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|Messianic Vision with Sid Roth
The Pope’s chief astronomer says that life on Mars cannot be ruled out.
Writing in the Vatican newspaper, the astronomer, Father Gabriel Funes, said intelligent beings created by God could exist in outer space.
Father Funes, director of the Vatican Observatory near Rome, is a respected scientist who collaborates with universities around the world.
The search for forms of extraterrestrial life, he says, does not contradict belief in God.
The official Vatican newspaper headlines his article ‘Aliens Are My Brother’.
‘Free from sin’
Just as there are multiple forms of life on earth, so there could exist intelligent beings in outer space created by God. And some aliens could even be free from original sin, he speculates.
Asked about the Catholic Church’s condemnation four centuries ago of the Italian astronomer and physicist, Galileo, Father Funes diplomatically says mistakes were made, but it is time to turn the page and look towards the future.
Science and religion need each other, and many astronomers believe in God, he assures readers.
To strengthen its scientific credentials, the Vatican is organising a conference next year to mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of the author of the Origin of Species, Charles Darwin.
AP/ November 11, 2009, 9:30 AM
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.
Chris Impey, an astronomy professor at the University of Arizona, said it was appropriate that the Vatican would host such a meeting.
“Both science and religion posit life as a special outcome of a vast and mostly inhospitable universe,” he told a news conference Tuesday. “There is a rich middle ground for dialogue between the practitioners of astrobiology and those who seek to understand the meaning of our existence in a biological universe.”
Thirty scientists, including non-Catholics, from the U.S., France, Britain, Switzerland, Italy and Chile attended the conference, called to explore among other issues “whether sentient life forms exist on other worlds.”
Funes set the stage for the conference a year ago when he discussed the possibility of alien life in an interview given prominence in the Vatican’s daily newspaper.
The Church of Rome’s views have shifted radically through the centuries since Italian philosopher Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake as a heretic in 1600 for speculating, among other ideas, that other worlds could be inhabited.
Scientists have discovered hundreds of planets outside our solar system – including 32 new ones announced recently by the European Space Agency. Impey said the discovery of alien life may be only a few years away.
“If biology is not unique to the Earth, or life elsewhere differs bio-chemically from our version, or we ever make contact with an intelligent species in the vastness of space, the implications for our self-image will be profound,” he said.
This is not the first time the Vatican has explored the issue of extraterrestrials: In 2005, its observatory brought together top researchers in the field for similar discussions.
In the interview last year, Funes told Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano that believing the universe may host aliens, even intelligent ones, does not contradict a faith in God.
“How can we rule out that life may have developed elsewhere?” Funes said in that interview.
“Just as there is a multitude of creatures on Earth, there could be other beings, even intelligent ones, created by God. This does not contradict our faith, because we cannot put limits on God’s creative freedom.”
Funes maintained that if intelligent beings were discovered, they would also be considered “part of creation.”
The Roman Catholic Church’s relationship with science has come a long way since Galileo was tried as a heretic in 1633 and forced to recant his finding that the Earth revolves around the sun. Church teaching at the time placed Earth at the center of the universe.
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.
Still, there are divisions on the issues within the Catholic Church and within other religions, with some favoring creationism or intelligent design that could make it difficult to accept the concept of alien life.
Working with scientists to explore fundamental questions that are of interest to religion is in line with the teachings of Pope Benedict XVI, who has made strengthening the relationship between faith and reason a key aspect of his papacy.
Recent popes have been working to overcome the accusation that the church was hostile to science – a reputation grounded in the Galileo affair.
In 1992, Pope John Paul II declared the ruling against the astronomer was an error resulting from “tragic mutual incomprehension.”
The Vatican Museums opened an exhibit last month marking the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s first celestial observations.
Tommaso Maccacaro, president of Italy’s national institute of astrophysics, said at the exhibit’s Oct. 13 opening that astronomy has had a major impact on the way we perceive ourselves.
“It was astronomical observations that let us understand that Earth (and man) don’t have a privileged position or role in the universe,” he said. “I ask myself what tools will we use in the next 400 years, and I ask what revolutions of understanding they’ll bring about, like resolving the mystery of our apparent cosmic solitude.”
The Vatican Observatory has also 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.
The observatory, founded by Pope Leo XIII in 1891, is based in Castel Gandolfo, a lakeside town in the hills outside Rome where the pope has his summer residence. It also conducts research at an observatory at the University of Arizona, in Tucson.AP
There was another strange phone call today. Somebody was apparently just recently hurt by a misinformation which has been circulating on the web for two or three years. This calumny claims that the Vatican astronomers named some instrument or telescope “Lucifer”.
It is fairly clearly a typical case of degradation of information. The truth of the matter is that the Vatican Observatory is a member of the Mount Graham International Observatory (MGIO) consortium, together with a number of other institutions from Europe and the USA. The MGIO comprises a large number of stake holders, most of whom have nothing to do with the Vatican Observatory or its telescope.
How does this work? It is quite similar to share holders in a company. Supposing you had a six percent share in a company, while Mr XYZ had a four percent share. What could you do if Mr XYZ decided to name his pet hamster “Demon”?
One of the stake holders in the MGIO is a group of European institutes who built an infrared camera and spectroscope, and named it “Lucifer”. So what happened? First, somebody reported that an instrument called “Lucifer” was installed on Mt Graham. Then somebody remarked that Mt Graham also hosts the Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope, and that it is somewhat amusing that Mt Graham has both Vatican and Lucifer. Then the information somehow degraded and the slur was born: Vatican astronomers are supposedly friends with Lucifer…
Christians will not immediately need to renounce their faith in God “simply on the basis of the reception of [this] new, unexpected information of a religious character from extraterrestrial civilizations.” However, once the “religious
content” originating from outside the earth “has been verified” they will have
to conduct “a re-reading [of the Gospel] inclusive of the new data…”
– Vatican Astronomer, Eminent Theologian and Full Professor of Fundamental Theology at the
Pontificia Università della Santa Croce in Rome [Connected With Opus Dei], Father Giuseppe Tanzella-Nitti