Thursday, May 15, 2008

Religion and Aliens

Yeah, you heard me. I'm going to make a foray into potential blasphemy. I've certainly made my political views well-known, so it's past time that I venture into the one other topic of discussion that tends to be just as dangerous: religion.

All this came up when a friend pointed out a news story about a Vatican astronomer who came out and said that belief in aliens isn't contrary to belief in Christianity. Click here to read the full interview.

My first thought was, "Well yeah, I've been saying that for years."

And I have too. I've always been greatly amused by the debate between science and religion, because I have never believed that the two were in any way mutually exclusive. As a matter of fact, (and this is where many religious people get mad at me and the Vatican and I part ways), I don't even believe that religions are mutually exclusive to each other. I'll explain all this, but let me take it one issue at a time, starting with the aliens.

First of all, I've done some reading on various religious texts, and at no point in time have I ever seen a single sentence, a single word that contradicts the possibility of life having been created on other worlds. Even if you take, for example, the Christian creation story at its word, there's nothing that says God couldn't have created Adam and Eve here, and Gazonkiplatz and Burf%ol$*a somewhere in the Andromeda Galaxy. Heck, some people belive passages like Genisis 6:1-2 refer to aliens: "When people had spread all over the world, and daughters were being born, some of the heavenly beings saw that the young women were beautiful, so they took the ones they liked." I have my own theories about this verse and others, but there it is. So, I applaud the Vatican for the basic premise. In my humble opinion, they are absolutely right.

With that said, I would like to nit-pick over portions of the interview, because I feel like being an ass right now, and it amuses me.

First of all, the astronomer states, "Let’s borrow the image from the gospel about the lost sheep. The shepherd leaves the 99 of the sheepfold to search for the one that got lost. Let’s imagine that in this universe there are 100 sheep, corresponding to the different forms of creatures. We who belong to the human race, could very well be the lost sheep, the sinners that need the shepherd."

What? What? Okay, I know this is all hypothetical, but is he really suggesting that we're a planet of sinners in a universe of saintly, well-behaved aliens? I wonder how many ways I can take this hypothesis apart.
1. This hypothesis is based on the idea that said extra-terrestrials would believe in the Christian god when most of the people on Earth don't even believe in the Christian god! Holy crap, man! Are you really so arrogant that you honestly believe the five billion non-Christians on Earth are the only intelligent beings in the universe who don't share your faith? Well, I guess if you weren't, you wouldn't work in the freaking Vatican, would you?
2. This hypothesis is based on the idea that even if said extra-terrestrials believed in the Christian god, that they would be required to live by the same morals and standards that are laid out in the Bible! You may ask me, "Why would that be a problem?" Well, let me give you an example. The Bible says, "Thou shalt not commit adultery." Okay, that's all well and fine for us, but let's say that there's a species of intelligent creatures out there with three genders, all three of which are needed for reproduction. Don't laugh; that possibility has been explored by astrobiologists. Okay, laugh anyway. But how are these three aliens supposed to reproduce under the confines of biblical law? Well, the natural conclusion is that they would all have to be in a three-way marriage. But wait! We've all heard the mantra over and over! "Marriage is between a man and a woman." So even if these aliens could be classified as "male", "female", and "other", which is a stretch in and of itself, the "other" alien couldn't ever be married. Such an alien society, following God's laws to the letter, would be very very saintly, and very very extinct after only one generation.
3. Even assuming that extra-terrestrials believe in the Christian god, and assuming that they are allowed to live by their own biblical laws that are more suited to their unique biological and environmental paradigms, this hypothesis assumes that every single one of them would actually live by these laws and remain sin-free! As if there could be 99 other species out there, not one of them evolving in such away that promotes the emergence of violence. Oh wait, that's evolution. We're talking about religion here. Um... As if God would have created 99 perfectly peaceful well-behaved species and only one that was prone to sin. Right.

But wait, it gets better!

At the very end of the interview, the astronomer says something very interesting when asked about possible alien redemption in the case that they are sinners: "Jesus incarnated once and for all. The incarnation is a unique and non-repeatable event."

What? Where the heck in the Bible does it say that? Or, for that matter, where does it say that there couldn't have been a different, alien "Son of God"? That's one of my problems with organized religion in general. They make too many assumptions about their religious texts. Those assumptions turn to dogma, the dogma turns to prejudice, that prejudice leads to fear, fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, and hate leads to suffering. </yoda>

Anyway, where was I... Oh yeah! The reason I started writing this is that a friend of mine said that I should urge the Catholic church, based on this interview, to fund space travel activities. However, I'm not going to do that. I get too many strange visions about that South Park episode where the Evangelical Church builds a missionary ship to convert aliens, all the while Pat Robertson is on the TV urging everyone to donate money for a proton cannon so that they can prevent poor Ethiopians from escaping Earth to settle on more hospitable land on planet Marklar. That would totally happen, and I'm not going to be a part of it. Sorry, Geoff.

That's it for now, but stay tuned! Tomorrow, I delve into religion and science. Duh duh duh!

Progress: 3.73%  Flight Time: 0:05:35

1 comment:

C said...

I'm OK with there being aliens, as long as they're not gay. After all, God created Gazonkiplatz and Burf%ol$*, not Gazonkiplatz and Steve!