Christmas star

I wonder why the skeptic alarm bells are ringing.

They are ringing so loudly, two thousand years from now pseudo-historians will spin hypotheses about what the real Alarm Bells of Centurion were.

I am endlessly bemused by people trying to find the “real” star of Bethlehem, or the “real” cause of the plagues of Egypt, or the “real” story behind Noah’s flood. One may as well try to find the real animals behind the fables of Aesop.

That reminds me of a short story I read, think it was Asimov. About how astronauts from Earth visits a super nova remnant, to find a planet that had a civilization on it. And the super nova’s light would have reached Earth on the day of the birth of Jesus. Ending thought was in the line of “How could God destroy a civilization for a light show”.
A kind of round about way to make you think about theodicy, but the story’s lesson stayed with me for a long while now.

I remember that story: if memory serves, the main character was a priest, and the events made him lose his religion. I also seem to remember that they didn’t find the planet itself (it was completely destroyed by the supernova), but found representative artifacts of the civilization on a planet further out in the system. The civilization had enough technology to save bits and pieces of their civilization in this way, but not enough to save themselves.

They were, in other words, in pretty much the same position humans are at the moment: if we were to find out the sun will go supernova in a few years, we will be able to send unmanned probes to Pluto etc. to save some of our civilization, but it is unlikely that we’d be able to save ourselves. And we’d be pretty pissed off if we knew that all of this would be simply to lighten up the arrival of some Little Green Messiah on a distant planet. :slight_smile:

Hopefully the sun will be too small to be called into service as a cosmic signalling device to herald the birth of JC’s much younger sibling on a distant planet. But once Solly starts puffing up properly, we may well start wishing for a supernova.