Vatican looks to heavens for signs of alien life [Excerpts]
E.T. phone Rome. Four hundred years after it locked up Galileo for challenging the view that the Earth was the center of the universe, the Vatican has called in experts to study the possibility of extraterrestrial alien life and its implication for the Catholic Church.
"The questions of life's origins and of whether life exists elsewhere in the universe are very suitable and deserve serious consideration," said the Rev. Jose Gabriel Funes, an astronomer and director of the Vatican Observatory.
Funes, a Jesuit priest, presented the results Tuesday of a five-day conference that gathered astronomers, physicists, biologists and other experts to discuss the budding field of astrobiology — the study of the origin of life and its existence elsewhere in the cosmos.
Funes said the possibility of alien life raises "many philosophical and theological implications" but added that the gathering was mainly focused on the scientific perspective and how different disciplines can be used to explore the issue.
Today top clergy, including Funes, openly endorse scientific ideas like the Big Bang theory as a reasonable explanation for the creation of the universe. The theory says the universe began billions of years ago in the explosion of a single, super-dense point that contained all matter.
Earlier this year, the Vatican also sponsored a conference on evolution to mark the 150th anniversary of Charles Darwin's "The Origin of Species."
The event snubbed proponents of alternative theories, like creationism and intelligent design, which see a higher being rather than the undirected process of natural selection behind the evolution of species.
[We have addressed this issue in past articles. Here are a few excerpts: “Any possibility that intelligent life on earth or elsewhere evolved by chance can be quickly dismissed. Eminent British astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle points out that "even if the whole universe consisted of organic soup" from which life is made, the chance of producing the basic enzymes of life by random processes without intelligent direction would be approximately one in 10 with 40,000 zeros after it. The impossibility of that number can be seen in the following illustration. The likelihood of reaching out and by chance plucking a particular atom out of the universe would be about 1 in 10 with 80 zeros after it. If every atom in this universe became another universe, the chance of reaching out at random and plucking a particular atom out of all of those universes would be 1 in 10 with 160 zeros after it…. Couldn't God have created intelligent life on other planets? Yes, but the Bible declares that this earth alone has intelligent physical life. It is to this earth that Satan came to spread his rebellion; and to this earth Christ came to die for man's sin. The battle between God and Satan for the universe is centered here. Christ's sacrifice on the cross purified the entire universe and heaven itself of sin” (Heb:9:23). http://www.thebereancall.org/node/5840 .]