Skip to comments.The Truth Is Out There. Extraterrestrials, Probably Not
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 LOsservatore 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 Gods 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) doesnt permit a full historical review. Suffice it to say that whats 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 theres 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. Its 2.5 million light years from Earth; that is, on rough calculation, somewhere around 14,109,600,000,000,000,000 miles away. And theres 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. Thats 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 Gods 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 worlds 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. Its 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.
Finally ... a reasonable and realistic view on life in the universe.
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.
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?
Its quite possible there is intelligent life all around us, they just don't want to associate with retards.
“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.
I’m sure aliens have something along the lines of warp drive, space folding technology, or an Einstein-Rosen-Podolsky Bridge.
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.
“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.
Hope they don't have "To Serve Man" on their book club list.
“What science does indeed know, with ever greater certainty, is the increasing improbability of extraterrestrial life”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 gloryto bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.
Agreed, now, tell me, “What is His purpose?”