Do Aliens Have Souls?

The Rev. Jose Gabriel Funes, the Jesuit director of the Vatican Observatory, believes that the existence of space aliens would not contradict Catholic faith.

In an interview published Tuesday by Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Funes says that such a notion "doesn't contradict our faith'' because aliens would still be God's creatures.

But do aliens have souls?

In 1958, science fiction writer James Blish published his Hugo award-winning book A Case of Conscience.

(Cover art for A Case of Conscience)

In the novel, a team of scientists - including a Jesuit priest - travel to the newly discovered planet Lithia to examine the intelligent beings who live there. Father Ruiz-Sanchez, however, has a hidden role in the expedition; the Vatican wants to know if the Lithians have souls.

It turns out that the Lithians conform perfectly to every essential precept of the Christian moral code - but they have no concept of God and no religion. At one point, Father Ruiz-Sanchez is invited to visit a Lithian family.

Here was the first chance, at long last, to see something of the private life of Lithia, and through that, perhaps, to gain some inkling of the moral life, the role in which God had cast the Lithians in the ancient drama of good and evil, in the past and in the times to come. Until that was known, the Lithians in their Eden might be only spuriously good: all reason, all organic thinking machines, ULTIMACs with tails - and without souls.

Father Ruiz-Sanchez adds:

...Ruiz said gently, "forgive me, but are you so convinced that Egtverchi is what you mean by a human being - a hnau, a rational soul?

What do you think?


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