May 15, 2008
Vatican Astronomer Acknowledges Possibility of E.T. Existence
The Vatican's chief astronomer and a scientific adviser to Pope Benedict says he sees no problem with believing in God and the existence of extraterrestrial beings on other planets.
"In my opinion this possibility (of life on other planets) exists," said Rev. Jose Gabriel Funes, a 45-year-old Jesuit priest who is head of the Vatican Observatory.
"How can we exclude that life has developed elsewhere," he said during an interview with the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano.
Funes went on to say that he would not rule out the possible existence of extraterrestrial creatures similar to, or more evolved than humans.
"Just as there is a multiplicity of creatures on earth, there can be other beings, even intelligent, created by God. This is not in contrast with our faith because we can't put limits on God's creative freedom," he said.
"Why can't we speak of a 'brother extraterrestrial'? It would still be part of creation," he said in the interview, which was headlined "The extraterrestrial is my brother."
"There could be (other beings) who remained in full friendship with their creator."
Typically, Christianity and science have not mixed well.
The debate over creative design versus evolution has been ongoing for decades with no sign of any resolution.
The Inquisition condemned astronomer Galileo in the 17th century for insisting that the earth revolved around the sun. The Catholic Church did not rehabilitate him until 1992.
Funes insisted that the scientific community could get along better with people of faith if they both learned more about each other's progress.
He added that he believes the universe was created by what is commonly known as "the big bang," but said that this was not in conflict with faith in God as the creator.
"God is the creator. There is a sense to creation. We are not children of an accident ...," he said.
"As an astronomer, I continue to believe that God is the creator of the universe and that we are not the product of something casual but children of a good father who has a project of love in mind for us."
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