A Conversation for Life on Europa

Life elsewhere and heresy

Post 1

Cheerful Dragon

Any suggestion of life elsewhere used to be considered heretical. I don't know whether it still is. Reasons for this include the fact that the Bible doesn't mention life on other planets, and the fact that Christ came to Earth for mankind's salvation. The latter fact would raise the questions 'Did He also come down to the lifeforms on other planets?' and 'If not, are they all going to Hell, regardless of the kind of life they lead?' Church leaders of the time didn't even want to think about such difficult matters, so they swept the lot under the blanket heading of 'heresy' and wouldn't let anybody think about it.

Life elsewhere and heresy

Post 2


Let's remember that Gallileo got in a spot of trouble with the Catholic church because of his support for the theory of a heliocentric solar system. That was, to some degree, a product of his observations of the large moons of Jupiter, as they were the first objects that were seen to be obviously orbiting a body other than the Earth.

Personally, I doubt if the discovery of life on Europa would shake the faith of the average religious beleiver. I guess many would interpret it as a miraculous demonstration of the power of their deity.

After all, the bible is not generally accepted (except by fundamentalist Christians) as a source of factual information on anything that wasn't known by the various eastern Mediterranean authors, translators and editors responsible for its production.
For example, an omniscient god who neglected to mention the shape of the planet Earth, the presence of Neptune and Uranus, or the existence of the American or Australian continents to his followers could presumably be excused mention of primitive Europan life. If there's no information provided about important subjects like *terrestrial* microbes, it's hard to see why *alien* ones would deserve much mention.

Life elsewhere and heresy

Post 3

The Frood (Stop Torture: A455528)

> 'If not, are they all going to Hell, regardless of the
>kind of life they lead?'

According to the Catholic Church, IIRC, good people that are not baptized to the Catholic Church go to limbo, where they must only suffer no hope of ever reaching heaven.

Life elsewhere and heresy

Post 4

Cheerful Dragon

I know that babies who died before they were christened went to limbo because everybody was held to be guilty of original sin until they had been christened. However, this only applies to people who were born after the founding of Christianity. As I recall, the Catholics used to believe (don't know if they still do) in a thing called 'the winnowing of Hell' (I think. I'll have to check on the exact phrase.). This is where Christ went down to Hell and released some people who were there because they weren't Christian, yet had led blameless lives. I think the list of people included Moses and Abraham. It may also have included Old Testament prophets. I also seem to recall that Dante, in his 'Divine Comedy', put non-Christians in either Purgatory or one of the less awful rings of Hell. I'll have to check on that, too. If a Mediaeval Roman Catholic didn't know where non-Christians went, who would?

Then again, there were the non-Catholic Christian sects. These weren't as 'anti-thought' as the Catholics, but back in the 16th century they probably weren't that keen on the thought of life on other planets because of the philosophical questions that raises. As far as I know, the Catholics are the only people who believed in Limbo and Purgatory. For all other Christians it was Heaven or Hell. I used to know someone who believed that all non-Christians would go to Hell, regardless of the kind of live they led, purely because they weren't Christian. I don't know if this attitude is widespread amongst Christians, but his attitude was another thing that turns me off being Christian.

Life elsewhere and heresy

Post 5

The Frood (Stop Torture: A455528)

I'm reading the Divine Comedy right now, actually smiley - smiley.

Dante said that good non-christians went to Limbo (Virgil was in Limbo). Only Christians were allowed in the Purgatory as they were cleansing their sins to get to Heaven. Few went directly into heaven (Plenary Indulgence, no?). Old Testament Prophets were in Limbo until Christ came and took them all to heaven.

In my opinion, doing good is more important than all the rules and believing. It was in the Catholic Church's interest to tell people that if they didn't believe they'd go to Hell, though...

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