Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial? (Vatican astronomer)

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Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial? (Vatican astronomer)

Postby Marshall on September 19th, 2014, 2:45 pm 

Today I was looking over the Amazon COSMOLOGY BESTSELLER list and saw that #22 on the list was a book by Guy Consolmagno, an astronomer at the Vatican Observatory, titled:

Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial?: . . . and Other Questions...

What I'm wondering: is it significant that Roman Catholics are asking this kind of question, may even be inquiring about such matters by EMAIL sent to the VATICAN OBSERVATORY?

The long title of the book explains that it answers questions from the "In-box at the Vatican Observatory".

But now on further examination I see that this particular question did not come from a rank-and-file lay member. It was put to the Vatican astronomers by POPE FRANCIS. We already knew Francis thinks somewhat out of the box. Maybe it is not so wonderful after all. I would like it if thousands of RC Laity all over the world were spontaneously asking this question.

Maybe having a popular book with that title come out will help stimulate people to ask such questions.

The book does not go on sale until 7 October so it is kind of cool that it is already being ordered and making the best seller lists. Actually I see it is currently #2 on the Kindle Astronomy bestseller list. That's pretty good for a book that isn't even for sale yet, I think.

http://www.amazon.com/Would-You-Baptize ... 00JNQMM30/
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Re: Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial? (Vatican astronom

Postby Braininvat on September 19th, 2014, 10:07 pm 

It's hard for me to conceive of aliens crossing vast interstellar gulfs to visit us, let alone converting to Catholicism. That's something I really hadn't thought about. But I can picture Francis welcoming them and generally promoting tolerance of our multi-tentacled brethren.
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Re: Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial? (Vatican astronom

Postby CanadysPeak on September 19th, 2014, 10:33 pm 

Marshall » Fri Sep 19, 2014 2:45 pm wrote:Today I was looking over the Amazon COSMOLOGY BESTSELLER list and saw that #22 on the list was a book by Guy Consolmagno, an astronomer at the Vatican Observatory, titled:

Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial?: . . . and Other Questions...

What I'm wondering: is it significant that Roman Catholics are asking this kind of question, may even be inquiring about such matters by EMAIL sent to the VATICAN OBSERVATORY?

The long title of the book explains that it answers questions from the "In-box at the Vatican Observatory".

But now on further examination I see that this particular question did not come from a rank-and-file lay member. It was put to the Vatican astronomers by POPE FRANCIS. We already knew Francis thinks somewhat out of the box. Maybe it is not so wonderful after all. I would like it if thousands of RC Laity all over the world were spontaneously asking this question.

Maybe having a popular book with that title come out will help stimulate people to ask such questions.

The book does not go on sale until 7 October so it is kind of cool that it is already being ordered and making the best seller lists. Actually I see it is currently #2 on the Kindle Astronomy bestseller list. That's pretty good for a book that isn't even for sale yet, I think.

http://www.amazon.com/Would-You-Baptize ... 00JNQMM30/


Surely a being intelligent enough to cross interstellar space to arrive here would also be intelligent enough to have rejected all that horse mature about women being second class citizens. Thus, I can't imagine them converting to any of our mainstream religions.
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Re: Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial? (Vatican astronom

Postby Marshall on September 19th, 2014, 10:53 pm 

Braininvat » Fri Sep 19, 2014 7:07 pm wrote:It's hard for me to conceive of aliens crossing vast interstellar gulfs to visit us, let alone converting to Catholicism. That's something I really hadn't thought about. But I can picture Francis welcoming them and generally promoting tolerance of our multi-tentacled brethren.


YES YES YES!!!! That is just the sort of thing I can imagine Francis doing! Even if they use birth control and stuff. Or mingle tentacles promiscuously. He wouldn't ask too many questions, he would just welcome them.
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Re: Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial? (Vatican astronom

Postby Marshall on September 19th, 2014, 11:04 pm 

CanadysPeak » Fri Sep 19, 2014 7:33 pm wrote:Surely a being intelligent enough to cross interstellar space to arrive here would also be intelligent enough to have rejected all that horse mature about women being second class citizens. Thus, I can't imagine them converting to any of our mainstream religions.


We don't know their TASTE in religions,maybe they LIKE some of the stuff.
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Re: Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial? (Vatican astronom

Postby Dave_Oblad on September 19th, 2014, 11:53 pm 

Hi all,

I can't imagine an Alien coming all this way and wanting a Baptism, unless there are just hot and sweaty under their testicles... I mean tentacles.. from a really long, long, long trip.

I imagine them from someplace like Titan.. in which case water would be like molten lead is to us. Not a good way to make a good first impression by splashing them.

I'm still waiting for someone to mention their Bible: "To serve Mankind"..lol.

Best regards,
Dave :^)
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Re: Does ET need a bath?

Postby Faradave on September 20th, 2014, 12:46 am 

C. S. Lewis was a brilliant author. An former zealous atheist, turned Christian, whose excellence stemmed from his rigorous familiarity with key arguments on both sides. He is also known for writing children's stories (Chronicles of Narnia) but less so far a SciFi trilogy.

I believe in one book, he introduced the concept of some aliens who were not a fallen species. Their Adam & Eve never ate the forbidden fruit and succeeding generations were not sinful. Baptizing those aliens would be like baptizing holy angels, useless. There is no sin to be washed away, even symbolically. They might not even recognize sin ... until we teach it to them.

On the other hand, they might have deciphered our TV signals and wisely posted an interstellar quarantine.

Good night, SETI.
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Re: Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial? (Vatican astronom

Postby Marshall on September 20th, 2014, 6:52 pm 

Braininvat » Fri Sep 19, 2014 7:07 pm wrote:It's hard for me to conceive of aliens crossing vast interstellar gulfs to visit us, let alone converting to Catholicism. That's something I really hadn't thought about. But I can picture Francis welcoming them and generally promoting tolerance of our multi-tentacled brethren.


I think there may be some serious content to the question. Pope Francis may not have been kidding. Even if he put the question in a jocular way and about BAPTISM instead of COMMUNION.

It is a serious issue between Catholics and Lutherans whether they can take communion at the hands of each others priests. Here's an essay by a Lutheran priest: Why can't Lutherans take Catholic communion?
http://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusiv ... -communion

We are friends with a couple one of whom is Lutheran and the other is Catholic. They were very pleased when in 1997 the two churches issued a JOINT DECLARATION concerning an important issue
http://www.cin.org/users/james/files/jddj.htm

The main obstacle to joint communion may be that the main Lutheran organization ELCA in the US ordains women:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evangelica ... in_America.
If you are RC, you have to think about the gender of the person who gives you the wafer.

There are many points of similarity and compatibility between the two churches. To me it seems strange and unfortunate that, so far, the two cannot share communion (without special permission from the Bishop, judging from the blog essay I mentioned, by the Lutheran priest). I should be saying "Lutheran pastor". All these technicalities!

Anyway, I think we would have to find out what material to make the wafer out of, wholesome for the Alien and compatible with its digestive chemistry, and add that kind of wafer to the plate of stuff to be elevated (as per the sacrament). We'd have to check for any extraterrestrial food allergies.

But then we'd be go for elevation. You raise the little tray up and a "transubstantiation" miracle occurs and the wafers become the sacred host of holy communion. And you give the Alien one to eat.

That, I firmly believe, is how it should be.

Also if a SQUIRREL ever shows up who can read and discuss Plato with us then he or she ought to be able to receive communion too. There is no question about squirrels sinning. You just have to take one look and you know how sinful they are. So Faradave's objection to baptizing them would not apply. What with genetic engineering we may get intelligent squirrels before the Aliens show up. With a little bit more genetic modification the squirrels might even grow to be 6 feet tall and be able to drive an ordinary standard shift car.

Aliens are probably sinful too, but I don't want to get into that.

The amazing thing is I think Pope Francis understood all this. And so he made a point of asking the Vatican Astronomers a leading and thought-provoking question, raising a bunch of serious issues with them. He is a really advanced pope.
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Re: Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial? (Vatican astronom

Postby Marshall on September 21st, 2014, 11:33 am 

If it's OK with everybody, I've decided to move this thread to Books forum.

I was able to get more familiar with the book when I noticed that the Amazon page about it has a "Look inside!" link. The let you examine the Table of Contents, the Introduction, and a kind of postscript or afterword.

It's a skillfully and imaginatively written book aimed at resolving the tension between astronomy and religious teaching on 6 main questions:

1 creation (BB vs. Genesis)
2 Pluto (why should the reclassification of a solar system body be an issue? is this chapter just topical novocaine?)
3 Galileo case
4 star of Bethlehem (physical explanation of legendary celestial events?)
5 the end of the universe
6 intelligent extraterrestrials (adapting human-centered religion to big-picture universe)
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Re: Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial? (Vatican astronom

Postby Marshall on September 21st, 2014, 11:42 am 

The book is doing well, so far. The hardcover version is #8 in Astronomy&Astrophysics and around #8500 in All Books.

The Kindle e-book is #5 in Astronomy
and #9 in the broader category of Astrophysics and Space Science

=====quote Amazon page on the hardcover edition=====
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Image (October 7, 2014)

Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,563 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
#4 in Books > Christian Books & Bibles > Biographies > Popes & the Vatican
#7 in Books > Textbooks > Humanities > Religious Studies > Christianity
#8 in Books > Textbooks > Science & Mathematics > Astronomy & Astrophysics
==endquote==

==quote Kindle e-book page==
...
#5 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Nonfiction > Professional & Technical > Professional Science > Astronomy & Space Science > Astronomy
#8 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Religion & Spirituality > Christian Books & Bibles > Bible Study & Reference > Biographies > Popes & the Vatican
#9 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Nonfiction > Professional & Technical > Professional Science > Astronomy & Space Science > Astrophysics & Space Science
...
==endquote==

Hardcover page: http://www.amazon.com/Would-You-Baptize ... 804136955/

Kindle page: http://www.amazon.com/Would-You-Baptize ... 00JNQMM30/

The hardcover page is the one that has the "Look Inside" link. For some reason the Kindle page does not let read samples of the book, at least at present.
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Re: Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial? (Vatican astronom

Postby Braininvat on September 21st, 2014, 3:04 pm 

Also if a SQUIRREL ever shows up who can read and discuss Plato with us then he or she ought to be able to receive communion too. There is no question about squirrels sinning. You just have to take one look and you know how sinful they are. So Faradave's objection to baptizing them would not apply. What with genetic engineering we may get intelligent squirrels before the Aliens show up. With a little bit more genetic modification the squirrels might even grow to be 6 feet tall and be able to drive an ordinary standard shift car.



Really too many questions raised here for one thread to contain. I predict that squirrels, if given a chance, will prefer automatic transmission. And that's no sin. Nor is stuffing your cheeks with nuts, unless you are trying to discuss Plato, or even Aquinas, at the same time. But squirrel civilization may not view this as a breach of etiquette.
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Re: Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial? (Vatican astronom

Postby Watson on September 21st, 2014, 5:28 pm 

It's a skillfully and imaginatively written book aimed at resolving the tension between astronomy and religious teaching on 6 main questions:

1 creation (BB vs. Genesis)
2 Pluto (why should the reclassification of a solar system body be an issue? is this chapter just topical novocaine?)
3 Galileo case
4 star of Bethlehem (physical explanation of legendary celestial events?)
5 the end of the universe
6 intelligent extraterrestrials (adapting human-centered religion to big-picture universe)


Interesting, on #4 I just saw a History TV show on this. They went through all the various possibilities and why they were not possible. They ended with the most possible explanation, aligning best with astronomical facts and religious text. The gist of it was that in about 2-3 BC, low on the east horizon from the perspective of the wise men the star Regulus was in conjunction with Jupiter and Venus at various times adding brightness to the already bright star. There was also some mention of part of such motion repeating after 9 months, suggesting conception and birth. It is interesting to have a possible explanation without the hocus pocus.

My understanding of baptism is that it is the the parents promise to raise the child in the teachings of the church. I can't imagine that an alien intelligence would want to participate in something like organized religion. I do see why organized religion would want to promote such an arogant thought.
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Re: Star Power

Postby Faradave on September 21st, 2014, 8:44 pm 

It's not clear to me that the "Star" of Bethlehem was intended to be understood as a celestial object. The magi (wise men) were able to see and follow this light form the night sky but that seems to have been a complete surprise to Herod despite it having been foretold in their own scripture. (The magi were not Jews, Herod was).

Even after discussions with the magi, Herod seemed unable to have his own men follow the light to the newborn King, relying instead on the magi to bring him the information (which they, being wise, elected not to do.) Herod was extremely jealous of his rule, having killed close family members and many others on the merest suspicion they might want to be king. It's inconceivable that Herod would have neglected following the star himself if he could see it.

My impression is that this guiding light was, like faith itself, of divine origin and given only to those for which it was intended. Those who would seek in sincere humility.
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Re: Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial? (Vatican astronom

Postby Marshall on September 21st, 2014, 9:16 pm 

Faradave, Watson, BiV,
I'm wondering if you are curious to know what these Vatican astronomers will have to say about any of the 6 topics, and if so which topics?

I'm not interested in 2, 3, or 4. But I'm curious to know what they'll say about 1, 5, and especially 6.
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Re: Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial? (Vatican astronom

Postby Watson on September 21st, 2014, 9:19 pm 

Well with respect I am glad there is a more scientific explanation. There is no reason to think it was only visible to some special people, and not to others. Perhaps the good king thought he could trust the wise men to follow the light, find the child and do his bidding.
Forgot to mention, if this is the case, our calender is off by a year or two. I think the planets don't lie, but may be just misinterpreted.
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Re: Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial? (Vatican astronom

Postby Watson on September 21st, 2014, 9:29 pm 

I think #1 and 5 are sort of the same question. Where did it come from may indicate where it will go. So no one knows so whatever they do say is pointless. More telling of their position on the subject than factual. It sounds like asking the question about baptizing aliens presumes aliens exist, so that would be interesting, and maybe they know something we don't.
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Re: Resources

Postby Faradave on September 21st, 2014, 9:55 pm 

Marshall,

Though raised Catholic, I now tend to refer directly to the bible for issues of faith and to scientific literature for questions relating to that. If Vatican astronomers publish in peer reviewed journals, more power to them!

ETs are a fascinating subject. Biblically however, Christians are the aliens in spirit, visiting this existence for a time. We are often said to be "in the world but not of it."

Watson wrote:There is no reason to think it was only visible to some special people, and not to others. Perhaps the good king thought he could trust the wise men to follow the light, find the child and do his bidding.
The reason is we don't find it widely described in cosmological literature of the time (Chinese records for example.) That was your take on the History TV show. Their best explanation was 2-3 BC (off a bit).

As to Herod being "good", he was a paranoid, vicious, brutal murderer (at least, according to Wiki).
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Re: Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial? (Vatican astronom

Postby Watson on September 21st, 2014, 10:16 pm 

Sorry I was being very sarcastic referring to the good king.
Is it not possible to extrapolated the planetary motions back to this time, and know the star and planets were together in the sky at this time? Or, find the exact time in the past these conditions were right. I would tend to see what the facts say and work the anecdotal stories to fit the facts. Otherwise it is just a Christmas story.
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Re: Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial? (Vatican astronom

Postby Marshall on September 21st, 2014, 10:34 pm 

I can see that the book is going to get a lot of interested readers and all the 6 topics will get discussed.

I don't want to suggest that 2, 3, 4 are not interesting in themselves. I'm personally especially interested in what they have to say about 6. (and also to an extent about beginnings and endings, i.e. topics 1 and 5).

About 6, for me it is not really about BAPTISM specifically. that is just an easy handle on the general question of the existence of other intelligent species.

it is a way of immediately confronting that.

Christianity (at least ever since St. Paul) has been presumed to be a UNIVERSAL religion.

How does the Church adapt to the likely existence of spiritual hunger, longing to embrace the cosmos, reverence for life etc among say some octopuses who live in the light of a greenish star. A different temperature star from ours.

Suppose one of them writes email to you, you are now the roman catholic church, how do you respond?
This person at the greenish star wants to be baptized and taken into your communion.

Are you equipped to handle this? Don't you need to undergo some doctrinal evolution?

To me what seems to challenge any religion that is presumed universal is the existence of other souls.

and Christianity especially because it is an INCLUSIVE welcoming religion on the whole, it has a history of evangelizing, of sending missionaries to people of other cultures (which I assume would have to be done by messaging if it involves ETs).

I don't claim to have this issue in clear focus, but my intuition is that the existence of other intelligent species (possibly without bilateral symmetry, and with some other non-DNA genetic mechanism) presents a serious problem for the Church that has to be worked out. It has to do with the self-conception of the Church.

I suspect that Pope Francis is aware of this and that he just used baptism as a way of illustrating the problem and making it concrete in a kind of thought-experiment. The problem is not specific to baptism, it is more general.
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Re: Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial? (Vatican astronom

Postby Marshall on September 21st, 2014, 10:53 pm 

If anyone reading hasn't checked out the Amazon page here's the link:
http://www.amazon.com/Would-You-Baptize ... 804136955/

The book is not out yet, but Amazon let's you browse it a bit.
Marshall » Sun Sep 21, 2014 8:33 am wrote:...

I was able to get more familiar with the book when I noticed that the Amazon page about it has a "Look inside!" link. The let you examine the Table of Contents, the Introduction, and a kind of postscript or afterword.

It's a skillfully and imaginatively written book aimed at resolving the tension between astronomy and religious teaching on 6 main questions:

1 beginnings (BB vs. Genesis)
2 Pluto (why should the reclassification of a solar system body be an issue? is this chapter just topical novocaine?)
3 Galileo case
4 star of Bethlehem (physical explanation of legendary celestial events?)
5 endings (the end of the universe)
6 intelligent extraterrestrials (adapting human-centered religion to big-picture universe)
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Re: Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial? (Vatican astronom

Postby Hendrick Laursen on September 22nd, 2014, 4:11 am 

I wouldn't baptize an ET 'cause I'm not a priest.
Let ole man Pope do his job himself...
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