The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Aliens? Not!

Jeff Sweitzer, a science policy advisor in Bill Clinton's administration, has come happily unglued since NASA reported the discovery of an Earth-like planet in another star system. This planet, cleverly named Kepler 452b (which I'll just call "Kep" from now on), seems to bear some resemblance to our own dear Earth. It's about 50% larger than Earth, has a 385-day year, and according to NASA might even have a rocky surface and might have water...but that's about it. That's also a lot of "mights". In other words, NASA scientists really know very little about Kep. 

One thing we know for certain is that Kep is a mere 1,400 light years distant from us. For the astronomically challenged, this means that what we can see of Kep is light that left the planet sometime around 600 A.D. A lot has happened since then. Indeed, what we see of this newly discovered planet actually took place when Muhammad was just kicking off his military conquests of the Middle East and North Africa. It was also the time of St. Isadore of Seville, sometimes called the last scholar of the ancient world because he compiled a sort of encyclopedia containing excerpts of many ancient books that would otherwise have been lost. Farther north, the other St. Augustine, the first archbishop of Canterbury, was In the midst of converting the Anglo-Saxons of Britain to Christianity. I suspect that all sorts of exciting things were also taking place in China, India, Africa and Tierra del Fuego, but I have neither the time nor the energy to find out. Anyway, I'm kind of a Western Civilization guy.

Back to Dr. Schweitzer (presumably no relation to Albert), who is convinced the discovery of Kep will kill off God. The good scientist has decided this discovery means that extraterrestrial life, including other civilizations, must exist on planets like Kep. Since God did not reveal the existence of alien life on other planets in the Bible, Christian Scriptures must be phony and God is simply a figment of our fertile imaginations. Don't you just love it? One wonders whether Dr. Schweitzer might have confirmed his theory by visiting Kep via a nearby wormhole. Hey, could happen.

Here are two links that address the discovery. 

The first is a New York Times story of the discovery: Earth-like Kepler 452b Discovered

The second discusses Dr. Schweitzer and his beliefs: New Planet Bad News for God

Personally, I believe -- and have always believed -- that, despite the extraordinary size of the universe, we Earthlings are unique and completely alone. In other words, I've always considered science fiction to be fiction. So far no one has proved me wrong.

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