Loading
Vatican Observatory examines theological implications of finding alien life
Fr. Jose Funes S.J., director of the Vatican Observatory
Fr. Jose Funes S.J., director of the Vatican Observatory

.- The Vatican Observatory and the Pontifical Academy of Sciences have just concluded a week-long gathering of scientists to examine the origin of life and the possibility of extraterrestrial life. “These questions offer many philosophical and theological implications,” said Fr. Jose Funes, director of the Vatican Observatory.

After bringing their Nov. 6-10 talks to a close, four of the scientists held a press conference at the Holy See's press office on Tuesday.

Participating in the press conference were Fr. Jose Funes S.J., director of the Vatican Observatory; Jonathan Lunine, professor at the department of physics in Rome's Tor Vergata University; Chris Impey, professor at the department of astronomy in the University of Arizona and the Steward Observatory, Tucson, U.S.A., and Athena Coustenis, professor at the "Observatoire de Paris-Meudon", LESIA/CNRS, France.

Fr. Funes began his remarks by answering the question, "Why is the Vatican involved in astrobiology?"

Noting that the Vatican also discussed astrobiology in 2005, Fr. Funes stated that despite the field's newness, “the questions of life's origins and of whether life exists elsewhere in the universe are very interesting and deserve serious consideration.

“These questions offer many philosophical and theological implications," the priest-scientist explained.

Professor Lunine went into further detail about the emerging field of astrobiology, defining it as “the study of life's relationship to the rest of the cosmos: its major themes include the origin of life and its precursor materials, the evolution of life on earth, and its future prospects on and off the earth.”

The Italian physics professor also explained the fruit of the study week.

“The study week provided a special opportunity for scientists from different basic disciplines to spend an intensive week understanding how the work in their particular specialty might have an impact on, or be impacted by, that in other areas. Nowhere is this more evident than in the work being done on how life formed on the earth and evolved with the changing environment," Professor Lunine said.

American professor Chris Impey reflected on the implications of an encounter with an intelligent life form, saying, "if biology is not unique to the earth, or if life elsewhere differs bio-chemically from our version, or if we ever make contact with an intelligent species in the vastness of space, the implications for our self-image will be profound.”

“It is appropriate that a meeting on this frontier topic be hosted by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. The motivations and methodologies might differ, but both science and religion posit life as a special outcome of a vast and mostly inhospitable universe. There is a rich middle ground for dialogue between the practitioners of astrobiology and those who seek to understand the meaning of our existence in a biological universe,” Impey added.

The press conference came to a close with remarks from Prof. Athena Coustenis on the subject of the exploration of outer planets and their systems, with a particular concentration on the two Saturn moons Titan and Enceladus.


Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages

RESOURCES »

Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

Presentation of the book "The Pastor"
Presentation of the book "The Pastor"
Synod on the Family October 2014
Preferential option for the poor
God is alive, even in sport
'A forbidden God' named Best Film at the International Catholic Film Festival
Vatican backs a 'Pause for Peace' during World Cup final
The effects of religious violence in Sarajevo 
The origin of Corpus Christi 
Corpus Christi at the Vatican 
Homage to an Indian Cardinal
Train of the Child's Light
New book explaining gestures of the Mass
Encounter between Pope Francis and the Charismatic Renewal in the Spirit Movement.
Religious tensions subside amid Balkan floods
John Paul II Center for Studies on Marriage and Family
Saint John Paul II on cartoon
Syrian Christian refugees
Papal Foundation Pilgrimage
Exorcism or prayer of liberation?
First meeting of Commission for Protection of Minors
Jul
22

Liturgical Calendar

July 22, 2014

Saint Mary Magdalene

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mt 13:24-43

Gospel
Date
07/20/14
07/19/14
07/18/14

Daily Readings


First Reading:: Mic 7: 14-15, 18-20

Saint of the Day

St. Mary Magdalene »

Saint
Date

Homily of the Day

Mt 12:38-42

Homily
Date
07/21/14
07/20/14
07/19/14

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
     HTML
Text only
Headlines
  

Follow us: