Alien Thoughts…

… from the Vatican’s astronomer. 

This information has landed in the Basket:  The Vatican says it is okay to believe in UFOs.  Okay in the spiritual sense.  In other words, it is perfectly compatible with “The Faith” to also believe in ET:

The Vatican’s chief astronomer says there is no conflict between believing in God and in the possibility of extraterrestrial “brothers” perhaps more evolved than humans.

“In my opinion this possibility exists,” said the Reverend José Gabriel Funes, head of the Vatican Observatory and a scientific adviser to Pope Benedict XVI, referring to life on other planets.

“How can we exclude that life has developed elsewhere,” he said in an interview with the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, published in its Tuesday-Wednesday edition. The large number of galaxies with their own planets makes this possible, he noted.

Asked if he was referring to beings similar to humans or even more evolved than humans, he said: “Certainly, in a universe this big you can’t exclude this hypothesis.”

In the interview headlined, “The extraterrestrial is my brother,” he said he saw no conflict between belief in such beings and faith in God.

Well, isn’t that special!  I am not sure a Calvinist, with a firm belief in the headship of both Adam and Christ, can go along with Rome.  Jesus Christ, the Second Adam, had to come as a man in order to save mankind (Its all in Romans and Hebrews folks).  So, if there were other “brothers” out there, would he also have to come as the Great Gazoo?

A few more questions…  Who knew the Vatican had its own Astronomer?  Seriously, what other officeholders are there in Rome?  Is there a Chief Botanist?  Who would issue rulings on the potential for man eating plants from space, the astronomer or the botanist?  FEED ME SEYMOUR! 

UPDATE FOR SUSAN:  to show her that we at the basket still love her

We love you too Bucky, but I have no idea what you are talking about with those fanny aliens.  Enlighten?

al sends

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33 responses to “Alien Thoughts…

  1. One tiny point of clarification…the Vatican did not make this statement, a Catholic scientist gave his opinion in an interview. This is not a part of Catholic teaching, doctrine, or dogma. I think this just means that they leave room to believe.

    While I do doubt the existence of aliens, it would not shatter my faith to find they do exist.

  2. I once read a science fiction book that had aliens that didn’t fall from grace. They were still living in the garden. Seems like that would be a case where Christ would not have to be sacrificed for them. It would be another category of beings (kind of like angels only corporeal).

    Also non-soul bearing alien creatures would, I believe, be inline with Calvinism.

    I also think you could make a case for other dimensional creatures. Christ could have lived/died/resurrected/ascended in multiple dimensions at the same ‘time’.

    All that being said, I’m not so sure about soul-bearing aliens in our own dimension. Thats however what you are logically driven to if you believe in Darwinian Evolution as apposed to micro-evolution. Christ being the God-man seems like a very good indication to me that we are the only soul-bearing creatures in the universe.

    –joke–
    Of course there is the verse that the Mormons like to use:
    John 10:16:
    “16 And “other sheep” I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.”
    Maybe that refers to aliens.
    –joke–

  3. Becky – First of all, the story is not as funny if you keep interrupting us with facts.

    Second, if the Reverend José Gabriel Funes doesn’t speak for Rome on issues of astronomy then who does? He is head of the Vatican Observatory, if he does not speak for the “vicar of Christ” on matters of science (pseudo and other) then they should change his title.

    al sends

  4. Oops, sorry! But I do still think it’s funny. Yer a funny guy, Al.

    I guess what I’m saying is not that he doesn’t speak for Rome, but that it’s not an official church teaching. Catholics are free to believe it or not. Perhaps I shouldn’t try posting so early in the morning? I don’t have a sense of humor before my morning cup of tea. (Quit laughing, coffee drinkers. It’s strong tea.)

    BTW, Kevin, that verse in John is the first one I thought of too!

  5. No worries Becky!

    Kevin, hear this with all the pastoral love I can muster… Dude! Put the Robert Aspin, Isaac Asimov, and Fred Saberhagen books down and step away from the computer.

    The fact that you used the phrase,”I’m not so sure about soul-bearing aliens in our own dimension…” has rocked my world.

    Praying for you! 🙂
    Al sends

  6. Looks like I’m ok, I’m currently reading Frank Herbert and the title of the book is “Dune Messiah”. Its got Messiah in the title so it must be a Godly book 🙂

  7. Maybe WE are the aliens… strangers in a strange land and all that. Maybe heaven is on the planet Xenon or something and the white light everyone sees is a teleportation device. Or it’s the comet Halle Bopp come to get us.

    To think that the entire universe is lifeless except planet Earth is/would be mind boggling. I don’t know which is harder to believe – that there is or isn’t life “out there.”

    Kevin – it’s been awhile since I’ve read any of the Dune books… Is that the fourth in the series?

    and Al… you left off my favorite alien: the Martian from Bugs Bunny.

  8. I saw this yesterday after digging a bit too deep on YahooNews, I kept checking back all afternoon to see if Al had posted yet, Al, thank you so much for not disappointing!

    The article says ‘The Vatican Observatory has been at the forefront of efforts to bridge the gap between religion and science.’ Maybe they’re trying to bridge the gap with the Direct Panspermia guys. Here’s a sample from Dr. Francis Crick & James Watson (Noble Prize Winners) who stated: “It now seems unlikely that extraterrestrial living organisms could have reached the earth either as spores driven by the radiation pressure from another star or as living organisms imbedded in a meteorite.”

    “As an alternative to these nineteenth-century mechanisms, we have considered Directed Panspermia, the theory that organisms were deliberately transmitted to the earth by intelligent beings on another planet.”

    Alien or alien seed slingers don’t filter through the message of Christ, whose life, death, resurrection, ascension, and Lordship are central to our beliefs, no?

    That’s a gap that doesn’t need a bridge.

  9. s g – ‘Dune Messiah’ is the second book of the series. I always forget that too. Seems like ‘Children of Dune’ should be second. Seen the movies too many times I guess.

  10. OK… let’s take every thought captive so that we might obey Christ here (2 Corinthians 10:5).

    Let me ask you how another, race of sinless beings would fit into this:

    Romans 8:18For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

    The “whole creation” groans until the hope of the resurrection has been realized. Now, the resurrection is accomplished in one man, the Man Jesus Christ. He is the resurrection and the life and represented sinful Adam, accomplishing all that was required of him in the Garden, in his own resurrection.

    If there is another race of beings, they have a head – a representative – and God is counting them guilty or righteous in him. Who would that head be for the created beings outside of Adam’s race?

    Al sends

  11. First of all, you may be taking my comments a bit too seriously. With that said, lets have some fun.

    I agree that this hypothetical sinless race would be included in the ‘whole creation’ and would therefore groan over us.

    Back to the analogy of angels: Who is the representative head of the angels? Seems like they don’t have a representative head. Half of them have Satan as a head maybe. What about the other half?

    Jude 6 And the angel’s who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day.

    Maybe there is a created group of creatures that did keep their proper domain. That would, I surmise, put them in a position of suffering because of man. But don’t all creatures on earth suffer do to the curse. Certainly we don’t think of dogs sinning, but they do suffer under the curse. I know that dogs is a bad example because we can probably come up with a counter example of ‘sins’ that our dog has committed. So make it a pelican.

  12. wow – this gets weird quick.

    Al… when you say “race of beings” what do you mean? <- insert ev-eel grin here

    sci-fi fan sends

  13. Kevin, Two things…

    1) I saw others running with this so I thought I would respond.

    2) My wife saw a pelican drop a fish on the car in front of her as she was heading to school one morning. I think it was malicious.

    al sends

  14. Susan…

    The bible talks about the races of men, which are really nations and not strictly ethnic groups. The nation of Israel was a special race, chosen out of an ethnic group to be a people. Romans 9: 1 I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit— 2that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. 4They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. 5To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.

    Jesus Christ has divided this world into two races, two nations if you will. Those who are a holy people, by grace through faith, and those who are not. If there are other beings (I am assuming sentient beings here) they must belong to a race of some sort. Are they Christ’s and if so did they suffer at the fall?

    1 Peter 2:9But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

    Kevin postulates an unfallen creature, suffering from the effects of a the fall, but not the cause of the fall. Like corporal angels if you will.

    A couple things about that… first of all while angels are created beings; they exist outside creation and are before God eternally. Creation, the way Paul used it in Romans 8, does not consist of angels. They do not groan under the weight of Adam’s sin. Their head is Christ as he must have preeminence.

    One last thing… When God finished creation with Adam and Eve He said that it was all very good and then He rested. Assuming sentient beings who are capable of relating to their creator, I see no place is the story of redemption for another people no matter how distant the planet.

    al sends

  15. shoot… I forgot to set those scriptures off in quotes.

    Susan, no I don’t think you were serious about Xennon…

    Many people are in the position of believing it possible that God has another group of really smart beings in space for whom Christ’s death is irrelevant.

    Most of it is idle speculation, but I don’t think people have thought through some of the ramifications. Like this priest at the Vatican for example.

    al sends

  16. The Vatican (or its learned astronomer) has certainly created a slippery slope by this speculation. Quite a change from when Rome burned dissenters when they challenged that the earth wasn’t the center of the universe. Even though the sun does not circle the earth, man IS still the center of creation. The universe is big, created for us as a sign and wonder. Quite humbling.

    still a sci-fi fan sends

  17. Al – you left out my favorite Star Trek aliens, the fanny heads, those should have been in your original post.

    Love sci-fi (but I’ll have to read it ’cause Pastor Rob has banned all televisions)

  18. I’m about to pull out some big guns, but please remember that I’m only having a little fun. In my first comment I say, “Christ being the God-man seems like a very good indication to me that we are the only soul-bearing creatures in the universe.” I still think that is a good argument for our uniqueness.

    However, …

    According to Loraine Boettner, in ‘The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination’ (listed by the way as one of my favorite books on my application to Providence Chruch) page 92, “Election extends not only to men but also and equally to the angels since they also are part of God’s creation and are under His government.”. Also reading Berkhof Systematic Theology section on angels, page 144, “… but not that they [angels] existed before the primary creation of heaven and earth.” It would seem to me that these two guys argue for angels to not ‘exist outside creation’.

    But angels were only my analogy. They are, however, moral intelligent sentient created beings that are not man. This would seem to indicate that there is a category of creatures that are not under the headship of Adam. So could it not be possible that there are other creatures not mentioned in the Bible, because they do not interact or have any bearing on humans, who are moral and highly intelligent. Couldn’t God have created many different types of creatures for His pleasure. We see that He created many diverse creatures on Earth, so why not many diverse intelligent sentient beings who are capable of relating to their Creator. They would not be special in the way that man is special (that is we have the second person of the Godhead who is both God and man). The other creatures, like angels, would surely marvel at that relationship.

    As for alien grace, could they not achieve grace in whatever manner angels achieve grace?

  19. Um, Kevin. I have it on good authority (a church sign near our house) that Grace is a gift received, Not achieved. And your source is a man named Loraine. I’m not saying…

  20. Not to split hairs (though how can you not in this discussion) I included Angels as created beings, just not existing in creation as Paul uses the term in Romans 8. Aliens, as we are conceiving of them here, do not exist outside the created order that is currently groaning under the weight of sin. There are here, with anal probes.

    So, if they were created to exist in nature (somewhere in space and time visiting earth and all) then they would fall under Adam; unless God created another race with a different created head. And if that is the case, which part of universe falls under Marvin the Martian (for Susan) and which part falls under Adam?

    Oh, and don’t give me the other dimension goobly-gook.

    al sends
    and yes this is fun

  21. Oh, and Rob… don’t you wish your excellent post above received this much attention. We will talk Aliens over sin any day!

    al sends

  22. The real question is, how many of these hypothetical aliens can dance on the head of a pin?

    No really, C. S. Lewis does this in Perelandra, the second book in his science fiction trilogy. Venus is the planet called Perelandra which is unspoiled until the Christian Ransom and the demon-possessed Weston crash onto the planet in space ships. Weston tries to corrupt the inhabitants and Ransom tries to stop him. The interesting thing is that it satisfies Romans because the angels who have charge of the different planets are all working together to defeat the evil of the angel who was given charge of earth (analogous to Lucifer). And so, you have all the creation longing to be brought into unity with God but they cannot be because of the sin of mankind. Yet alll the same they envy men (sinlessly), because the Son of God came down to them. Interesting concept, but I’m not all that worried about ET. As Bill Waterson said, the surest sign that there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us.

  23. Rob – You are of course correct, I should have said ‘receive’ not ‘achieve’. As for Loraine vs. a church sign, I’ll go with Loraine any day.

  24. Al, Yes, brother, I do wish that posts on sin and other things got this much play. But this is quite a fun diversion (which, I’m pretty sure, is not necessarily sinful). I’m posting another lengthy quote from Wells shortly. Maybe you can put up a little comment to make me feel better?

    And Kevin (does anyone call you Kev?), Loraine is certainly a credible and respected commentor (but his daddy set him up with a moniker like that). I just was kidding. And you need to step off church signs, man. Without them I would never have known that the best vitamin for Christians is “B1”, or that an appropriate way to express my devotion to Christ is to honk my horn.

    [Incidentally, the reason I posted the comment about “receiving” and not “achieving” is that that is currently a message on a church I pass by at least twice daily. They are a veritable gold mine of such nuggets. Just working with my own referents.]

  25. ‘Kev’, no. In high school many people called me Heifner. But that was mainly because there were 5-6 ‘Kevin’s in my small high school. That and I think folks just like saying HIf-ner.

    Seeing how I never leave the house anymore, I don’t get to see as many church signs as I once did in St. Louis. Although, when I do drive down 90, I often just have to shake my head (not at your church sign, of course).

    Not being an English major (like some people) and suffering from a public education, I sometimes use the wrong words. It certainly should have used ‘receive’ and not ‘achieve’. Thanks for pointing it out.

  26. I am ever so grateful to the recent church sign which revealed that reading the bible is the way to “fight truth decay”.

    So here’s to you, Mr. Church Sign Putter Upper Guy.

  27. Today we salute you, Mr. Church Sign Putter Upper Guy. You package up theology into easy bite size chunks that can be digested at 60 MPH. How would the world know the way to God without you? You provide the masses with all the theology that they will ever have, telling them to read their Bible to fight truth decay. Admonishing them to not miss heaven for the world. Warning them not to use God’s name in vain or He will make the traffic worse. Surely the world would have not known that the cross is the stairway to heaven without your witty sayings. So today kick back and have a large glass of grape juice because you have earned it… Mr. Church Sign Putter Upper Guy.

  28. Kevin, that was great. My favorite lines were:

    “You package up theology into easy bite size chunks that can be digested at 60 MPH.”

    and

    “So today kick back and have a large glass of grape juice because you have earned it…”

    Thanks for the laugh. And now I must go try and uncross my eyes after visiting your blog. Yikes.

  29. No hilarious Youtube (er, Godtube) videos until after y’all do the podcast. But, after that, you HAVE to do it.

    Marvin rules… =)

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