Thursday, November 26, 2009

Vatican Unites with Science to Search for Life Beyond Earth

The Vatican has admitted mistakes to science in the past. The most well-known is what it did to Galileo and other men of science who were marked as heretics in the past for going against the teachings of the Church and putting forward ideas that were against a Godly plan. In 1600, Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake for his scientific studies; 1633, the Church forced Galileo to recant his view that the Earth moved around the Sun. Well, we all know now that Galileo was right and that the Church which did not really use science, was wrong.

Well, the Church took several hundred years, but it's finally made an apology and set things right with science. Now, the Vatican has its own scientists and researchers to support the new findings in science, particularly in the space sciences, that could lead to proof that there is life somewhere else in space outside the Earth. It's a fact that planets outside the solar system are now routinely discovered and some of them could possibly harbor life.

The Vatican had hosted a five-day conference in 2009 attended by 30 scientists, some non-Catholics, to talk about astrobiology, the science of establishing the origins and possibility of life elsewhere in the universe. According to Rev. Jose Gabriel Funes, an astronomer and director of the Vatican Observatory., "the questions of life's origins and of whether life exists elsewhere in the universe are very suitable and deserve serious consideration."

Astronomy professor Chris Impey of the University of Arizona says, "both science and religion posit life as a special outcome of a vast and mostly inhospitable universe," he told a news conference Tuesday." He also says "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."

In 2008, Rev. Funes said in an interview with the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano that "believing the universe may host aliens, even intelligent ones, does not contradict a faith in God." He added that "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." He maintains that if indeed life elsewhere in the universe is eventually discovered, it would still be regarded as part of God's creation. Funes also believes that the Big Bang (left) is a reasonable explanation as to how God created the universe.

In 2005, the Vatican Observatory (top, left) also hosted a similar conference on the implications of extraterrestrial life.

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