Last night, Antisophie gave me a phonecall and told me that a Vatican astronomy expert said that the Church should not rule out the possibility that there could be life on Mars. I’ve often thought about how a Christian would consider the issue of extra-terrestrial life. My prima facie thoughts would be that a Christian has motivations not to accept such a possibility; but what kind of Christian would that be?
Such a Christian would maintain that Jesus is the source of all salvation; that humanity is the pinnacle of creation, and that as createes in Eden; we have taken on damnation by original sin. It would be those things, core to Christian belief, to which we would deny alien life; why?
Because Jesus is the source of all salvation; if (counterfactual) we entertained there was alien life who was conscious and aware and sentient like us; it too would require salvation. Or, would they? Would these aliens require Jesus’ salvation? Or would they go to hell because they never knew Jesus? Or, if we are really pushing it; did God have another son whom which he sacrificed for another terrestrial race? The latter is a very hard and challenging thought that, I suppose, a believer wouldn’t want to accept. I’m not asserting these questions are problems, but they are things a believer would want to answer; for the conceivability and overall cogency of their view.
If there was life outside of Earth; are we then the pinnacle of creation? If there is life outside of earth; are they tainted by original sin?
On the one hand; I don’t really think there should be much of a conflict; but then, Master Destre said to me; “Think harder, Magister”, his eyes, penetrated through me as his pupils sharpened and focused at me with his dry, icy gaze.
Think about the beliefs that we hold; and think about the comfort that we have when we believe them to be true. Of course, there are many beliefs to which we are uncomfortable about, that we hold true. The fact that we have things that we do not like to admit, but are nonetheless true, and we believe so, shows that we do not simply believe in things we want to.
Perhaps it is a sign of rationality or reflexivity if one demonstrates that their beliefs are subject to some experiential or rational tribunal; where the tribunal of truth and validity lies either outside of us (experience), or imbued within the laws outside of us (reasoning). Is it easy to believe that God loves us? No, it is not; to believe that God loves us, is hardly evidenced in the world. Where is God in the natural disasters of the world, our own personal tragedies, and the fundamental injustices that we inflicts upon our siblings. It is not easy to beleive that there will be a happy ending, especially for those who are heavily involved in the relief of the plight of others. What there is, is a hope, a hope that salvation will come; and this is seriously challenged by the presence of bad fortune and evil in the world. It is far from easy for the intelligent person to believe in God; or for the genuinely compassionate to have hope, in the face of utter despair. Yet, some still do…
What about the flexibility of scientific practice? Imagine to find your life’s work, celebrated by generations after you, being destroyed, or modified beyond your recognition, in the name of truth-preservation. What certainty or fortitude is there in physics? The scientific outlook is one based on shaky metaphysical grounds, shaky empirical methodology, and uncertain substantive conclusions. Rightly so, many would affirm. But, here we have a worldview very uncertain, always subject to change, in constant flux. It is this kind of worldview that tensely is distinct in form from that of the religious belief worldview. The world of the religious beliver is one that has a hope for certainty and truth, and underlying resolution; in the light of flux; and science, is the acknowledgment of flux, and perhaps, the search for similar certainty? We then might say, young charge, that this is not a difference in ideology. Cultural mindset perhaps? To challenge the sensibilities of how one live’s their lives and sees the world? We must always doubt; perhaps this is the test for believers; to find tthe most proper channel for their belief in the light of a powerful rational method. Do we oppose it, or try to find resolution? Or, better still, adopt the rational method as standard, and consider our epistemic norms; such as the good deontic conception of principles like “follow the conclusions to wherever they take you”.
Epistemic norms? Something I find quite interesting, myself…