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Vatican is O.K. with E.T.

An article in today's Boston Globe reports that Vatican Observatory director, Fr. Jose Gabriel Funes, S.J. has given the O.K. to belive in aliens.

"How can we rule out that life may have developed elsewhere?" Funes said. "Just as we consider earthly creatures as 'a brother,' and 'sister,' why should we not talk about an 'extraterrestrial brother'? It would still be part of creation."

Funes said science, especially astronomy, does not contradict religion, touching on a theme of Pope Benedict XVI, who has made exploring the relationship between faith and reason a key aspect of his papacy.

Maybe if we get an extraterrestrial to run for office, we'll see more of a Catholic vote.

About the Author

Marianne L. Tierney is a PhD student in theology at Boston College.



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I'll start this off (since I raised the issue on the "neural Bhuddist" thread ...I like the Vatican's idea that denying the possibilioty of alien life is limiting the powers of God ... but if science ever proves the existence of alien lifeespecially intelligent alien lifewhat does that do to human theology? Did Christ also save the aliens? Did they even need saving (if they didnt fall from grace, why would they?) Is sin a uniquely human condition or it it truly universal? Is humankind uniquely created in Gods imagephysical as well as mentalor is Gods image really just his sentience and thus any self-aware creature was made in Gods image even it is an intelligent rocklike creature (ala one of Star Treks more famous aliens)?

Robert,The following is from a more detailed article than the one linked to above:

"God became man in Jesus in order to save us. So if there are also other intelligent beings, it's not a given that they need redemption. They might have remained in full friendship with their creator," he said. Father Funes went on to say that Christ's incarnation and sacrifice was a unique and unrepeatable event. But he said he was sure that, if needed, God's mercy would be offered to aliens, as it was to humans.

But isn't it a Catholic belief that the Fall (whatever it might have been) affected not just human beings, but all of creation? And is Funes saying that if other races did require redemption, there could be no Incarnation for them because it could only happen once?

Robert and David: Some of us do not know what it means for Christ to have "saved" humans, nor what it means for either humans or creation to "fall." Those of us so confused on these matters would therefore have difficulty answering in what way the concepts apply to aliens. I do think sin is universally possible if sin means knowing God's will (at least implicitly) and choosing to act against it. I think aliens could do that. As for God's image, I think it means to choose with love, that is, to be free and to choose to love as God loves. I think aliens could do that.One of the few objections I had to the original Matrix movie was that the machines were portrayed as monolithically evil. This did not seem correct for me because I thought that any part of creation, especially those parts that could choose with understanding, had to somehow "hear" God, and so had to "know" the Good. Thus, I thought an interesting sequel would include a program or machine that came to the aid of humanity, and lo and behold, the Oracle appeared in exactly this role.A series of books that raises interesting questions about religion, ethics, and aliens, and which provide a darn good read as well, are the Ender books by Orson Scott Card (a Mormon sci-fi writer!). The first book is almost impossible to put down and is called Ender's Game (Ender is a boy). Originally, Card produced a trilogy, but then went on to write many more books for this world, not all of which are as good as Ender's Game.

Joe:I also do not know what exactly it measn for Christ to have "saved" us (that's why i put it in quotes, to distinguish it from soemthing I absolutely believe) .. I like your referenc eto God's image being "to choose with love .."Speaking of great sci-fi/religious conbenctions, do watch the new Battlestar Galactica (the original was also created by a Mormon--I'm not sure about the new version) ... in the new version, the humans worship the pantheon of ancient Greek gods while the machines worship "the one true God" ... but of course, the machines attack and wipe out billions of humans, believing that to be God's will ... meanwhile, some of the machines are becoming quite agnostic or even atheistic while one of the more evil humans seems to have found some sort of redemption by preaching a faith in "the one true God" ... it's an always interesting show!

Here in the land of Roswell, I know a number of serious scientists who beleive in extraterrestrial intelligent life and spend their own dough every year to go to well attended conferences for the latest on the subject. I also know lots of scientists who maintain at least a healthy scepticism.Christ's saving us through His sacraiice is an act of at -onement, from where I sit and need not depend too much on the Genesis etiology of how sin came into the world.My belief is that God wishes all to be brought to Him so that "all in all" can be accomplished.I think also in our far advanced 21st Century, we still havel ots to learn about the universe and God's plan.

Robert: I have been a total nut for the new BSG since season one (although I think things kinda fell apart last season). This season has been pretty good so far, with some good religion discussions.

More fiction: CS Lewis's space trilogy, Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength. Lewis said that Perelandra was "worth twenty Screwtapes" and I agree. What is the Eden of another planet after the Redemption on earth? How would a terrestrial Christian be involved? (The first book of the trilogy is okay, the third is bizarre arthurian stuff I could do without.)

Joe:Yes, the less said about the "New Caprica" season the better! There are some things man was not meant to watch ....

I trust I shall not be labeled an anti-Jesuit to note that Fr. Coyne and his successor, Fr. Funes are in the Society of Jesus [as was Judas]. I recollect dissatisfaction with Fr. Coyne's English translation of Annibale Fantoli's GALILEO: FOR COPERNICANISM AND FOR THE CHURCH [1996]. It is a book which, with its publication of the relevant documents puts paid to all the nonsense about the Galileo case. The nonsense, like weeds in a garden, will never be finished. Fr. Coyne's English has become that of someone who has lived too long in Italy; it is a victim of many 'italianisms'. The nuisance is that it detracts from the seriousness of Prof. Fantoli's work. Too bad that Fr. Coyne did not ask someone like Fr. Currie to do a bit of polishing. It is a curiosity to note that the discussion has become one about television programs, but does not mention the program ROSWELL. There could be an interesting study of the psychology of the alien creatures as envisioned by their creators: pointy ears, big foreheads, cold-bloodedness.

I thought Copernican Rome could not drag the Catholic faith any further into disrepute, but I was wrong. A simple visit into a few blogsites will confirm this. If anyone out there wants to know, here is one Catholic that will have nothing to do with people that believe in aliens and that they can pervert and insult a parable of Christ to make it fit their ignorant ideology. To even argue that aliens have not one iota of scientific evidence would be wrong as it would be taking this Fr Funes seriously. What I will say is that no exoplanets have actually been identified outside of star perturbations that are interpreted as being planets. Given that perturbations are the figment of the erroneous maths of Newton's elliptical orbits, they have no reality outside of maths. The universe does not show a clear evolutionary process as Fr Funes states but only one of decay, stars burning out and stellar debris clearly visible, just as St Paul stated in the Scriptures as a result of the Fall (because creation itself also will be delivered from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the sons of God. For we know that all creation groans and travails in pain until now. [Rom. 8: 21-22]. I for one, consider Fr Funes is no more than a modernist publicity seeker.

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