Thursday, December 3, 2009

Aliens in the heavenly Jerusalem?

If Christianity is correct, there is at least a moderate probability that there are embodied intelligent persons other than humans. If so, will some of them be in the heavenly Jerusalem, too, available for us to interact with? I think that the value of unity between creatures gives a plausible affirmative argument. Over a finite amount of time, it might make sense that different intelligent species be sequestered, as inter-species communication has many difficulties. But given an infinite amount of time, it seems plausible that such contact would be appropriate. The heavenly choir, thus, may well include an intelligent gas cloud (not literally a gas cloud: a being of body and soul, whose body is composed of a gas cloud) slowly changing colors in a meaningful way, and chatting with St Thomas about divine simplicity.

Of course all such possibilities for wonder pale beside the simple wonder of union with God.

5 comments:

Mike Almeida said...

The heavenly choir, thus, may well include an intelligent gas cloud . . . slowly changing colors in a meaningful way, and chatting with St Thomas about divine simplicity.

More like they'd be discussing the problem of the many...

B2Pi said...

there is at least a moderate probability that there are embodied intelligent persons other than humans

I don't think I'm your usual target audience (I'm an observant Jew, and was actually looking for palm software), but I'm surprised by this statement. Is your statement that there is no prediction in the canon, and therefore the likelihood is, essentially, 50-50? Or are you basing this statement on a text that I'm not aware of or is not occuring to me?

Cheers

Alexander R Pruss said...

B2Pi:

I'm basing myself on the plausibility of the idea that God creates a world that exhibits significant diversity together with unity, because such diversity is intrinsically valuable. The unity, I suppose, could be accomplished in heaven.

As for Palm software, I do have on my PDA a Siddur that I downloaded, I think, from Palmgear, but the fonts are not very nice if you have a hi-res Palm. It's labeled "Provided by: www.JewishContent.org".

I also use PalmBible+ with (among many others) both a JPS translation and a vocalized Hebrew text (but no pointings beyond vowels). These render very nicely with the Hebrew fonts that PalmBible+ includes. These texts may be a little hard to find, so email me if you can't find them. PalmBible+ is free: http://palmbibleplus.sourceforge.net/ . I was one of the developers (in particular, I did the vocalized Hebrew rendering code).

B2Pi said...

I don't mean to be a pill... just lucky that way I guess.

plausibility of the idea that God creates a world that exhibits significant diversity together with unity, because such diversity is intrinsically valuable

Are you saying that it's plausible that there's intrinsic value in diversity, or that there is intrinsic value in diversity, and that that provides the reason that He created the world exhibiting diversity.


As for Palm software,

Your modesty is inspiring. I finally found http://pruss.mobi/, which I didn't think that was you until I did a whois. That's an impressive body of work.

Alexander R Pruss said...

I think it is both plausible that diversity is a value and that God would promote that value. There is a lovely passage in Aquinas about how God, who is completely simple, expresses his perfection in a diversity of things. The idea seems to be that different creatures express different aspects of the creator. (A particular aspect of this I like to think about is how different saints have been images of God in different ways--St Francis in his gentleness, St Thomas in his wisdom and intelligence, Mother Teresa in her service, etc.)

Both Jewish and Christian tradition already believes there are intelligent creatures besides us, namely angels. And it seems that both traditions hold that there is a diversity of angels. Here I am thinking, for instance, of that Jewish story (I may have seen it cited in an Agnon book, I think Present at Sinai) that there is a new choir of angels that God creates every day, which sings a new song (diachronic diversity!), and which fades away into non-existence by the next day. While on the Christian side, St Thomas thinks that every angel is of a different kind. So diversity among angels is a part of the traditions. There is some plausibility in thinking that there would be a diversity among embodied persons like us, as well.

And there are occasional mentions of or speculations about "worlds" among both Jewish and Christian thinkers. It's sometimes not clear from the context whether the worlds are more like planets, or like universes, or like epochs (I think sometimes "olamim" will mean epochs).

The "plausible" doesn't express a very high probability. God is under no obligation to create anything at all. But it does express a probability that isn't very low. Maybe it's somewhere between 0.2 and 0.8? Well, strictly speaking, the idea of assigning numbers to divine actions is absurd.


As for the software, thanks for the compliment. It's a pity to me that PalmOS is disappearing. I think PalmOS 6 could have worked...