‘You Couldn’t Make This Up’ Dept: Pope’s Astronomer Would Baptize Aliens

Vatican2 In what has to be the height of anthropic assumption and human arrogance, the official astronomer for the pope, Guy Consolmagno, told Great Brtitain's Guardian that he would be willing to baptize space aliens, but "only if they asked" to be baptized. "Any entity – no matter how many tentacles it has – has a soul," he told the newspaper.

Consolmagno said he would be "delighted" if intelligent alien life were discovered, but he reiterated the common belief among astronomers (papal and secular alike) that the odds of finding or communicating with extra terrestrial are effectively zero. Unlike the Catholic church of old, which banned the work of some of the world's greatest astronomers such as Galileo Galilei, Consolmagno made clear in his interview that he feels today's church can peacefully coexist with cutting-edge science.

Consolmagno, who became interested in science through reading science fiction, said that the Vatican was well aware of the latest goings-on in scientific research. "You'd be surprised," he said.

Last year, the Vatican's chief astronomer, he Reverend José Gabriel Funes, head of the Vatican Observatory and a scientific adviser to Pope Benedict XVI, said there is no conflict between believing in God and in the possibility of extraterrestrial civilizations perhaps more evolved than humans.

"In my opinion this possibility exists," Funes said , referring to life on other planets.

"How can we exclude that life has developed elsewhere," he said in an interview with the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, published in its Tuesday-Wednesday edition. The large number of galaxies with their own planets makes this possible, he noted.

Asked if he was referring to beings similar to humans or even more evolved than humans, he said: "Certainly, in a universe this big you can't exclude this hypothesis."

In the interview headlined, "The extraterrestrial is my brother," Funes said he saw no conflict between belief in such beings and faith in God.

"Just as there is a multiplicity of creatures on earth, there can be other beings, even intelligent, created by God. This is not in contrast with our faith because we can't put limits on God's creative freedom. Why can't we speak of a 'brother extraterrestrial'? It would still be part of creation."

Funes, who runs the observatory that is based south of Rome and in Arizona, held out the possibility that the human race might actually be the "lost sheep" of the universe. There could be other beings "who remained in full friendship with their creator," he said.

Funes commentary is a giant step away from the historical record that includes the Inquisition, which condemned Galileo in the 17th century for insisting that the Earth revolved around the Sun. The Roman Catholic Church did not rehabilitate him until 1992.

Funes said he believed as an astronomer that the most likely explanation for the start of the universe was "the big bang," the theory that it sprang into existence from dense matter billions of years ago. But he said this was not in conflict with faith in God as creator. "God is the creator," he said. "There is a sense to creation. We are not children of an accident."

He added: "As an astronomer, I continue to believe that God is the creator of the universe and that we are not the product of something casual but children of a good father who has a project of love in mind for us."

Consolmagno's interview, given as part of his trip to speak at a national science festival in the U.K., came at the same time as the pope's own U.K. trip, where he warned against "atheist extremism."

Casey Kazan 

via http://www.theatlanticwire.com



"The Galaxy" in Your Inbox, Free, Daily