to the Scientific Prediction of the Decaying Universe” (2019), “Toward a Theology of Cosmic Hope: From Theo-anthropology to Theo-cosmology” (2018), “Christian Anthropology in an Age of Science: Between Anthropocentrism and Non-Anthropocentrism” (2018), and The Doctrine of Creation: Belief in the Creator in an Age of Science (2019, in Korean). He received the First Prize in the ISSR Essay Competition in Honor of John Polkinghorne (2010, International Society for Science and Religion) and the Charles H. Townes Graduate Fellowship in Theology and Science (2009-2010, Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences).
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