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The Truth Is Out There. Extraterrestrials, Probably Not
NCR ^ | December 10, 2009 | Benjamin Wiker

Posted on 12/10/2009 9:47:56 AM PST by NYer

The Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Vatican Observatory recently brought together a group of scholars who study astrobiology, that is, the possibility of some kind of life existing elsewhere in the universe.

The media immediately seized on the convocation as a sign that the Pope was affirming the existence of intelligent extraterrestrials. This notion was given an unfortunate nudge forward by statements from Jesuit Father Jose Gabriel Funes, an astronomer who now directs the Vatican Observatory. “How can we rule out that life may have developed elsewhere?” Father Funes has said before, in an interview in the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano. “Just as there is a multitude of creatures on Earth, there could be other beings, even intelligent ones, created by God. This does not contradict our faith, because we cannot put limits on God’s creative freedom.”

This is one of those issues ripe for considerable confusion. How do I know? Because the question of whether there is intelligent life beyond Earth has been an issue ripe for confusion for well over two millennia. The enchantment with aliens is very old hat, and a short review of the history of its embarrassing tendencies should be enough to make us very, very cautious of alien enthusiasm entering the Church.

Space (pardon the pun) doesn’t permit a full historical review. Suffice it to say that what’s gone before all adds up to a very important maxim: The more we know, the less likely alien life becomes. The advance of science points to the inhospitableness of most of the universe for life.

Having said that, it does seem likely that there’s got to be some form of life out there somewhere. After all, there are hundreds of billions of galaxies in the universe. But the closest galaxy to ours is the Andromeda Galaxy. It’s 2.5 million light years from Earth; that is, on rough calculation, somewhere around 14,109,600,000,000,000,000 miles away. And there’s a big difference between life and intelligent living beings.

Think about it. Even if it were possible to travel at the speed of light, and even if some other intelligent creatures had developed technology far more quickly than we did, they would have to have lived for two and a half million years of space travel (as the crow flies) to find us. How likely is that?

And now we can return to the embarrassments of history I mentioned earlier because it allows us to make a very serious point in regard to the possible existence of intelligent aliens and Christian theology.

Again, speculations about intelligent extraterrestrial life are old hat. They began in the centuries before Christ and were offered up by the philosophers Epicurus and Lucretius. Epicurus and Lucretius disliked religion, arguing that it caused no end of miseries for humanity. Against the notion of a creator God, they asserted that mere chance, by jostling atoms, came up with not only our world, but endless others peopled by even more intelligent life. That’s a warning sign.

But atheism is not the only source of Alienmania. In a rather arcane conflict in the late 1200s, the bishop of Paris, one Etienne Tempier, condemned the position that God “cannot make more than one world.” Bishop Tempier was not trying to argue for aliens, but against those who asserted that it was beyond God’s power to create more than one world.

Pretty soon, however, theologians were wildly asserting that God must have created all kinds of ETs. In the mid-1400s, Nicholas of Cusa assured us that “in the area of the sun there exist solar beings, bright and enlightened intellectual denizens, and by nature more spiritual than such as may inhabit the moon.”

That was only the beginning. By the 18th and 19th centuries, the world’s top astronomers were assuring everyone that every planet in our solar system, and the sun itself, was crawling with intelligent life. Even the great Johann Bode tried to give a theological explanation: The “most wise author of the world,” he said, would “certainly not permit … the great ball of the sun to be empty of creations and still less of rational inhabitants who are ready gratefully to praise the author of life.”

Based on the “scientific” certainty of extraterrestrial life on the moon, Mars, Jupiter, Venus, all the rest of the planets and the sun, well-intentioned Christians started redefining Christian dogma accordingly, trying to make room for aliens with the incarnation of Christ.

That is embarrassing. It’s also a foolish mistake we must not repeat. What science does indeed know, with ever greater certainty, is the increasing improbability of extraterrestrial life. The ever slimmer possibility remaining should make us quite sober in our speculations, especially as they touch matters of our faith.


TOPICS: Catholic; Religion & Science; Skeptics/Seekers; Theology
KEYWORDS: aliens; atheism; catholic; extraterrestrials; pope; ufos; vatican

1 posted on 12/10/2009 9:47:58 AM PST by NYer
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To: netmilsmom; thefrankbaum; markomalley; Tax-chick; GregB; saradippity; Berlin_Freeper; Litany; ...

Finally ... a reasonable and realistic view on life in the universe.


2 posted on 12/10/2009 9:49:07 AM PST by NYer ("One Who Prays Is Not Afraid; One Who Prays Is Never Alone" - Benedict XVI)
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To: Quix

Ping!


3 posted on 12/10/2009 9:49:59 AM PST by NYer ("One Who Prays Is Not Afraid; One Who Prays Is Never Alone" - Benedict XVI)
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To: NYer
I gave up hope that life was out there along time ago.

We landed on the Moon and I was so hoping they we find beautiful Moon Maidens. Nothing but gray dust and rocks.
We land a camera on Mars, and I am praying we find beautiful green skin Orion Women. We get red dust and rocks.
By the time we do find something of value I will be long gone. And besides, even if we were to find something of value in my life time, it is too late for me. My wife would not let us keep one.

4 posted on 12/10/2009 9:55:00 AM PST by NavyCanDo
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To: All
Related threads:
"The Omega Secret" [UFOs and the Vatican]
Vatican and UFO: Secretum Omega [Extraterrestrial Culture Day]
Secretum Omega Part II [Extraterrestrial Culture Day]
Vatican Official Confirms the Existence of Extraterrestrials [Friday afternoon tinfoil alert]
Fatima: The new Movie… Deception a-go-go [the Fatima apparitions were really UFO manifestations]
Do space aliens have souls? Inquiring minds can check Jesuit's book
Vatican prepares for extraterrestrial disclosure
Vatican looks to heavens for signs of alien life
Vatican looks to heavens for signs of alien life
The Vatican joins the search for alien life
Vatican Observatory examines theological implications of finding alien life
Vatican Seeks Signs of Alien Life... E.T. phone Rome!
Vatican: It's OK to believe in aliens ("The extraterrestrial is my brother")
Does Jesus save aliens?
5 posted on 12/10/2009 9:59:33 AM PST by Alex Murphy ("Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him" - Job 13:15)
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To: NYer

Seems like it would be more accurate to say...’life and intelligence as we know it’. There could be lots of life and intelligence greater than we know about, couldn’t there?


6 posted on 12/10/2009 10:10:01 AM PST by stuartcr (If we are truly made in the image of God, why do we have faults?)
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To: NYer
Heck, we barely know what is at the bottom of our own oceans. Not so long ago, "scientists" were telling us nothing could live down there. Surprise!

Its quite possible there is intelligent life all around us, they just don't want to associate with retards.

7 posted on 12/10/2009 10:12:44 AM PST by Michael Barnes
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To: NYer

“Think about it. Even if it were possible to travel at the speed of light, and even if some other intelligent creatures had developed technology far more quickly than we did, they would have to have lived for two and a half million years of space travel (as the crow flies) to find us. How likely is that?”

How many centuries has man been messing around with real science on any great scale? Maybe two or three? Powered flight has only been around a hundred years or so. And many no doubt thought man would never fly. So I think it’s kind of silly to claim that nothing can go faster than light, ever. What about teleportation? I reckon we’ll see in a few thousand years. Or maybe not.

I still think it’s a bummer that Mars isn’t like Barsoom.

Freegards


8 posted on 12/10/2009 10:18:12 AM PST by Ransomed (Son of Ransomed Says Keep the Faith!)
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To: Michael Barnes

I’m sure aliens have something along the lines of warp drive, space folding technology, or an Einstein-Rosen-Podolsky Bridge.


9 posted on 12/10/2009 10:19:55 AM PST by Schwaeky (The Republic--Shall be reorganized into the first American EMPIRE, for a safe and secure Society!)
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To: NYer
Having said that, it does seem likely that there’s got to be some form of life out there somewhere. After all, there are hundreds of billions of galaxies in the universe.

Yes, and trillions of planets. Therefore there must be one that's shaped just like Alfred E. Newman's head.

That is what we should be searching for.

10 posted on 12/10/2009 10:20:02 AM PST by Yardstick
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To: Michael Barnes

“Its quite possible there is intelligent life all around us, they just don’t want to associate with retards.”

Or those who voluntarily kill their own unborn young, and call it a freedom.

Freegards


11 posted on 12/10/2009 10:23:19 AM PST by Ransomed (Son of Ransomed Says Keep the Faith!)
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To: Schwaeky
We are not even a Type I civilization yet. Can you imagine coming across (or being discovered by) a Type II civilization?

Hope they don't have "To Serve Man" on their book club list.

12 posted on 12/10/2009 10:24:26 AM PST by Michael Barnes
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To: NYer

“What science does indeed know, with ever greater certainty, is the increasing improbability of extraterrestrial life”

Roadapples!!

Science knows diddildy squat about what is REALLY going on in the universe. Anyone who is so arrogant as to think we are the only intelligent life in the universe must be descendants of the “flat Earthers”. Earth may not have been visited by them but to say with certainty we are the only intelligent life in the universe falls into the “Gore” level of thought processes.


13 posted on 12/10/2009 10:25:23 AM PST by flash2368
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To: NYer
A very balanced view overall. There is one wrongly asserted "fact" here, though. The Andromeda Galaxy is not the closest galaxy to our own. It is merely the nearest "large" galaxy. There are at least 15 smaller "dwarf" galaxies that are closer, including the two very famous Magellanic Clouds. But the point I think the writer was making still holds: namely, even the closest dwarf galaxies to us are many tens of thousands of light-years away, and most of the ones closer than the Andromeda Galaxy are several hundred thousand light-years away. That's a long way away for any possible civilization to be bothered zeroing-in on a little blue rock orbiting a nondescript star orbiting in the suburbs of the Milky Way amid 500 billion other stars!
14 posted on 12/10/2009 10:26:19 AM PST by magisterium
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To: Ransomed
Or those who voluntarily kill their own unborn young, and call it a freedom.

Right. Retards.

15 posted on 12/10/2009 10:29:27 AM PST by Michael Barnes
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To: NYer
What science does indeed know, with ever greater certainty, is the increasing improbability of extraterrestrial life.

There are 2 theories on how life came about on this planet. Random chance and intelligent design. The same laws of nature that exists here also exists everywhere else in the universe. The same laws of nature that brought life to this planet would also bring life to other planets, although the probability is low if it is only by random chance.

On the other hand if there is intelligent design (God Exists) then the same reason he brought life to this planet would also motivate him to put life on other planets.

16 posted on 12/10/2009 12:34:00 PM PST by Alan2
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To: NYer

Live can survive in some pretty extreme conditions but they have to be relatively stable.

There are organism’s in the depths of the ocean that survive on methane expelled from volcanic vents.

But the temperatures are consistent.

If the moon didn’t control the wobble of the earth during it’s orbit, temperatures would fluctuate wildly.. From sub freezing to well above daily. Nothing on earth could survive that and likely nothing elsewhere could either.


17 posted on 12/10/2009 12:56:49 PM PST by TASMANIANRED
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To: Alan2

Really not trying to be snarky, but it may be a trifle presumptuous to speak for Gods motivations, beyond that which He has given us in the bible.

While He certainly Could do it, who can speak to His motivations? His ways are not ours.


18 posted on 12/10/2009 12:57:12 PM PST by RoadGumby (Ask me about Ducky)
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To: RoadGumby
Really not trying to be snarky, but it may be a trifle presumptuous to speak for Gods motivations, beyond that which He has given us in the bible.

And behold, the glory of the Lord was upon Moses, so that Moses stood in the presence of God, and talked with him face to face. And the Lord God said unto Moses: For mine own purpose have I made these things. Here is wisdom and it remaineth in me.

And by the word of my power, have I created them, which is mine Only Begotten Son, who is full of grace and truth.

And worlds without number have I created; and I also created them for mine own purpose; and by the Son I created them, which is mine Only Begotten.

For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.

19 posted on 12/10/2009 1:55:06 PM PST by Alan2
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To: Alan2

Agreed, now, tell me, “What is His purpose?”


20 posted on 12/10/2009 2:05:39 PM PST by RoadGumby (Ask me about Ducky)
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To: NYer

The whole “can’t fly faster than the speed of light THEREFORE...” argument is lame.

A hundred years ago, if someone in NY said they were going to be in London in four hours, they woulda locked him up and thrown away the key.

And I personally am convinced there is alien life (maybe not highly advanced alien life, but alien life nonetheless) right in our backyard - our martian backyard, that is.


21 posted on 12/10/2009 2:05:59 PM PST by djf (Maybe life ain't about the doing - maybe it's just the trying... Hey, I don't make the rules!)
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To: Ransomed

I liked Leigh Brackett’s Mars and Venus better.


22 posted on 12/10/2009 4:14:07 PM PST by Tax-chick (Here I come, with a sharp knife and a clear conscience!)
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To: NYer

“That God created another world than this one, and that in its time many other men and women existed and that consequently Adam was not the first man.” (Condemned Errors of Zanini de Solicia, Denzginer 717c)

That’s really the crux of the matter isn’t it? The hypostatic union of the human and divine natures of Christ in the Incarnation make it quite impossible for Him to have saved the space aliens in Adromeda in the same manner, since He did so to save us, not the Andromedans. So they would have to be perfect and without original sin.

The whole message of the Bible revolves around the centrality of the Earth in the care of God, the centrality of man on the Earth.


23 posted on 12/10/2009 6:42:54 PM PST by Heliand
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To: Ransomed
What about teleportation?

Since teleportation would seperate the body from the soul, how would it do anything but turn you into a corpse in another location?

24 posted on 12/10/2009 6:44:47 PM PST by Heliand
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To: Tax-chick

The only stuff I have read from L. Brackett has been a few short stories in anthologies. But I like “Rio Bravo” and “The Empire Strikes Back” I’ll have to check her out better.

All I know is that Tars Tarkis rules and Frazetta paints a mean Dejah Thoris.

Freegards, may your thoat never stumble in battle


25 posted on 12/10/2009 9:16:38 PM PST by Ransomed (Son of Ransomed Says Keep the Faith!)
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To: Heliand

“Since teleportation would seperate the body from the soul, how would it do anything but turn you into a corpse in another location?”

I’m not sure why you think that would happen, “seperating the body from the soul”. I don’t reckon such a thing could be undone by mere science. Am I missing something?

I don’t see why God would bar scientific teleportation when so many Saints have bilocated. If that’s how we are meant to eventually get around, then fine. If not, fine. I’ll follow the Church teaching on the matter.

What if you only sent things without souls? Like robots?

Freegards


26 posted on 12/10/2009 9:18:47 PM PST by Ransomed (Son of Ransomed Says Keep the Faith!)
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To: NYer
"Having said that, it does seem likely that there’s got to be some form of life out there somewhere. After all, there are hundreds of billions of galaxies in the universe. But the closest galaxy to ours is the Andromeda Galaxy. It’s 2.5 million light years from Earth..."

He's got same basic problems here. There's no reason to assume life has to be in a different galaxy. There are plenty of stars and planets right here in this one. So the rest of his point makes no sense.

27 posted on 12/10/2009 9:26:17 PM PST by mlo
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To: RoadGumby
Agreed, now, tell me, “What is His purpose?”

to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.

Through the resurrection of Christ, everyone will be resurrected and become immortal. Through the atonement of Christ, everyone who believes and accepts Christ and follows His laws and ordinances will receive eternal life.

28 posted on 12/10/2009 9:56:34 PM PST by Alan2
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To: NavyCanDo
We land a camera on Mars, and I am praying we find beautiful green skin Orion Women. We get red dust and rocks

If you're looking for an alien woman, there's quite a few in Russia who are looking for a meal ticket...

29 posted on 12/10/2009 10:57:11 PM PST by Iscool (I don't understand all that I know...)
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To: Ransomed

All I’d be good for in a battle is yelling, anyway.


30 posted on 12/11/2009 3:46:42 AM PST by Tax-chick (Here I come, with a sharp knife and a clear conscience!)
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To: Alan2

Agreed, so where does this address any life forms that are not-man or of extra-terrestrial flavor?

It doesn’t. Not saying there is, or is not ET life; not saying that God did or did not Create there also, just that He did not address it in the Bible and that it is presumptuous to say, outside of what He tells us, that we know His ‘motivations’ in reagards to it.


31 posted on 12/11/2009 4:38:18 AM PST by RoadGumby (Ask me about Ducky)
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To: Ransomed

Teleportation, as I understand it, consists of turning the human body into a stream of information/energy that would describe the precise state of every atom and sub-atomic particle, then beaming that information to some other location and reconstituting a body from it.

Since there would be no movement of actual matter from one location to another, I can’t see how the soul would be moved from what is literally one body into a new one. Its rather like the Greek speculative philsophy question of if you take a wood ship, and then replace every board that makes up the ship, is it still the same ship you started with, or is it a new one?

This is an interesting philosophical question though.


32 posted on 12/11/2009 5:48:13 AM PST by Heliand
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To: Heliand

Hmm. I guess maybe it would depend on if the same body (atoms, molecules)was re-constructed if that method of travel was used. I can’t see the Church declairing the body who was reconstructed souless, however, but they might ban the use of such transportaion due to the initial transformation of the body. Maybe they would say it has a different soul. Perhaps if people always arrived dead but animals always survived that would be evidence that the process was divorcing the body from the soul? The problem in any case is you are still beaming it, so it is still going to take a while to get any where on a galactic scale. I’m not sure it would even qualify as “teleportation” as you are still moving through space, albeit at close to the speed of light as some type of beam of particles, sorta like the transporters from Star Trek.

I guess by teleportation I meant just shifting objects in space without moving. Or the worm-hole thing, where a short cut through space is created connecting to distant places, where you step through and appear somewhere else.

It is indeed interesting to think about!!

Freegards


33 posted on 12/11/2009 6:59:08 AM PST by Ransomed (Son of Ransomed Says Keep the Faith!)
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To: Ransomed
Depending on how the soul is actually bonded to the human body would be the result of a teleportation experiment.

Its not so much the Church declaring a body reconstrcuted to be soulless, but rather recognizing the danger that upon arrival, you might have simply been turned into a corpse because your soul did not travel with you, having been seperated from the body during the process of destroying the body and turning it into information and energy.

Its certainly not something I'd want to risk being the guinea pig on.

connecting to distant places

But what if the Earth is in a special place in the universe (i.e. the solution of the Earth being in a low density void to the dark matter/dark energy problem that eliminates the need for dark matter/dark energy), and it turns out there are no distant places? We understand so little of the universe due to apparent scale and our own limitations that being involved in such experiments would make me very hesitant.

34 posted on 12/11/2009 7:13:36 AM PST by Heliand
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To: Heliand

I don’t think what you are describing is pure teleportation. The beam is still moving through space, right? Basically you are just cutting the cost and complication of having a spaceship carrying things. And it would still be “slow” in that the beam is going close to the speed of light, or does the beam go faster than light?

Like I said, if animals(no soul) can do it but people(soul) arrive dead that might be attributed to divorcing the soul from the body. Or God could allow the soul to travel with the beam.

It is true we know little about the Universe. We don’t even know if our constant, reliable rules of nature apply everywhere in it or not. It could be that at some point before they would become galacticly visible to our crude instruments all intelligent life does some experiment that completely destroys them, and that is why we haven’t seen anyone else so far.

Freegards


35 posted on 12/11/2009 7:39:54 AM PST by Ransomed (Son of Ransomed Says Keep the Faith!)
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To: Ransomed
if animals(no soul)

Animals have souls. They are living beings too. Their souls simply are not immortal, and do not allow intentional action.

Everything that is alive has a soul, otherwise, we'd have a case of matter in self-motion. Matter does not move on its own (Newton's First Law), but must have motion imparted to it by an outside actor. In the case of living things, this outside actor is God, who imparts life and motion via the joining of the soul (anima - the animating principal of living things) to the body (otherwise inert matter).

36 posted on 12/11/2009 7:49:56 AM PST by Heliand
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To: Heliand

I see. So if that form of teleportation did divorce the soul from the body, plants, animals and people would all arrive dead. I reckon you could still send robots this way to do your exploring.

Like I said I think maybe the ‘beaming’ form of travel isn’t true teleportation, because the beam still has to travel through space.

Freegards


37 posted on 12/11/2009 8:25:21 AM PST by Ransomed (Son of Ransomed Says Keep the Faith!)
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