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Pope's Astronomer Would Love To Baptize an Alien

samzenpus posted about 4 years ago | from the where-do-you-keep-the-head-on-this-thing? dept.

Space 308

Ponca City, We Love You writes "The Guardian reports that Guy Consolmagno, curator of the pope's meteorite collection and a trained astronomer and planetary scientist, says he would be 'delighted' if intelligent life was found among the stars. 'But the odds of us finding it, of it being intelligent and us being able to communicate with it — when you add them up it's probably not a practical question.' Consolmagno adds that the traditional definition of a soul was to have intelligence, free will, freedom to love and freedom to make decisions. 'Any entity — no matter how many tentacles it has — has a soul.' Would he baptize an alien? 'Only if they asked.' Consolmagno dismisses the ideas of intelligent design as a pseudo-scientific version of creationism. 'The word has been hijacked by a narrow group of creationist fundamentalists in America to mean something it didn't originally mean at all. It's another form of the God of the gaps. It's bad theology in that it turns God once again into the pagan god of thunder and lightning.'"

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It'll make great TV (5, Funny)

grub (11606) | about 4 years ago | (#33637210)


I can see it now... the ships land at the UN and...

Alien: Greetings. We come in peace.
UN: Where do you come from?
Alien: A distant galaxy nearly 10 billion light years away. Our world has no crime, no disease, no wars; we value learning as the pinnacle of achievement. We have been waiting 2,000 of your years for the moment when Humanity is ready for contact. We feel the time is right.
UN: Why are you here?
Alien: We came to be baptized. Praise Jesus!

or not...

Re:It'll make great TV (1)

jameskojiro (705701) | about 4 years ago | (#33637250)

If that happened, I would hurl.... Or many would suspect it was a hoax by the vatican...

Re:It'll make great TV (1)

mr100percent (57156) | about 4 years ago | (#33637474)

It would probably be picked up as a pilot by FOX. They love making faith win at the end of their shows; how many times has the atheist House been outsmarted by a patient who has faith? Multiple episodes.

Re:It'll make great TV (1)

ComaVN (325750) | about 4 years ago | (#33638148)

how many times has the atheist House been outsmarted by a patient who has faith?

Oh please. How boring would that show be if everything happened for logical and fully understood reasons. Of course there's going to be people who disagree with his analytical approach, and of course they're going to be right every once in a while.

Or would you prefer it if he was somehow always magically correct?

Re:It'll make great TV (1)

Moryath (553296) | about 4 years ago | (#33638438)

Uhm... you're joking, right?

Pay attention. The most House ever gets is a "God sent us to you" bit. The whole "he works in mysterious ways" thing.

The episode with the nun was hilarious that way.

I guess the trick is you have to ask? (1)

goombah99 (560566) | about 4 years ago | (#33637564)

This baptism thing has me confused. If every entity has a soul then why not baptize my dog? Is it because the dog has to ask or at a minimum be cabable of understanding what it means? Well then what about babies then. Is there baptizement meaningless until they reconfirm it later in life? Finally what about all the bacteria in my gut. Do we share a common soul?

If the sole criteria is that you have to be a sentient entity cable of accepting christ as your savior, at least potentially (to cover the baby loophole) then I suppose this ought to include Gorillas then since they are able to converse by sign language and thus have the potential for religious instruction.

Re:I guess the trick is you have to ask? (5, Interesting)

TheLink (130905) | about 4 years ago | (#33637896)

As the guy said: "only if they asked".

That's why many Christians disagree with infant baptism.

So if a dog or gorilla understood the implications of baptism and wanted to be baptised, then I personally see no reason why the dog or gorilla shouldn't.

Even a reasonable Atheist should allow such a creature the freedom to do so, despite disagreeing with it.

FWIW, I think it may not be such a great idea to keep creating more and more transgenic animals (or even very advanced AI). It looks like society wouldn't be able to handle/treat such creatures appropriately.

Just because it can be done now doesn't mean it should.

Better wait till we grow up first.

Re:I guess the trick is you have to ask? (0, Troll)

nschubach (922175) | about 4 years ago | (#33638090)

Even a reasonable Atheist should allow such a creature the freedom to do so, despite disagreeing with it.

I must have skipped the part of my Atheist handbook that explained how we must suppress choice. I only found the chapter where it's perfectly alright for both sides to pitch their sales. There is this chapter on how it's not cool to force everyone in a nation to speak of that which they do not believe during a pledge, swearing in, or simply using money. (Maybe you got confused by that last chapter?)

Re:I guess the trick is you have to ask? (0)

TheLink (130905) | about 4 years ago | (#33638156)

I'm not confused at all. In fact I think the tone and content of your response is good evidence why the sentence I wrote was justified.

Re:I guess the trick is you have to ask? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33638428)

WTH, are you smoking? Where did GP say anything about removing choice? (except the choice of the religious to force their religion using the government?) Is GP's choice of non-religion less valuable than your choice?

Nowhere in that post was a tone of rights removal... heck GP even has a signature that says "rights are not entitlements." You are not entitled to be religious, but you have a right to choose one. You have no right however to force your religion on Atheists through pledges, swearing in or money.

I thought it was a very well phrased post pointing out your ignorance on Atheism.

Reasonable atheists don't care (5, Insightful)

fyngyrz (762201) | about 4 years ago | (#33638180)

What we care about are the constant invasions of the religious into our non-religious lives. Why can't I buy beer on Sunday? Why can't Linda and Gwen get married? For that matter, why can't Linda, Gwen, Melissa and Steve get married? Why is it expected that I put my hand on a bible in a courtroom? Why does my money say things I cannot possibly agree with (I don't trust in God, you see)? Why has my patriotism, as expressed by the pledge of allegiance, been hijacked into a totally false declaration of subservience "under god"? Why do my kids encounter religious dogma in public schools? Why am I forced to carry the tax load for the religious, when I in no way support their existence, outlook, dogma, or teachings?

If they want to dunk each other in the water, so what? That's not the problem. That's never been the problem. The problem is they don't limit their religion(s) to themselves. And in turn, that converts my general attitude from "don't care" to "religion is an obstacle to reasonable life."

Re:I guess the trick is you have to ask? (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | about 4 years ago | (#33638320)

That's why many Christians disagree with infant baptism.

Correct. Some sects, like the Amish, don't perform baptisms until the person is an 'adult'. Typically between 16 and 25 years old.

Personally, I think it carries more significance.

Re:I guess the trick is you have to ask? (1)

Kell Bengal (711123) | about 4 years ago | (#33637938)

sole criteria

So in order to have a soul, you have to fulfill the sole criteria?
"Sole criteria," get it?

Thank you, thank you. I'll be here all week.

Re:I guess the trick is you have to ask? (1)

hughJ (1343331) | about 4 years ago | (#33638026)

Or if gorillas are not deemed to be intelligent enough, and babies are reconfirmed later, what of adult humans who are severely mentally retarded, or even brain damaged. Perhaps there should be a soul IQ test to judge whether or not you're mentally developed enough to even be considered for the prospect of heaven or hell.

Re:I guess the trick is you have to ask? (1)

Tumbleweed (3706) | about 4 years ago | (#33638062)

I suppose this ought to include Gorillas then since they are able to converse by sign language and thus have the potential for religious instruction

Hey Magilla, if you accept Jesus as your saviour, I'll give you this banana, which is proof of God's existence!

Re:I guess the trick is you have to ask? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33638512)

Baptism for catholics is a very important ritual as it is supposed to clean you from the original sin (Adam and Eve eating the forbidden fruit). Although is true they baptize children before they can decide, is always because the parents ask for it, is because if they are baptized and die, they won't spend time in purgatory and go directly to heaven.

There's also a confirmation ritual you can do when you're able to decide being a catholic for yourself.

Re:It'll make great TV (1)

ShakaUVM (157947) | about 4 years ago | (#33637948)

>>Alien: We came to be baptized. Praise Jesus!

You ought to read Sawyer's book, Calculating God.

It's about an atheist curator of a natural history museum when an alien spaceship lands nearby.

They get into a long conversation, and the aliens are completely befuddled why he doesn't believe in God. If you look at all the cosmological constants, they say, it seems pretty clear the universe was engineered to support life.

Atheist: "But if there were multiple universes, we'd naturally be in one that can support life."

Aliens (dismissively): "Oh, there's no multiple universes."

Quite an amusing book to read, actually.

Re:It'll make great TV (1)

Pojut (1027544) | about 4 years ago | (#33638014)

There is also the ancient astronaut theory, something we've been studying as of late (mainly because it's interesting, and because there is a lot of interpretive evidence supporting it).

Re:It'll make great TV (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33638224)

That would be hilarious.

Re:It'll make great TV (1)

Mipoti Gusundar (1028156) | about 4 years ago | (#33638470)

UN: Why are you here?

Alien: To convert you to Islam. Allah ackbar!

fixed 4 u!

Good read (5, Insightful)

MyLongNickName (822545) | about 4 years ago | (#33637264)

This, believe it or not, is a very good read. It brings up some interesting thoughts on science and how it interacts with religion. It shows that the stereotype of the church is against is untrue. It has some interesting observations on the Catholic church and its views on things.

But, this being Slashdot, I am afraid all we will see is a mindless trollfest.

Re:Good read (5, Insightful)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | about 4 years ago | (#33637368)

I agree, and I'm glad that the Slashdot summary doesn't try to pick out sensationalist statements like a lot of other blogs have.

For example, the comment about the baptism. A lot of places phrased their summary in an attempt to suggest that he would be running around trying to baptise aliens at the earliest chance. I like that Slashdot included his actual statement which was a response to a question.

"Only if they asked." seems a perfectly fair and rational response to the question.

Re:Good read (2, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 4 years ago | (#33637690)

Actually the idea of baptizing an alien brings up some interesting theological questions. You have to remember why Christians get baptized in the first place: to remove original sin. You know, the sin of Adam and Eve eating the Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. If you stop and think about that assuming that aliens can be baptized has a few problems to it.

Is he assuming that any alien's that we meet had a similar fall, and need to be redeemed? Or is he assuming that Adam and Eve's sin has somehow tainted the aliens across interstellar distance (after all, it is supposed to taint us across thousands of years of time, why not distance as well)? Or is he thinking that Adam and Eve were the original ancestors of all intelligent beings (in a spiritual sense, I'm thinking along the lines of Adam and Eve being the first souls rather than the first humans)? Or did he just forget what the actual purpose of baptism was when a journalist asked him a question that he wasn't really prepared for?... yes, that seems most likely. Drat it all, I thought I was on to something here.

Re:Good read (4, Interesting)

ShakaUVM (157947) | about 4 years ago | (#33637986)

>>You have to remember why Christians get baptized in the first place: to remove original sin

If you consider Original Sin to be a nature that is anything less than perfect (which is what it more or less means these days), it makes sense. Redemption for your fuckups.

>>Or is he thinking that Adam and Eve were the original ancestors of all intelligent beings

Doubtful. Back in the middle ages, the question arose if elves and giants could be baptized. They'd been sending missionaries out to the northern reaches of Europe, where everyone knew giants and elves lived. So the pope considered it, and said, sure. They could be baptized, too, if they wanted it.

So this isn't much of a departure from precedent.

Re:Good read (2, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 4 years ago | (#33638104)

If you consider Original Sin to be a nature that is anything less than perfect

But, according to theology, we were created perfect. It was only the actions of Adam and Eve, going against the will of God [wikipedia.org] , that made us imperfect and requiring baptism. So if you're going to say that aliens are imperfect that would mean that they had a fall similar to humanity's.

That's fine, it answers the question as well as anything, though it does raise the question of why so many of God's sentient creatures chose to disobey him. To paraphrase a Douglas Adams quote: If he the type of guy to go around putting bricks under hats and waiting for people to kick them? Is he hiding in the corner of the garden just waiting for someone to eat that fruit so he can jump out and say "Aha!"?

Re:Good read (1)

fmobus (831767) | about 4 years ago | (#33637990)

Or is he assuming that Adam and Eve's sin has somehow tainted the aliens across interstellar distance (after all, it is supposed to taint us across thousands of years of time, why not distance as well)?

Also, how fast is this taint travelling? It certainly couldn't go faster than light - otherwise we would just build spaceships fueled by taint.

Re:Good read (1)

irenaeous (898337) | about 4 years ago | (#33638206)

Also, how fast is this taint travelling? It certainly couldn't go faster than light - otherwise we would just build spaceships fueled by taint.

The souls would be subject to quantum entanglement so no travel is necessary.

Re:Good read (1)

silverglade00 (1751552) | about 4 years ago | (#33638506)

spaceships fueled by taint

Guys, I'm off on a Rule 34 search. I'll see you all tomorrow.

Re:Good read (1)

nschubach (922175) | about 4 years ago | (#33638204)

Obviously, Adam and Eve had kids, some of them built a space ship and set off to explore space while the others stayed to worship his holiness. The ones who went off to abandon their maker were deformed beyond recognition as punishment. That's why all Star Trek/Wars aliens bear similar resemblance to humans, but are all twisted and deformed by Satan.

Re:Good read (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | about 4 years ago | (#33637720)

Oh wait, I should have read the title instead of the summary.

"Idle: Pope's Astronomer Would Love To Baptize an Alien."

Slightly sensationalist

Re:Good read (2, Insightful)

TheLink (130905) | about 4 years ago | (#33638030)

Many journalists and "wannabe journalists" are biased against religion, and/or they like to troll (to get more hits/views/purchases).

So they sensationalize stuff.

That's why Michael Reiss lost his job- the media kept claiming that he wanted to teach creationism in schools:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Reiss [wikipedia.org]

With headlines like "Call for creationism in science" and "Leading scientist urges teaching of creationism in schools"

Re:Good read (1)

EricTheGreen (223110) | about 4 years ago | (#33638280)

Agreed. Great article. Knowledge and faith co-existing...who knew?

I'd be interested to learn if has he ever read "The Fire Balloons" and what impression it made on him, if any.

What about Gingers? (4, Interesting)

antifoidulus (807088) | about 4 years ago | (#33637268)

Why doesn't he try to baptize a Ginger Kid instead, they are assumed to have no soul and there are a lot more of them then there are aliens.

Re:What about Gingers? (1)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | about 4 years ago | (#33637440)

Belfast 1969-1990s. 'Nuff said.

Re:What about Gingers? (1)

allanmackenzie (1254530) | about 4 years ago | (#33638220)

Your sig is right. If the facts don't match your ideology it does NOT mean that the facts are wrong.

The truth of our faith becomes a matter of ridicule among the infidels if any Catholic, not gifted with the necessary scientific learning, presents as dogma what scientific scrutiny shows to be false.
-Saint Thomas Aquinas

I found Consolmagno to be thought provoking and insightful.

Allan

Re:What about Gingers? (1)

KazW (1136177) | about 4 years ago | (#33638408)

Why doesn't he try to baptize a Ginger Kid instead, they are assumed to have no soul and there are a lot more of them then there are aliens.

Kill two birds with one stone.

Have the inquisition chase after Doctor Who once he finally gets a ginger body.

So, that's what they call it these days. (-1, Troll)

Just_Say_Duhhh (1318603) | about 4 years ago | (#33637278)

"Baptize an alien?" I guess they had to drop the old euphemism - "nail an altar boy in the rectory."

Re:So, that's what they call it these days. (1, Troll)

xaxa (988988) | about 4 years ago | (#33638296)

The Catholic rape jokes got a lot less funny for me this weekend. I met a group of women who'd been raped by priests as children.

A more accurate headline might be "Pope's astronomer tries to divert attention from the paedophilia/homophobic/anti-woman/anti-contraception/nazi-atheist/third-world-Britain scandal during visit to UK".

Definitely discuss beforehand (4, Funny)

starfishsystems (834319) | about 4 years ago | (#33637314)

Water could be extremely toxic to some life forms. You don't want to start out a first encounter on the wrong foot.

Christian: Welcome to Earth. Hey, you want to be baptized?
Alien: Sure!
Christian: Lean way back. Okay, here we go.
Alien: [tszzz]

Re:Definitely discuss beforehand (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33637840)

Water could be extremely toxic to some life forms. You don't want to start out a first encounter on the wrong foot.

Christian: Welcome to Earth. Hey, you want to be baptized?

Alien: Sure!

Christian: Lean way back. Okay, here we go.

Alien: [tszzz]

If a species is capable of interstellar travel,
If a species is capable of determining the composition of our atmosphere,
If a species is ready to drop down on our planet without any type of protective gear,

then I'd presume that they would have determined that they can handle water.

Would we let our astronauts onto the moon without special gear? No. And that's considering how primitive we would be in comparison. I think that a bigger concern would be bacteria, viruses, particulate matter, et cetra. Water is pretty abundant throughout the universe. I'm sure that they would be familiar with what it is by the time that they got here.

Re:Definitely discuss beforehand (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | about 4 years ago | (#33638426)

But maybe it's only holy water which kills them. :-)

Re:Definitely discuss beforehand (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33638174)

If water was toxic to them, why would they come to a planet where water makes up 70% of the surface area? Although it would make fighting off an invasion more fun if we could use super soakers and water balloons.

Re:Definitely discuss beforehand (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33638374)

If water was toxic to them, why would they come to a planet where water makes up 70% of the surface area?

Because M. Night Shyamalan invited them? Or maybe he is working for them to prepare for the inevitable invasion. What a twist!

Re:Definitely discuss beforehand (1)

blhack (921171) | about 4 years ago | (#33638510)

If that was the case, they probably wouldn't come out of their spaceship. Our atmosphere is filled with water.

Forever may be right (2, Insightful)

suso (153703) | about 4 years ago | (#33637344)

As much as I dislike religion. I've come to accept that probably for a long time to come, we are going to be stuck with it. Because no matter how much we discover and can explain of the universe, no matter how many other worlds and civilizations we discover. There will always be something that can be explained at the time, and people will fear and respect it and even worship it. Probably every generation has had its share of people that thought that they were going to see the downfall of religion in their time.

Re:Forever may be right (1)

Suki I (1546431) | about 4 years ago | (#33637664)

As much as I dislike religion. I've come to accept that probably for a long time to come, we are going to be stuck with it. Because no matter how much we discover and can explain of the universe, no matter how many other worlds and civilizations we discover. There will always be something that can be explained at the time, and people will fear and respect it and even worship it. Probably every generation has had its share of people that thought that they were going to see the downfall of religion in their time.

People just do religion. Always have and always will.

Also, I like this astronomer! I think I have heard his position before and liked it then too.

Re:Forever may be right (0, Redundant)

alvinrod (889928) | about 4 years ago | (#33637754)

Call me more skeptical, but religion will always be around because a lot of people are really stupid and it's easiest to keep them in line with religion or something similar. Really, anything that pits them against some other group and creates and us vs. them mentality. Religion is just one convenient way to do this.

If religion ever does get stamped out it will just be replaced by something else that is virtually indistinguishable from it.

Re:Forever may be right (1)

vadim_t (324782) | about 4 years ago | (#33637796)

Not for very long. Religion is at an all-time low, and keeps decreasing. Also true believers are becoming very rare. Lots of people will tell you they believe but don't read the bible, don't go to church, and can't coherently explain what they believe. They're more going with the flow than anything else. In Europe, religion is a highly private matter and you generally don't know who's a believer or not.

Irrational beliefs and "there's something higher" probably will be with us for a very long time, but I think organize religion will shrink dramatically much faster.

Re:Forever may be right (1)

jlf278 (1022347) | about 4 years ago | (#33638264)

I we will see certain religions (or religious sects) disappear or change beyond recognition over (a long long) time. However, I believe religion will always exist within human society. Religion really just explains the unexplainable. Since we will never know all that there is to know about the universe, there will always be a good deal of unknown for religion to claim. While religions cannot claim as much goings-on-of-the-world as they used to, some of the most significant unkowns are unlikely to ever yield undeniable answers.

Deliberately misconstruing speaker (4, Informative)

Skexis (1744642) | about 4 years ago | (#33637352)

Even reading just the summary, the title does no justice to Consolmagno's response.

Pre-Fallen? (3, Insightful)

flogger (524072) | about 4 years ago | (#33637382)

I've loved the idea of Religion and Aliens. :-) Who knows, maybe Angels/spirits/demons are aliens. (Well they are alien to us, but maybe that are ET-type aliens.)

I recall having many long conversations with a priest about the possibility of the existence of Aliens. religiously speaking, one of the questions that intrigues me the most is are the aliens corrupted by "Original Sin?" What would society be like if we did not have this tendency to do "wrong" when now one was looking? What if the aliens do not have that tendency? What if they have never "eaten of the forbidden fruit?"

Are they Pre-Fallen or have they fallen?
  • Pre-Fallen: THey are going to be nice and cure our cancer and help us in any way possible.
  • Fallen: They are going to wipe us out and destroy us in a way that S. Hawkins is going to say, "I told you so."

Re:Pre-Fallen? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33637772)

That seems to be an awfully simplistic and false dichotomy. By the Judeo-Christian reckoning, humanity is in the "Fallen" category; yet I don't think we'd automatically attempt to wipe out and destroy any alien civilization we might come across (although I would include it as a possibility.) Besides, if they were "fallen", wouldn't a benevolent God dispatch an Alien Jesus to redeem them too?

Re:Pre-Fallen? (1)

Kell Bengal (711123) | about 4 years ago | (#33638124)

"Alien Jesus" - best name for a cover band, ever

Re:Pre-Fallen? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33637828)

angels ? spirits ? demons ? you serious ? if anyone tried to blabber out similar stuff and not claim to be religious about it, men i white coats pick you up. why does the religious have a right to be insane while other not ?

All events have lessons to be learned (1)

Steeltoe (98226) | about 4 years ago | (#33637848)

Pre-Fallen: Helpless, scared beings who scuttle around on their little island on a planet theeming with life, but they've yet to explore anything more than the few vegetables on their little island / "garden".

"Fallen":
Predators: Enslaving planet after planet, in order to expand its own agendas and territories. Pretty much stuck on the level of humanity the last 500 years.
Enlightened: Actively monitoring Earth, awaiting the moment humanity is ready for first contact on a global scale. Only allowed to help with short-lived abductions and contact with crazy people, who won't be believed ever. Yes, yes, I jest ;-)

In order to become enlightened, ironically, you have to "fall". If humanity never "fell", the bible, Jesus, everything would become meaningless. Wisdom cannot exist without failure, indeed, it totally depends on it.

Not that Christianity is my cup of tea, however, all religions have contributed alot to earth's spiritual development. Even when they fail tremendously, we can learn alot from that as well as when they "do good".

Re:All events have lessons to be learned (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | about 4 years ago | (#33638496)

In order to become enlightened, ironically, you have to "fall". If humanity never "fell", the bible, Jesus, everything would become meaningless. Wisdom cannot exist without failure, indeed, it totally depends on it.

This also highlights the philosophical problem of trying to ban temptation.

Re:Pre-Fallen? (1)

chronosan (1109639) | about 4 years ago | (#33638050)

Who is S. Hawkins?

Seriously? (0, Flamebait)

TrumpetPower! (190615) | about 4 years ago | (#33637390)

Let me get this straight — Creationism is silly pagan nonsense, but the notion of an ancient zombie born of a Jewish virgin that a modern shaman can manifest in the flesh by chanting incantations over stale bread...and cannibalizing said zombie will turn you into a similarly-immortal zombie...and that E.T. would be interested in such nonsense for anything other than anthropological reasons....

I’m sorry. I know I was heading towards some sort of point, but teh shtupid must be contagious....

Cheers,

b&

Re:Seriously? (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | about 4 years ago | (#33637548)

Other than the fact that none of your points are accurate, you had a very ontopic post.

Re:Seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33637660)

you know the bible is extremely metaphorical, and the stories within it were never meant to be taken LITERALLY, more as lessons demonstrating the goodness of mankind through a series allegorical tales, how to live in peace and respect you fellow people, that's why churches should never be viewed as simply "place of worship/sacrifice/bullshit", it is a reflection of the goodness that is inherent in all people; it is when all people come together, what they are capable of creating in the name of love, peace, fellowship, that is how these churches came to stand. Wether you insert the jewish zombie born of a virgin, you can see how this story comes from a simpler time, when perhaps people werent as educated and the only viable means of imparting the belief that you should treat others as you yourself would want to be treated, was through this book, the bible. That is what catholics are taught in a catholic school system, it is not a pagan god that we worship that controls the moon and stars, that it is an extremely metaphorical system of beleif that needs to be constantly questioned by oneself. The reason we believe in jesus is that through scarifice he has "saved" our souls, that also becomes an extremely metaphorical statement, through living a good life, and sacrifices yourself for the ones you love, that is how you will recieve spiritual enlightenment. It seeks to tell us to be humble towards one another, to go out of our way to help each other. You look at all of the foolish things done in the name of democracy, yet we never condemn democracy because of something bush had done, no we condemn bush, so i hope too that you can see that everything done in the name of the church was not always reflectant of the values within the church.. ... but that would be hoping too much

Re:Seriously? (1)

PhreakOfTime (588141) | about 4 years ago | (#33637964)

No. The eating of flesh, and drinking of blood is quite clearly literal.

The Catholic Church is quite clear in its belief structure when it comes to communion. The stale bread, and wine, it is believed by the followers(or should be, or they arent really catholic) that this REALLY becomes the flesh and blood of Jesus, that they then proceed to 'cannibalize' every Sunday.

Eucharist [wikipedia.org]

Re:Seriously? (1)

Kell Bengal (711123) | about 4 years ago | (#33638192)

Of course, not everybody agrees with the nature of the eucharist - there's substantiation, trans-substantiation and consubstantiation, the list goes on. Not everybody takes it literally; no more than everybody believes that Mary was holy or not.

Re:Seriously? (1)

Liquidrage (640463) | about 4 years ago | (#33638210)

Don't confuse "I don't take them literally" with "they aren't meant to be taken literally".

Especially since they were and still are by many.

We could argue that the intent of "some" parts were parable even though they were taken literally. The intent is hard to discern. The Four Gospels and the Pauline epistles were certainly taken literally from the start (not that they all started at the same time) and without authorship issues of the epistles it's pretty obvious they were exactly meant to be taken literally. The Pentateuch has been taken literally despite it obviously (to modern criticism) being fictitious.

In The Name of The Father, The Son, & Teh Fail (4, Insightful)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | about 4 years ago | (#33637814)

I realize that it's trendy to be anti-religion and all, but please... if you're going to jump on the bandwagon try to understand the teensiest background and minimum number of tenets of what it is you are trying to mock, lest you make all the hard-working, educated, clever and industrious atheists look bad.

Re:In The Name of The Father, The Son, & Teh F (1)

bsDaemon (87307) | about 4 years ago | (#33638348)

Transubstantiation is the (largely Catholic; most Protestants don't believe this) that the communion wafer and wine literally turn into the body and blood of Christ upon consumption. This is why Catholics aren't really allowed to eat before mass if they intend to take communion. However, the heart of the matter is that the belief is one of literal transformation (although clearly unsubstantiated (no pun intended)). Eating human flesh, when one is oneself a human, is pretty much the definition of cannibalism. Drinking human blood falls in line with that, too, and wanders off in the direction of vampirism.

Rising from the dead is also a fairly zombie-like behavior. The reason that Christians traditionally can't be cremated and must be burred intact, a practice originally derived from Judaism for similar spiritual reasons, is the belief that after the second coming when God establishes a literal kingdom on earth, the souls collected in heaven will be put back in their bodies, and thus they, too, will literally rise from the dead.

Sure, the majority of people seem to have moved on from more medieval beliefs, but they are in fact "real" beliefs with theological underpinnings and thus mocking them is totally OK, since we're not making fun of Islam which is bad and naughty.

Re:Seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33637926)

no serious theologian thinks that Mary's pregnancy has a scientific explanation. It has/may have a theological/philosophical explanation as it is a supernatural thing. Trying to ridicule a supernatural phenomenon for not fitting well in natural rules and behaviors is a fallacy. You can choose not to believe it, doubt/contest the witnesses and historical evidences, you can point to philosophical problems with the phenomenon. But you can't point your finger and say: "That miracle over there contradicts such and such physical laws".

Re:Seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33638420)

The notion of an ancient zombie born of a Jewish virgin at least doesn't contradict everything we see in the world around us. Yeah, it does go against the known laws of nature, which is why they call it a miracle, and it's most likely complete non-sense, but it doesn't say that everything we know is wrong like the intelligent design folks do.

Would he baptise an AI? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33637392)

Just because we do not have one today that meets the qualifications does not mean it is impossible we one day could. This suggests a brand new version of the Turing test, too!

Would he baptise an ape? (1)

OhHellWithIt (756826) | about 4 years ago | (#33637834)

After all, apes seem to be more human than we've given them credit for, and certainly more self-aware than a human infant.

Question (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33637394)

If an intelligent being embrace religion (or politics for that matter), would it still be considered as "Intelligent"???

but would the vatican (1)

ifeelswine (1546221) | about 4 years ago | (#33637450)

turn a blind eye... when one alien species tried to wipe another one out? when priests started fondling their tentacles?

Any entity (5, Funny)

DevConcepts (1194347) | about 4 years ago | (#33637456)

— no matter how many tentacles it has — has a soul. Ummm... The Flying Spaghetti Monster??

Re:Any entity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33637666)

Japanese cartoon porn?

Re:Any entity (1)

Vixe (1846608) | about 4 years ago | (#33637808)

In the name of his Noodly Goodness. RAmen.

Re:Any entity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33638168)

>> -- no matter how many
tentacles it has --

If we can molest it, it can be baptized.

Re:Any entity (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about 4 years ago | (#33638446)

what about an octopus or cows or pigs or fish or chickens?

Those are alien enough, but if they have souls is it correct to eat them? :)

The Vatican dismissing creationism? (2, Informative)

brian0918 (638904) | about 4 years ago | (#33637500)

This [smbc-comics.com] seems very appropriate.

Re:The Vatican dismissing creationism? (1)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | about 4 years ago | (#33637958)

Um, the Vatican hasn't supported Creationism for as long as I've been alive. That's not meant to be a priest in that comic (unless the artist is as ignorant of modern religious beliefs as you are).

Re:The Vatican dismissing creationism? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33638118)

So the joke is "A group of non scientists whose job is not at all scientific (The Vatican) takes 100 years to accept scientific data, but does eventually accept it"?

All religious leaders have only one job: Help people cope with life by telling stories.
Almost by definition, this will not be scientific. (Storytellers aren't the most rigorous fact checkers)

Based on past performance... (1, Funny)

hyades1 (1149581) | about 4 years ago | (#33637556)

...the aliens should lock up their young. If they don't, the priests will be at 'em sure as the pope dresses like a Fairy Godmother.

Let's take this out of context (0, Troll)

Kitsune Inari (1801214) | about 4 years ago | (#33637620)

the traditional definition of a soul was to have [...] freedom to love and freedom to make decisions

Thus, gay people have no soul.

'Any entity — no matter how many tentacles it has — has a soul.'

Fhtagn! Iaeeh! XD

Would he baptize an alien? 'Only if they asked.'

O rly? That means he agrees with me that to indoctrinate and baptize children should be illegal and prosecuted. Yay!

Re:Let's take this out of context (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | about 4 years ago | (#33637730)

Thus, gay people have no soul.

Love is not the same as sex or marriage. Love is presumably part of this but one who remains unmarried is still free to love.

Please note that I am not against gay marriage. Just pointing out your logic error.

O rly? That means he agrees with me that to indoctrinate and baptize children should be illegal and prosecuted. Yay!

Huh? What? Are you suggesting parents DON'T have the right to request this? I didn't realize that sprinkling water on a child's head was assault....

Now circumcision is another matter.

Re:Let's take this out of context (1)

ProfBooty (172603) | about 4 years ago | (#33637832)

Love and sexual attraction are two different things. Otherwise loving your kids would make one a pedophile.

Re:Let's take this out of context (1)

Schadrach (1042952) | about 4 years ago | (#33637944)

You mean it doesn't? AHH, I has been teh lied to!

There is more to it than a "soul." (0)

flogger (524072) | about 4 years ago | (#33637632)

You know, there are a lot of ways to describe "creatures. THere is a simple checklist. Does somethings possess 1). a Body. 2). free will 3). Soul.

Humans have4 all three,
Animals have 2 (or one), a body (maybe a soul?) but no free will.
An Angel/Demon have two of these as well. Free Will, a Soul, but no Body.

Will an alien have all three?

Re:There is more to it than a "soul." (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | about 4 years ago | (#33637974)

Animals have 2 (or one), a body (maybe a soul?) but no free will.

Anyone who has ever had closer contact to an animal knows that animals have very clearly a free will.

How do you test if something/someone has a soul?

Re:There is more to it than a "soul." (1)

KendyForTheState (686496) | about 4 years ago | (#33638028)

How do you figure "no free will"? I have 5 litter boxes in my house and it is up to the cats to decide which one to use at any instant. So they pee on the carpet! No free will indeed!

Re:There is more to it than a "soul." (1)

smchris (464899) | about 4 years ago | (#33638120)

Exactly. Where does he think the term "herding cats" comes from? I'd argue they have a lot more intelligence than Terri Shiavo too.

freedom to love (1)

doconnor (134648) | about 4 years ago | (#33637646)

While the other attributes he lists are inherent in intelligent life, an alien intelligence may not necessarily anything resembling love. Most animals don't mate for life, or are even together more then a few hours. Many animals don't care for their children either.

Re:freedom to love (2, Interesting)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | about 4 years ago | (#33637936)

While the other attributes he lists are inherent in intelligent life, an alien intelligence may not necessarily anything resembling love.

Now, not getting too far into this topic as we are discussing his comments in the third person and therefore can't really ask him to expand upon them. I don't think he is referring to the basic emotions assigned to monogamous couples.

The biblical 'love' has the same definition problems as the biblical 'know'. The words are similar but the meanings are much different. And even then, the term 'love' from a biblical sense has much more philosophical implications than are easily understood in a quote from an interview.

Probability (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33637776)

when you add them up it's probably not a practical question

Seeing as how they are probabilities, shouldn't we be multiplying?

Re:Probability (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | about 4 years ago | (#33638244)

when you add them up it's probably not a practical question

Seeing as how they are probabilities, shouldn't we be multiplying?

It depends on the problem.

If it's about events which cannot happen at the same time, but any of the event suffices, you have to add the probabilities up (e.g. the probability of a car being a Ford is the sum of the probability of it being a Model T, the probability of it being a Fiesta, etc. (you have to add up all the different Ford models' probabilities)).

If it's about independent events which both have to happen, you have to multiply (e.g. the probability of a meteorite hitting you is the probability of there being a meteorite coming down to earth, and the probability of you being at that place).

In all other cases, neither is correct.

Obligatory... (1)

bmo (77928) | about 4 years ago | (#33637876)

Firesign Theatre:

"Domini, Domini, Domini. You are all Catholics now"

--
BMO

What if the alien race has their own "Jesus"? (2, Insightful)

melted (227442) | about 4 years ago | (#33638094)

What if the alien race has their own "Jesus"? And who's to say which "Jesus" is really the "son of good" and which one is the impostor. Aliens might come here to baptize. And pray to god (if you believe) that they don't use the methods employed by crusaders and the Inquisition. ;-)

Then there's also the issue that the "god created Man in his own image". What if the aliens aren't anthropomorphic?

Wrong cross (2, Interesting)

Bucaro (758451) | about 4 years ago | (#33638106)

Interesting read, but something is conflicting. Behind Consolmagno is an orthodox cross, and not the papal cross. Anyone else notice this?

An octopus has tentacles ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33638172)

does the church think an octopus would have a soul? Would a squid?

Equally likely... (2, Funny)

macraig (621737) | about 4 years ago | (#33638242)

... is that the alien would like to know how the Pope's astronomer tastes with a little alfredo sauce.

Definition of a Soul (3, Interesting)

Jason Levine (196982) | about 4 years ago | (#33638466)

He lists the requirements for having a soul as:

- have intelligence
- free will
- freedom to love
- freedom to make decisions

Putting aliens to one side for the moment, as I don't think Lrrr is going to drop in on us tomorrow, I wonder how he feels about some intelligent animals.

Chimps, gorillas and other primates have been shown to fulfill these requirements to varying degrees. Dolphins have also. Would they baptize a dolphin? (How would you do that? Raise it out of water?)

I wondered if anyone ever asked Koko what gorillas think about a creator. Thanks to a Google search, I turned up this exchange:

Francine Patterson: "Who is God?"
Koko: "Me."
Patterson: "Who created the world?"
Koko: "Another woman."
(Source: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1252/is_12_131/ai_n8569017/?tag=content;col1 [findarticles.com] )

Somehow, I don't think Koko's religious outlook would gel with the Vatican's. ;-)

Simak wrote this over and over (1)

JohnQPublic (158027) | about 4 years ago | (#33638482)

This sounds like almost every Clifford D. Simak story, plus a few other writers. I wish I could remember which one of them ran into the problem of trans-substantiation being mistaken for cannibalism :-)

And the aliens think ... (1)

PPH (736903) | about 4 years ago | (#33638516)

... Insha' Allah.
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