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Registered: 10/16/02
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Space Impact Responsible for the Survival of Christianity?
    #1657642 - 06/24/03 01:51 AM (20 years, 9 months ago)

Space impact 'saved Christianity'

By Dr David Whitehouse
BBC News Online science editor

Did a meteor over central Italy in AD 312 change the course of Roman and Christian history?

About the size of a football field: The impact crater left behind
A team of geologists believes it has found the incoming space rock's impact crater, and dating suggests its formation coincided with the celestial vision said to have converted a future Roman emperor to Christianity.

It was just before a decisive battle for control of Rome and the empire that Constantine saw a blazing light cross the sky and attributed his subsequent victory to divine help from a Christian God.

Constantine went on to consolidate his grip on power and ordered that persecution of Christians cease and their religion receive official status.

Civil war

In the fourth century AD, the fragmented Roman Empire was being further torn apart by civil war. Constantine and Maxentius were bitterly fighting to be the sole emperor.

Constantine was the son of the western emperor Constantius Chlorus. When he died in 306, his father's troops proclaimed Constantine emperor.

...a most marvellous sign appeared to him from heaven...

But in Rome, the favourite was Maxentius, son of Constantius' predecessor, Maximian.

With both men claiming the title, a conference was called in AD 308 that resulted in Maxentius being named as senior emperor along with Galerius, his father-in-law. Constantine was to be a Caesar, or junior emperor.

The situation was not a stable one, however, and by 312 the two men were at war.

Constantine overran Italy and faced Maxentius at the Milvian Bridge over the Tiber a few kilometres from Rome. Both knew it would be a decisive battle with Constantine's forces outnumbered.

'Conquer by this'

It was then that something strange happened. Eusebius - one of the Christian Church's early historians - relates the event in his Conversion of Constantine.

"...while he was thus praying with fervent entreaty, a most marvellous sign appeared to him from heaven, the account of which it might have been hard to believe had it been related by any other person.

"...about noon, when the day was already beginning to decline, he saw with his own eyes the trophy of a cross of light in the heavens, above the Sun, and bearing the inscription 'conquer by this'.

"At this sight he himself was struck with amazement, and his whole army also, which followed him on this expedition, and witnessed the miracle."

Spurred on by divine intervention, Constantine's army won the day and he gave homage to the God of the Christians whom he believed had helped him.

This was a time when Christianity was struggling. Support from the most powerful man in the empire allowed the emerging religious movement to flourish.

Like a nuclear blast

But what was the celestial event that converted Constantine and altered the course of history?

Jens Ormo, a Swedish geologist, and colleagues working in Italy believe Constantine witnessed a meteoroid impact.

Drill rig: Sampling the crater
The research team believes it has identified what remains of the impactor's crater.

It is the small, circular Cratere del Sirente in central Italy. It is clearly an impact crater, Ormo says, because its shape fits and it is also surrounded by numerous smaller, secondary craters, gouged out by ejected debris, as expected from impact models.

Radiocarbon dating puts the crater's formation at about the right time to have been witnessed by Constantine and there are magnetic anomalies detected around the secondary craters - possibly due to magnetic fragments from the meteorite.

According to Ormo, it would have struck the Earth with the force of a small nuclear bomb, perhaps a kiloton in yield. It would have looked like a nuclear blast, with a mushroom cloud and shockwaves.

It would have been quite an impressive sight and, if it really was what Constantine saw, could have turned the tide of the conflict.

But what would have happened if this chance event - perhaps as rare as once every few thousand years - had not occurred in Italy at that time?

Maxentius might have won the battle. Roman history would have been different and the struggling Christians might not have received state patronage.

The history of Christianity and the establishment of the popes in Rome might have been very different.


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Registered: 04/18/02
Posts: 3,040
Loc: there
Re: Space Impact Responsible for the Survival of Christianity? [Re: Jackal]
    #1657803 - 06/24/03 03:20 AM (20 years, 9 months ago)

I think we?re overdue for another one.

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1up on the rest

Registered: 10/20/02
Posts: 534
Loc: Canada
Last seen: 1 year, 5 months
Re: Space Impact Responsible for the Survival of Christianity? [Re: infidelGOD]
    #1658304 - 06/24/03 11:02 AM (20 years, 9 months ago)

What a wonderful world it would be,
without Christianity.

No one knows the worth of innocence till he knows it is gone forever, and that money can't buy it back. Not the saint, but the sinner that repenteth, is he to whom the full length and breadth, and height and depth, of life's meaning is revealed. Good and evil loose all objective meaning and are seen as equally necessary and contrasting elements in the masterpiece that is the universe.

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Eggshell Walker

Registered: 01/18/00
Posts: 15,413
Loc: In the hen house
Re: Space Impact Responsible for the Survival of Christianity? [Re: infidelGOD]
    #1658316 - 06/24/03 11:08 AM (20 years, 9 months ago)

Cool pic IG. Looks like a macro of my zit popping. (Sorry for the gross graphic imagery!)


The proof is in the pudding.

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Carpal Tunnel
Registered: 08/29/99
Posts: 6,488
Loc: n. e. OH, USSA
Last seen: 6 months, 11 days
Re: Space Impact Responsible for the Survival of Christianity? [Re: nubious]
    #1658538 - 06/24/03 01:11 PM (20 years, 9 months ago)

i think that it would be an interesting world if christianity had been one religion among the many found within the borders of the lands of the former roman empire...
maybe we would still find small communities of christians, gathering in catacombs, symbolically sharing the flesh of the crucified and risen god/man... perhaps even in its many possible varieties (gnostics, nestorians, essenes, followers of the baptist, & how many others who called jesus the annointed one of yahweh, but were declared heretics by constantine's bishops...)
and the library at alexandria would never have been burned, and the daughters of hypatia would still copy scrolls from travellers far and wide, and the (far too many lost to us) plays and poems and treatises would still be available to seekers of ancient knowledge...
right along side of soldiers praying to mithras, and persian followers of zarathustra and manes, and those who call on the old gods & goddesses of the greek & roman pantheon, and odin-worshippers, and gods and spirits of lithuania and russia, and celts and druids from western europe and britain, scotland, ireland, and the spirits from the lands of the rivers - nile, congo, niger...
and since the bloody progress of westciv & the black-robed priests would be missing from our history, perhaps travellers from mesoamerica could tell of their feathered-serpent god/man quetzacoatl, and from peru those who revere the sungod-ruler inka, and from the eastern forest democracies, and from the buffalo thundering plains, and the pine forests of the northwest, the red men have their ways from the last ice age...
and from the other side of the world, the island continent folk who still walk the paths of the dreamtime place...
perhaps without christianity, the arabian businessman muhammed would have never recieved his transmission of visions fron the angel gabriel...
not gone, no... just not so confident that the way of the christ is the only way to be allowed, & thus justifying the use of fire and sword, rack and pincers, on those who would not submit... murdering heretics, jews, saracens, pagans, heathens, goddess-worshippers/witches, "savages" red, brown, black, yellow, and even the nasty wars between roman catholics west & orthodox catholics east, catholics & protestant, and protestant & protestant... all done in the name of the prince of peace...
perhaps due to the not-so-subtle difference between "a way" and "the way" ???
there's a hell of a universe next door ---
let's go !!!
(stolen from e e cummings)

old enough to know better
not old enough to care

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Registered: 03/12/02
Posts: 24,855
Loc: Pandurn
Last seen: 1 year, 3 months
Re: Space Impact Responsible for the Survival of Christianity? [Re: gnrm23]
    #1658705 - 06/24/03 02:24 PM (20 years, 9 months ago)

I myself would be of the Norse religion. I've read a lot back when I was in elementary school about all the Norse myths, about Odin, Thor, Heimdall, Frey, Freya, Loki and all of them. I mean, the gods don't get cooler than that. And Scandanavia is the coolest fucking place on this Earth, anyways. I mean, melodic death metal? IN FLAMES, Opeth, Children of Bodom, Dimmu Borgir, Dark Tranquility, Cradle of Filth (if you count Denmark, which I do)? Doesn't get better than that.

If I should die this very moment
I wouldn't fear
For I've never known completeness
Like being here
Wrapped in the warmth of you
Loving every breath of you

:heartpump: :bunnyhug: :yinyang:

:yinyang: :levitate: :earth: :levitate: :yinyang:

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