Feeds

Catholic priests, scientists head to Rome to ponder alien life

Little green men OK - female priests not OK

Security for virtualized datacentres

The Vatican may be a little closer to deciding how it deals with the tricky problem of extra terrestrial - and most likely non-Catholic - life forms, as it wraps up a conference on astrobiology this week.

The Vatican Observatory has been running a "joint study week" on Astrobiology this week together with the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

The Vatican has been already deemed 2009 to be the International Year of Astronomy, with the Pope kicking off proceedings last December by saying what a standup guy Galileo was, and musing on the pagan origins of the Roman cityscape.

According to Marc Kaufman at the Washington Post, the study week includes sessions on how life might have begun on Earth, what harsh environment microbes on earth point to on other planets, and how lifeforms on other planets could be recognised.

Of course, you might be forgiven for thinking the Catholic Church has many of these issues - particularly the first - licked. But the one true church can be broader than expected at times.

As Kaufman points out, NASA is already pondering how the news of extra terrestrial life might affect things down here on Earth.

Clearly, the Vatican is pondering some of the same issues. Some in the Catholic Church don't see a theological problem with the idea of extraterrestrial life per se. God, being omnipotent, would be perfectly at liberty to create other lifeforms.

Last year, Vatican Observatory boss José Gabriel Funes told Papal inhouse paper L'Osservatore Romano: "To say it with St Francis, if we can consider some earthly creatures as 'brothers' or 'sisters', why could we not speak of a 'brother alien'? He would also belong to the creation."

Funes even suggested aliens might not suffer from that human burden original sin. Which would arguably make it easier for the Vatican to accommodate alien life, as it wouldn't feel duty bound to covert any aliens it encountered.

But Kaufmann quotes one of the conference's speakers, Paul Davies, a theoretical physicist and cosmologist from Arizona State University, who believes the issue is being downplayed by religious leaders.

"The real threat would come from the discovery of extraterrestrial intelligence, because if there are beings elsewhere in the universe, then Christians, they're in this horrible bind. They believe that God became incarnate in the form of Jesus Christ in order to save humankind, not dolphins or chimpanzees or little green men on other planets."

Whether we'll see a definitive statement on whether aliens can join the Church of Rome any time soon is debatable. After all, the Vatican has only just welcomed back a chunk of the Church of England, a mere 500 years after Henry VIII broke with Rome. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Thought that last dinosaur was BIG? This one's bloody ENORMOUS
Weighed several adult elephants, contend boffins
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
India's MOM Mars mission makes final course correction
Mangalyaan probe will feel the burn of orbital insertion on September 24th
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
'Duck face' selfie in SPAAAACE: Rosetta's snap with bird comet
Probe prepares to make first landing on fast-moving rock
Archaeologists and robots on hunt for more Antikythera pieces
How much of the world's oldest computer can they find?
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.