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Pope's astronomer says he would baptise an alien if it asked him

[This story is a few months old, but might be of interest.]

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Guy Consolmagno, one of the pope's astronomers, said he would be 'delighted' if intelligent life was found among the stars. Photograph: David Sillitoe/Guardian

Aliens might have souls and could choose to be baptised if humans ever met them, a Vatican scientist said today. The official also dismissed intelligent design as "bad theology" that had been "hijacked" by American creationist fundamentalists.

Guy Consolmagno, who is one of the pope's astronomers, said he would be "delighted" if intelligent life was found among the stars. "But the odds of us finding it, of it being intelligent and us being able to communicate with it – when you add them up it's probably not a practical question."

Speaking ahead of a talk at the British Science Festival in Birmingham tomorrow, he said that the traditional definition of a soul was to have intelligence, free will, freedom to love and freedom to make decisions. "Any entity – no matter how many tentacles it has – has a soul." Would he baptise an alien? "Only if they asked."

Consolmagno, who became interested in science through reading science fiction, said that the Vatican was well aware of the latest goings-on in scientific research. "You'd be surprised," he said.

The Pontifical Academy of Sciences, of which Stephen Hawking is a member, keeps the senior cardinals and the pope up-to-date with the latest scientific developments. Responding to Hawking's recent comments that the laws of physics removed the need for God, Consolmagno said: "Steven Hawking is a brilliant physicist and when it comes to theology I can say he's a brilliant physicist."

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TAGGED: RELIGION, SPACE, VATICAN/ROMAN CATHOLICISM


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