Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Life on Other Worlds, and the Catholic Church

While writing a post for another blog, I realized that my micro-review of an article on space aliens was turning into a post for this blog. That happens once in a while: which, given my ADHD-inattentive brain, should be no surprise.

I copied the link-lists I'd made after my mind jumped the tracks into this post, which I'll get to in a minute. The post, I mean: not the links. They're at the end of this post. First, though, a little blatant self-promotion.

A post on the topic of assumptions, space aliens, sharks, and Cthulhu:

Superstitious, Willfully Ignorant, and Narrow-Minded?

America, I've heard, is a "Christian" country. A majority of folks living in America say they're Christians, something I discussed in another blog. (Another War-on-Terror Blog (January 9, 2010))

That's nice, in a way: although I don't assume that God relies on opinion polls to keep His position. And that's another topic, sort of.

I've run into other folks in America who seem convinced that 'those Christians over there' are gaggle of superstitious, hate-filled, nitwits with barely enough reading ability to get through a few verses of their King James Bibles.1

I've also run into folks who were pretty good evidence for the 'Christians are nitwits' viewpoint. I grew up listening to some of them: yet again another topic. ("Why I Became a Catholic")

One of the current crop of that American subculture, Fred Phelps' Westboro Baptist Church, made the news again today. (FoxNews.com (January 11, 2011))

Reuters. Nov. 11, 2010: Members of the Westboro Baptist Church hold anti-gay signs at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia on Veterans Day.
(Reuters photo, via FoxNews.com, used w/o permission)

That's a file photo of folks from Westboro Baptist Church members, taken at Arlington National Cemetery last Veterans Day, 2010.

In my opinion, they're not your typical Christians.
"...I've made the point before, and probably will again, that folks like Pat Robertson, Tony Alamo, and the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas; are not all there is to Christianity. I don't think they're even representative of Protestant Christianity...."
(October 12, 2010, quoted November 19, 2010)
Folks who are more-or-less on the same page with the Westboro lot tend, I've found, to be somewhat unwilling to acknowledge much of what the rest of us have learned since around 1859.

Can't say that I blame them, in a way. (March 20, 2009) Creation's turned out to be immensely more vast in time and space than many imagined.

Either that, or astronomers, cosmologists, physicists, and paleontologists have made a complete hash of evidence they've found. Or maybe God deliberately planted fraudulent evidence in order to condemn those who used the brains He gave them.

It's a little difficult to imagine that so many researchers in so many fields could be that wrong for a century and a half. And I really have trouble believing that God's a vindictive liar.

Before getting back to space aliens and the Catholic Church, a quick recap of my views on the 'superstitious, willfully ignorant, and narrow-minded' view of Christendom. Specifically, whether those terms have much to do with the Catholic Church.


I've been over this before:
Don't take my word for it, though. You can check out Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2111.

Willfully Ignorant?

I suspect that quite a few Americans don't think that Christians should be interested in science. The notion that science and religion get along about as well as mongoose and cobra seems firmly planted in American culture. Maybe Western culture as a whole. I've been over that before, too:
The Catechism of the Catholic Church has a bit to say about science and research.
"Scientific, medical, or psychological experiments on human individuals or groups can contribute to healing the sick and the advancement of public health."
(Catechism, 2292)
There's more, mostly a reminder that scientists are not 'beyond good and evil.' (Catechism, 2293-2296)


I've been over this before, too:
Which brings me back to space aliens.

Space Aliens and the Holy See

I keep running into the idea that discovering life elsewhere in the universe would mean the end of Christianity.

As for our learning that life on another world included intelligent life: people; who weren't shaped pretty much just like us? The assumption in some circles, I gather, is that news like that would throw Christians into a pit of despair and utterly shatter our faith. (August 6, 2010)

Some folks, whose Christianity is rooted in a sort of nostalgia for the days before Darwin: Maybe.

Me? Let's put it this way: As a practicing Catholic, I'm not allowed to say that God couldn't have created life elsewhere in the universe. The notion that Earth was the only place where life exists came up - and was declared a heresy.

In the 13th century. (April 19, 2010)

Related posts:
Speculating about the mind of the alien:

1 I like the literary style of the King James Bible, but it's not the one I study regularly. Yet another topic. (August 27, 2009)

I've discussed the Bible before, including these posts:

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Marian Apparition: Champion, Wisconsin

Background:Posts in this blog: In the news:

What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.