Beyond Darwin: Vatican Conference on Aliens

THINGS are out of this world at the Daily Telegraph, which has the ninth largest daily circulation among UK newspapers. A few days ago one of their stories inspired us to write Darwin, Evolution, and Alien Life.

Now, from that same source we bring you: The Vatican joins the search for alien life. Here are some excerpts, with bold added by us:

The Pontifical Academy of Sciences is holding a conference on astrobiology, the study of life beyond Earth, with scientists and religious leaders gathering in Rome this week.

For centuries, theologians have argued over what the existence of life elsewhere in the universe would mean for the Church: at least since Giordano Bruno, an Italian monk, was put to death by the Inquisition in 1600 for claiming that other worlds exist.

Alas, Giordano Bruno got torched for committing Thoughtcrime. For lots of the people we write about, those were the good old days. Let’s read on:

Among other things, extremely alien-looking aliens would be hard to fit with the idea that God “made man in his own image”.

Furthermore, Jesus Christ’s role as saviour would be confused: would other worlds have their own, tentacled Christ-figures, or would Earth’s Christ be universal?

There are people who truly worry about such issues. We continue:

However, just as the Church eventually made accommodations after Copernicus and Galileo showed that the Earth was not the centre of the universe, and when it belatedly accepted the truth of Darwin’s theory of evolution, Catholic leaders say that alien life can be aligned with the Bible’s teachings.

Among ecclesiastical institutions, that’s a rare and most admirable attitude. A bit late for Bruno and Galileo, but hey — timing is everything. Here’s more:

Father Jose Funes, a Jesuit astronomer at the Vatican Observatory and one of the organisers of the conference, said: “As a multiplicity of creatures exists on Earth, so there could be other beings, also intelligent, created by God. “This does not conflict with our faith, because we cannot put limits on the creative freedom of God.”

What shall we call this? It’s clearly not moving the goalposts, which is a common creationist tactic. In fact it’s the opposite. They’re preparing the faithful — and themselves — for what is anticipated to be a major shock. Moving along:

Not everyone agrees. Paul Davies, a theoretical physicist and author of The Goldilocks Enigma, told The Washington Post that the threat to Christianity is “being downplayed” by Church leaders. He said: “I think the discovery of a second genesis would be of enormous spiritual significance. The real threat would come from the discovery of extraterrestrial intelligence, because if there are beings elsewhere in the universe, then Christians, they’re in this horrible bind.”

What’s the problem?

“They believe that God became incarnate in the form of Jesus Christ in order to save humankind, not dolphins or chimpanzees or little green men on other planets.”

Somehow, they’ll deal with it. They know that they must if they intend for their institution to survive into the future.

Meanwhile, here’s a link to a 24-page pdf file from the Pontifical Academy of Sciences titled: Study Week on Astrobiology. The conference is scheduled for 06 through 10 November.

At page 21 is a list of the conference participants. It’s impressive; it even includes Paul Davies. But there’s nobody from the Discovery Institute. Expelled again!

[Related post: Creationist Wisdom #109: SETI.]

Copyright © 2009. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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9 responses to “Beyond Darwin: Vatican Conference on Aliens

  1. I doubt if proof of alien life would make much difference to the religions here on earth unless the aliens came and tried to convert us to their religion.

  2. Gabriel Hanna

    “Among other things, extremely alien-looking aliens would be hard to fit with the idea that God “made man in his own image”.

    Whoever wrote this is an idiot. As far as I know, only Mormons claim that God is specifically human.

    Maimonides explains this at length in Guide for the Perplexed, that “Man in God’s image” means that humans have MINDS like God’s, and that God doesn’t have a body.

    It’s only been in print for about a thousand years now…

  3. Gabriel Hanna says: “It’s only been in print for about a thousand years now…”

    Okay, but in the case of “extremely alien-looking aliens …” I mean, if they weren’t so extremely alien-looking …

  4. I think it was about 1960 my good friend said, “When we contact aliens, we will tell them how God honored us, and we will eagerly listen when they tell us how God worked with them.’
    More importantly for us now, is the recent work exploring God’s use of higher dimensional worlds in creating our physical world. Back in 1883 Edwin Abbott wrote ‘Flatland’. He uses it to give an understanding of contiguous geometric worlds, each existing at a higher level of dimensions. Today ‘Techie Worlds’ is available. Written for people with a mechanistic understanding of our world, it looks at ridiculous Christian teachings, such as Trinity, soul, resurrection and judgment. In so doing, ‘Techie Worlds’ follows science’s lead in examining phenomena in the light of theory. Contiguous dimensional worlds provide a logical, mechanical explanation for those phenomena.
    So an intelligent, intellectually honest and open-minded person has excellent reason to hold religious views. In the light of Pascal’s wager, people would be foolish to deny the Christian teaching of love or to hold Moslem or pagan beliefs.

    [Book promotion spam deleted.]

  5. GeorgeRic, got any more Time Cube style spam for us before you’re banned?

  6. I imagine George only stopped by to promote his book. According to Amazon, “Techie Worlds” is written by Dr. George Richter CMfgE. I’m not sure what a Certified Manufacturing Engineer has to add to this discussion.

  7. RogerE says: “I imagine George only stopped by to promote his book.”

    Apparently so. If we don’t hear from him soon, then I’ll know what to do. Well, I already know, but maybe he wants to get one more shot in.

  8. Proving the existance of Aliens is like proving the existance of ‘g’…….. Impossible! The despicable Church must have some ‘Ulterior’ motive. No, there’s somthing going on here… What can the church gain from this….. And when are they going to launch their first Space Ships????? I’m LMAO!!!!!

  9. Gee Michael, chill out. At least it shows that the Catholic church has advanced from automatically holding heresy trials for these ideas to allowing discussion of them.