Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Aliens are dogmatically approved!

Happy Pentecost! It's official! The Vatican says we can believe in aliens!

VATICAN CITY (AP) - MAY 13, 2008 The Vatican's chief astronomer says that believing in aliens does not contradict faith in God.

The Rev. Jose Gabriel Funes, the Jesuit director of the Vatican Observatory, says that the vastness of the universe means it is possible there could be other forms of life outside Earth, even intelligent ones.

In an interview published Tuesday by Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Funes says that such a notion "doesn't contradict our faith" because aliens would still be God's creatures.

The interview was headlined "The extraterrestrial is my brother." Funes said that ruling out the existence of aliens would be like "putting limits" on God's creative freedom.
This invites more questions, of course. What if the aliens have their own deities, that look really different from ours?

If you enjoy ideas like that, here is some recommended reading for religiously/spiritually oriented scifi folks:

A CASE OF CONSCIENCE by James Blish. This book rocks so much, I can't adequately convey how great it is. Jesuits were the priests elected to preach the gospel to other cultures, to new worlds, to utter strangers. It seems likely they'd be the ones to visit other planets.

Do aliens experience the phenomenon of original sin? Only if you bring them to Earth:
Father Ramon Ruiz-Sanchez S.J., is a part of a four man scientific commission to the planet Lithia, there to study a harmonious society of aliens living on a planets which is a biologist's paradise. He soon finds himself troubled: how can these perfect beings, living in an apparent Eden, have no conception of sin or God? If such a sinless Eden has been created apart from God, then who is responsible?
JESUS ON MARS by Philip Jose Farmer asks the question: What would have happened if Jesus had never been crucified? What if every planet gets their own Jesus, to see how they react to Him?

UBIK by Philip K Dick tends to defy description, as PKD usually does. What happens after you die? PKD thought he might have an answer. (Several theological nods to my man Meister Eckhart!)

A CANTICLE FOR LEIBOWITZ by Walter Miller is also too fabulous for mere words. I wish I could tell you the ending. Still, one wonders if people even UNDERSTAND what they are reading. For instance, in the above-linked review:
So often in science fiction, religion is treated as a subject of ridicule, satire and scorn. A Canticle for Leibowitz is refreshing in that it looks at the Catholic Church as a viable, eternal entity. The fact that Miller's Church remains essentially the same in the 26th, 32nd and 38th century as it was in the Middle Ages does not, in fact, detract from its appearance in the story.
Detract from? I think that was the umm, POINT, dude.

THE SPARROW by Mary Doria Russell is the newest of the books I have listed here. One of her main ideas/plot twists appears to be lifted from HG Wells, and I dunno if she properly gives credit or if it's understood that you can just BORROW a core scifi idea these days?... Nonetheless, the vegetarians (HG Wells was one) will heartily approve. I very much disliked the sequel, but my friend howls at me in pain whenever I say that (she loved it)--so never mind.

Nobody reviewing the novel ever comments on the name of the priest, which is Sandoz.

Leave it to me to notice something like that.


matttbastard said...

Talk about *ahem* good news from the Vatican.

Ok, book recommendation: James Morrow's superlative Only Begotten Daughter, about Jesus' younger sister, Julie Katz, born to the virgin Jew Murray Katz of Atlantic City, New Jersey. Best coming of age story EVAR (plus, the devil smokes Pall Malls--WIN!).

More to come...

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Bryce said...

interesting-what do the other religions say? i never heard a sermon about aliens.

screamin puma said...

If you've never read it, have a look at
"St. Theresa of the aliens" by James Patrick Kelly.
You'd love it.

queen emily said...

As a scholar of religion in unreal genres, all I can say is this is an objectively amazing quote from the Vatican ^_^