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Vatican Debates Possibility of Alien Life

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the vulcan-jesus-raises-an-eyebrow dept.

It's funny.  Laugh. 721

Pickens writes "The Telegraph reports that the Vatican's Pontifical Academy of Sciences is holding its first ever conference on alien life, the discovery of which would have profound implications for the Catholic Church. For centuries, theologians have argued over what the existence of life elsewhere in the universe would mean for the Church. Among other things, extremely alien-looking aliens would be hard to fit with the idea that God 'made man in his own image' and Jesus Christ's role as savior would be confused; would other worlds have their own Christ-figures, or would Earth's Christ be universal? Just as the Church eventually made accommodations after Copernicus and Galileo showed that the Earth was not the center of the universe, and when it belatedly accepted the truth of Darwin's theory of evolution, Catholic leaders say that alien life can be aligned with the Bible's teachings. 'Just as a multiplicity of creatures exists on Earth, so there could be other beings, also intelligent, created by God,' says Father Jose Funes, a Jesuit astronomer at the Vatican Observatory and one of the organizers of the conference. Others do not agree. 'If you look back at the history of Christian debate on this, it divides into two camps. There are those that believe that it is human destiny to bring salvation to the aliens, and those who believe in multiple incarnations,' says Paul Davies, a theoretical physicist. 'The multiple incarnations is a heresy in Catholicism.'"

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#gnaa irc.hardchats.com (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30096806)

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AHEM... (2, Insightful)

TrisexualPuppy (976893) | more than 4 years ago | (#30097154)

Among other things, extremely alien-looking aliens would be hard to fit with the idea that God 'made man in his own image' and Jesus Christ's role as savior would be confused; would other worlds have their own Christ-figures, or would Earth's Christ be universal?

I wonder what the writer's credentials REALLY are. If you do as little as attend a few Sunday School classes, you will quickly find out that God making man in his own image means that he made him ORIGNALLY perfect and holy.

Where is this guy getting off with such a shallow interpretation, that it is a physical "image?" Either he is clueless about the conventional interpretation that just about everyone takes, or he knows and is poisoning the well by utilizing an uncommon interpretation that he is implying to be common because the readers may not know any better.

MOD PARENT UP!!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30097168)

yea verily

Of course, there is another solution (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30096820)

The hypothesis that no deity of any kind exists solves the problem in an unbeatably elegant fashion.

Re:Of course, there is another solution (0, Troll)

Jurily (900488) | more than 4 years ago | (#30096834)

Except it may not be a good answer. There is more to life than what you can prove scientifically.

Re:Of course, there is another solution (4, Insightful)

IrquiM (471313) | more than 4 years ago | (#30096876)

Except it may not be a good answer. There is more to life than what you can prove scientifically.

As of now, yes - but who knows what will be possible in 1-5-10-50-100 etc. years.

However, it is the person who makes the claim that should prove it. So that there's a deity is up to the church to prove, and not for the science to disprove.

Re:Of course, there is another solution (1)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#30097006)

Well, if the universe would be running in a computer simulation, theres nothing stopping the simulator to hide all the information we would need from people. This is also true if there was a god.

I actually believe more in the computer simulator thing than there being some god. The argument that it would require a massive supercomputer to simulate everything on earth and universe also makes little next to none a valid argument, considering how fast we're generating and improving technology and that the calculation power can essentially be infinite. We just base our views on our technology.

Of course we could just be living in some aliens "ant aquarium" in his living room.

Re:Of course, there is another solution (2, Insightful)

WaywardGeek (1480513) | more than 4 years ago | (#30097178)

So, if I were an intelligent entity (you can say God if that sounds close enough), and I had a finite source of quantum computation (but really really big), I'd want to do several things with that computation to get the biggest bang for my limited buck:

- I would never compute the position of every particle in the universe at every quantized point of time. Instead, I'd use an event-driven simulation, and only compute interactions between particles. Kind of like we see in quantum mechanics.
- No point letting the universe seem grainy. I'd hide my integer based math with the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle.

Of course, both of those are highly flawed ideas, however I see no proof that the universe is truly "infinite" in any way. God can use integers.

The hypothesis that no deity of any kind exists solves the problem in an unbeatably elegant fashion.

Early humans could feel their "aliveness" or "conscience" even before they could imagine math or science. They naturally assumed the simplest possible solution: some God who looks like them gave them a soul, which gives them this feeling of being alive. All these years later, we know so much about science and technology, but nothing about that feeling of being alive. It's there, and unexplained in any way so far. Without it, our lives would be simply meaningless computation. There's still some magic in the universe we need to explain. "no deity" as a refutation of the literal truth of the Bible is very logical. However, don't throw out the baby with the bath water - there is something magical about being alive, and cause to be "spiritual".

Re:Of course, there is another solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30096878)

Wrong. Science is the collection and understanding of knowledge about all things in existence. The only things that ultimately fall outside science are things which don't exist. To say there's more to life than can be known or understood is to utter a nonsensical statement, unless you simultaneously admit you're talking about make-believe things.

Re:Of course, there is another solution (4, Interesting)

JustOK (667959) | more than 4 years ago | (#30097026)

some branches deal with things that may or may not exist. God may well be similar to quantum theory, with faith corresponding to observing

Re:Of course, there is another solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30097140)

Yes, those things can be analysed indrectly - meta-knowledge, if you will. That is, the concepts themselves may be discussed in a scientific setting.

Re:Of course, there is another solution (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#30097198)

Having faith changes God's behaviour? Didn't think quantum theory could be brought in sync with the old book...

So can science define existence? (2, Insightful)

Mateo_LeFou (859634) | more than 4 years ago | (#30097046)

'Cause that would seem to be an important preliminary to your definition of science?

The problem: existence is the thing that *everything that *exists has in common, and scientific articulation of its meaning would require a comparison between the things that do and don't exist. Which comparison it cannot make, because as you rightly point out scientific inquiry cannot be made into non-existent things.

btw the 'which' in "things which don't exist" is a funny word misusage in this context -- do you see why?

Re:Of course, there is another solution (4, Insightful)

fastest fascist (1086001) | more than 4 years ago | (#30096896)

Perhaps, but that is hardly proof of anything supernatural. It just means there are limits to our understanding.

Re:Of course, there is another solution (1)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#30097054)

The russians have already found aliens [bigbluetech.net] , but they're actually living in earth.

The Russian navy has declassified its records of encounters with unidentified objects technologically surpassing anything humanity ever built, reports Svobodnaya Pressa news website.

“Fifty percent of UFO encounters are connected with oceans. Fifteen more – with lakes. So UFOs tend to stick to the water,” he said.

On one occasion a nuclear submarine, which was on a combat mission in the Pacific Ocean, detected six unknown objects. After the crew failed to leave behind their pursuers by maneuvering, the captain ordered to surface. The objects followed suit, took to the air, and flew away.

“On several occasions the instruments gave reading of material objects moving at incredible speed. Calculations showed speeds of about 230 knots, of 400 kph. Speeding so fast is a challenge even on the surface. But water resistance is much higher. It was like the objects defied the laws of physics. There’s only one explanation: the creatures who built them far surpass us in development,” Beketov said.

“Ocean UFOs often show up wherever our or NATO’s fleets concentrate. Near Bahamas, Bermudas, Puerto Rico. They are most often seen in the deepest part of the Atlantic Ocean, in the southern part of the Bermuda Triangle, and also in the Caribbean Sea.”

Another place where people often report UFO encounters is Russia’s Lake Baikal, the deepest fresh water body in the world. Fishermen tell of powerful lights coming from the deep and objects flying up from the water.“

I think about underwater bases and say: why not? Nothing should be discarded,” says Vladimir Azhazha. “Skepticism is the easiest way: believe nothing, do nothing. People rarely visit great depths. So it’s very important to analyze what they encounter there.”

Re:Of course, there is another solution (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30096902)

Your bold statement is no answer, but an unprovable claim. It is also logically dubious, and furthermore shows that you have no grasp of what science is all about. Science never proves anything, it only disproves things and the ultimate guide in elaborating new theories is always elegance. I did not claim anything beyond that. I only chuckled as usual at the eternal raving rage of theologists for reasoning ad nauseam from an unprovable (and ever-changing) set of dogmas.

Re:Of course, there is another solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30096914)

True, but we can't prove it scientifically.

Re:Of course, there is another solution (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 4 years ago | (#30096940)

That you can prove, today. Tomorrow is a totally different story.

Re:Of course, there is another solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30097004)

The objective of science is to explain life. By definition, there's nothing more to life that what you can analyze scientifically, as science would change to fit it. Also, science is not mathematics, you don't "prove" stuff.

Re:Of course, there is another solution (1)

Mateo_LeFou (859634) | more than 4 years ago | (#30097138)

I'm no mathematician, but from a layman's perspective mathematic "proof" is always quasi-tautological. All you're doing is unpacking the meaning of known mathematical or numeric terms. Which isn't just a waste of time, 'cause sometimes one of the things you unpack is another known term that you didn't realize would come out of the original one(s).

"there's nothing more to life that what you can analyze scientifically" seems like an overreach to me, like saying that the terms of mathematical system X are the "real" or "only" ones. Mathematics never says this; it only ever says "Euclidean starting axioms imply x,y, and z. Noneuclidean ones imply, x,y, j, and w, etc."

Re:Of course, there is another solution (1)

Starayo (989319) | more than 4 years ago | (#30097148)

Why the fuck is this modded insightful? I am sick to death of people who assume we're at the peak of our scientific knowledge! We are not. We are only just beginning to learn about the world and universe around us.

You're a bad person and you should feel bad, Jurily.

Re:Of course, there is another solution (2, Interesting)

xch13fx (1463819) | more than 4 years ago | (#30097024)

I don't think it is elegant at all. What is elegant are all the amazing bio-machines that have been built here on earth. When you can make something as efficient and reliable as a human heart, or a computer as complex as the human brain you can be as arrogant as you want. Until then I'm gonna have to believe we were designed like we were on purpose.

Re:Of course, there is another solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30097080)

I don't think it is elegant at all.

Dude, you listen to voices talking to you in your head. You are insane by all textbook definitions.

Seriously, if I went to my doctor and told him I hear and feel Bob being with me, who cares more about me than any family member, and tells me what to do... I would be committed.

Change 'Bob' to 'God' and suddenly you expect us to think it's all OK?

Re:Of course, there is another solution (1)

Chibinium (1596211) | more than 4 years ago | (#30097104)

You speak of designed as if our template was static and present from the start. Have I got a set of genes for your waist!

Re:Of course, there is another solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30097196)

From what you say, I must admit that your brain may have been designed. On the other hand, mine is too complex...

Re:Of course, there is another solution (1, Flamebait)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30097072)

It isn't that funny though.

For entertainment, ask any worshippper of Abrahamic religion about the size and shape of God's penis (or Penis? ;p ) and see how they struggle with the concept of their deity having such "unclean" part.

Also, ask them how existence of woman fits in (hint that their god might be a hermaphrodite)

Re:Of course, there is another solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30097136)

That's not a hypothesis as there's no evidence either way. It's a belief.

Sorry my fellow A/C. You've fallen into the same trap the religious zealots have. You've attempted to explain the logic behind something when no facts are present.

Re:Of course, there is another solution (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#30097186)

You know that's like finally finding out what causes lung cancer in smokers? It's not what your client ordered, so start coming up with better reasons. You'll get the funds to find something that pleases your sponsor more, don't worry.

Spread the word! (4, Funny)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 4 years ago | (#30096824)

We need money to build an interstellar cruiser. Now, this space ship will be able to travel through a wormhole and deliver the message and guh-glory of Jesus Christ to those godless aliens.
S-send your money now. Amen.

Re:Spread the word! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30096888)

As a Catholic, I have a bit of a problem with this being filed under "humor". Yes, yes, most religious questions are a big joke to /. editors and posters (Cf. parent), but when institutions look as these low-level problems they frequently have
a) a faction that gets it really wrong and embarasses the institution; and
b) a faction that gets it right (or close) and enriches the institution

"what are the ramifications if there are nonhuman beings who experience conscience and guilt?" is a fascinating question, just like

"what are the ramifications if the earth goes 'round the sun"

"what are the ramifications if indigenous people are fully human and have as much God-given dignity as Western Europeans?"

etc.

Re:Spread the word! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30096954)

Yes, the factions that "get it really wrong" can cause enough damage in the name of their religion to forever shame and vilify the entire organization.

Spirituality has _nothing_ to do with organization.
It's simple: life your life according to the ethics that your religion or creed teaches.
Don't bother anyone else with it if they think differently, unless they openly welcome your teachings.

By the way.. the OP is quoting a South Park episode, so lighten up -- it's funny

Re:Spread the word! (4, Informative)

DudeTheMath (522264) | more than 4 years ago | (#30097070)

I don't know if AC's get notifications when someone responds, but I'll recommend a couple of SF books by Mary Doria Russell, The Sparrow and Children of God. In the first, extraterrestrial life is discovered, and the Jesuits have a plan! She deals deeply with the question of whether non-humans have souls, etc.

Re:Spread the word! (1)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 4 years ago | (#30097084)

Typically these questions are patently absurd, such as the ones you mention. The fact there there is a debate in the Catholic Church about something at all is typically a good indicator that the vast majority of the world has already recognized the truth. For example, your examples.

No surrender (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30097112)

As a Catholic, I have a bit of a problem with this being filed under "humor".

As a protestant, you, your pope, and all his cardinals can all fuck off.

Re:Spread the word! (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 4 years ago | (#30096950)

Sort of like that old mini bus the church has down the street that they take to mexico during the summer?

Is it just me (3, Insightful)

IrquiM (471313) | more than 4 years ago | (#30096830)

or is this just a "cover our own backs" maneuver to avoid what happened with Galileo, Copernicus and others? Those cases weren't exactly the best publicity they've had.

Re:Is it just me (1, Insightful)

A Friendly Troll (1017492) | more than 4 years ago | (#30096918)

or is this just a "cover our own backs" maneuver to avoid what happened with Galileo, Copernicus and others?

No, because the universe is so fucking huge that the probability of aliens visiting Earth or humans visiting Rsdflkjasd is zero.

There is extraterrestrial life - it's just that nobody will ever get to confirm it.

I think Vatican is just trying to get some attention. Ever since the good pope died, nobody truly cared about them. The panzer pope just feels... vile.

Re:Is it just me (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30097172)

"Good" pope only in how he was universally perceived by worshippers, of course? It wasn't exactly all roses with him... (can it even be with the pope?)

Contemplate how many people died and will die of AIDS because of him, for starters. Or, more generally, how many people can die because nurturing religion has detrimental effects for scientific progress. Also, he wasn't exactly at odds with Ratzinger, quite the contrary.

As for his influence on the fall of Soviet Block...it's not really inconcievable to anybody but the most blinded worshippers that he was, as are all religious people, a tool of particular mindset/system of memes. Why would they choose a Pole right then?... Besides, it's not all roses with this also. Poland remaining for longer one of the most backwards countries in the EU, regarding religion, is part of his legacy. I should know, I was also born there and still live there.

Re:Is it just me (1)

Schiphol (1168667) | more than 4 years ago | (#30096926)

It doesn't need to be all driven by dishonesty. There may be also the sheer intellectual interest in knowing what follows from a body of doctrine once you add an extra ingredient. It's surely idle -for non-believers, I mean- but it may be an honest piece of harmless fun.

The problem with religion (4, Insightful)

KingSkippus (799657) | more than 4 years ago | (#30097058)

This is one of the fundamental problems with modern religions.

When religion and scientific evidence are in direct conflict with each other, enlightened people accept the scientific evidence. Enlightened religious people accept the scientific evidence and try to find ways to resolve it so that their religion remains logically consistent. (Yes, sometimes jumping through hoops to do so, but at least they don't look at scientists as some kind of evil tricksters or conspirators.)

The dumb ones, though, continue to argue against the scientific evidence not because of any particular keen insight, but because of what they think they know about an invisible guy who reigns supreme and, for the most part, what a two-thousand-year-old book that was written in an ancient language by ancient people and interpreted through various political and theological lenses says.

And, of course, most modern religions (and in particular, most modern people pushing it) are out there trying to convince people that if you question their interpretation of the "facts," that you'll burn in hell for eternity.

The church shouldn't even be having this argument. Science points towards an almost certainty of intelligent alien life out there, even if we never meet it face-to-face. They need to resign themselves to the fact that it exists, and adjust their thought accordingly. A biblical reference to the "four corners of the earth" doesn't mean that the earth literally has four corners (i.e. it's flat). A biblical reference to God making man in his own image doesn't mean that the god they worship literally looks like we do.

Duh.

As for the whole Christ thing, well, I'm guessing that alien cultures probably have their own religions, and some of them are probably even more interesting than ours. If we ever do have the pleasure of meeting some of them, we'll probably do what we've done throughout our entire history of existence. Figure out some way to meld them together to make ourselves feel better about ourselves and go on with life.

Don't know, those guys are death, the church isn't (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 4 years ago | (#30097062)

For all the so called negative press religion gets, it sure seems to be on the increase. Make of that what you will.

Probably not what you think (5, Funny)

swamp boy (151038) | more than 4 years ago | (#30096836)

Normal folks think of aliens as being extraterrestrial. In this case, it's probably a study of non-Catholics.

So the bullshitters change their story. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30096838)

So the bullshitters have changed their story after it's shown to be implausible. It's not like they had much choice. People are leaving that organization in droves.

Re:So the bullshitters change their story. (4, Informative)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 4 years ago | (#30097132)

People are leaving that organization in droves.

I would beg to differ. Several top [about.com] Google [gloria.tv] hits [freerepublic.com] suggest that they are growing, but at a rate less [encyclopedia.com] than the world population. Thus, as a percentage of world population, Catholocism is shrinking, but it's still growing in numbers. People are not, as you suggest, leaving it in droves.

Another great statistic I just found was that an average of 171,000 [about.com] Christians are "martyred" for their faith every year. That's pretty wild! I'd make a joke about some well-fed Roman lions, but that would be in very poor taste.

The alien god (2, Interesting)

el_jake (22335) | more than 4 years ago | (#30096840)

God is an alien - no doubt - cause no human has laid eyes upon him. That should stop the debate.

Re:The alien god (1)

NoYob (1630681) | more than 4 years ago | (#30096912)

Maybe we have laid eyes on "God". Maybe He's the Universe itself. All this matter and energy is God which makes us God too - or the children of God. And in that case, since we're made of God's material, we are in fact made in His image.

Ta-da!

God doesn't have to be a Santa Claus on steroids; which is basically what most Christians believe in.

Re:The alien god (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30096948)

And this omniscient universe created multiple "holy" books so we had something to kill one another over?

Re:The alien god (1)

turbidostato (878842) | more than 4 years ago | (#30096956)

"Maybe we have laid eyes on "God". Maybe He's the Universe itself."

Sorrily that's heresy and you'll burn in hell for the whole eternity.

Re:The alien god (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#30097036)

God doesn't have to be a Santa Claus on steroids

Santa Claus never brought anyone wars, pestilence or childhood leukemia. Nor did he ever send anyone to suffer torment in Hell for eternity for disobeying their parents or coveting their neighbor's wife.

Re:The alien god (1)

xch13fx (1463819) | more than 4 years ago | (#30097106)

God doesn't have to be a Santa Claus on steroids

Santa Claus never brought anyone wars, pestilence or childhood leukemia. Nor did he ever send anyone to suffer torment in Hell for eternity for disobeying their parents or coveting their neighbor's wife.

um if your naughty he gives you coal instead of what you wanted. also people get trampled during christmas sales, so while it is not all out war, there are a lot of battle's being waged and all the bounty is signed with Santa's name.

I personally can't wait... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30096852)

It is likely that there are aliens. There are so many infinite universes and planets and solar systems that there must be other intelligent life. We don't know for sure if they exist, and vice versa. My thoughts are that they are likely superior to us. If they have UFOs and can travel millions of light years to find us, they probably have superior technology. But, being ignorant, conceited homo sapiens, most of us would think of them as inferior beings (think Linux gurus like Eric S. Raymond). We probably shouldn't refer to them as aliens - they would probably consider us aliens. Some of us would be smart enough to recognize them as normal, thinking, homosexual, living beings. Who knows? They may look just like us. They may fuck like us. Or they may be like the green aliens many of us draw and masturbate about with tentacle hentai. No one knows the facts, but there is at least a strong chance that other lifeforms exist out there. The usual argument for the non-existence of alien life is that none have openly contacted us here on Earth.

Advanced civilizations might have good reasons for not doing so, or, as could happen with us, they may have reached a point where they gave up on space exploration. If so, they would have ceased to exist once their parent star evolved and died. UFO's and eyewitness testimony notwithstanding, there is no positive evidence that the Earth is being visited, or has been visited, by intelligent extra-terrestrial aliens. Rob Malda is an alien, so the point is moot. Now, granted, he's a cocksucker alien nullo who takes it in the arse every chance he gets, but the point stands.

This is a commonly used theme for science fiction because life elsewhere in the universe is strongly probable. Yes there are. There's like 300 million galaxies out there. We are not alone. One important thing to consider is the vast distances between the stars. Even if there were an intelligent technical culture of organisms in our own Milky Way galaxy, it would take them many years traveling at the speed of light to get to us. By the time they arrived here their own home planet would have aged so much that they would not have any relatives they could remember when they returned.

About the only way we could be visited by extra-terrestrial beings is if they had the ability to manipulate both time and space. And the way to do that is with quantum physics. Then, maybe, our three dimensional world could be found among the million and traversed by going through the other dimensions. The current Superstring Theory suggests that there needs to be 10 dimensions plus time - the eleventh dimension.

Wow... (0, Flamebait)

XPeter (1429763) | more than 4 years ago | (#30096856)

Going to get modded down for this, but if you believe anything the Vatican/Bible says your fucking stupid. Lets listen to the religion who has killed millions of innocent people just because they want to think differently; the same people who have detested the thought of non-human life for centuries.

George Carlin puts this best: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MeSSwKffj9o

The pope needs to get kicked in the balls, hard. There is no man floating up in a cloud somewhere...and even if there was, he's a bloody moron. Leave this stuff for the pros, and go back to your worldwide business.

Re:Wow... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30096866)

I wouldn't mod you down; I'd just comment that what you say is not in the least bit "insightful".

Re:Wow... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30096934)

You might like this debate, especially when Stephen Fry chimes in. Fucking hands the pro-Catholic camp their asses on a plate :)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PvZz_pxZ2lw [youtube.com]

Intelligence Squared debate: (1)

Animaether (411575) | more than 4 years ago | (#30097176)

I watched that a few days ago, and one of the concluding points was interesting.. the archbishop of Nigeria mentioned that the other side (Stephen Fry and Christopher Hitchens) failed to show that the Catholic church is -not- a force for good in the world.

And he's right.. the two gentlemen merely showed that members of that church have done wrong - in the distant past, the recent past, and in current times (yea olde pope thinking condoms are evil and all that) - and are not a force for good in the world. But they have not shown that the Catholic church, as an institution, is not a force for good in the world.

Of course, therein also lies the catch... you -can't- prove that the Catholic church as an institution is not a force for good in the world if all of its mistakes can be written off as the wrongdoings of its members. And therein lies also the rebuttal.. if only its members can do wrong, then only its members can do good.

"Is the Catholic church a force for good in the world?", then, is a question that simply has no answer.

The question should have been about specific elements within the Catholic church, or its constituency as a whole, and not whether they're good or not, but whether they're good or evil ('not good' could, after all, mean that they're just.. not good.. not evil, but not good either).
Stephen and Christopher do answer -that- question, just as the other side argues for their take on that question, and it is worth watching. Although it is entirely too short, the audience's questions are glossed over (in part due to the time constraints - and it should be said that the audience sure knows how to make their question long-winded, by thanking the speakers, telling them their personal stories, blabla) and it's certainly not meant to be an in-depth debate. Unfortunate.

Re:Wow... (1, Funny)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#30097066)

The pope needs to get kicked in the balls, hard.

Be careful, you might break an altar boy's coccyx.

Re:Wow... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30097164)

"[...] your fucking stupid [...]"

Classic. I agree with what you're saying, but when you insult people's intelligence, try not to make one of the stupidest and most easily avoidable mistakes in the english language at the same time.

If you can say "you are fucking stupid" (and I sure can in this case), then you write "you're". If you can't, like in "your stupidity", then you write your.

Slashdot, news for people who didn't watch CNN (0, Offtopic)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 4 years ago | (#30096882)

Yep, here you go, breaking news if you didn't watch CNN last night. Instead of reading the article, you can watch the youtube video for this story here [youtube.com] . Or you can read iReport and get the story here [ireport.com] .

      Either way, remember, slashdot is where you'll get yesterday's tabloid news today.

Re:Slashdot, news for people who didn't watch CNN (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30097028)

Not all of use read the tabloids.

Maybe you don't understand what /. is. It isn't a news site; it's a blog that links to news articles on other sites that /. readers might not already be reading. Whining that it's pointing to an article you happen to have already read seems a bit... pointless.

You know what this means! (3, Funny)

walmass (67905) | more than 4 years ago | (#30096886)

Vatican, the UN and the USAF already has been in contact with the aliens; this conference is just to prep the world for the breaking news.

If you don't believe me, check out V on ABC (in the USA)

Re:You know what this means! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30097022)

Aggh... too.. many.. acronyms. Head. must not.. explode... rRArhhrasgj

ET phone Rome. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30096910)

ET phone Rome.

An idea (1)

Eravnrekaree (467752) | more than 4 years ago | (#30096916)

The catholic church could deal with the multiple species thing where other species look different, from other planets, by simple acknowledge that God has many forms and can take the form of many different species which represents different aspects and characteristics of god. God can be seen as life itself , the consciouisness and soul in all living things, the world arises from this infinite consciousness from its infinite potential to create reality. So in a sense we are living in our own collective dream. The world as such reflects our own attitudes, since we are god, however we have forgotten much of who we are as god, the world as well does not display the true nature of god, which is infinite love, kindness and compassion and which desires to see no being suffer.

Catholics are quite clever (5, Informative)

turbidostato (878842) | more than 4 years ago | (#30096922)

Current Catholic theology is the result of about 1500 years where some of the most powerful minds of occident contributed to build a quite solid intellectual building. It might be based on nonsenses but still it's internal coherence and its resistance to foreign attacks is quite good.

"extremely alien-looking aliens would be hard to fit with the idea that God 'made man in his own image'"

Surely it would be a problem for those too literalist (the ones that really believe the universe was built in six days, Noah's ark, Metusellah living 600 years, etc.) but for Catholics, God's image has nothing to be with having two arms or five and two heads or breathing liquid methane; it's about self identity and the thought of our own transcendence so probably any intelligent alien (non self-concious non-intelligent alien life pose no problem) would still fit the definition.

"Jesus Christ's role as savior would be confused"

Minor problem: Rome would say that each intelligent species would take its own path towards or against salvation and that's all. Regarding the heaven chores (angels and all that stuff) they are both real things and methapores of the relationship with divinity and you are done.

"would other worlds have their own Christ-figures, or would Earth's Christ be universal?"

Both stanzas are true at the same time. Literally that would be no problem for Catholic church, after all its God is one and three at the same time; logically it's still not a big problem: the path to redemption (or the lack of) would be tied to the local History of those aliens; they either don't need redeption (rationally that could be the case, of course I don't think Rome would accept that; they would be out of job), or they found their own path or they came to know about us so they can learn about Christ and share our own redemption (they know *now* that Christ did die for them to so their souls can be saved etc.).

"says Father Jose Funes, a Jesuit astronomer "

Of course, it had to be a Jesuit. Quite clever folks, those Jesuits.

"The multiple incarnations is a heresy in Catholicism"

Yes. But since God is uber-everything (almighty, omniscient...) it's easy to acomodate the idea that there are a lot of different ways for a mere mortal to be made in God's image (and even real reincarnations might be accepted by Catholics if aliens are involved; they'd just say that it's no "real" incarnation but kind of larval state: just as a worm and a butterfly seem very different but they still are the same individual you might incarnate on an alien or the other way around and still being accepted as being the same individual -that wouldn't be too hard a problem for Catholics: Christ showed us there was live beyond human death, etc.).

Re:Catholics are quite clever (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30097052)

Current Catholic theology is the result of about 1500 years where some of the most powerful minds of occident contributed to build a quite solid intellectual building. It might be based on nonsenses but still it's internal coherence and its resistance to foreign attacks is quite good.

Indeed. Its success is, oh the irony, a proof of Darwin's theory applied to religions.

Re:Catholics are quite clever (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30097074)

Davies would do well to study Catholicism before commenting on it. http://www.newadvent.org/summa/4003.htm#article7

Re:Catholics are quite clever (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#30097096)

God's image has nothing to be with having two arms

Then Michaelangelo has some 'splaining to do.

Re:Catholics are quite clever (1)

jegerjensen (1273616) | more than 4 years ago | (#30097156)

... Both stanzas are true at the same time. Literally that would be no problem for Catholic church, after all its God is one and three at the same time; logically it's still not a big problem: the path to redemption (or the lack of) would be tied to the local History of those aliens; they either don't need redeption ...

This is so douglas-adamsish... Reads very much like an excerpt from The Guide!

Idiots (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30096924)

They're going to bring the roof down on their own heads with that completely unnecessary debate. They could easily say "there is no intelligent alien life" and keep their privileges, possibly forever. Alien life is as elusive as the christian god. What do they do instead? They point out inconsistencies in their own story. Idiots.

Isn't this all solved by the FSM? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30096928)

His noodley appendages touch ALL planets

Secrets? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 4 years ago | (#30096930)

Why are they wasting time with this, do they know something the general pubic hasn't been told yet?

Re:Secrets? (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#30097118)

Why are they wasting time with this

The Catholic Church is planning a big product tie-in with District 9.

On Sunday, there will be a code printed on each host that's good for a download of a special limited edition trailer.

nothing new here (1)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 4 years ago | (#30096962)

I've encountered people who think that the discovery of intelligent alien life would completely upset the apple cart of Christianity, "proving" that it was all a bunch of hogwash. But it wouldn't. There's nothing anywhere in Genesis that says that there are no other "people", and it's not as if this would be the first time that a New World was discovered. To be sure, there'd be some challenging theological questions to wrestle with, such as whether the Original Sin of Eve tainted their world, or some ancestor of theirs did it for them, but most adherents don't really care about that stuff: they just believe.

Re:nothing new here (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#30097130)

the discovery of intelligent alien life would completely upset the apple cart of Christianity, "proving" that it was all a bunch of hogwash.

It's a little late.

It's Smart (1)

Talisman (39902) | more than 4 years ago | (#30096972)

"Just as a multiplicity of creatures exists on Earth, so there could be other beings, also intelligent, created by God."

I am agnostic, and I have no problem with this line of reasoning. The presence of aliens neither proves nor disproves the existence of God, from a philosophical point of view. The 'smart' religion is the adaptable one. If you want to keep your followers and expand your base, you need to keep your belief systems up-to-date. This is a very smart thing for the Catholic church to do. Now if they could just get over their hatred of homosexuals...

No need for extraterrestrials (1)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 4 years ago | (#30096994)

The Catholics should start with dolphins, who are arguably as intelligent as humans, but not tool users, and alien in their thought processes and communications mode. Frankly chimps are close enough to at least spark a debate.

And what of lawyers and politicians? Do they *have* souls? Is it possible?

The answer to the dilemma is simple... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30097008)

Purge the xenos, for the glory of the Emperor!

Third group (1, Flamebait)

argent (18001) | more than 4 years ago | (#30097016)

If you look back at the history of Christian debate on this, it divides into two camps. There are those that believe that it is human destiny to bring salvation to the aliens, and those who believe in multiple incarnations

What about the possibility that alien species have not Fallen or suffered from Original Sin?

Two words: Giordano Bruno (5, Informative)

Shag (3737) | more than 4 years ago | (#30097020)

It's been 425 years since Bruno argued in De l'Infinito, Universo e Mondi [altervista.org] (Italian; use Google translate) that the universe was infinite and contained innumerable stars, with countless planets around them, some containing life.

He was pretty far ahead of his time... far enough ahead that in 1600 the Church had him burned at the stake. Good to see they're getting round to considering his ideas, albeit a little bit belatedly.

Re:Two words: Giordano Bruno (1)

pagaboy (1029878) | more than 4 years ago | (#30097200)

Interesting - thanks for that Dan.

For another take on the whole question, there's CS Lewis' trilogy [wikipedia.org] , where he starts from the premise that Earth is the only fallen planet, and the only one needing redemption.

Nothing new about theology wondering about extraterrestrial life, but it's good to see the Vatican finally getting round to it.

Redefinitions (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 4 years ago | (#30097040)

If they tought that God were almighty and everywhere, they could still think that, just put up several orders of magnitude how much powerful must be. And, of course, stop thinking on it as an human form.

Or go to Clarke's law for religion, any sufficiently powerful entity is indistinguishable from God and redefine that we had just one, not "the" god in universal scale.

Or just think.

Religion is a good tool, but dont have to be the truth.

Tell me again why... (0, Flamebait)

ColonelPanic (138077) | more than 4 years ago | (#30097090)

... we're supposed to treat these clowns with respect and allow their weird Sunday-morning social clubs to have tax-exempt status in the US?

And the Catholics are supposed to be the *smart* ones, too!

Mathematically speaking... (1)

uuddlrlrab (1617237) | more than 4 years ago | (#30097102)

...this could be the theological equivalent of executing a proof, thinking you've got it right, only to wind up dividing by zero. Oops. Let's just review those first equations again...
On the other hand, though, they could easily explain it away by saying only humans have souls, and therefore aliens are really just demons/not living or some other gibberish like that. It wouldn't be the first time religion has dehumanized/demonized (meh, really don't have any better terms than those right now) individuals, groups (social, religious and ethnic populations), and ideas, simply because they conflicted with the Church doctrine.

As long as whatever they decide doesn't include a Xenu figure, they'll leave the illustrious status of "Most despicable 'religion' in the world," to those who deserve it. [encycloped...matica.com]

What does is say about my mind... (1)

KGBear (71109) | more than 4 years ago | (#30097110)

...That I read the title as "Vulcan Debates Possibility of Alien Life?"

How to be more funny? (2, Insightful)

DanielSmedegaardBuus (1563999) | more than 4 years ago | (#30097126)

Argh! Can't... find... anything... to... say... that's... more... funny... than what they're already saying!

The holy book heads' battle with science a.k.a. lucency a.k.a. anti-brainwash a.k.a. non-bullshit is much akin to a talking monkey trying to explain the passing of seasons as somehow being ultimately tied to the taste of bananas.

They're just so funny!

Except, of course, when they go postal with the crusading, and the suicide bombing, and the child molestation, and the... Ah well, maybe it's not so funny after all...

A Cosmic Relativity of Heresy (1)

Maljin Jolt (746064) | more than 4 years ago | (#30097152)

'The multiple incarnations is a heresy in Catholicism.'

For me, as for many aliens in this galaxy too, it is the Monotheism itself recognized as a most obscure heresy, catholicism included.

About time! (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#30097158)

Fiction enthusiasts finally discuss the staple of science fiction. Church and science could be reunited again.

Keep It Simple (3, Insightful)

b4upoo (166390) | more than 4 years ago | (#30097180)

The Catholics need not confront alien life issues at all. The idea that God's truth had to be delivered to the population of this world in such a way that they could understand and make use of it is sufficient. Can any of us imagine a Holy book being delivered two thousand years ago that babbled about relativity, the Higg"s Boson or multi dimensional universes?
              We can trust that the message has been delivered to others in a format that they can both understand and make use of.

History (1)

mevets (322601) | more than 4 years ago | (#30097190)

If you look at history, the real debate will be what sorts of side dishes to serve with them.

José Gabriel Funes, "Osservatore Romano" said (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30097194)

I am Italian and I can clearly remember some exponent of a Vatican "newspaper" (José Gabriel Funes, Osservatore Romano) officially stating that the existence of extraterrestrials does not go against God/Religion, even if there are no proofs of alien's existence. As if he was plenty of proofs about God's existence...

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