Catholic Belief And Extraterrestrial Intelligent Life
If aliens were found, would they have souls? Would the Catholic Church send missionaries to spread the Gospel? Jesuit Brother (and Vatican astronomer) Guy Consolmagno has just published a short book with the Catholic Truth Society on "Intelligent Life in the Universe - Catholic belief and the search for extraterrestrial intelligent life" with answers to these questions.
(Intelligent Life in the Universe - Catholic belief...)
Brother Consolmagno said his aim with the booklet was to reassure Catholics "that you shouldn't be afraid of these questions" and that "no matter what we learn, it doesn't invalidate what we already know" and believe. Scientific study and discovery and religion enrich one another.
He stated that if new forms of life were to be discovered, it would not mean "everything we believe in is wrong," rather, "we're going to find out that everything is truer in ways we couldn't even yet have imagined."
Brother Consolmagno does not take a narrow dogmatic view. Here is his answer to the question "Can aliens be made in God's image?"
"The traditional belief is that they are referring to the aspects of the soul - intellect and free will. The ability to know that we exist, that God exists and the freedom to choose to love or not love. Anything, whether it is an intelligent computer or an alien with five arms - if they have those aspects, seems to me they'd be in the image and likeness of God."
(Brother Consolmagno - BBC interview
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.
Eventually, he proposes that the planet be given the classification X-1; quarantine from Earth and its people forever.
...what we have here on Lithia is very clear indeed. We have - and now I'm prepared to be blunt - a planet and a people propped up by the Ultimate Enemy. It is a gigantic trap prepared for all of us - for every man on Earth and off it. We can do nothing with it but reject it, nothing but say to it Retro me, Sathanas...
I won't give away the ending; this book is still well worth reading after almost fifty years. If you are interested in religion and sf, you might want to look at Rapture of the Avatar, Church of Fools and ShasPod - Compact Talmud Study Aid. Or read the original story Do space aliens have souls? Inquiring minds can check Jesuit's book.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 11/10/2005)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 27 )
Related News Stories -
Greenhouse Plugin Reveals Your Congressman's Money Sources
'Fuller details may be obtained by punching the code number...'- John Brunner, 1975
Michael Jackson, Resurrected
Singing an original song, no less.
Napping Station Now At UofM Library
'Then he strolled across the dayroom to the hypnoteleset...'- Pohl and Kornbluth, 1952.
Russia Bans Cursing, Demolition Man Morality Device Next
'John Spartan, you are fined five credits for repeated violations of the verbal morality statute.'- Demolition Man, 1993.
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
NASA's Highway In The Sky For Drones
Traffic is everywhere.
Palcohol Powdered Alcohol - Try Or Ban?
'I had a small can of powdered alcohol disguised as tooth powder...'
pd.id Personal Drink ID Device Like Dune 'Poison Snooper'
'The jeweled hands clutching drinks (and the unobtrusive inspections with tiny remote-cast snoopers)...'
Monsieur Bartending Robot
'He poured the liquids into his maw...'
Cities Detect Gunfire Acoustics With ShotSpotter
'Sound trackers on the roof...'
Cruise Automation's 'Highway Autopilot' For $10K
'It cut her out of the stream of vehicles and reduced the speed of her car...'
Pengheng Space Capsule Hotel Staffed Entirely By Robots
'A planet-wide chain of hotels that specialized in non-human service.'
Electric Bacteria That Live On Pure Energy
'April 5, 1977; that was the night the waveries came.'
EXACTO Smart Bullet From DARPA
Nicely visualized in what 1984 movie?
Neural Implant To Treat Memory Loss
'You've got remote storage. How regular is the update?'
MIT's Shape-Shifting Robot Materials
The T-100, an advanced prototype, is made of liquid metal. Not quite ready.
LS3 AlphaDog Robot Marine Corps Video
'He admired the fast-plodding, articulated legs, so necessary since roads had degenerated...'
Vantablack Is Blacker Than Your Black
'Well, we have a black coating now thatís ninety-nine percent absorptive...'
Remotely Operated Gardening Rover - Student's Space Agricultural Robot
'There were things growing all over the place, not just in some domed enclosures blasted some millions of miles out in to space.'
Revisiting A Cloud City On Venus
Lando Calrissian, are you still available?
'Windowless Cockpit' Like Star Trek's Patent Applied For
Mr. Sulu, take us out.
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories