Sunday, 4 November 2007

To boldly state...

I quite like Star Trek (TOS and TNG), but it is only fiction.

A Muslim of my acquaintance who knew of both my scientific and religious backgrounds asked me why I couldn't state with certainty that aliens don't exist. He said his faith allowed him to state with certainty that aliens don't exist. He implied that as a Christian I should be stating with certainty that aliens don't exist, somehow in his eyes our Christian notion of redemption through our God in Three Persons relies on the uniqueness of creation on earth. I was disturbed by this and remain so, particularly when the matter is left open to speculation by the religious hierarchy. A member of the Vatican Observatory has even produced a pamphlet speculating about alien baptism. Guy Consolmango SJ (the author of this pamphlet)has written probably the best ever book for introducing people to astronomy, Turn Left at Orion, but his speculations about ETs leave me cold, I wish he hadn't bothered.

Facts have to be faced, there is NO scientific evidence for the existence of aliens. We know the sun is a star and there are plenty of other stars out there each with planets but our configuration of rocky and gassy planets appears to be unique. Life could not feasibly form on a gassy planet. However our rocky planet seem to need the presence of a large gas giant, Jupiter, to protect us from the majority of possible meteorite impacts. This sort of arrangement is not found elsewhere (yet). There are no alien broadcasts out there and no real evidence of alien contact, though it must be remembered that a radio broadcast from a fictitious planet orbiting say the north star (Polaris) would take 430 years to get to us. Most stars are considerably further away than that.

The earth is a very special, unique yet insignificant place and to paraphrase Wisdom 11: 23 to God the whole world is like the grain of sand that tips the balance or the drop of the morning dew that falls down upon the earth. Scripture points to the small and insignificant as being of the most importance to God. Is not the Magnificat Mary's song of realisation that she is just such a grain of sand to tip the balance?

To me the beauty of the cosmos becomes more awesome when we see how small, insignificant and unique we are as humans and as individuals created by God who hast ordered all things in measure, and number and weight. Even if we are not alone, God's love for us is beyond our understanding, quoting from Wisdom 11 again:

For thou lovest all things that are, and hatest none of the things which thou hast made: for thou didst not appoint or make anything , hating it. And how could any thing endure, if thou wouldst not, or be preserved, if not called by thee? But thou sparest all: because they are thine, O Lord, who lovest souls.

The Hubble Deep Field view, looking further into space than any other image.


WhiteStoneNameSeeker said...

This is something I have discussed with the children, especially when my older one was reading the CSLewis Out of the Silent Planet trilogy. Obviously he is considering salvation for those not of Adam's line in Perelandra.

what saint was it who said "What has not been assumed cannot be redeemed." (Was that Anselm?)-so I have wondered; the act of Calvery was for the children of Adam only-could Adam's children somehow be elsewhere in the universe?
Or would the Second Person have to be incarnate in different forms?-I would not think this likley, as it has a reincarnation feel to it; also we know that Christ Is the Lamb that stands as though slain eternally in heaven-so His Sacrifice really was once and for all.

So, my conclusion is, either earth is the only planet with people made in the image and likeness of God or there are others who (as Lewis suggests) have remained innocent.

This was just something from a conversation over the books. Interesting though.

Philip said...

I'm not at all scientific (either in my interests, or my method, haha!); but that was a fascinating post, which has helped me in my own confusion over whether or not aliens exist.

The picture into space, taken by the Hubble gizmo is simply beautiful.

Andrew said...

I was wondering where I read it! I read your post and forgot where I read it when I wanted to comment.

This article looks at what St. Thomas thought about it. Yup, Thomas Aquinas, who lived 800 years ago had already considered the possibility. His positions cannot be summarized without stripping them of their logical cohesion, so read it and see what you think.

Closer to our own time, Georges Maritanin had also considered the questions. You can read about it here .

Andrew said...

Typo. Maritain.

Rita said...

Andrew, I was reading "Martian", so I was really confused!

Thanks for the information.