Forty-five years after man first set foot on the Moon seems as good a time as any for NASA to admit what many of us raised on a televisual diet of Dr Who have dreamed.
Last month, the head of NASA no less proclaimed himself not only to be a member of the pro alien camp, but predicted their existence may be confirmed within as little as 20 years.
“It’s highly improbable in the limitless vastness of the universe that we humans stand alone,” said NASA adminstrator Charles Bolden – flanked by a host of concurring boffins.
This was immediately rejected by fundamentalist creationists who argue that aliens cannot exist and therefore it’s a pointless waste of money to keep looking for them.
But while they might be dang sure about that in Clarksville, Kentucky, NASA has a powerful ally in the Catholic Church which seems not only willing to entertain the idea of aliens, but is actively scouring the cosmos for new congregants.
Earlier this year the Vatican Observatory co-sponsored a major powwow on extraterrestrial life involving 200 of the world’s leading astrobiologists.
While the Search for Life Beyond the Solar System: Exoplanets, Biosignature & Instruments conference drew no firm conclusions, Pope Francis I is light years ahead in reception planning.
The Pontiff recently generated intergalactic headlines during a mass dedicated to the conversion of the first pagans by saying he would be like totally prepared to baptise an alien if one knocked at the door of the papal apartment.
“If – for example – tomorrow an expedition of Martians came, and some of them came to us, here … Martians, right? Green, with that long nose and big ears, just like children paint them … And one says, ‘But I want to be baptised!’ What would happen? …Who are we to close doors?”
The director of the Vatican Observatory The Reverend Jose Gabriel Funes has previously said it would cramp God’s style to suggest there were no aliens.
“Just as there is a multiplicity of creatures on earth, there can be other beings, even intelligent, created by God. This is not in contrast with our faith because we can’t put limits on God’s creative freedom. Why can’t we speak of a ‘brother extraterrestrial’? It would still be part of creation.”
Or as fellow Vatican astronomer Guy Consolmagno put it, he would surely baptise an alien upon request because “any entity – no matter how many tentacles it has – has a soul.”
I’m not quite sure where that leaves calamari, but it’s always seemed counter-productive to me for any religious leader – whether they subscribe to a single supreme being or multiple deities – to deny the existence of aliens.
The widely worshipped Hindu deity Ganesha for example has the head of an elephant and four arms and would not look out of place to Star Wars fans in the Mos Eisley Spaceport Cantina on Tatooine.
And the Christian God?
Hello! Who lives in Heaven and is not of Earth, has supernatural powers and is all seeing and all knowing.
Isn’t this the common ground between God, Ganesha and even little green men – that faith is about believing or at least accepting the possibility of something we cannot prove exists.
So will ET phone Rome?
Herself only knows, but as the Vatican generously allows, the truth is out there.