The Vatican, over the weekend, held a conference in Rome on the existence of aliens. The conference, held over five days, had 30 of the world's top scientists (many of whom were not Catholic) in the fields of biology, astronomy, and physics (as well as experts in other areas pertinent to the issue) discussing the likelihood of extraterrestrial life forms existing somewhere in the universe and how the existence of those life forms would affect the Church of Rome.
"The questions of life's origins and of whether life exists elsewhere in the universe are very suitable and deserve serious consideration," said the Rev. Jose Gabriel Funes, an astronomer and director of the Vatican Observatory.
Rev. Funes speculates that alien life forms would raise certain philosophical and theological implications, but stressed that the conference was intended to discuss the subject from a scientific perspective and how the different disciplines could be used to explore the issue further, not as a plan to see how the Church would explain the existence of the newly discovered alien life forms. Many of you might remember Rev Funes for his widely interview last year in L'Osservatore (the Vatican's newspaper) in which the good Reverend stated that the belief (or for that matter the existence) of extraterrestrial life... even intelligent life... does not contradict a faith in God. In that interview, Rev. Funes said:
"How can we rule out that life may have developed elsewhere? Just as there is a multitude of creatures on Earth, there could be other beings, even intelligent ones, created by God. This does not contradict our faith, because we cannot put limits on God's creative freedom."
For the Catholic Church the admission that there might be alien life somewhere in the cosmos is quite a huge step, being that they excommunicated Galileo for heresy after he proclaimed that the Earth was not the center of the universe.
But the Holy Church of Rome is hoping to change all of that. Pope Benedict XVI has made bridging the gap between faith and reason as a focal point of his papacy. Earlier this year, the Church held a similar conference on evolution to mark the 150th anniversary of Darwin's Origins of a Species, where proponents of Creationism and Intelligent design were kept out of the discussion all together.
But for the Catholic Church to make peace with science is one thing... to start to seriously look into the existence of alien life forms and to begin to figure out how this would affect your dogma is a horse of a different color all together. In 2005, the Vatican held a similar conference to this one, coming out with a similar conclusion... that any life forms discovered out in the cosmos would be accepted as just another part of the creation plan (even if these life forms are more advanced that humanity might be at the time).
Now of course, I would not be doing my job as a member of the "New Media" if I did not point out that there seems to be a lot of chatter out there these days about extraterrestrials and how humans would get along with the knowledge that these beings did in fact exist. Movies, books, TV specials... if I wasn't such a serious and grounded individual I might notice that all the alien hype seems to be at a near fever pitch out there, and that it might be so loud and encompassing these days in order to prepare us for some coming event too large for our governments to decry as a hoax or spin off as a malfunctioning weather balloon or combusted swamp gases or whatever they think we are stupid enough to believe these days.
Now I am not saying that the Catholic Church has some knowledge about the coming of our Alien Overlords or anything... that would be insane. But what I am saying is that there has to be a better reason that "maybe it might happen" for the Catholic Church to have not one but two conferences on the existence of aliens and how the aliens would affect the Faith leads me to believe that someone in the Vatican might know something the rest of us do not know.