Here’s a headline that caught my eye this morning: “Vatican sceptical [sic] about close encounters of the third kind” ( http://news.yahoo.com/vatican-sceptical-close-encounters-third-kind-095541614.html ).
It seems scientists have discovered an “Earth twin”–a planet that is neither too close to its star, nor too far away, to support life–so that naturally revs up speculation about intelligent ETs, alien civilizations, Space Brothers, galactic federations, etc. And naturally some journalist in Rome went to the Vatican’s observatory (see, Galileo? now they’ve got telescopes, too) to ask a lot of stupid questions about how the discovery of life on other planets will prove that the Bible isn’t true, and so on.
Only thing is, this earthlike planet is some 1,400 light years away from here. If you pointed a flashlight at this planet when Mohammed was a boy in knee-pants, the light would just be getting there today. And so, said the Vatican astronomer, we can forget about meeting Mr. Spock for the time being.
He also told the journalist that the birth and life of Jesus Christ on earth was a unique event that will not have occurred on other planets. Plus the usual cop-out of the Bible not being a science textbook, so certain parts of it don’t have to be literally true, my precious…
I’m having trouble imagining this conversation.
A lot of people who sneer at religious faith, especially if it’s Christian religious faith, have their own unshakeable faith–based, mind you, on no evidence at all–in the universe being full of super-intelligent space aliens who will eventually teach us to be super-intelligent, too.
Don’t take science fiction lightly. It has seeped deeply into our culture, and deeply into many people’s minds.