And on the sixth day…

Good news for science from… the Vatican? No joke. Father Gabriel Funes, director of the Vatican Observatory and chief astronomer for the Pope, has just issued a public statement stating the following things:

  • Intelligent beings could exist in outer space.
  • Life on Mars cannot be ruled out.
  • The search for extraterrestrial life does not contradict belief in God.
  • Next year, the Vatican is organizing a conference to mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin.

Whoa. And whoa’s wobbly cousin, woah. Did I just step into the 21st century? After my post last week on what Americans don’t know, I was feeling a little disheartened. Now I’m quite heartened again! Let’s recap. We see continual creation of stars all over the Universe:

We find organic molecules on other planets and in other star systems and galaxies:

And now we have the leaders of the Catholic church, hugely influential in the United States, telling us that searching for more information about our Universe is a fantastic thing that they should support!

He stated that no man on Earth has the authority to place limits on what he calls “God’s creative freedom.” You can give it whatever name you want; I choose to call it the laws of Nature, and the freedom arising from those natural processes. Either way, I’m happy to have the support to help search for it! Maybe there’s hope for us all, yet.

Comments

  1. #1 Matt
    May 15, 2008

    The sad thing, though, is the theological baggage that comes along with their acceptance of extraterrestrial life. Could they possibly be free of original sin? If they aren’t, did Jesus visit there as well? It’s strange for sure (and if the aliens knew about what they were discussing, they’d certainly agree). It is of course, a good thing that the Copernican revolution finally reached the Vatican in it’s full extend (even if it’s a “bit” late. Anyway, it’s a step in the right direction to finally cut ties with the ever-pervading anthropocentrism of the old days of the church. Now if they’d just go ahead and say that stem cell research is a honourable, good and ethical thing to do and that the bread and wine, doesn’t ACTUALLY become the body and blood of Jesus Christ, I’ll be quite content. (:

  2. #2 ethan
    May 15, 2008

    Well, although they’re not exactly scientific, people are free to ask whatever theological questions they find interesting. I’m more interested in a question like this: will intelligent aliens reproduce sexually? Based on what we know about biological evolution, most probably, as asexual evolution is very slow. But will they be mated pairs, or will their chromosome structure have a 3n- or 4n-structure instead of a 2n-structure?

  3. #3 andyb
    April 7, 2009

    If the pope went a bit further and said;-
    -Oh, yeah, this God stuff might just have been made up a few thousand years ago.

    Then I would be even more impressed.