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Vatican says aliens could exist

  1. Jun 9, 2008 #1
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  3. Jun 9, 2008 #2

    Ivan Seeking

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    Believe it or not, the Catholic Church has a great interest in science. My guess would be that in the interest of science, and in an effort to officially keep up with what we know, they are taking a public position that the notion of alien life is not contrary to Church doctrine.

    Of course the UFO conspiracy theorists have a different interpretation. :biggrin:
     
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2008
  4. Jun 9, 2008 #3

    russ_watters

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    That's roughly how I would put it, though I'd be a little more pointed and say that due to the decreasing popularity of religion, they want to remain ahead of the curve, if possible, to avoid embarassment and further loss of revenue. That's the main thrust of their interest in science - making sure they don't get bitten in the rear-end. It took them more than 300 years to accept Galileo and a lot of scientifically minded people will never let them live that one down. I don't have much near-term hope for their position on abortion/contraception, though.
     
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2008
  5. Jun 9, 2008 #4

    Ivan Seeking

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    Abortion and the like gets a little more dicey because it becomes a matter of the definition of life, which can be a matter of faith. And then there is a moral judgement made in addition to the facts. But over the last couple of centuries, I would guess... the church has made a real effort accept scientific theories at face value. Speaking as someone who attended a Catholic school for 8 years, I can say that math and science was a larger part of our curriculum than it was for the public schools. In fact, the primary reason that my parents wanted us to attend a Catholic school was that we would get a better education. It had very little to do with being Catholic. And not everyone in school was Catholic.

    We studied evolution without any justification needed.
     
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2008
  6. Jun 9, 2008 #5

    russ_watters

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    Oh, and good idea making sure to announce this before the Phoenix returns any results. It would have been pretty awkward having to have this ephiphany after - god forbid - Phoenix digs up some bacteria. It's a good hedge.
     
  7. Jun 9, 2008 #6
    The irony is that currently there is no proof whatsoever of little green men. That's why this is an ill timed move by the Vatican to secure credibility.
     
  8. Jun 9, 2008 #7

    Ivan Seeking

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    And even in the case of Galileo, it wasn't so much that the Church didn't know he was right. They were more worried about the effect that it would have - interestingly, not unlike the Brookings Report wrt ETs.
     
  9. Jun 9, 2008 #8

    Ivan Seeking

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    Funny, what I see as accepting scientific fact you all see as butt-covering.

    Did they modify the Gospel so as to avoid any contradictions? No. Of course not.
     
  10. Jun 9, 2008 #9

    Ivan Seeking

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    First rule of thumb: Not all people of faith are uneducated idiots.
     
  11. Jun 9, 2008 #10
    Second rule of thumb: Don't double .. um, triple post. :rofl:

    But seriously, I would have to agree with you said on the Catholic school / better education thing. My Mom did the same for my brother and I {3rd & 4th grades}. Although, once she was divorced, we were kicked out of the church and school. .. Oh well.

    I do however feel that they {the church} are just trying to "sure they don't get bitten in the rear-end" as Russ said.
     
  12. Jun 9, 2008 #11
    From wiki (I'm sure most of you know that already, just posting for records, plus it's so funny I never get enough of it)
    :biggrin:
     
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2008
  13. Jun 10, 2008 #12

    mgb_phys

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    If you've ever been involved in university teaching committees - thats quite a fast response to changing knowledge!
     
  14. Jun 10, 2008 #13

    BobG

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    Actually, the problem for the church was that they didn't know he was right. Without an accurate estimate of how far away the stars were and no measurable parallax shifts in the position of the stars, scientists of the time were divided on whether Galileo was correct. The church's "position" was to definitely not take a position. What if they backed the wrong one?

    Galileo's persecution was more because of his intermingling of religion into his attempts to sell his theories. Some felt he was trying to force the church to take a side (his side) in the argument. The Catholic church has always been open to science, but their desire to not "get bitten in the rear end" has always trumped their openess to science. Committing to a theory that's later proved wrong doesn't help the church's credibility.

    Galileo's theories weren't completely correct, anyway. He was still affected by the idea of man being the center of the universe. He knew the Earth couldn't be the center of the universe, but he didn't move the center very far. He only moved it as far as the Sun. It took a lot longer for astronomers to realize our solar system was just one of many in our own galaxy, which was just one of many galaxies.
     
  15. Jun 10, 2008 #14
    I don't want to engage in any debate, but there is something that seems unclear to me in this article :

    Aren't the people who promote creationism also follow what the Vatican says ? Or is it just another branch of the religion which I am not aware of ?
     
  16. Jun 10, 2008 #15

    f95toli

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    AFAIK most creationists are protestants, not catholics.
    I might be wrong but evolution was as far as I remember accepted relatively quickly by the Catholic church; according to them there is no contradiction between evolution and the bible.
     
  17. Jun 10, 2008 #16
    Okay, thank you. ;-)
     
  18. Jun 10, 2008 #17

    mgb_phys

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    The catholic church has 'generally' been remarkably pro-science over the last couple of centuries, they employed a lot of smart people who knew they would look stupid if they kept denying things that were obviously true.
    Galileo, like Bruno before him, got in the middle of some political in-fighting more than being a matyr for science and ironically at the time he was more strongly attacked by protestants who had a much more fundemental approach to scripture.

    The vatican has almost started to step backward and become more conservative recently, the statement about Galileo from the current balconey jockey:

    "The church at the time of Galileo was much more faithful to reason than Galileo himself, and also took into consideration the ethical and social consequences of Galileo’s doctrine. Its verdict against Gaileo was rational and just, and revisionism can be legitimized solely for motives of political opportunism."
     
  19. Jun 10, 2008 #18
    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/ce/2/part2.html

    "Those who assert that 'the earth moves and turns'...[are] motivated by 'a spirit of bitterness, contradiction, and faultfinding;' possessed by the devil, they aimed 'to pervert the order of nature.'"

    - John Calvin, sermon no. 8 on 1st Corinthians, 677, cited in John Calvin: A Sixteenth Century Portrait by William J. Bouwsma (Oxford Univ. Press, 1988), A. 72

    "People gave ear to an upstart astrologer who strove to show that the earth revolves, not the heavens or the firmament, the sun and the moon. Whoever wishes to appear clever must devise some new system, which of all systems is of course the very best. This fool [or 'man'] wishes to reverse the entire science of astronomy; but sacred Scripture tells us that Joshua commanded the sun to stand still, and not the earth."

    - Martin Luther, Table Talk

    "The heavens revolve daily, and, immense as is their fabric, and inconceivable the rapidity of their revolutions, we experience no concussion -- no disturbance in the harmony of their motion. The sun, though varying its course every diurnal revolution, returns annually to the same point. The planets, in all their wandering, maintain their respective positions. How could the earth hang suspended in the air were it not upheld by God's hand? (Job 26:7) By what means could it [the earth] maintain itself unmoved, while the heavens above are in constant rapid motion, did not its Divine Maker fix and establish it? Accordingly the particle, ape, denoting emphasis, is introduced -- YEA, he hath established it."

    - John Calvin, Commentary on the Book of Psalms, Psalm 93, verse 1, trans., James Anderson (Eerdman's, 1949), Vol. 4, p. 7
     
  20. Jun 10, 2008 #19

    russ_watters

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    Could you clarify what scientific fact, exactly, they are accepting? I don't see any mention of any scientific facts in the article in the OP.
     
  21. Jun 10, 2008 #20

    turbo

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    In the early '50s Pope Pius XII embraced the Big Bang theory because it established a scientifically acceptable framework for a creation event, and in his mind, for a creator.
     
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