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 |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 27 )

Related News Stories - (" Culture ")

'Digital Drugs' (Like Herbert's Semuta?) Dismays Saudis
'The effect (described as timeless, sustained ecstasy) is elicited by certain atonal vibrations...'- Frank Herbert, 1965.

Time For A Universal Basic Income?
'Earned by just being born.'- Philip Jose Farmer, 1967.

Will You Upload Your Mind Anytime Soon?
And if so, how long will the copy last?

Blahtherapy - You Vent Anonymously To Strangers
'It's a service. Imposing no penances, it's kinder than the confessional.'- John Brunner, 1975.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Oak Ridge To Pay For The (Giant, Superfast 3D) Printer
'Can your Biltong print for more than a hundred people?'

Race Into The Future With Bionic Boots
'The tremendous loping strides afforded by such devices... '

Linux Robot Masters Automatic Charging
'Then it appeared to make up its mind, and trundled over to a wall socket...'

PR2 Robot Dominates In Laundry Room
Where are the robots who will pick up discarded clothes?

Do You Want A Tablet Computer? Or, Fad Over?
'He would plug his foolscap-sized Newspad into the ship's information circuit'

First Person Video Flying Parrot Bebop Drone Video
'Over a radius of several miles Sonya's raytron apparatus could direct its flight...'

XPrize's Diamandis Implants RFID Tag In Hand
'People in Manhattan have replaced their Freedom Card with a radio-frequency chip about the size of a vitamin pill.'

Lightpaper Way Thinner Than OLED
'You have this on Siwenna?'

Foodini 3D Printer
''...Food slot gave him flat reddish-brown bricks.'

Parrot Bebop Drone Pairs With Your Smartphone
'Over a radius of several miles Sonya's raytron apparatus could direct its flight [using] an image of all that the lens eye saw.'

SCRIBE Enables Distributed Genomically Encoded Memory
Genomic DNA for analog, rewritable, and flexible memory.

Artisanal 3D Printing By Martha Stewart
'Nanofax AG offers a technology that digitally reproduces objects, physically, at a distance.'

Knightscope Robot Security Guards Ready
'A robot guard appeared, streaking toward them across the field.'

Bullet-Proof Kevlar Woven Electronics
'Check the watch imprinted on his sleeve...'

USAF 'BATMAN' Wrist Display
'The tiny screen in the bracelet's center...'

CoBots - Collaborative Robots Ask Humans For Help
'Whenever a robot finds something it can't identify... You give it a good look.'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.