Extraterrestrial Intelligence: Implications for Christians (especially for Jesus as the son of God)

These intelligent aliens: did they design themselves or were they designed by still more intelligent aliens (but, fortunately for our atheist sensibilities, not God)? And is it still more intelligent aliens all the way down?

I spoken to open minded Christians about this, and I’ve heard things along the lines of:

God has an unknowable plan. There’s a reason why the vast universe or multiverse exists, and yes, the Fall may be particular to Earth. After all, this is the same god that judged Sodom and Gomorrah and created The Flood. Those were specific actions due to the sinfulness of humans, and Jesus was his final redeemer. Therefore it is possible, an alien race did not need have one.

As far as the so-called absurdity of God and Jesus messing around with Earth and only Earth, well, generally mainstream Jews, Christians, and Muslims believe that their God chose them, and only them anyway. So the uniqueness is expected.

That’s what the universe seems like anyway- it’s almost infinitely “big”, yet only this planet is known to have life.

Finding a fish on Mars is not threatening to a Christian. Neither is a flying saucer with a grey alien piloting it. They are creations of God, just like we are, according to the Christians I’ve spoken with, and yes, Earth is special.

I wish more people were open minded as you, brujaja.

Alan Moore posits that if a person imagines a god, the god becomes real, and that symbols of gods are gods. After all, even if an atheist doesn’t believe in Jesus, millions of other people do and live (or try to) their lives by believing in him. And of course, the atheists will react to the belief (usually in anger or frustration- which is ironic that they let a a so-called imaginary fake god get to them). Therefore, Jesus and his symbols exist in the human collective unconscious.

Or what if WE designed THEM and then forgot all about doing so.

The concept of the Immaculate Conception goes back to the fifth century or so.

Not ghost written, since his name is on it to warn us away. And Lee was a devout Catholic, so no surprise about the theology.

Or maybe you meant a Holy Ghostwriter.

This is really interesting, thanks. Lewis’s attitude to interplanetary colonisation and the redemption question seems to have been one of wishing the whole problem would go away. If it would not be appropriate to try to spread the message of redemption to other worlds since their metaphysical status is unknown, then why was it appropriate to spread it to the Americas?

Unofficially you may be right, but it did not become an official doctrine of the Catholic Church until much later under Pope Pius IX.

“Although the belief that Mary was sinless and conceived immaculate has been widely held since Late Antiquity, the doctrine was not dogmatically defined until 1854, by Pope Pius IX in his papal bull Ineffabilis Deus.” - from the Wikipedia entry

And the reason it became doctrine had everything to do its science and the discovery of egg cells in women. Previously, it was held that all genetic material came from the the males of the species and that females were simply vessels. This therefore posed a problem for the concept of Original Sin, since Mary could have been contaminated by the connection on her mother’s side. The church simply declared that, no she wasn’t, and invented the doctrine of IC to cover their asses. And don’t ask so many questions either.

Of course, if the story of Adam and Eve as told in Genesis were mythical rather than actual, then Original Sin courtesy of the talking snake would not exist either and the entire premise for the Bible starts to fall apart. There was no original state of grace to fall from. There was no original sin to be redeemed from. However, people seem to like their rules and guidelines, and so they stand today, a century and a half after science made Mary’s sinless status irrelevant.

Kind of gives new meaning to the term “papal bull,” does it not?

Well, they kept stealing starships.

You’d think that…but there has been a thread on that subject in Great Debates, and apparently the definition of “Original Sin” has been rewritten as to not require the “Garden Of Eden” scenario at all. In fact, some will insist that the “Garden Of Eden” was always considered an allegory, and that “Original Sin” was never about that at all.

Well it does depend on how you view the conception of Jesus.

How you wish to take Luke 1:25a ‘35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.’

Could be taken as lost in passionate divine love to a archangelic being, which would be a interdimensional being as we commonly know them, if not also interstellar.

In mythologies there are many hybrid children of humans and gods going much further back the the 5th cen, and Genesis 6 also contains mention of them.

What has all that got to do with “Immaculate Conception”?

We would really have to see what the aliens are like before trying to answer this question.

An alien with intelligence on the level of a dog or a chimp would clearly be incapable of understanding sin or salvation.

An alien with a higher level of intelligence might still be so different in how it thinks or how it feels that the concepts of sin and salvation are totally foreign to it. You have to understand right and wrong, feel guilt, etc. in a fairly human context for any of that to make sense.

Aliens who are similar enough to humans in both intelligence and emotional makeup might be seen to have their own deal with God. This wouldn’t be without precedence in the Bible, since the Jews started off as the chosen people with a unique path to “salvation,” and then Jesus was a sacrifice to expand coverage to anyone. While the Bible makes some claims that make humans and Jesus unique (in the image of God, God’s only son), it doesn’t rule out some kind of deal with another species on another planet.

If the aliens are that similar, then some people will surely interpret the situation as the aliens requiring Jesus to be saved and that contact between the species was made possible for that very reason. I suspect this viewpoint would either die out or win over depending on how the aliens react to the gospel. If they start converting in droves, then it’d be kind of hard to explain any other way.

I also think it’s worth noting that it doesn’t take an alien encounter to make us think about these questions. Let’s say we learn to talk with dolphins and one of them says “I want to be baptized.”

I like how you provide a cite for my claim, but not one for yours.

I read a sci-fi story once about Catholic priests who traveled to a planet 20 light years away with the goal of converting the planet’s indigenous aliens to Christianity. Before they had much chance to thoroughly explain just what Christianity is, the aliens reinterpreted it all to suit their own needs and started calling themselves “Christians”.

Apparently, their society had a rigid set of rules about procreation. Long story short, if your spouse dies for any reason, you’re considered an outcast from society. So the outcast aliens reinterpreted the message of forgiveness and redemption to mean they could get married again and re-enter society. Then the Catholic priests kinda look at each other and wonder what to do next.

If you take Adam and Eve and the talking snake out of the equation, then there is no original sin. And Original Sin is absolutely central to the teachings of the Catholic Church. I prefer the allegorical explanation, which means I also believe that OS is horse puckey.

Great story concept! We want to educate the natives, but if the natives find a loophole because they’re smarter than us…well, we never considered that possibility.

To spell it out, the Immaculate Conception refers to Mary (whose parents had her the usual way) being conceived without original sin. The Virgin Birth refers to Jesus being conceived without Mary having sex with anyone.

Maybe I’m missing something, but: why would Catholic priests mind that? Right here on Earth, if a guy wants to remarry after his spouse dies, AFAIK Catholic priests would say, “Yeah, that’s, y’know, fine; after all, society shouldn’t consider him an outcast.” I don’t see why they’d look at each other and wonder what to do next if aliens said “Hey, we’re going to stop making widowers outcasts, and it’s okay for them to marry again.”

Probably because Catholics don’t condone divorce and remarriage; the first marriage must be annulled first—no small feat to accomplish.