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back to article Vatican star watcher says aliens may be out there

The Catholic Church’s top astronomer has said there is no contradiction between the one true faith and believing in aliens. The statement will surely spark speculation that the Church knows more than it’s letting on and is preparing the world for some pretty big revelations, or at least laying the groundwork for mass conversions …

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Alien

Deep Doo-Doo

Don't assume that 'technologically advanced' implies in any way that alien visitors will have discarded religion or that they are any smarter than we are or more peaceful etc. It could just mean that they have had much, much longer to work on the technology.

I suspect that, if they have a religion, the consequences of their arrival will be much like the effect of the conquistadors and missionaries arrival in America.

Or just as bad - Their leaders could have justified the expense of coming here with hysterical hype about WMDs or whatever.

Advanced technology in no way implies advanced morals or philosophy.

We're all doomed, I tell you, DOOMED!

Or not.

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re various

@Fresher: "For a person to do that they must believe in the evidence and either their own or another's ability to correctly deduce a result from that evidence."

Yeah, pretty much (apart from the believe vs. believe in distinction). In other words, I do exactly what I do with the claim "there is a God" that I do with the claim "there is a zebra crossing here". Religious do the same thing 99.99% of the time. 99.99% of the time they rely on the evidence of their own eyes - even the most fanatical priests do not suddenly attempt to walk into heavy traffic. It's just that they suddenly veer off and apply a different standard during the 0.01% of the time they're thinking about the fundamental nature of the universe.

This is partly because the answers they get are nicer when they relax their own need for evidence, but mainly because there's no direct consequence if the answer turns out to be wrong. The belief "I can cross the road here" is a nice belief if it makes my journey shorter, but if I believe it without evidence, I will suffer very serious negative consequences. Not so with "The world is looked after by a loving God".

Peyton: "They believe that science will, ultimately, be able to explain anything."

So far, it has a pretty good record. Where science has fought religion - e.g. over the shape of the earth, the age of the universe, whether species were created fully-formed at the beginning of time or evolved, religion has lost every single time. Recently, religion has just given up. When scientists said that matter was made of quarks and leptons, the Vatican didn't even bother saying "Actually, it's made out of very small angels". There was no point even fighting.

"If science can't do this, then it seems there will always be room for the possible existence of a higher being, which they believe, erm sorry, "know", doesn't exist."

No, no, and again, no. There's no belief or knowing involved. There's an absence of evidence. That's it. It's about evidence. That's all we ask for. And don't forget that God used to provide it, in the form of burning bushes etc. He just suddenly decided to stop proving his existence a convenient period before today.

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Alert

uh-oh

thats a big about face.

The gods may have been aliens after all..

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Tom

Missionaries on Mars?

BLIMEY!!!!! Maybe there will be "Crusades in Outer Space!!"

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Alien

And on the Eighth Day

the Lord did look down upon his creation and think unto himself, "Yea, verily, that is a good beta release," and thence did set himself unto the release candidate.

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@Spleen

I think you're getting a bit too philosophical my friend. This is from the OED for atheist:

1. One who denies or disbelieves the existence of a God.

For the American crowd, from MW:

: one who believes that there is no deity

But that aside, if atheists don't "know" and don't "believe" then what do they "do" exactly? (Well, aside from getting involved in digressive discussions on el Reg ;)

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Coat

Proof religions are wrong

Given: There are many religions

Given: They can't all be correct

Therefore: None can be correct

Note - This may or may not be correct.

Mine's the one with "In case of rapture, can I have your car" on the back

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Deficient 11 year olds

>>11 years olds description of religious philosophy

True, after spending endless years trying to convince religious people of anything, you become jaded and assume they only thing they can understand is "5-year-old" philosophy. I prefere to think of the religious as flat-landers and have done with it. Mostly.

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Boffin

Literality

"Or are catholics now not to take the bible as literal Truth?"

(Most) Catholics have not taken the Bible literally since since long ago. Literalism is a Protestant thingy; Catholics have "doctrine" - that can even override the Bible if needed - and Jesuitic philosophies, that sometimes border moral relativism and taking the Bible, specially the OT (but Revelation/Apocalypse too), as some sort of abtruse metaphorical mythology, not much more important than the Illyad or the Mahabaratha. In fact most Catholics have no problem with evolution and things like that nowadays.

Catholics do have a problem of a distant non-representative hierachy, cult-like religious orders, dependence on taxpayer's money (in some countries at least) and the terrible elaborated boringness of their rituals... but that's another story.

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Athiest vs Agnostic

I think the difference between atheism and agnosticism is a huge source of disconcert and misunderstandings. I would even go so far as to say that a huge portion of self-proclaimed atheists do not actually understand the correct term for their own beliefs. The vast majority of religious people are eve more ignorant of the difference, as is understandable, given that both groups "are not them," and people's general habit of focusing more on the details of things that "are them."

Simply, atheism means no god. It means, strictly, that the follower believes there is no god. This is inherently a belief.

Agnosticism means without knowledge. This means, almost literally, "I don't know." This means it would apply to anyone, and everyone, who is not confident in the existence or non-existence of some form of deity. Technically this means that many Christians are actually agnostics, since they don't really know. It also means that virtually all people who's belief in a lack of deity is science based are actually agnostic, since the statement "there is no God," cannot (yet at least) be proven.

So, when someone says that atheism is a belief, they are technically correct (unless said atheist has proof that no deity exists). But, believing, itself, should also not be considered somehow bad. If not for belief, we would not be able to function. Consider not being able to believe anything you see, hear, taste, or smell. Biology tells us that all of our senses are perceptive, that is, interpretive... so if you see something, you believe it is as you see it.

The understanding that no one is perfect, and that all of our beliefs must be flawed in some way also allows some who believe one thing to tolerate the beliefs of others; maybe they have it right? maybe not?

And, of course as a final note, I'd just like to say: All hail our new Alien galactic theocratic overlords!!

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E

@zedee

Only if you identify the creation of the planet we call 'earth' with the creation of the universe.

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Alien

Intergalactic Travelling Salvation Show

So, this God geezer turns out to be a travelling preacher, visiting all the star systems across the universe. He's not due back here for another 18 billion years or so, subject to space chariot traffic and space-works around the Zlark-87 System Interchange.

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Alien

Logic... Belief...

>What if alien lifeforms are both rational and logical?

The mere concept of a god would be alien to them.<

The concept of God as an intelligent designer?

Well, just maybe they've looked further than one AU from their birth planet, maybe they've unified the disparity between sub atomic particles and gravity bound outer worlds. Maybe, they know how the structure of the mind and the breath of life actually work - unlike us... maybe they've discovered the link between divine and mundane, and, just maybe, they are logical and rational enough to discover existence isn't simply limited to the three or four dimensions we're barely capable of seeing (length, breadth, height & time?) in the physical universe.

Even Einstein, supposedly our greatest scientific mind, didn't like the evidence of quantum mechanics or where they led. Steven Hawkings still hasn't discovered the unifying thing explaining everything (unless I missed a podcast), yet the 'disbelief' of God appears to be as strong as the 'belief' in God.

I know one thing, the banning of all religions would probably end most of the wars on this planet, but that has nothing to do with the existence - or not, of God, but more to do with the ability to share, something a five year old finally learns to do. Which puts our planetary psychological age at about two.

I'm agnostic...

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@Athiest vs Agnostic

>> a huge portion of self-proclaimed atheists do not actually understand the correct term for their own beliefs.

No, most of the atheists I know are well aware that the word atheism is defined in reference to “god”, and do not believe it is a suitable expression for their philosophy. Most “atheists” are also uncomfortable with saying “I do not believe there is a god”, at least if they have ever tried to argue the point. The problem is that “believe” is really the wrong word. Really they should be saying “there is no god” and avoid getting into a debate with a believer, as it is a complete waste of time.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: @Athiest vs Agnostic

Most people don't understand what 'agnostic' is, that's for certain. Still not sure myself, opinion seems divided on the matter. But I tend to think of it as a bit of a bullshit non-position to adopt. There's room for reasonable doubt in both atheism and theism, if you're doing it right.

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Anonymous Coward

Fact or Fiction

"by the way, there is no more or less proof that God either does or does not exist."

Indeed that is correct at present,

But then again, You,Me and possibly everyone has magical fairies that live in their back garden too, But of course they only come out at night when no one is around so you can't ever see them, But really they do exist don't they?

end sarcasm :)

It's been how long? 2000 years, All he/she has to do is come down and show themselves and speak to us,Thats all we ask, I would convert in a heartbeat!

IMO it's better to not believe in something u have never seen or heard for yourself,That would be considered insane,Instead i believe in myself/family/friends and even you the person who wrote that post i know u exist, U have proven it to me!

Yes Yes others will say it's all about Faith, But superstition sure sounds like faith to me.

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@Sarah Bee

>>I tend to think of it as a bit of a bullshit non-position to adopt.

I think you will find it is a sort of stop off point for people who have been brought up as “believers”. It is difficult to reject a lifetime of wasted effort all in one go!

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Coat

Shared heaven

"Do the aliens have their own Heaven, or do they share ours, or what?"

In Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey se see that we indeed share a Heaven with our space bretheren.

Mines the black sleveless one with the yellow smiley face on the back.

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Alien

@Fact or Fiction and atheism

<logic bubble>

Well, i consider my self an atheist but i _believe_ you dont know what atheist means. A=Without and Theos=belief. </logic bubble>

<quote>

It's been how long? 2000 years, All he/she has to do is come down and show themselves and speak to us,Thats all we ask, I would convert in a heartbeat!

</quote>

Ok, so some hairy guy comes along and tells you he is a reincarnation of Jesus and you believe him? Last time he was born as well, so why would you believe him?

Ah right, you mean something else of course, right?

During a gathering of the UN a bright portal pops up und some hairy guy comes through and proclaims "After 2000 years i must now reveal myself too ...", hmm, dont know what he should say.

Would that be proof? Probably a lot of people would consider the transimission photo shopped or something. Or it might be an alien invasion! While technologicly superior they would still expect to many losses to use violance to conquer us and just make use of believes.

Face it, there is no such thing as proof for a religion, which by definition is based upon faith.

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Bronze badge
Boffin

@spleen

"There's no belief or knowing involved. There's an absence of evidence. That's it. It's about evidence. That's all we ask for. And don't forget that God used to provide it, in the form of burning bushes etc. He just suddenly decided to stop proving his existence a convenient period before today."

He sometimes appears to people to do just what you claim he does not do. He appeared to St Paul on the road to Damascus pretty much as He appeared to me 25 years ago. Either that or I am or was quite mad, but as my behaviour in the 29 years prior to this astonishing event qualified for the loony bin rather more than my behaviour since, I have to draw my own conclusions from the evidence of my own experience. I wouldn't expect my personal evidence to work for those who don't know me, but I'm not the only one offering similar accounts.

Why anyone with an unprejudiced mind should ignore observations simply because they were recorded in the past beats me, but if you are looking for more recent independently-verifiable evidence, it seems generally agreed that if any of the very many fundamental physical constants of the universe were different, conditions for intelligent life would not be possible. For a system as complex as biological evolution to be sustained, more simple physical and chemical systems had to precede this. These prior systems could not have had the capacity to store and transmit information, and without information storage and transmission evolution is not possible. So there is evidence of design here, but in a different place from where some naive Christians have claimed it to be. To avoid this evidence, atheists who understand it are forced either to abandon their faith in the non-existence of God or to postulate the existence of an infinite number of universes with varying laws so that one universe is just right to enable observed life to be sustained.

But this is as unacceptable as to claim that one of an infinite number of monkeys typed the works of Shakespeare. Atheists also seem to have an arbitrary faith in the unprovable idea of randomness as being a fundamental as opposed to as an emergent property of the universe. Albert Einstein claimed that "God does not play with dice" but atheists believe in the randomness of fundamental physical events and the non-existence of God. Where is their evidence for either assertion ? Just saying "I can't see a pattern" isn't evidence that there are no patterns when other people including Albert Einstein can perceive deep patterns at a greater and deeper level of organisation than science alone is capable of considering. Analytical science is extremely good at observing very small and narrowly defined and understood things, but is a very limited tool used on its own when it comes to integrating and understanding the bigger picture.

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Paris Hilton

agnostic v atheist

As I understand it, Atheists actively believe that there is no God of any description whatsoever, whilst Agnostics will accept anything that can be adequately proven. There is to date, no proof; only speculation, manipulation and fear.

Atheists, therefore, are far more likely to be wrong whilst agnostics may yet find themselves worshipping at one altar or another. The Devil (if SHE exists) cannot be an Atheist. Icon...? The obligatory option to worship here.

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Bronze badge

It's religion Jim but not as we know it

Without have any clues as to the possible biology, shape or form of any prospective aliens , it is not possible to conjecture about any religion they may or may not have. However, if they have achieved star travel and do still have religion then we will probably be in for a tough time, any one smart enough to solve the problems of interstellar flight and who is also rationally challenged is going to be potentially dangerous.

For those questioning the word agnostic, go back to school and relearn English, it means literally without knowledge. So agnostics don't believe because they need the knowledge of what IS true in order to believe.

As far as I am concerned the description of the god of various of the major religions NEVER comes up to scratch in his/her/it's real life dealings with the world and they all seem to originate from more or less the same deity. Based on performance ( all wise all merciful omnipotent etc) the deity should be sacked for failing to meet contractual obligations to the believers AND every body else covered by the all merciful clause. At the end of the day religion is about the power of the churches et al over the so called terrified believers. It's a load of bollocks!

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Anonymous Coward

@ Chris G

"rationally challenged"

What a lovely phrase for someone who doesn't believe that science holds all answers.

Better that than being spiritually challenged though, in my humble opinion.

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Alien

4 1 9 alert

Dear Earthling, I am the third defined aspekt of a much lov'd deity referred to in the news as "fathersunandholeegost", known to my frends as "Gordon Earth" and I hav diskovered a little known loophole that could earn you a guaranteed $$$$ "placein Heaven" ££££. All I ask in return is that you help me in a small way by paying to build lots of churches to enable me to protect and to increase the size of my flock. I know that you are a sensitiv soul and you will understand if I ask that you do not enjoy your life but instead divote it too me. If you can help, please pray to this address: Our Fathead, to start in Devon, Harold be thy name, thy swings will come.

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Thumb Up

Getting warmed up for Alien visitations

Hail Pope lizard the 1st

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Alien

"Only you can save Mankind"

Ever wondered what the SqueeWee word for SqueeWee is?

To paraphrase Doug "GT:Ground Forces" Berry, bags me gets 'Quisling Traitor in charge of England'...!

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Coat

various stuff

"But this is as unacceptable as to claim that one of an infinite number of monkeys typed the works of Shakespeare."

But one actually did. He's known as William Shakespeare. And the actual number of monkeys, even if huge, is finite.

And I don't think most modern Catholics would bother much at being assimilated to monkeys. OT is not really important for Catholics, at least for the most part. The Genesis is (by doctrine) not to be held as literal but metaphorical, evolution and the Pope are in agreement, creation happened (maybe) with the Big Bang for them. Moral relativism was invented by Jesuits ("casuistic", they call it).

In brief, Catholics are not hardcore Protestants.

"A=Without and Theos=belief."

Theos = God. <rolleyes>

"Agnosticism means without knowledge. This means, almost literally, "I don't know.""

But what if I am sure that Yaveh is false and have doubts about, say, Shiva? Am I a then Yavistic-atheist and Shaivite-agnostic?

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Coat

Alien Hand Syndrome

'Colgar El Sambenito' ('Wear the sambenito!') Catholics, and you can buy them from me this time, same catchy designs, same fun colours... you've owed me MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN for millennia.

You lot are so up in my grille right now I have lockjaw-I told you about the night visions of the terrible ten horned beast with metal teeth that was diverse from all the beasts that were before it. Thought you liked it all poetic rather than in acronyms like UFO; pithy book it would've been otherwise. Nor was it predilection for tautology with the constant references to fiery flames/burning fire/ burning flame...will stick to cold fusion in the rewrite. And clearest message of all is that I was then and am now a cat person, hence lions respec. Listened to that one and you could've spared yourselves a plague or two...

Mine's the scarlet one with a chain of gold PUT about the neck...

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