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Aliens and beings from other planets


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#61 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 28 January 2008 - 02:14 PM

The point of 'other beings' is to try to show that man's value is only relative within the larger cosmos. But notice that every effort to describe such beings ends up portraying only a version of man, of what we believe man is.

The Patristic perspective is that man is the 'center of the universe' in the sense that he is created as microcosm. That is: he serves a specific salvific purpose within the economy of the entire universe.

Personally, I think that only a belief in extreme evolutionism (ie everything left to itself develops in a 'higher way') can allow us to consider other beings.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#62 Michael Stickles

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Posted 28 January 2008 - 03:26 PM

No, it could not apply to them. They wouldn't know about it and would not have heard Christ's preaching and would not have the Gospels. They would not be in the Church. There are no sacraments 'out there' and so no salvation.


Non sequitur. Assuming God created beings elsewhere in the universe, and that they share our humanity and fallen state, then Christ could easily have appeared to them after His resurrection (as some of the "other sheep not of this flock"), taught them, and directly called apostles (as He did with Paul); a priesthood and sacraments are not excluded here (yes, I know it's kinda Mormon-sounding). And why should congregations of the Church need physical proximity to have unity? (not that having proximity has always worked out smoothly...)

As I see it, the reason to believe God did not create any such beings is not due to any inherent logical contradiction in the concept but more along the lines Fr Raphael gave.

I hope I don't come across as combative here. It's just part of my mindset as a long-time science fiction reader - I see what appears on first glance to be impossible, and I automatically try to figure out how it could be possible (by the way, nice airtight rebuttal to the "different means of salvation" idea). Without that way of thinking, I doubt I'd have been able to make the mental switch from Protestantism to Orthodoxy. Anyway, if alien sentients were discovered, it wouldn't be a shock to my faith -- though, if it did happen, my first assumption would be demonic activity, not a true alien race.

Mike

#63 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 28 January 2008 - 03:55 PM

Mike Stickles wrote:

It's just part of my mindset as a long-time science fiction reader - I see what appears on first glance to be impossible, and I automatically try to figure out how it could be possible.



Taking the scientific argument in itself it is more likely that 'other beings' would appear in a form we could not recognize. That is because recognition is connected to being. The whole point of evolution after all is the relativity of being.

Again it's interesting that in science fiction these other beings always appear as aspects of what humans actually are. In science fiction this is obviously an artistic tool & a very creative one also.

In any case the point is that really science fiction is one of those artistic vehicles for referring to what we believe we are. Note the science fiction which expresses concern about the effects of technology and peace. Now it seems to project a global image of man. It rarely even attempts to really be about other beings.

Although even if it did I suspect it would have to portray something like two ships passing each other unknowingly in the night. In which case the other beings would be irrelevant anyway.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#64 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 28 January 2008 - 04:15 PM

I hope I don't come across as combative here.

Of course not - good debate!

Christ could easily have appeared to them after His resurrection (as some of the "other sheep not of this flock"), taught them, and directly called apostles (as He did with Paul)


Then why did not Christ just come down from heaven to start with? What is our faith without the experience the disciples had of Christ's humanity, suffering and death? How could these 'others' know that Christ had conquered death if no one there had seen Him die on the Cross?

Our nature is based on being made in God's image and in His likeness and so the pinnacle of His creation as the Fathers say.


The Patristic perspective is that man is the 'center of the universe' in the sense that he is created as microcosm. That is: he serves a specific salvific purpose within the economy of the entire universe.



#65 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 28 January 2008 - 05:29 PM

...next (first?) time I meet an extraterrestrial and can determine there is no demonic deception, I'll ask he/she/it and get back to you all...

#66 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 28 January 2008 - 05:33 PM

Not to me , Herman - I know they don't exist!

#67 Michael Stickles

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Posted 28 January 2008 - 06:36 PM

Then why did not Christ just come down from heaven to start with?


Actually, I've wondered that same thing before, and without considering sentient aliens. Haven't taken time to look for any Patristic writings on that question (come to think of it, did any of them write on that question?).

What is our faith without the experience the disciples had of Christ's humanity, suffering and death? How could these 'others' know that Christ had conquered death if no one there had seen Him die on the Cross?


Instead of testimony of the disciples' experience, they'd get first-hand testimony of His experience, as well as direct experience of Him (post-resurrection, granted). And has anyone here seen Him die on the cross? I'm relying on first- and second-hand testimony of that; so would they, along with the testimony of the Holy Spirit.

It's possible to conceive of ways of communicating - say, clairvoyant telempathy - which would make a firsthand account practically the same as being there. That's one I've experienced, so it's not totally out in la-la land. Sigh - it's almost too bad there aren't any real non-demonic clairvoyantly telempathic aliens so we could watch it at work (Hmmm, what would we see, though? Ah, skip it - one question at a time.).

Heh - this is starting to remind me of some of the philosophical arguments we used to have back in college, debating the possibility or plausibility of what were almost certainly non-existent scenarios (if I had a couple of pizza boxes, a bag of chips and a couple two-liter bottles of soda [all empty] on my desk, the similarity would be almost complete...). Stretched the mind, though -- or, at least, I hope it did, otherwise it was all likely a gigantic waste of time.

Mike

#68 Robert Hegwood

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Posted 28 January 2008 - 08:20 PM

Strangely enough, this sort of thing is something I've pondered over extensively for many years. Within the past year I have read within the writings of some saint or blessed elder the affirmation that there is indeed life out there though it is not of a sort we are apt to quickly recognize as life. He didn't say whether or not it was sentient life.

It is the question of sentient life I think that gives us the greatest pause. Now we do believe in other created intelligences than our own, namely the various and myriad kinds of angels both holy and fallen...whatever the natures particular to them might be. And from what I can tell we do regard holy angels as being part of the Church in some way...just not quite the way we are. Consider the passage...I believe in Hebrews...about us coming to the Heavenly City, Mt. Zion and the assembly of all the saints and angels etc.

Our problem is with the possibility of material sentiences like ourselves and the theological questions it raises. If we were to discover firm evidence of organic life on other planets...say if the Lord tarries long enough for us to actually get out there and investigate a few, and that life ranged anywhere from bacteria to algae to flora and fauna as complex and varied as what we find here on earth...not including man or any analog for him, then our theological vision might be stretched a little but it would not present any major challenges...indeed if it could be shown that for all the life or whatever sort that was discovered out there there was nothing remotely like what man is, or theologically speaking, may be, then the uniqueness of man gets underscored.

But other material sentiences raise a host of issues: Are they saved or do they need to be? What is their relationship to Christ and Church or what should it be? What theological provision/preparation has been given to them already by God? If they can be in the Church what offices/roles are open to them...can they have their own bishops, priests, and deacons...or must all but minor clergy be human? What if the material conditions of their existence are far different from our own thus creating a natural barrier to key aspects of traditional liturgical life...say what if they are "water" creatures swimming in methane oceans and streams on a world that to us is super cold...growing wheat much less baking prosphora is going to present a challenge.

Personally I've grown less inclined to believe in the possibility of other material sentient life out there, though not utterly closed to the possibility, however the possibility of nonsentient life does not seem to me to be an unreasonable speculation at all....though it and a "just earth" point of view opens another very interesting can of speculation.

If biological life or at the very least sentient biological life is limited just to earth and by extension those parts of the solar system within our current technological reach, then God made a whole great lot of empty real estate that has to be for something more that just for us to look at and study from afar. If life is just here then is it because this this the spot of creation that God spoke to as the sperma for all the rest. Is life here meant at some point to seed the rest of habitable creation? Perhaps the fall put a damper on that purpose until things were fixed...but afterwards...spaceward ho for ferns, daylillies, St. Augustine grasss, tree frogs, squirrels, hamsters, deer, and marmosets et al. Or need we wait till then?

Of course that brings up all kinds of other potential problems...which calendar will we use on Mars? It has a natural year almost twice as long as earth...will we stitch two earth liturgical cycles together or stretch the one out with new months and feast and fast days? Or would we just map the liturgical cycle to earth without reference to the natural year of Mars? And once well away from earth...what then, all the natural temporal clues that our liturgical cycles grew up around would be beyond natural reference. Pascha here is set in accord with a particular lunar cycle...far outside the solar system as years pass who would be able to tell for sure exactly when everyone else on earth was keeping Lent or keeping the great Feast? Perhaps the "when in Rome" rule would develop some extraterrestrial legs.

And speaking of legs and sentience...would our science ever permit us to tinker up some other earth creature into sentience as well and spread them to worlds that would be their own? Would God permit it..if He did what would it mean theologically (almost the same problems with aliens...but not quite, and not all).

In the end though...absent the actual occurence of such things I think our questions about them are but surrogate ways...crypto-apophatic way perhaps of wrestling with another and more fundamental question, namely, "What is man that Thou art mindful of him?" If we can ever pin down all that we are not or which cannot be us, we might stand closer to understanding what we are and what we may yet be.

#69 Father Serafim

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Posted 28 January 2008 - 09:02 PM

In comparison with the universe at large, man is a puny organizm. However man should not be considered in terms of his physical makeup but rather his spiritual. According to St Gregory the Theologian, man is a macrocosmos within a microcosmos. In other words we are bigger than the universe. All these speculations about aliens belongs to the realm of fallen knowledge. None of the Fathers bothered to debate such nonsense. The enormity of the universe is beyond our intellect but not beyond the spiritual mind of the the saints. I notice with UFOs, for example, that the technology reflects the current situation. Earlier sightings look like what we believed centuries ago. The demon are diligent to update their false visions.
In the last days there will signs and wonders in the heavens and this will most likely include messags from spaces and then the Antichrist will appear and explain to us that we are not macrocosmoi but just part of a bigger, better divine plan. Scientologists and Mormons already believe this. I hope we as Orthodox Christians, do not.

#70 Owen Jones

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Posted 28 January 2008 - 09:14 PM

The SETI project has been shut down for lack of funding, due to lack of results, but not for lack of trying. Billions were spent. All because of a new form of spiritual alienation. The world is experienced as being too small. As something that we must try to escape; get beyond.

One cannot really properly address the UFO phenomenon other than satirically, which Men In Black does quite nicely.

#71 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 28 January 2008 - 11:33 PM

In comparison with the universe at large, man is a puny organizm. However man should not be considered in terms of his physical makeup but rather his spiritual. According to St Gregory the Theologian, man is a macrocosmos within a microcosmos. In other words we are bigger than the universe.


Exactly! As I think I have mentioned before, it is wrong to confuse scale and complexity. The universe seems on a vast scale to us, but we are by far the most complex 'things' in it.

#72 Antonios

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Posted 29 January 2008 - 04:58 AM

One cannot really properly address the UFO phenomenon other than satirically, which Men In Black does quite nicely.


Dear Owen,

I found this simply stated and hilarious!

In Christ,
Antonios

#73 Michael Stickles

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Posted 29 January 2008 - 11:26 AM

As I think I have mentioned before, it is wrong to confuse scale and complexity. The universe seems on a vast scale to us, but we are by far the most complex 'things' in it.


The other (equally wrong) error I've seen is to confuse scale and importance -- which is the basis of the ridiculous argument "the universe is so much bigger than us, therefore we are insignificant and inconsequential, therefore we can't be some kind of special creation and so there is no God" (three non sequiturs for the price of one).

Mike

#74 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 29 January 2008 - 12:01 PM

The other (equally wrong) error I've seen is to confuse scale and importance -- which is the basis of the ridiculous argument "the universe is so much bigger than us, therefore we are insignificant and inconsequential, therefore we can't be some kind of special creation and so there is no God" (three non sequiturs for the price of one).

Mike


Exactly so!

#75 Seda S.

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Posted 30 January 2008 - 11:56 AM

An answer to such kind of questions is to be found, IMHO, in Gen. 2:1-
'Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them'. The word 'host' ('tseba' in Hebrew) was translated into Greek, Latin, Armenian and perhaps into other ancient languages as 'ornament' (kosmos, ornatus, zard), and the Fathers of the Church understood all the stars of heaven, planets etc as being just 'ornaments' for this world. If so, they cannot have life as it is on this earth. One of the Armenian Fathers, St Grigor of Tathev (XV c.), says that there is only one world (not counting the 'world to come' or the 'world of the angels'), because if there were another world just like this one, it would be superfluous, while in God's creation there is nothing superfluous. If that another world were not like this one, but different, this would not be possible either; because our world is perfect and lacks nothing. So there is no need for another world.

Once a scientist from USA, Knel Turian (he lives in Armenia now) spoke by the radio about this topic. He was one of those scientists who once gathered all information about those UFOs and examined this phenomenon. If I'm not mistaken, he said, the book where all those things are gathered is called 'Blue book'. So this scientist said that that examination had shown that all those UFOs and aliens, though being physical or material (since they sometimes leave material marks after themselves, like burnt areas etc), were all the same from some spiritual space (he explained how it could happen and that the spiritual can take material forms). So he was sure that they were really the work of demons, especially because those phenomena usually bring the feeling of terror and fear to people.

Edited by Fr Raphael Vereshack, 30 January 2008 - 02:25 PM.


#76 Seda S.

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Posted 30 January 2008 - 02:55 PM

No need of this post any more.
Forgive me, Fr Raphael.

Edited by Seda S., 31 January 2008 - 10:31 AM.


#77 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 30 January 2008 - 03:31 PM

Dear Fr Raphael
If you didn't like the first part of my post which you have cut off, you could post an answer to that my post, rejecting what I had written there. But what has been done now is not honest at all.

Forgive me.


Dear Seda,

No it's alright. I was only adding to what you wrote by quoting the appropriate section. Not disagreeing with it.

Sorry if there's any misunderstanding. :)

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#78 Seda S.

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Posted 30 January 2008 - 03:39 PM

No need of this post any more.
Forgive me, Fr Raphael.

Edited by Seda S., 31 January 2008 - 10:32 AM.


#79 Anthony

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Posted 30 January 2008 - 04:43 PM

Edited because now redundant

Edited by Anthony, 30 January 2008 - 06:03 PM.


#80 Nina

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Posted 30 January 2008 - 05:11 PM

There seems to be some mistake here (?). A post which the computer says is from Seda, signed by Fr Raphael. Gremlins?


No, there is no mistake.




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