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Vatican Astronomer Comments On Extraterrestrials

simoniker posted more than 9 years ago | from the somewhere-out-there dept.

Science 1312

An anonymous reader writes "There's an Astrobiology.net interview up with a Vatican astronomer, Guy Consolmagno, who also curates one of the world's largest meteorite collections. On the possibility of a non-terrestrial lifeform, he says initially 'I don't know', followed by three scenarios. First, he argues: 'We find an intelligent civilization and there's no way in creation we can communicate with them because they're so alien to us. We can't talk to dolphins now. In which case, we'll never know.' Secondly, he suggests: 'We find the intelligent civilization. We can communicate.' As agents of free-will, the aliens are self-aware of good and evil, thus convertible to some terrestrial religion. Thirdly: 'We find a dozen civilizations out there, and a bunch of Jehovah's witnesses go up and convert them all.' The question of whether an alien civilization might convert Earth to their religion, or become a religion unto themselves, is left unconsidered. This compares to the many reasons people give for hosting a SETI@home client, including that ET contact would unite humanity, challenge religion, or all of the above."

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1312 comments

Or how about (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9136933)

We discover intelligent life up there immeasurably superior to ourselves and they become our new gods.

Re:Or how about (5, Insightful)

Volmarias (705460) | more than 9 years ago | (#9136970)

Despite the funny rating on this post, it probably is the truth. People will "interpret" the bible to mean that extraterrestrials are really angels; they're servants of God that guided us through the ages. Unfortunately, it is certain that there will be a bunch of loonies who also feel that extraterrestrials are obviously demons; man was made in God's image, after all. These are simply tests from above to see how we will adapt.

Re:Or how about (5, Interesting)

kamapuaa (555446) | more than 9 years ago | (#9137019)

The Western notion of God means the being is all-powerful, morally perfect, and the creator of the universe. It's difficult to believe people would start bowing down, like it was C3PO with the Ewoks...

There's already a lot of people who believe in Grey Aliens, but I haven't heard of people interpreting these Greys to be Christian angels or demons.

Re:Or how about (5, Insightful)

krymsin01 (700838) | more than 9 years ago | (#9137045)

That's funny, I have [thewatcherfiles.com], several [alien-ufos.com] times. [mt.net]

Then again, if you go looking for them you'll find someone who believes anything you can come up with.

Re:Or how about (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9137077)

can I have some of what you're smoking?...my beer isn't doing this justice...it's cracking a rib...but I think I could've at least squirted out beer through my nose when I read that...

Re:Or how about (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9137032)

religious loonies? I guess we'll see who is right soon enough. The Bible says in the final days people (such as yourself) will accuse the righteous of being "whacked out of their gord" and will glorify the wicked and secular.

Have fun in hell buddy ...

Re:Or how about (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9137063)

funny how the words "wicked" and "secular" are so close together. After all if you don't believe then obviously you're evil right?

Could you cite the lines of the book in the Bible you are talking about? Do I need to remind you that the book you are talking about was added to the Bible with great caution. People choose to add that book to the book you say is the "word of god". Funny how the "word of god" is so selective when it comes into contact with humans first....

Re:Or how about (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9137107)

Unfortunately, it is certain that there will be a bunch of loonies who also feel that extraterrestrials are obviously demons; man was made in God's image,

It's a bunch of loonies on both sides Setting us all up for another round of holy wars. where can the normal people go?

Re:Or how about (5, Funny)

ninja0 (764532) | more than 9 years ago | (#9136988)

More fun would be if we discover intelligent life immeasurably inferior to ourselves and we become their new gods :)

Re:Or how about (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9137002)

This shouldn't be considered funny...the things that are spoken of in the bible can almost all be done using the right level of technology in whatever field you can think of. It is completely possible that an alien prankster is responsible for everything the bible accounts for...and it is also just as likely that such a thing could happen anytime in the future. After all if you are worshiping a being that is a step above human life and knowledge...how can you say that the being you're worshiping isn't simply pulling the wool over your eyes with card tricks?

It's real simple...if any real god came down here today...do you really think the majority of the human population would believe anything he/she/it said? As it turns out the time to embed moral fibers into a society may have been thousands of years ago before technology became so abundent...if you want to avoid conflict with future species would you simply wipe them off the planet you find them on...or convert them to your way of thinking before they can think for theirselves?

Re:Or how about (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9137006)

Come now, I'm sure that an alien civilization couldn't affect our way of life, Water Brother. On the gripping hand, though, who really knows...

Re:Or how about (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9137023)

Heck, as long as they have oil, who cares?!?

Re:Or how about (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9137100)

OK going a bit offtopic (therefor AC) but,
does anyone have news about the recent UFO sighting in Mexico and the film they showed on tv ?

Ninnle has you ! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9136934)

I think the Popoe is a good man but I do not listen to what He says for fear of being called an antisemitic by Jews.

Re:Ninnle has you ! (-1, Offtopic)

trouser (149900) | more than 9 years ago | (#9136964)

I think the Popoe(sic) is an evil sick little bastard. He still opposes contraceptives and the distribution of condoms and education regarding their use to 3rd world countries stricken by STDs such as AIDS. That alone wins him the 'Go Fsck Yerself And Die' award at my house.

Re:Ninnle has you ! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9136992)

Contraceptives are a plot to keep brown people from having kids. Another front in the "War on Terrorism."

Re:Ninnle has you ! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9136967)

Ninnle Lunix gives me a raging hard-on.

Re:Ninnle has you ! (4, Interesting)

PsiPsiStar (95676) | more than 9 years ago | (#9137083)

That's odd. I think a lot of the shit surrounding "Passion of the Christ" stemmed from the fact that Gibson rejected some of the Vatican's reforms. In particular, his splinter group of Catholisim ignores the reforms which absolved the Jewish people, collectivly, of culpability for Jesus's death.

Historically, there have been many pogroms and a lot of anti-sematism which stemmed from the notion that 'the Jews killed Jesus' and should collectivly be punished for it till they convert.

Re:Ninnle has you ! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9137103)

*sigh* The Jews did kill Jesus! There's no doubt there. It's not anti-Semitic to say that. Jewish advocacy groups might want to brush this under the rug, but they can't change biblical history.

Re:Ninnle has you ! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9137104)

I watched the movie and, like most other people whoi wer ein the theater at this time, we weren't pissed at the Jews but at violence.
Actually, the nasty Roman retrospectively remind me of the GIs practising "civilizaiton-101" in Iraq.

I doubt it (5, Interesting)

Ckwop (707653) | more than 9 years ago | (#9136939)

As agents of free-will, the aliens are self-aware of good and evil, thus convertible to some terrestrial religion

Even if Aliens know the difference between right and wrong but they might not be able to understand the concept of god. Even if the did understand god I doubt you could convert a space faring race to any of our religions in their current form. It makes the earth too special and they'd probably wouldn't take kindly to that. I do suspect religion will transform in to a 'many games of chess' set-up. Adam and Eve was Earth's story. Kalcknor and voltak was Vulcan's story etc etc.

Simon

I never metaphysic I didn't like (1)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 9 years ago | (#9136985)

We may garner much intergalactic anthropological interest over the many and varied myths we still retain, the quaint science fiction, and the magnificent primitive smogs. Cool, huh? Way more marketable than religion.

Chuck another prawn on the barbie, come visit us on Outback Earth, y'hear?

Re:I doubt it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9137049)

Maybe aliens won't have emotions as we know it; no concept of right or wrong. Maybe they'll have a form of conciousness as different from ours as radio is different from infrared. We just don't know these things. We are primitive creatures afterall.

Re:I doubt it (3, Insightful)

rodgerd (402) | more than 9 years ago | (#9137073)

If they do know the difference between good and evil, it's unlikely they'd convert to most Earth religions. Too much of a track record re: killing unbelievers.

Is it that likely? (3, Interesting)

zoney_ie (740061) | more than 9 years ago | (#9137078)

Looking at it from the point of view of someone who is a Christian, it is hard to see how Aliens would be like us. Either:

They've never screwed up like we did and had the 'Fall' - so they have no concept of good or evil - in which case I doubt any meeting would be allowed to occur. My other problem with this is that the Bible, and the world around us, suggests that creation has also been affected by our mistake. There's far too much in nature that "isn't right" as people say.

Or:

They have had their own equivalent of the fall, and are just like us, the kind of Aliens you don't want to meet (think we'd avoid war in that scenario?). Considering the unique role of Jesus Christ, this would also be unlikely to be allowed by God.

I guess there's a third scenario too. The Bible isn't particularly specific on where angels and demons are (though they do business on Earth already). It is possible that some supposed UFO or alien encounters are a result of this. It's not entirely impossible, especially considering the apocalyptic sections of the Bible, that as part of some end times scenario, people beleive that we have encountered aliens (with the reality being more sinister).

Personally, the distance to our nearest stars, which may not even support life, looks suspiciously like a "buffer zone".

I'm sure that to those who do not beleive in any of the Bible, or in God, or Jesus, this sounds like nonsense. Hopefully its interesting though, and won't be modded down simply by those disagreeing. Also it would be interesting the different opinion that other beleivers have, not necessarily agreeing I'm sure!

First Troll :) (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9136942)

Oh yes!

WTF? (2, Insightful)

trouser (149900) | more than 9 years ago | (#9136944)

In all the time I've spent pondering extra-terrestrial life I've never onced considered wasting my time trying to convert 'em to the baby Jesus. It's funny enough that humans still waste their time with these ludicrous old superstitions.

mod as flamebait (-1, Flamebait)

nil5 (538942) | more than 9 years ago | (#9136957)

show some respect and ....
move along, move along

Re:mod as flamebait (3, Informative)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 9 years ago | (#9136986)


FYI, "flamebait" isn't a synonym for "I disagree".

Re:mod as flamebait (1)

Rolo Tomasi (538414) | more than 9 years ago | (#9137069)

You could call any post that people might disagree with "flamebait". It's a stupid mod option.

Actually, the way moderation seems to work, you could reduce the options to "+1, I agree" and "-1, I disagree". In the end, the only thing that counts is how many mods agree with a post vs. how many disagree. The mod system simply favors posts that agree with the general opinion, while punishing dissenting opinions.

mod as flamebait-Cookout. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9137085)

No, but it is for...you've left the burgers on the stove too long.

BTW I don't discuss religion, pro or con. You'll see the reasons why in a couple hours. Just watch.

Re:WTF? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9136979)

you misspelled ludacris

Re:WTF? (1)

pieszynski (625166) | more than 9 years ago | (#9137091)

Ahem . . . Ludicrous = laughable or hilarious because of obvious absurdity. Ludacris = dodgy yank MC. If you insist on being a pedent perhaps you might want to check things first

Re:WTF? (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9136991)

The thought of "converting" aliens to our wacko religions never occurred to me either.

I'd tend to think any species smart enough to build an interstellar spacecraft wouldn't be dumb enough to strip it down for parts once they got here, just to sell to help buy Pat Robertson or the Pope another mansion.

(And, anyway, what kind of idiot species would convert to a religion that goes into detail about how they can't even exist?)

If anything, it'd be the aliens converting our idiots to their beliefs. Hell, they've got spaceships. Their god's dick is surely bigger than our god's dick.

insightful flamebait? (1, Insightful)

grepistan (758811) | more than 9 years ago | (#9136998)

I think that the parent is flamebait inasmuch as it encourages flames (thank goodness all the Christians are in bed) but I belive it still makes a very valid point: surely the Vatican should spend more time thinking about how to truly help the people on this planet rather than speculating about people (in its loosest sense!) much further away!

This really seems to resonate with the attitude of the Catholic Church in the Fifteenth Century. "We have learned from our brave adventurers and scientists that people, or what we would roughly call people, exist on a place unbelievably far away. Let's convert them!" And the rest is rather unpleasant history.

Re:WTF? (1, Insightful)

ctr2sprt (574731) | more than 9 years ago | (#9137016)

Of course, there's exactly as much solid scientific evidence for extraterrestrial life as there is for the existence of God, which is to say there's absolutely none. Of course, there's no evidence which refutes their existence, but that apparently hasn't stopped you from being an atheist. So you laugh at those silly scientists who waste their lives trying to get in touch with ET, right?

Your post could be summarized more briefly, and less offensively, as "Hey everybody, look at me, I'm an atheist!" Which is not really insightful. But it seems that all it takes to dupe the /. mods is an attempt at controversy. (Unless, of course, the mods disagree with you, in which case you generally get the modding you deserve - flamebait.)

Re:WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9137043)

Of course, there's exactly as much solid scientific evidence for extraterrestrial life as there is for the existence of God, which is to say there's absolutely none.

There is, in fact, LOTS of evidence for life on other planets. It's all around you. It's called "statistics."

Re:WTF? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9137048)

Alien life is a scientific possibility. What proof is there? We exist. We live on a planet in the universe. Hence, some others might as well. So the fact that one group of people exists in the universe makes it more likely that another does somewhere.

However, there is no proof of any god, except for anecdotes written and translated and modified for two thousand years by men and extorted and promoted by the politics of the vatican/church.

Number of known gods in the universe: 0
Number of known civilizations in the universe: 1

You probably laugh at people of different religions than you and think mythology is silly (whoever could have believed in THAT crap, eh?!) and you probably laugh at little kids when they talk about the easter bunny and santa. Yet religious people have a LOT in common with both of those things. Hypocrits.

Re:WTF? (2, Insightful)

Hellkitten (574820) | more than 9 years ago | (#9137097)

there's exactly as much solid scientific evidence for extraterrestrial life as there is for the existence of God, which is to say there's absolutely none

Searching for extra terrestrial life is a numbers game, it's all about odds. We know life can start on a suitable planet, cause here we are. Then comes the unknown factors.

S = number of stars
P = planets per star
s = Average chance that a planet is suitable for life
L = Average chance that life starts on suitable planets
I = Chance that intelligent life evolves
C = Chance that civilisation survives long enough to be able to communicate

S*P*s*L*I*C = Chance of ET

Point is that S is huge and L, I and C are big enough that it has happened here, so yes I believe there will be intelligent life out there, but I have my doubts that they will be close enough to find, or even exist at the same time as us

Re:WTF? (2, Insightful)

mirko (198274) | more than 9 years ago | (#9137062)

Why is the above insightful ?
Didn't occur to you the fact that we might coexist with alien civilizations by exchanging our concepts above philosophies and that, with 2 thousand years of history, the Christianism is quite a mature in itself ?
The basic idea is that nobody asks anybody to believe in whoever or in whatever fact : the message is important, the rest is just a part of the folklore, a paraboel aimed at illustrating the value of the message.

According to the Bible, Jesus is God made a man, now, how could you convert an alien to this idea if he doesn't give a fuck what a man actually is whereas he wants to exchange ideas in order to help both civilizations advance...

Now go and watch Dogma 10 times in a row until you understand what is Good and Important and what isn't.

Re:WTF? (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 9 years ago | (#9137076)

Just because you do not believe in the religion in question doesn't mean that those who do are wasting their time. I think whether or not aliens would convert to our religions is an interesting question. I personally don't think they would, and I don't think we would convert to theirs (if they had any). But how to convert them to ours, while I think is an arrogant thought, is quite purposeful to others. Show some respect.

Wow. (5, Insightful)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 9 years ago | (#9136950)

And this is in the 'science' section.
And it's nothing but a bunch of speculation about how to convert aliens to christianity.
My head is about to explode.

Re:Wow. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9136987)

And it's nothing but a bunch of speculation about how to convert aliens to christianity

You obviously haven't seen "Alien 3".

Re:Wow. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9137058)

Yeah, I can just see The Church screwing humanity over by waging war against and offending other (alien) cultures when we meet them in the same way they treated indians, asians and everyone else on this planet as they encountered them. It's a frightening thing to consider.

Hail Ming! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9136952)

All hail Ming, our Emperor!

All these years, I've been telling you, I hope now that you see it as clearly as I do. I for one welcome.. err.. ok.

Good and evil (4, Interesting)

jandersen (462034) | more than 9 years ago | (#9136958)

Even if any aliens were to have a concept of good and evil there's no reason why they would see things the way we do. Just look at how it is on Earth: there are people who genuinely believe it is 'good' to do things that many now believe are profoundly evil. Take the Spanish Inquisition, for example: they really believed that it was the right thing to torture suspects - give a sinner hell here, so they don't suffer so much in the next world.

In fact, I don't think there is anybody that considers himself 'evil', no matter what.

Re:Good and evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9136971)

In fact, I don't think there is anybody that considers himself 'evil', no matter what.
*raises hand*

Re:Good and evil (3, Funny)

kamapuaa (555446) | more than 9 years ago | (#9136980)

In fact, I don't think there is anybody that considers himself 'evil', no matter what.

A Google Search for the phrase "I am evil" yields 13,600 hits.

Re:Good and evil (2, Interesting)

Trurl's Machine (651488) | more than 9 years ago | (#9137038)

Take the Spanish Inquisition, for example: they really believed that it was the right thing to torture suspects

Now I know what Donald Rumsfeld is fond of in Spainish cultural heritage.

In fact, I don't think there is anybody that considers himself 'evil', no matter what.

Just check the science fiction & fantasy fandom. How many fans of "Star Wars" identify themselves with the Empire, Darth Vader, Moff Tarkin, Darth Maul, stormtroopers or "lesser evils" like Bobba Fett? How many "Harry Potter" fans identify with Malfoys and Death Eaters? How many Tolkien fans dress up as orcs and goblins? Personally, I always identify myself with the "evil" characters in popular culture, especially the bad guys from Bond movies. Ah, the classic Tom Jones theme... "He looks at the world and wants it all, so he strikes like thunderball" - wouldn't you if you could?

This is 100% pure gold! (1)

dwalsh (87765) | more than 9 years ago | (#9136961)

... me thinks he does not deal with the media frequently, nor is he versed in the black arts of P.R.

Advanced tech indistinguishable from magic... (5, Interesting)

writertype (541679) | more than 9 years ago | (#9136977)

...what about religion?

Seriously, if some advanced race landed on Earth, at least some cult/faction/group would characterize them as gods. What I find interesting is the practical viewpoint of the Vatican astronomer; new scientific discovery does not eliminate the need for a God, it just redefines the boundaries between humanity and the Other.

I also think that a chance encounter with aliens would certainly polarize the creationists. Did God create the Earth in seven days? OK, what about Gamma Epsilon 7? The Catholic Church has had many, many faults, (hello, Galileo) but IMO the modern Church is much more accepting of scientific theories than, say, fundamentalist Christians.

Maybe they are more advanced than us (2, Flamebait)

clickety6 (141178) | more than 9 years ago | (#9136983)



and so no longer need primitive belief systems.

They may even know why we're here and what comes next ;-)

Dolphin Communication (4, Interesting)

Sayonara (633825) | more than 9 years ago | (#9136984)

The fact that we can't communicate with dolphins will not have any bearing on whether or not we can communicate with an alien race - that's a logical fallacy.

We can't communicate with dolphins because we have no common frames of reference of any sort. Were we to contact an alien race however, it's implied just by that scenario existing that we have something in common with them; whether it be a similar understanding of electromagnetics, a written language, or even just the concept of extraspecies communication.

Re:Dolphin Communication (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9137027)

We can't communicate with dolphins because we have no common frames of reference of any sort

Actually, the bigger reason is that the dolphins don't have a "language."

Simple as that.

If an alien species has developed spaceships, it's very likely that they have some sort of formal system to communicate thoughts with one another.

Putting our best linguistic experts to the task of communicating with them, regardless of how they communicate (sound, light, gestures, pictures), we'll be "communicating" within hours, carrying on conversations within days, and will be fluent within weeks. (I should know; I've seen Star Trek.)

Re:Dolphin Communication (1, Funny)

dario_moreno (263767) | more than 9 years ago | (#9137033)


Well, maybe we can't communicate with dolphins, but they sure enjoy a good handjob given by a Greenpeace activist. Anyone to try the same with aliens ?

Re:Dolphin Communication (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9137037)

But is it even true? If we can't communicate with dolphins, how come we can train them?

In my opinion, we can communicate with dolphins. Exchanging a single bit of information is to "communicate".

But then again, I'm not Vatican-science-guy.

Re:Dolphin Communication (4, Interesting)

Beautyon (214567) | more than 9 years ago | (#9137066)

that's a logical fallacy.

Or a "straw man argument". Dolphins are not even aliens.

Whilst we are on the subject, this [bbc.co.uk] story has been shooting around the world; some very interesting infra-red footage [66.90.75.92] shot by the Mexican Airforce shows...make up your own mind. The footage was shot by drug interdiction aircraft on patrol for smugglers.

Re:Dolphin Communication (5, Insightful)

DZign (200479) | more than 9 years ago | (#9137088)

We can't communicate with dolphins because we didn't have the need to do so.

If we knew they were trying to tell us a message and they actually tried to get the message across, resources would be made free so we
could communicate with them..

Communication is 2 ways, you have to make sure
you understand what they say, and they must also
make an effort to be understood and repeat if
necessary..

What about cats ? Do they say we can't communicate with cats ?
Sorry, I do communicate with my cats.

I don't know everything they say, and they don't
understand everything I say (I hope :-)
but if they want to send me a message
(need food/attention/to be alone/go outside/..)
they get the message to me.
And if they do something they shouldn't, I also
make sure they get the message..
So yes to me that's communicating.

And now I'm thinking about it, yes, some
people can communicate with dolphins.
Dolphin trainers do train them and I assume
they will also learn to interpret the reactions
of the dolphins. They won't understand everything,
and we speak our own languages to communicate
(dolphins won't speak and we won't squeek),
but there is some limited communication.

Threat (3, Interesting)

BenBenBen (249969) | more than 9 years ago | (#9136997)

He also seems to miss out the option whereby we atract the attention of "agents of free will" who have already discovered evil. Am I right in thinking that currently it's illegal to attempt to communicate with an ET without UN approval, or something? In case they wander over and rape our planet/enslave us all/demand McNeal.

"A" Vatican astronomer? (2, Funny)

writertype (541679) | more than 9 years ago | (#9136999)

Given the miniscule population of the city, he may be in fact the astronomer of the Vatican.

Re:"A" Vatican astronomer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9137014)

I'm surprised there's even one...these are the people who burned the libary of alexandria.

Re:"A" Vatican astronomer? (1)

Trurl's Machine (651488) | more than 9 years ago | (#9137060)

Given the miniscule population of the city, he may be in fact the astronomer of the Vatican.

Not really. Just as you don't need really to live in New York City to work for a NYC based company, majority of Vatican civil employees live somewhere in Rome or the suburbs. Vatican is actually a part of Rome.

Marklar! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9137003)

Marklar: "You marklars must leave."
Missionary: "But you will all burn forever in eternal hellfire!"
Marklar: "Yes, that's nice, thank you for stopping by."

That 'Many Reasons' link (1)

slycer9 (264565) | more than 9 years ago | (#9137004)

Made me feel REEEEALY good about myself.

Call me crazy but I wouldn't want most of those as indicative of my 'clientel'.

'Yup, we've got a bunch of remarks from idiots, take us seriously.'

Jehovah's witnesses? (2, Funny)

778790 (778790) | more than 9 years ago | (#9137005)

I find the prospect of a mass space-conversion by Jehovah's witnesses to be unlikely. How are they gonna knock on all those doors? Better chances: Hare Krishnas They can appeal to the disaffected alien youth! Islam: Convert or we will crash this spaceship into your planet! Scientology: Will work briefly with its appeal to science and reason, but will suffer a backlash after aliens are treated to a free screening of Battlefield Earth

Re:Jehovah's witnesses? (1)

prockcore (543967) | more than 9 years ago | (#9137047)

Better chances: Hare Krishnas They can appeal to the disaffected alien youth!

Not until we build an interstellar spaceport for them to hang out in.

Catastrophic (2, Insightful)

SamSim (630795) | more than 9 years ago | (#9137008)

The discovery of extra-terrestrial intelligence would be catastrophic for organized religion. What if they have the exact same religion as one of the ones on Earth? Then it must be the correct one, and there's no such thing as faith anymore, and at least 80% of the Earth's population was wrong all along. What if they DON'T share any of our religions? Then ALL of ours must be wrong.

Re: Catastrophic (4, Insightful)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 9 years ago | (#9137051)


> The discovery of extra-terrestrial intelligence would be catastrophic for organized religion. What if they have the exact same religion as one of the ones on Earth? Then it must be the correct one, and there's no such thing as faith anymore, and at least 80% of the Earth's population was wrong all along. What if they DON'T share any of our religions? Then ALL of ours must be wrong.

Europeans didn't find that problematic the last time they discovered a New World.

Religions tend to be very conservative about their beliefs, but they've always shown an ability to adapt when the chips are down. Encounters with extraterrestrials won't be any different.

Re:Catastrophic (3, Interesting)

mattbelcher (519012) | more than 9 years ago | (#9137070)

What if they DON'T share any of our religions? Then ALL of ours must be wrong.

Why? I don't follow this reasoning. After all, no one in the Americas shared any religions with people from Europe, but that doesn't imply that no European or Native American religion is true. Lack of agreement between alien cultures does not imply falsehood.

Re:Catastrophic (1)

richie2000 (159732) | more than 9 years ago | (#9137087)

What if they DON'T share any of our religions? Then ALL of ours must be wrong.

Not at all. It just means that those godless comm^H^H^H^Haliens haven't found Jesus/Allah/Cthulhu/Buddha/Coresh yet.

There are several SF short stories on the subject of mixing religion with space exploration, Arthur C. Clarke's The Star is probably the most well known. Another, whose author I can't recall right now, details the trials and tribulations of a space-faring merchant on an isolated planet populated by gentle lizards and what he has to put up with when a earthly priest comes along, teaching the aliens about original sin and getting killed in the process when the lizards take him a little bit too literally.

Re:Catastrophic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9137089)

So either 80% or 100% of the Earth's population must be wrong. In either case we can say that the percentage is >= 80%. We don't need the discovery of extra-terrestrial intelligence, it's already catastrophic.

Re:Catastrophic (1)

IceDrgn (629365) | more than 9 years ago | (#9137099)

God wouldn't certainly put out identical religions everywhere! As there are lots of religions here, accomodating every culture but still giving out the same spiritual truths to everyone, there must be different religions everywhere in the universe. Put the coran and bible next to each other, study, and you will see that they have no contradictions, and are identical in all the spiritual truths said. Only the laws differ because spritual truths must be interperted in different ways for different situations. Surely an alien civilization would have their own religion, and surely that religion differs from the ones we know, but if God exists as we know Him, the spiritual truths taught must be essentially the same.

And fourth... (2, Funny)

michaeldot (751590) | more than 9 years ago | (#9137017)

They give us plans to build a mysterious worm hole transportation device, some zealous religious nut destroys it, but Jodie Foster gets into another one made in Japan, trips out on a few psychedelic visions, meets her father who looks slightly like Douglas Adams, comes back and says it's all about being happy with your life.

Meanwhile, Steve Jobs' pagan cult goes unchallenged.

Or maybe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9137021)

Our south of the border friends release pictures [ktvu.com] of a rather large number of questionable "invisible" ships, and the intellegent life forms say **** this. Seriously, I'd love to know how this hoax was set up. (less seriously) if it's not a hoax I wonder if the Aliens are islamic fundementalists that threaten the American way of life...

Mistake No. 1 (2, Funny)

tyrione (134248) | more than 9 years ago | (#9137028)

Asking the Vatican about Religion.

Mistake No. 2
Thinking a dying Pantheon would interest already Illuminated Extra Terrestrials.

Well I do agree... (4, Funny)

Phidoux (705500) | more than 9 years ago | (#9137031)

... that getting rid of our Jehovah's Witnesses is a good idea but the potential of a hostile alien reaction is probably very good. Just imagine if we were invaded with the alien version of Jehovah's Witnesses... Aaggggghhhhhhh!!!

Mars Attacks (2, Insightful)

malia8888 (646496) | more than 9 years ago | (#9137035)

Also, Whitley Strieber has just come out with a new book, "Confirmation", which features an interview, in which Monsignor Balducci makes additional striking comments about the extraterrestrials as probably superior spiritual beings.

One doesn't have to go back in history to see how worlds that collide have one side winning while the other side becomes victims of genocide. The warlike Caribs met the peaceful Arawaks in the Caribbean. The Caribs promptly enslaved and if I remember pretty well wiped them out. The "white man's" encounter with Native Americans led to the decimation of their culture and the annexation of their lands. We (white civilization) also introduced them to a form of biological warfare in the form of smallpox bacteria in blankets.

I personally hope that any alien life form will just pass us by. Why would their motives be any more benign than history has shown us time and time again by other peoples who in one way or another were superior? As far as SETI is concerned, it makes me cringe. My hope is that we keep a low profile and this blue marble is overlooked by any alien life form.

minor nitpick... (0, Offtopic)

bani (467531) | more than 9 years ago | (#9137113)

ok, a really really big one actually.

smallpox is a virus , not a bacteria .

science and religion (2, Interesting)

acceber (777067) | more than 9 years ago | (#9137036)

...they want the world to know that the Church isn't afraid of science, that they like science, that science is great...

Just goes to show that religion isn't against science and vice versa. There's a wide-held misconception that science and religion are so conflicting with one another that you cannot believe in both areas of life.
There is the belief that science seemingly sets out to disprove the existence of a god-figure. For example, it is through science that the seemingly anti-religious evolutionary theory is 'proven' and the creationist theory is 'proven' wrong.

Then again, there are those who study science and astromony and actually come to believe in a god figure. It is claimed that many astronomers and scientists actually do believe in God because all their research leads them to believe that there must be a superior being, case in point Brother Guy Consolmagno. It's the philosophers who say "If you believe in God, you won't when you walk out of my lesson in an hour."

The O.P.'s Second Scenario is Misleading... (2, Insightful)

kevinatilusa (620125) | more than 9 years ago | (#9137039)

...or at least it's not how I interpret it.

When the Astronomer is talking about the second scenario, he sees the critical description of that scenario as that "there are other Words in other languages to other cultures". According to Christian Theology (as quoted by him from the opening lines of the book of John), the Word of God existed before humanity did. In other words, the aliens we encounter will have already experienced God, that "need to overcome evil in the world".

He doesn't necessarily think that he's going to be converting them in this scenario. As I see it, he thinks that they will have already encountered some form of Christianity, perhaps in a form completely different from the one seen here on Earth, and that Christians may be able to learn from their encounters with (what he believes is) the same God.

Atheism (3, Insightful)

arfuni (775132) | more than 9 years ago | (#9137040)

I should hope that a species more advanced than us wouldn't fall for creationist stories without a lick of proof. Okay, mod me down as flame bait... but if creationism wasn't so ingrained into our culture and upbringing every one of our religions would sound absolutely ludicrous.

While we're on the subject... (5, Informative)

daina (651638) | more than 9 years ago | (#9137044)

Slashdot seems to be now the only media outlet not covering the UFO story coming out of Mexico. I submitted it yesterday, and it was rejected. I'm not trying to slip this through the back door, but come on, even Wired and Fark have this now. I'd really like to know what Slashdotters think about this.

See the video [thesandiegochannel.com]. Check out Wired [wired.com].

The video looks pretty convincing, and according to AP and Reuters, the Mexican military is standing behind the story.

The detailed information is at Rense [rense.com].

The interesting thing is that the Mexican plane was a drug interdiction aircraft with advanced radar and forward-looking infrared. It was designed precisely for the task of finding, intercepting and identifying unidentified aircraft, and it sounds like the data was handled in a way that would meet legal evidentiary standards (for obvious reasons: it was designed to convict drug smugglers).

Maybe the Vatican missed a fourth option: they're already here.

Intentionally Misleading. (1)

torpor (458) | more than 9 years ago | (#9137101)

Maybe the Vatican missed a fourth option: they're already here.

Maybe the Vatican are the space aliens...

Personally, I can think of plenty of good Earth-religions for space visitors. Wouldn't it be terrible if they do arrive, and it turns out that our religions are the only thing they're interested in?

Would put all those anti-religion zealots in a different realm, for one. And it could serve to validate the rights of certain 'unpopular' groups to their point of view ...

what about.. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9137046)

..religion eventually being the cause of even bloodier and more nasty wars?

We may think The Crusades and Nazi Germany had bad consequences - but when our fleet of orbital antimatter carpet bombers drops out of warp at the home planet of those cursed unconvertable Alpha Centauri aliens, the scale of destruction will be difficult for us to imagine now.

Parallels (5, Interesting)

ArbiterOne (715233) | more than 9 years ago | (#9137054)

From the Vatican? This made me think it was going to be a religious commentary on the possibility of ETs. This is addressed very well in a book called "The Hercules Text", (kind of old).
The premise of the argument was, if ETs exist, there must be immortal ETs, if you subscribe to Roman Catholic religion. I.E. : The reason we are not immortal is that we failed the "test": we ate the apple!
Therefore, somewhere out there there must be people who passed it, or the test is "spurious".
Therefore there must be immortal aliens, or the test is invalid, and therefore the Redeemer is invalid.
That's just the argument in the book.

Arrogance (2, Insightful)

caitsith01 (606117) | more than 9 years ago | (#9137057)

The arrogance of these statements is quite startling, and reflects the typically dogmatic view of the Vatican (although I guess being dogmatic is basically what they're supposed to do - Jesus says 'don't use condoms'!).

For one thing, suggesting that we might convert aliens to Christianity is pretty much akin to suggesting that less well developed parts of the world might have had a chance to convert western explorers to their local animalist or totemist belief system. To take it even further, it might be like suggesting that an advanced primate like a Gorilla would have a chance of converting a human to its belief system (presumably based around sitting in a jungle doing nothing). Any race able to contact us or travel to get here is likely to be far more ethically and morally advanced that we are - it will, after all, have survived the equivalent of a nuclear age of technology without annihilating itself, and must therefore have a high degree of moral thinking.

It's taken them long enough. (2, Interesting)

Entropy Unleashed (682552) | more than 9 years ago | (#9137074)

C.S. Lewis [wikipedia.org] covered [wikipedia.org] this a while ago. He addressed most of the relevant religious questions pertaining to the existence of extraterrestrial life in a far more rigorous and interesting manner than this article could dream of. I highly recommend reading Out of the Silent Planet, if only for his excellent writing.

Black Jesus, Asian Jesus, Jesus with 8 tentacles? (1)

Trurl's Machine (651488) | more than 9 years ago | (#9137079)

Well, it took the Catholic Church so long to accept exotic iconography of Black or Asian Jesus... now they will have to agree for Jesus with eight tentacles? I wonder how will the cross look like then...

Culture shock (2, Interesting)

Paul Townend (185536) | more than 9 years ago | (#9137084)

This is quite timely, considering the reports of UFO's coming from Mexico [bbc.co.uk] as well as reported in Iran [bbc.co.uk], although for me, one of the most intriguing cases happened in Belgium, over a decade ago [ufocasebook.com]. Slightly more on topic, I think that something he doesn't really touch upon here is what happens when two cultures of vastly differing technology meet; in nearly all (if not all) cases in history of such a collision, it is always the weaker culture that either perishes (is absorbed) or is greatly affected by the sudden influx of ideas and technoloy. If aliens do visit us, then their technology is obviously greatly superior to our own, and I can see similar things happening (we would begin to adopt their technology, which in addition to contact, would lead to massive culture change). Of course, some people would hate the aliens and vow to eradicate them, whilst others would look to them as gods themselves.....well, it's all conjecture, but it's interesting stuff!

Of course (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9137086)

all aliens are in fact Buddhist

Good and Evil (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9137090)

The problem with good and evil is that they are open to interpretation.

During the colonisation of America the settlers considered Slave Labor good.
In Hitler's point of view he was doing a good thing.
The Al Qaida is fighting for what they believe is right.

Of course I know this is flame bait.
And I don't even agree with their point of views.

But fact of the matter is. It's culture that decides what's good and evil. So if we meet aliens, and they start invading us, and reeducating us. Who's to say they aren't doing it because they think they're doing the right thing.

Face it, you can't predict the outcome of a meeting with an alien race.
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