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 ")

Beatie Wolfe's Album Is A Deck Of NFC Cards
'The greater trumps ready to step right out through those glistening surfaces.' - Roger Zelazny, 1970.

All Your Prior Art Are Belong To Us
'...how laborious the usual method is of attaining to arts...' - Jonathan Swift, 1726.

One Third Of Young Canadians Prefer Robot Boss
`Sit, old son. We have a lot to talk about.' - William Gibson, 1984.

Comedian Robot Named Data
'[The] capacity to distinguish between gags that are partly funny and gags that are very funny' - William Tenn, 1951.

 

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

Ignition Interlock Devices Stopped 1.7 Million Drunken Tries
'Maybe the car was right...'

Man Filmed Sleeping In Tesla On Autopilot
'Mary Risling settled back for a little nap...'

Otto Self-Driving Truck Kits
'Trucks gulped packages and scurried like beetles...'

Humans Help Robots Identify Recyclables
'You give it a good look... then press the right button and in she goes.'

Is This Robotic Hand As Quick As Yours?
'V-Stephen's surgeon-hand, a self-contained robot of precision quality...'

DARPA's XS-1 Spaceplane
'They were more airplane than spaceship...'

Douglas Adams Your Babel Fish Is Ready - The Pilot By Waverly
'You'll need to have this fish in your ear.'

OMG! DIY Arduino Robot Vacuum Cleaner Like Bradbury's Mice
'Out of warrens in the wall, tiny robot mice darted.'

NASA Culturing ISS Walls For Microbes
'Collect organisms and dust for study...'

Siemens 3D Printing Robot Spiders
'The eight thin metallic legs were pointed downwards, balanced delicately...'

Implants Melt In Your Brain, Not In Your Hands
Implant and forget - they melt in your brain, not in your hands.

Baby Boomers Will LOVE Autonomous Cars (Trust Me!)
'Old people began to cross the continent in their own cars....'

ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet Tests His Suit
'The interior will be like airless and pressure-less space.'

DIY Method To Summon Tesla With Amazon Echo
'Thomas focussed the violet beam of a hand flash on a plate...'

AI Lawyer 'Ross' Gets First Job
'Why don't we just feed the bloody thing to LEX...'

MIT's Second Skin Enhances Original Skin
'I must care, or I wouldn't live in this lying skin suit...'

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.