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If You Won’t Preach, I Won’t Do Theoretical Physics

Have you ever noticed how people, no matter how successful or accomplished, always want to be something else?

7 foot centers always want to dribble the basketball up court.

5’6″ guards always want to dunk.

Actors always want to sing. (Like Clint Eastwood in “Paint Your Wagon”)

Singers always want to act. (Like Mariah Carey in “Glitter”)

But to our list of people rising to the level of their own incompetence we could also add this increasingly common and annoying trend.

Scientists always want to play theologian.

And theologians always want to play scientist.

Or at least try to be loved and admired by scientists.

To wit:

The Vatican joins the search for alien life

The Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences is holding its first ever

conference on alien life, the discovery of which would have profound

implications for the Catholic Church.

Pope Benedict and the Alien. The Vatican joins the search for alien life
What is the point of this conference?
The Vatican seems to be saying to the scientific community, “Hey! We’re really on the same team now. We’ve accepted  a Darwinian theory of origins as compatible with church doctrine. We’re even willing to accept the logical corollary that life is not special and unique to this earth. Can’t we all just get along?”
The response to this olive branch offering is predictable.
The article describing the conference  indicates  scientists aren’t really buying it.

Among other things, extremely alien-looking aliens would be hard to fit with the idea that God “made man in his own image”.

For centuries, theologians have argued over what the existence of life elsewhere in the universe would mean for the Church: at least since Giordano Bruno, an Italian monk, was put to death by the Inquisition in 1600 for claiming that other worlds exist.Furthermore, Jesus Christ’s role as saviour would be confused: would other worlds have their own, tentacled Christ-figures, or would Earth’s Christ be universal?

However, just as the Church eventually made accommodations after Copernicus and Galileo showed that the Earth was not the centre of the universe, and when it belatedly accepted the truth of Darwin’s theory of evolution, Catholic leaders say that alien life can be aligned with the Bible’s teachings.

Father Jose Funes, a Jesuit astronomer at the Vatican Observatory and one of the organisers of the conference, said: “As a multiplicity of creatures exists on Earth, so there could be other beings, also intelligent, created by God.

“This does not conflict with our faith, because we cannot put limits on the creative freedom of God.”

Not everyone agrees. Paul Davies, a theoretical physicist and author of The Goldilocks Enigma, told The Washington Post that the threat to Christianity is “being downplayed” by Church leaders. He said: “I think the discovery of a second genesis would be of enormous spiritual significance.

“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.

So is Dr. Davies correct?

Would the discovery of an alien civilization spell the end of Christianity?

In a word, no.

If you are a regular listener to Scott Richards Live, you know that I am extremely skeptical concerning the existence of alien civilizations.

The centrality of events here on earth, from the creation, to Jesus’ incarnation, to the re-creation of the new heavens and new earth strongly indicate the unique place we hold in God’s plan.

But Christianity stands or falls on the basis of a single event in human history – the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. (I Corinthians 3:11)
Although I disagree with the conclusion, Christian writers like CS Lewis  have speculated that if there are other intelligent, soul endowed creatures in the universe, then Jesus also went and died for them as well.
They point to passages that indicate that Jesus’ sacrifice has provided hope for the entire creation.

For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. (Romans 8:19-21)

Suffice it to say, whether we are unique in our place the universe or not, the validity of faith in what Christ has done for us would not be effected.
The great Bible teacher J. Vernon McGee used to tell a story about a standard operating procedure he would use when asked to speak at a church.
He would find the worship leader before the service, and with his thick Texas drawl would say, “Friend, if you won’t preach, I won’t sing.”
In this same spirit, I make the following promise:

I will not waste Paul Davies’ time with my takes on the Hadron Accelerator and the search for the Higgs Boson, if he will keep his takes on the future of Christianity to himself.

In the same way, both theoretical physicists and well-intentioned clergymen would be a lot better off if they stuck to their field of expertise.

One Response

  1. I would not put it past satan and his demons to deceive the world by appearing as alien beings. Satan does manifest as an angel of light, and the Bible does make mention of the spiritual realm as having and using technological crafts. In the book of 2 Kings, Elijah is taken up in a chariot of fire. How else would a man of that period describe a spacecraft of some sort.

    Consider this as well…this may prevent this from being displayed, but here it goes…Revelation states that the whole world will see the coming of Christ…on a round planet how can this be? Maybe, just maybe, he will come on some sort of craft and orbit the earth for a few days…this way everybody including those without television in the jungles or the bush would not be able to ignore this large orbiting thing in the sky.

    Let me know what you think. Am I way out in left field, or is this plausible?

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