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.
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.]
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