Four hundred years after tossing astronomer Galileo Galilei into jail for his "heretical" findings that the Earth revolved around the sun, the Vatican is dipping its toe into the brave new world of astrobiology.
The Pontifical Academy of Sciences is holding its first conference on astrobiology, drawing an eclectic blend of scientists and religious leaders to Italy for a week to discuss prospects for extraterrestrial intelligent life, the origins of life on Earth and if alternative forms of life might be happily co-habiting with us on Earth.
"Astrobiology is an effort to use a diverse range of scientific techniques, focused on targets from the molecules in cells to the vast cosmos around us, to provide a deeper appreciation of humankind's place inthe cosmos," conference organizers wrote. "It is a recognition of the remarkable intricacies of all that is within and around us and a 21st century realization of the psalmist's recommendation (Ps111:2) to delight in its study."
Amen to that.