Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Discovery Institute on Another Challenge to the Copernican Principle

h/t to Velika Bluna......

You've heard about the 8.8 billion Earths out there, right?

Well now.

Eight point eight billion Earths, some of which would be billions of years older than us, under Copernican Principle assumptions.......

Where is everybody?

Discovery Institute has started to focus on the Copernican Principle.

The timing is certainly right ;-)


  1. You got this one too, I was very surprised when I saw how Discovery institute famous for debunking many evolutionary just so stories, has started to smell the rat when it comes to Copernican Principle and its assertions;

    Here is a quote: "People don't want to be thought idiots. The Principle sold. As a BBC writer riffs, "Far from being unique, many now regard Earth as an ordinary lump of space rock and believe that life 'out there' is almost inevitable."

    But mark what follows: In the absence of evidence, the Copernican Principle, itself a mere assertion, enables new Earths to merely be asserted. They do not need to be demonstrated; they can now be conjured. The Principle is thus hauntingly akin to Darwinism, which asserts a history of life consistent with materialism, conjures scenarios, and brooks no opposition from evidence.

    Curiously, Darwin is frequently invoked in materialist cosmology. Steady State cosmologist Geoffrey Burbidge, who had taxed his colleagues with joining the "First Church of Christ of the Big Bang," sought to link the 1957 paper that brought him fame with Darwin's theory of evolution. The conclusion echoed intentionally the conclusion of On the Origin of Species.

    We will encounter that theme again in this tale, and consider what it means."

  2. Thanks very very much for bringing this series of articles to light, Velika.

    It really does seem to be the moment of truth for the Copernican Principle.

  3. The focus of DO'L on evolution vs trad Catholicism in her books has brought her, inevitably, to research the MS claim of possible alien life.... and its evolution. What we find is that MS continues the Darwinian drumbeat in space, as they vainly try to discredit Scripture in biological terms with their NASA subset, just as they imagine they crushed The Church with Galileo's 'science'.
    The presumption that the discovery of alien lifeforms would vitiate Magisterial beliefs is typical of the irrationality of MS ideology. Angels - an alien life form - are not even mentioned in the 6 days of creation; the word itself first appears in the story of Sodom; the identity of the talking serpent only unfolds later in the visions of Isaiah.
    Scripture neither affirms or denies the existence of non-angelic alien forms... the ability to find a contrary view among the Amchurchmen notwithstanding. In this case it's just as important to know what has not been revealed by God, as to know what has.

  4. It is true that there are rational beings who are not sons of Adam, but it also seems problematic to suppose that there could be composite beings (soul/body) which are not descendants of Adam. Such a thing would imply that either (a) the Fall did not affect the entire creation, or (b) that Jesus Christ is not the Redeemer of all mortal beings with rational souls.

  5. Rick, who are these rational beings who are not sons of Adam? The Catholic Church holds that we are all descendants of Adam and Eve. Don't you believe that? Lawrence Myers, Sydney, Australia 13 Nov. 2013

  6. Of course we humans are all the descendants of Adam and Eve. Our Faith is completely certain on this point.

    1. What's not certain is the salvific status of semi-humans.... the ancient Nephilim, or modern research projects like parahumans, human-animal somatic and genetic hybrids and chimeras, cybrids, ....

    2. Since the rational soul is the form of the human body, I deny that any such parahumans, human-animal somatic and genetic hybrids, chimeras, or hybrids are in act. A being is human or it is not, and that determination is made by God at the very instant of conception. He either supplies a rational soul as the form of that human body, or He doesn't.

    3. But are the parahumans, human-animal somatic and genetic hybrids, chimeras, or cybrids ...... descendants of Adam and Eve.... or not?

    4. The Catholic Church has never spoken definitively regarding when ensoulment takes place, although it has, of course, spoken on how sacred human life is at all of its stages including from the moment of conception. Although the Church has not ruled on whether a human being is a human person from the moment of conception, this should not be interpreted in any way to discount the sacredness of human life at whatever stage it may be.

    5. I deny that there are parahumans, human-animal somatic and genetic hybrids, chimeras, or hybrids.

    6. The soul is the form of the body, James. If the being is human, it is human because it has a human body. There is no human body without is form, which is the rational soul. The creation of the soul is "immediate".

    7. Rick, yes, of course, the soul is the form of the body, but the issue I meant to raise is whether the Church has ever definitively/dogmatically pronounced one way or the other concerning immediate vs delayed hominization (late rational ensoulment). Although it has had some 2,000 years to do so it has chosen not to; nor will I.

      That said, I would grant you that I was mistaken in my earlier wording which I quote here: "Although the Church has not ruled on whether a human being is a human person from the moment of conception,..." I should have simply said, "Although the Church has not definitively/dogmatically ruled on when rational ensoulment takes place,..."

      Modern secular science has done its best to trump the teaching of the Angelic Doctor on the subject of ensoulment (although being centered in materialism it doesn't address the subject in terms of any Catholic philosophical or theological notions of ensoulment as such) in no less fashion than it has sought to trump the official stance of the Church concerning geocentrism.

      Aquinas held that the process of human conception must occur gradually and incrementally - first vegetative life, then sensitive life and so on. The Church while recognizing the obvious advances of biology and related sciences, has nevertheless never definitively overruled St. Thomas on the matter of when exactly human ensoulment takes place.

      As an aside, it may be interesting to contemplate how if rational ensoulment takes place at the moment of conception Limbo (if it exists as it strongly arguably does) may well be immensely more populated than heaven and hell combined!

      Finally, although it is obviously not decisive on the matter, allow me to quote from what I think is a pertinent publisher's note placed in the back of Volume 1 of 4 (TAN Books and Publishers, Inc.) of The Mystical City of God by Ven. Maria de Agreda, a truly magnificently esteemed work in the annals of Catholic spiritual literature.

      "Ven. Mary of Agreda says [as reputed to have been manifested to her by the Blessed Virgin Mary] that a new human being receives a human soul some days after physical conception rather than immediately at physical conception. Thus she affirms the theory of mediate animation rather than that of immediate animation. The theory of mediate animation was popular in past centuries, even being held by saints; the theory of immediate animation has received strong support from the findings of modern biology and is held by most Catholic theologians today. However, the Church has not decided this precise question; that is, the Church has not defined at what point the new human being is animated by a human soul.

      Nevertheless, without answering this precise question, the Church has affirmed that the fertilized ovum is a separate human being from the first moment of its existence, that it is probably a person from the first moment of its existence, and that this human being is to be respected and treated as a person from the first moment of its existence."



    8. 365 The unity of soul and body is so profound that one has to consider the soul to be the "form" of the body:234 i.e., it is because of its spiritual soul that the body made of matter becomes a living, human body; spirit and matter, in man, are not two natures united, but rather their union forms a single nature.

      366 The Church teaches that every spiritual soul is created immediately by God - it is not "produced" by the parents - and also that it is immortal: it does not perish when it separates from the body at death, and it will be reunited with the body at the final Resurrection.235

      234 Cf. Council of Vienne (1312): DS 902.
      235 Cf. Pius XII, Humani Generis: DS 3896; Paul VI, CPG § 8; Lateran Council V (1513): DS 1440.

    9. Thanks Rick, although I was well aware of these sections in the CCC. I am of the opinion -- and I believe Aquinas as well as countless other saints in the history of the Catholic Church would agree with me -- that nothing in their wording serves as a definitive/dogmatic pronouncement by the Church as to when hominization (rationale ensoulment) takes place, although I can easily see how the wording may appear to suggest that it does.

      Again, let me be clear. I do not hold that hominization (rational ensoulment) takes place after conception.

      I merely hold that the Catholic Church has not definitively ruled on the matter. In other words, I wold hold that the Church has never either by way of its ordinary magisterium or by its extraordinary magisterium ever raised that notion of the time of rationale ensoulment taking place at the moment of fertilization of the ovum to the status of dogma, the kind of pertinacious denial of which if it met the necessary criteria for the sort of denial needed would be enough to merit one eternal hell fire.

    10. James: Since the soul is the form of the human body, I am afraid there cannot be a human body without a human soul. I do not see any way around this, and it would be impossible for the Church to define anything contrary to this truth.

      Then word "immediate" has been applied to this question by a council defining, and so I believe the matter is insusceptible of any sort of treatment under which a human body might be assumed to exist in the absence of a human soul.

    11. Rick: "Since the soul is the form of the human body, I am afraid there cannot be a human body without a human soul." But Rick, is not that the very essence of what is at question? Aquinas would agree with your statement, but he held that the body at the moment of conception (and moment afterward) was not human! He was certainly not alone in his belief nor was he ever admonished or censored in any way for it by Church authorities as for instance was a certain Italian scientist who liked to play around with a telescope.

      I realize that there have been various assertions by individuals in the Church hierarchy in addition to assertions made by collective bodies in the Church hierarchy that have spoken of the sacredness of human life from the moment of conception, etc., but Thomas as well as many other saints believed in a pre-human conception eventually followed by a human conception.

      If you can show me where the Church has indisputably raised the notion of human conception taking place at the moment the ovum is fertilized to the level of a dogma we are not free to question (as all Catholics are not free to question any Church dogma) please do so. Without such a showing I would think Catholics would be free to sincerely believe in good faith in the possibility of human conception "just ain't a takin place" at the moment the ovum is fertilized.

    12. "he held that the body at the moment of conception (and moment afterward) was not human!"

      >> As do the child murdering abortionist freaks. Aquinas is wrong here.

      "I realize that there have been various assertions by individuals in the Church hierarchy in addition to assertions made by collective bodies in the Church hierarchy that have spoken of the sacredness of human life from the moment of conception, etc"

      >> These are binding teachings of ecumenical councils, which proceed from Scripture and Tradition.

  7. Catholic Apologist Dr. Robert Sungenis provides an excellent starting (and perhaps to some degree ending) point comment on the question of extraterrestrial life at http://catholicintl.com/tag/churchextraterrestrial-life/.

    Some modernists and others may be sly in their approach to the subject of extraterrestrial life by not trying to directly argue for the possibility of same, but rather by broaching the discussion with a question such as, "if there are extraterrestrial intelligent beings what can Christian revelation say regarding their relationship to Christ." By then proceeding to answer their own question they may in effect be doing a good job in softening up their perhaps rather unsuspecting audience (or perhaps already predisposed audience!) to the distinct possibility, if not probability, of non-angelic extraterrestrial intelligent beings.

    At the same time these folks, of course, may try to make their case for extraterrestrials stronger by dropping hints or even outright assertions about the possibility of other supposed universes by which they mean ones with no causal connection to ours.

    1. St. Thomas Aquinas himself acknowledged the "possibility, if not probability, of non-angelic extraterrestrial intelligent beings."

      St. Thomas Aquinas, in Summa Theologica III q. 3 a. 7, "Whether one Divine Person can assume two human natures?," leaves open the possibility that Christ could incarnate in other human (intelligent) natures, although St. Thomas thinks it is improbable:

      "On Whether One Divine Person is Able to Assume Two Human Natures: That which is able [to do something] in one case and not in another has its power limited to one. The power of a divine person is, however, infinite, and it ought not be said that a divine person had assumed one human nature is such a manner that another could not be assumed to its personhood, for that is impossible, because an uncreated thing cannot be comprehended by a created thing. It is manifest therefore that whether we consider the divine person according to power, which is the principle of the union, or according to its personhood which is the term of the union, it must be said that the divine person besides a human nature which it has assumed, is able to assume another numerically different human nature."

      Read the whole The Thomist article: "Aquinas on Intelligent Extra-Terrestrial Life."

      See Fr. Funes, S.J.'s interview "The Extraterrestrial Is My Brother."

  8. Alan: I think the entire essay is adequately refuted by this passage:

    "And even if there were things called gods, either in the sky or on earth--where there certainly seem to be “gods” and “lords” in plenty--still for us there is one God, the Father, from whom all things come and for whom we exist; and there is one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things come and through whom we exist (1 Cor. 8:5-6)."

    If Christ were to unite Himself hypostatically to a non-human nature, then we should be unable to say "there is one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things come and through whom we exist" since there would be some other Lord; that is, some other union of divine and non-human nature.

    There are other problems in the essay, primarly being the little dipsy do concerning footnote 30, which citation ("Quaestiones Disputatae de Potentia 6.6") does not contain the quotation, nor does it address the issue. Perhaps the citation incorporates a misprint, or perhaps the online text is numbered differently, though this seems unlikely.

    1. Your objection that multiple incarnations would deny that God is one and single appears to be Summa Theologica III q. 3 a. 7 arg. 2:

      "Objection 2: Further, in this hypothesis [that one Divine Person can assume two (or more) human natures,] it could not be said that the Divine Person incarnate was one man, seeing that He would not have one human nature; neither could it be said that there were several [men], for several men have distinct supposita [individual substances], whereas in this case there would be only one suppositum. Therefore the aforesaid hypothesis is [entirely] impossible."

      to which he replies:

      "Reply to Objection 2: It might seem possible to reply that in such a hypothesis it would follow that there were two men by reason of the two natures, just as, on the contrary, the three Persons would be called one man, on account of the one nature assumed, as was said above (Article [6], ad 1). But this does not seem to be true; because we must use words according to the purpose of their signification, which is in relation to our surroundings. Consequently, in order to judge of a word's signification or co-signification, we must consider the things which are around us, in which a word derived from some form is never used in the plural unless there are several supposita. For a man who has on two garments is not said to be "two persons clothed," but "one clothed with two garments"; and whoever has two qualities is designated in the singular as "such by reason of the two qualities." Now the assumed nature is, as it were, a garment, although this similitude does not fit at all points, as has been said above (Question [2], Article [6], ad 1). And hence, if the Divine Person were to assume two human natures, He would be called, on account of the unity of suppositum, one man having two human natures. Now many men are said to be one people, inasmuch as they have some one thing in common, and not on account of the unity of suppositum. So likewise, if two Divine Persons were to assume one singular human nature, they would be said to be one man, as stated (Article [6], ad 1), not from the unity of suppositum, but because they have some one thing in common."

    2. Alan, my objection does not pertain to the question you raise, which addresses whether the Divine Person *could choose* to unite Himself to more than one human nature. This question is not what is at issue.

      The question is whether He has told us that He *in fact will not do so*.

      And, again, I submit that it is infallibly the case that He has in fact told us He will not do so.

      Let us stipulate to the argument above. If it occurred, then Christ would have lied whenHe told us "One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism", because we should be required to confess Two Lords.

      We are infallibly assured that there are not Two Lords.

      Therefore the objection is not based upon what the Divine Person is capable of doing, but what the Divine Person has bound Himself to do by His Word, which can neither deceive, nor be deceived.

      One Lord.

    3. St. Thomas argues that if the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity assumed two (or more) human natures, He would still remain one Person of the Trinity, One Lord.

      Now, whether He has done or will do this is another question. Are you are arguing that, although He is able, He has not or will not "assume two (or more) human natures"?

      The best argument I've seen against multiple incarnations is the Ascension, where He brought human nature to heaven. I wonder if St. Thomas has an article on whether multiple human natures can ascend into heaven… ☺

    4. "St. Thomas argues that if the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity assumed two (or more) human natures, He would still remain one Person of the Trinity, One Lord."

      >> Yes, well. I am afraid this is where the argument becomes difficult for me. If Our Lord is hypostatically united to two human natures, then He is walking around in two human bodies, and only extremely advanced Thomistic theologians might be able to find a way to persuade themselves that we nonetheless confess One Lord.

      I am very grateful that God has elected not to put this argument of St. Thomas into the order of things that have actually existed ;-)

      "Now, whether He has done or will do this is another question. Are you are arguing that, although He is able, He has not or will not "assume two (or more) human natures"?

      >> That is exactly what I am arguing, since two human bodies walkiong around united to the Divine Person of the Son would present, as I said, the kind of "One Lord" that only a Jesuit might find a way to confess.

    5. Another good counterargument is that there is only one Mother of God.

  9. Rick: "Therefore the objection is not based upon what the Divine Person is capable of doing, but what the Divine Person has bound Himself to do by His Word, which can neither deceive, nor be deceived." Good point Rick, but could we not tie some of this together by asserting what we clearly know to be true: that the Truth while omnipotent cannot contradict Itself and as such is not capable of acting in a way which would contradict Itself?

    1. That would be my argument, James. Thomas is addressing what is possible by virtue of God's power. The Scriptures have infallibly assured us that there is one hypostatic union of God and rational soul/physical body; that is, One Lord.

  10. Is the existence of the Nephilim of Scripture also denied?

    1. No way to deny their existence.

      What is in question is whether they were human.

      St. Augustine writes:

      "There is therefore no doubt that, according to the Hebrew and Christian canonical Scriptures, there were many giants before the deluge, and that these were citizens of the earthly society of men, and that the sons of God, who were according to the flesh the sons of Seth, sunk into this community when they forsook righteousness. Nor need we wonder that giants should be born even from these. For all of their children were not giants; but there were more then than in the remaining periods since the deluge. And it pleased the Creator to produce them, that it might thus be demonstrated that neither beauty, nor yet size and strength, are of much moment to the wise man, whose blessedness lies in spiritual and immortal blessings, in far better and more enduring gifts, in the good things that are the peculiar property of the good, and are not shared by good and bad alike. It is this which another prophet confirms when he says, These were the giants, famous from the beginning, that were of so great stature, and so expert in war. Those did not the Lord choose, neither gave He the way of knowledge unto them; but they were destroyed because they had no wisdom, and perished through their own foolishness.”

    2. It sounds like they were just highly advanced brute animals, since they had no knowledge or wisdom, which is something humans can have.

  11. "Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown." Gen 6:4

    "The land through which we had gone, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size. There also we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak are part of the Nephilim); and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight."-- Numbers 13:32-33

    Scripture expressly assures us these were men.