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Aliens are our brothers
Question from Cynthia on 6/12/2008:

As you remember, there was a statement from the Vatican Astronomer stating his opinion regarding the belief in aliens as being okay, as long as we recognise that they would be creatures of God's creation, just as we are, ourselves.

Many years ago, I remember hearing a Jesuit lecture about space and the subject of 'what would you do if you met an alien' came up. He replied that he wouldn't try to convert it, but would let it be - show itself for who it was. A good answer, I suppose, considering the question was probably not anticipated. But it got me to thinking.

I personally don't believe we've been visited by extra-terrestrials, but that doesn't mean they don't exist. However, what would be the nature of God's relationship to them? In short, how would we define them as having mortal or immortal souls? How would we know if the original sin of Adam and Eve had cursed their race as well? Would they need baptism? Would they have needed the saving of Christ? Is it possible that the revelation of such a people would show us a fourth incarnation of our trinity? That is, perhaps God had to go to their home planet to die for them too? And if not, would that be evidence that they did not have original sin? Or perhaps not immortal souls?

If you base the existence of an immortal soul on intelligence, then it's a kind of slippery slope. There are animals on earth that have more intelligence than some people who are very sick, yet we would not consider any animals to have an immortal soul, nor would we say that someone born with a severe brain defect does not have an immortal soul. To date, we've limited the condition for an immortal soul to our humanity only. Would the existence of an alien race that could travel here, or that we discovered on their home world change all that? How would their beliefs and historical relationships to God change or affect our beliefs and our Church? Could it potentially change the doctrine of the Church?

I know there are a lot of questions here and much of it is hypothetical, as it assumes the existence of creatures we know nothing about, so any answers would be supposition to an extent. However I was hoping you might have some thoughts about this, as it does relate to our own nature and the differences between us and the other creatures of this planet. Perhaps you know of a credible Church author that may have written about this.

Thanks.

Answer by Richard Geraghty on 2/21/2009:

Dear Cynthia,

Personally, I do not go in for speculations of this kind. But I have heard that there are some reputable authors that do. But I forgot their names. Does anyone out there have any suggestions about who those authors might be?

Dr. Geraghty

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