Does denying alien life limit G!d?

wil

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from chabad.org
Dr. Velvl Greene is a biologist who was enlisted by NASA in their project to determine if there was
life on Mars. He asked the Lubavitcher Rebbe privately if this was something he should be doing.

The Rebbe replied, "Dr. Greene, look for life on Mars! And if you don't find it there, look somewhere
else in the universe for it. Because for you to sit here and say there is no life outside of planet
earth is to put limitations on the Creator, and that is not something any of His creatures can do!"
So, does denying the existence of life on other planets limit our belief in the omnipotence of G!d?
 
hail wil

god would surely have created many billions [probably] of earths, possibly for the same reason he may not like us wearing condoms! :)

it would be strange if god created the universe just for us to look at pretty lights in the sky ~ especially as we cannot see many of them.

we could say that space is our playground - so to say, that it is there for us to colonise. however when we consider the vastness of it and how much environments change things [us], then surely after some time we the inhabitors of the multitude would be aliens to one another. then we have more or less the same scenario as if there were aliens to begin with... hmm except they would all have copies of the bible presumably.


good question!
 
namaste art, thank you for the link...excerpt below from Intelligent Life in the Universe and Exotheology in Christianity and the Baha'i Writings

by Duane Troxel

Other religious systems have interpreted their Revelations in ways that have fixed theological doctrine rather inflexibly. Discovery of extrasolar sentient lifeforms will require a significant recasting of traditional dogma before the majority of faithful Catholics--for example--can fit such a conception within its worldview. Consider the Catholic doctrines of Original Sin, Incarnation, Atonement and Resurrection in the light of ETI. There will need to be a considerable shift in the existing Catholic exotheological paradigm to accommodate such an understanding.

Taking just the theological notion of the Incarnation as an example: "The existence of extra-terrestrial intelligences would have a profound impact on religion, shattering completely the traditional perspective on God's relationship with man. The difficulties are particularly acute for Christianity, which postulates that Jesus Christ was God incarnate whose mission was to provide salvation for man on Earth. The prospect of a host of 'alien Christs' systematically visiting every inhabited planet in the physical form of the local creatures has a rather absurd aspect. Yet how otherwise are the aliens to be saved?" (Paul Davies, "God and the New Physics" qtd. in "The Gods Have Landed")
I can't find the quote but I remember some Vatican priest saying something to the affect...'the garden wasn't necessarily on this earth'
 
yes. this is yet another reason that judaism is not 100% universalist - are christians and muslims going to compound their zealous mistakes by attempting to convert aliens if and when they show up? judaism is intended for jews and for the planet earth. there are already halakhic opinions which deal with judaism in non-earth environments such as how you keep Shabbat in space. but, as the rebbe said, G!D Is Unlimited....

b'shalom

bananabrain
 
yes. this is yet another reason that judaism is not 100% universalist - are christians and muslims going to compound their zealous mistakes by attempting to convert aliens if and when they show up? judaism is intended for jews and for the planet earth. there are already halakhic opinions which deal with judaism in non-earth environments such as how you keep Shabbat in space. but, as the rebbe said, G!D Is Unlimited....
yikes, ya know, if you read all the rhetoric we do go for one of three things, kill'em all, convert'em all, or sav'em all.

And it isn't that uncommon that we strive to do all three!
 
Oh dear ... as if we Catholics haven't done enough wrong in the world to apologise for, it seems we must bear the burden of everything anyone can put mind to ... I do wish authors would at least check their facts before rushing to accuse us of this and that ... it's not as if we're hard to find.

... Discovery of extrasolar sentient lifeforms will require a significant recasting of traditional dogma before the majority of faithful Catholics--for example--can fit such a conception within its worldview.
Very easy to say when one doesn't actually demonstrate why... unsubstantialted accusations/assertions is poor practice.

As a Catholic I see no reason why anything need change ... and recent hosting of an international astronomy symposium by the Vatican would similarly suggest this is something of an assumption on the author's part.

(PS: I also note that the author has confused doctrine and dogma, a classic ploy when choosing to present Catholic teachings in a negative light ... on the Galileo aspect, the article is factually wrong.)

Consider the Catholic doctrines of Original Sin, Incarnation, Atonement and Resurrection in the light of ETI. There will need to be a considerable shift in the existing Catholic exotheological paradigm to accommodate such an understanding.
Why? Or is it just enough to make the statement?

The author seems to be unaware of basic theology. The Fall is conceived as a metaphysical event, not a planetary one ... and Scripture itself points to the fact that 'all creation' labours in the pain of the New Birth ... he would be better served asking a theologian before making such gross assumptions which do nothing but demonstrate his ignorance on the matter.

Taking just the theological notion of the Incarnation as an example: "The existence of extra-terrestrial intelligences would have a profound impact on religion, shattering completely the traditional perspective on God's relationship with man. The difficulties are particularly acute for Christianity, which postulates that Jesus Christ was God incarnate whose mission was to provide salvation for man on Earth.
The author seeks to add a qualificiation that is not there ... the Mission of the Incarnation is to make present to man the manner of his salvation ... that same mission could play itself in a thousand different ways on a thousand different planets ... but the Mission would be essentially the same ...

The prospect of a host of 'alien Christs' systematically visiting every inhabited planet in the physical form of the local creatures has a rather absurd aspect.
Is it? Is he suggesting that God would only visit this one? I think the author is making assumptions on behalf of God that renders his assertion absurd.

Put another way ... is the author saying that the human form is the only form that God would choose to incarnate as? Or that God would choose never to incarnate in any form?

Is that not an absurd suggestion?

Who is limiting God now?

What of the idea of a God who is Immanently Present to all and every physical form ... indeed all and every mineral, flora, fauna and spiritual form, wherever it might be found in the Cosmos ... does the author find that notion absurd?

So if not Immanently Present, why not Materially Present ... ?

+++

So my answer is yes, denying alien life does limit the Creator.

Thomas
 
Regardless of nature of ETI Bahá'u'lláh reminds us all (ETIs and Earthlings) are bound by the same spiritual law

So says every Great Tradition:

"In the beginning, God created heaven and earth... "
Genesis 1:1

"All things were made by him: and without him was made nothing that was made... "
John 1:3

The Great Traditions have their texts — I recall a wonderful introduction to the Bhagavad Gita along the lines of "all that is, is recorded in these pages ... if it is not here ... it is not ... "

To assume that a Divine Communique involves just this little planet ...

Thomas
 
on the Galileo aspect, the article is factually wrong.
It is one of three things that I hear told wrong most often...

1. the above
2. Folks in Columbus's time thought the world was flat
3. Nelson Mendela used Marriane Williamson's writing when he left prison.
 
As a Catholic writer noted:
"To the popular mind, the Galileo affair is prima facie evidence that the free pursuit of truth became possible only after science 'liberated' itself from the theological shackles of the Middle Ages ... the Galileo case is one of the historic bludgeons that are used to beat on the Church — the other two being the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition."

This is my point.

I am not saying it didn't happen, I'm saying what happened is presented in such partisan terms as to be almost fiction. We stand condemned for the errors we have made, and we apologies, but we are not obliged thereby to stand my mute and be subject to every calumny anyone chooses to set against us, in pursuit of their own agenda.

From the article:

In Western Christendom the Inquisition burned the Dominican monk Giordano Bruno at the stake in Rome in 1600 for insisting on a heliocentric (sun-centered) rather than a geocentric (earth- centered) universe.
Flat wrong, a typical propagandist distortion of the facts. And the anti-Catholic implication of the subsequent Bruno-oriented paragraphs are thereby wrong also. I draw short of assuming the author knows he is wrong, and therefore complicit in a lie ... but I am surprised he did not bother to check the accusations laid against Bruno, who was condemned for his Christology and Pneumatology, not for astronomy ... by the way was accused of heresy by the Calvinist Church and the Lutheran Church also. It appears he was a serial church-joiner and trouble-maker ...

The Catholic Church made a public declaration of its theological position on extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI) when it clashed with Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) over the movement of the earth some 350 years ago.
Really? Can the author provide reference to Catholic statements of ETI? Or is he asserting that the possibility of ETI rests on heliocentricity?

Galileo exhibited the first telescope in 1609. With it he visually confirmed the 100-year old Copernican (heliocentric) hypothesis that the earth revolves around the sun.
Factually wrong. It provided data to advance the hypothesis, but the theory had still yet to be proven. Galileo made other claims which have been shown to be wrong.

Copernicus and Keppler were condemned by Protestant and Lutheran authorities, but supported by Jesuit scientists. Copernicus' treatise was warmly received by Pope Leo X (1513-1521), who wished to see more work undertaken on the idea — a hundred years before Galileo. His works were published with later papal blessing.

But neither Copernicus nor Keppler published works which claimed that Scripture was wrong.

Galileo's view ran counter to 1300-year old Church dogma which had already adopted the Ptolemaic (geocentric) system.
Wrong. Show me the dogma that insists on the Ptolemaic system.

The disagreement did not come down to a choice between two competing scientific views.
Wrong. The actual argument was Copernicus v Aristotle ... and the large part of the scientific community was Aristotelian. It is a known fact that one of Galileo's long-lasting supporters was Pope Urban III, even when the academic community wanted him silenced.

It was instead Galileo's scientific challenge to a theologically-fixed notion of reality sanctioned by the Church.
Previous scientists had been happy to make their thesis without reference to the Church, and the Church had demonstrated itself to be open and receptive to new theories. But Galileo insisted on dragging the Church into the debate — he insisted the church must accept he is right, and Scripture is wrong.
— he was asked to give the Ptolemaic system a fair hearing in the presentation of his own revised Copernican thesis (simple good science)
Instead he chose to make the

I suggest the error lies with Galileo in assuming that the church would throw up its hands and say 'everything we believe is wrong, you are right'.

The view of an earth- centered universe prevailed in official Church doctrine for the next 350 years--up to 1992--when Pope John Paul II finally acknowledged the Vatican's error in the matter of Galileo's trial.
So does this not undermine the whole ETI argument? We no longer believe the earth is the centre of the Cosmos, so what's your point?

By the way, far from being threatened with torture and death, As noted scientist and philosopher Alfred North Whitehead remarked, in an age that saw a large number of "witches" subjected to torture and execution by Protestants in New England, "the worst that happened to the men of science was that Galileo suffered an honorable detention and a mild reproof."

The Catholic Church today acknowledges that Galileo’s condemnation was wrong. The Vatican has even issued two stamps of Galileo as an expression of regret for his mistreatment.

But the myth of Galileo remains, along with the Inquisition and the Crusades, to paraphrase the old journo's saying, "never let the truth get in the way of a cheap shot."

Thomas
 
I enjoyed the cosmological points of the article.. and by the way wasn't submitting it as an anti-Catholic piece..so apologies to Thomas if it rubbed the wrong way!

- Art

;)
 
Hi Arthra —

And no offence was aimed at you in my somewhat strident reply.

I don't mind owning up to and apologising for what we have done wrong — but I do get fed up with having to be everyone's favourite villain, responsible for everything that's wrong wrong ...

This is a Comparative Religion forum, and yet I spend 90% not in any meaningful discussion of the comparative aspects of the various doctrines, but in correcting errors, assumptions and misrepresentations about what we're supposed to believe, teach and what we've supposedly done.

+++

In short the Catholic Church has always believed in ETI — that's what angels are, after all — we don't limit the possibility to an alternative biological form. ;)

Thomas
 
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