Sunday, April 11, 2010

More Quodlibets

Aliens and Salvation?

Two options: either there is no other form of intelligent life in the universe, or there is. If there is not, only the theoretical problem remains. If there is, the few relevant questions are: 1) Are they in need of salvation and grace? 2) How does Christ pertain to them?

I tend to think that there is other intelligent life in the universe. We can play probability with the universe and no matter how you load the dice you get to roll so many times that you are almost certain to get a 'yes' eventually. Like monkeys at the typewriter. I once used that analogy with a class of mine and they rejected it wholesale. In other words, they did not see the emergence of the soul as a matter of probability at all, but saw the soul as in a way other than the universe, opposed to the material universe. I, to the contrary, operating from the nature-is-grace perspective interpret Aristotle's notion of the soul as the form of the body to mean that when the 'body' is in place the soul emerges - yes, of course, by divine gift, a process which God has fully willed and lined up in lining up the material substrate. In other words, it is not an accident when intelligent life emerges; nothing is an accident, so neither the emergence of life through the natural processes He, and He alone, has established.

In other words, when the google-sided (google = 1 with a hundred zeros after it) dice rolls '1,' or whatever, it is because God willed it to. Apparently there are more than 100 billion galaxies in the universe, and apparently as many stars per galaxy. That means there are roughly 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars in the universe. That is a whole lot of rolls of the dice.

But, as much as I love sci-fi, I am quite certain that - other than angels perhaps, who themselves pervade every inch of the universe - we will never see another form of intelligent life ever.

Why would I say this? There is probably microscopic life somewhere in this solar system - a saturnine moon, perhaps Mars, etc., but the spacing out of intelligent life is of another order all together. Life can grow up in many places under many conditions, intelligent life is very fragile and requires a whole sequence of things in place to arise. Now, out of that 10 to the 21st power number of stars, the very closest of which - the Centauri brothers - Alpha and Proxima Centauri - are themselves so far away as to be almost unimaginable that anyone could actually ever reach them. And they are the closest stars - only 4 of the 13,000,000,000 light years of this universe. A light year is 5,865,696,000,000 miles. Over its 33 year trip so far, Voyager 1 has made it 9.3 billion miles, so that would be about 0.1 % of a light year. Thus, it should only take it about 33,000 years to get to the nearest star. In 33,000 years will there even be life on earth, i.e. in 35010 AD? Voyager 1 is travelling at about 36,000 mph. The problem is, even if Voyager 1 ever gets that far, telescopes have already figured out that there are likely no habitable planets there.

36,000 years ago, what was the world like? Well, mankind could make fire, crude objects out of rocks and wood, and paint on cave walls. And I would hate to break it to ya, but we've haven't learned much else in that time span. Do you know how little it would take to bring us back to that state? How about a nuclear war, another ice age (which seem to happen on average every 100,000 years - some say the next one is due in about 50,000), a severe meteor-impact, a serious bacilli.

So, if after your 33,000 year trip, finding that no one was on those planets surrounding the Centauri brothers, what would you do? Go on for another 50,000 years to the next star, only to find, at best, some deadly fungus, or, fancifully, a primitive group of bear-like savages, or the archaeological traces of a civilization long-since vanished?

C.S. Lewis famously opines that there might be intelligent life out there that has not fallen - what a neat thing that would be!

Another intelligent type of life that is not in need of a saviour - angels!

But whether we will ever see them or not - and we won't - God sees all things that are. And even if they don't exist to us because of space and time, they exist to God. So I think it is not a question of would Christ be the saviour of aliens, but what does that mean? Yes, if they required a saviour, He would be it, since He is God. But they wouldn't be human, and the Incarnation is God becoming man, so what does that mean for vicarious atonement? No, I don't think He would Incarnate Himself as Vulcan or Wookie in order to save those species. I do think, however, that the grace of Christ extends to all those who require it and who reach out for it. In other words, all the salvation that happens happens through the God-man Jesus Christ. A little anthropocentric, but I'm fine with that. If a Wookie has a problem with that, let him take it up with my great-times-ten-thousand grandson.

To Augustine, 1600 years ago, the idea that there were people living at the bottom of the earth was stupid - but, low-and-behold, stupid Australians!

On the other hand, Aquinas conjectured about people formed from just a woman and not a man, deciding that such a person would not have original sin. Alas, cloned babies have original sin.

Theology needs to remember that God is bigger than our imagination. It's our imagination that needs to catch-up to God; God doesn't need to confine Himself to our imagination.

The Skinny on Zombies, my Favourite Connoisseurs of Human-Nature

Are they a biological possibility?


It depends. The original dead-come-alive zombies? No. Unless, you mean the Frankenstein's monster variety, then perhaps.

The new 'rage-virus' kind? Why not? Ever seen a guy on meth? Me neither - just on TV. The new breed of zombies famous from 28 Days Later and the new Dawn of the Dead are in effect, ceteris paribus, just people suffering from infections. The only problem with these films is that the 'rage' of these zombies is only directed at non-infected people, never infected ones - why is that?
Why my fascination with them?

The idea of an all-out war against entities to whom I owe no moral duty - what guy wouldn't like that!

A Book Review for You

Let me highly recommend, Dalin's The Myth of Hitler's Pope. Easy, enjoyable read. Does a great job replying to the Catholic-hating of John Cornwell's Hitler's Pope and other works. We're reading it in my Modern Church History Class.

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