Well knock me down with a phaser set to ‘stun’ – look what came over the wires today! I present here selected excerpts, but you can read the whole article if you click here.
VATICAN CITY (AP) – Believing that the universe may contain alien life does not contradict a faith in God, the Vatican’s chief astronomer said in an interview published Tuesday. The Rev. Jose Gabriel Funes, the Jesuit director of the Vatican Observatory, was quoted as saying the vastness of the universe means it is possible there could be other forms of life outside Earth, even intelligent ones.
“How can we rule out that life may have developed elsewhere?” Funes said. “Just as we consider earthly creatures as ‘a brother,’ and ‘sister,’ why should we not talk about an ‘extraterrestrial brother’? It would still be part of creation.”
In the interview by the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, Funes said that such a notion “doesn’t contradict our faith” because aliens would still be God’s creatures. Ruling out the existence of aliens would be like “putting limits” on God’s creative freedom, he said.
The interview, headlined “The extraterrestrial is my brother,” covered a variety of topics including the relationship between the Roman Catholic Church and science, and the theological implications of the existence of alien life.
Funes said science, especially astronomy, does not contradict religion, touching on a theme of Pope Benedict XVI, who has made exploring the relationship between faith and reason a key aspect of his papacy.
The Vatican Observatory has been at the forefront of efforts to bridge the gap between religion and science. Its scientist-clerics have generated top-notch research and its meteorite collection is considered one of the world’s best.
I’m sure it’s no coincidence that this fellow is a Jesuit – they have long had a reputation for being among the most academically oriented, and most liberal, of the major Catholic orders. I’m sure there are many devout individuals who are utterly appalled with this pronouncement, who probably are interpreting it as yet another sign that we are in the Latter Days. Well, you can’t please everybody, I guess. As for me, I call it good news, particularly in light of Pope Benedict apparently signing off on it. Hmmm… are they going to have to reconfigure the International Space Station to include a chapel now?
One other thing – who knew there was such a person as the “Vatican’s chief astronomer.”???