I think Bradbury and Blish covered this

Case of Conscience from Wikipdedia

THINGS are out of this world at the Daily Telegraph, which has the ninth largest daily circulation among UK newspapers. A few days ago one of their stories inspired us to write Darwin, Evolution, and Alien Life.

Now, from that same source we bring you: The Vatican joins the search for alien life. Here are some excerpts, with bold added by us:

The Pontifical Academy of Sciences is holding a conference on astrobiology, the study of life beyond Earth, with scientists and religious leaders gathering in Rome this week.

For centuries, theologians have argued over what the existence of life elsewhere in the universe would mean for the Church: at least since Giordano Bruno, an Italian monk, was put to death by the Inquisition in 1600 for claiming that other worlds exist.

Alas, Giordano Bruno got torched for committing Thoughtcrime. For lots of the people we write about, those were the good old days. Let’s read on:

Among other things, extremely alien-looking aliens would be hard to fit with the idea that God “made man in his own image”.

Furthermore, Jesus Christ’s role as saviour would be confused: would other worlds have their own, tentacled Christ-figures, or would Earth’s Christ be universal?

There are people who truly worry about such issues. We continue:

However, just as the Church eventually made accommodations after Copernicus and Galileo showed that the Earth was not the centre of the universe, and when it belatedly accepted the truth of Darwin’s theory of evolution, Catholic leaders say that alien life can be aligned with the Bible’s teachings.


Some of my favorite science fiction stories deal with this same topic. In “The Man“, Ray Bradbury wrote of men landing on a new planet and finding out that Christ-like figure had just left. Seems he traveled from planet to planet bringing the gospel.

Probably the most ambitious story was written by James Blish, – A Case of Conscience. For if Christ exists on different planets, then so must the devil. Could the devil have created an alien race to bring destruction to mankind? Could the devil actually be creative rather than just working with what God had provided? Is Satan co-equal with God? This book is where I first heard of the Manichean heresy, something that provides continuing questions for mankind.

Even more so if there are other intelligent life in the Universe. I think it is great that the Catholic Church is at least addressing the idea. But what if an alien race has no god, is essentially atheistic. What happens then?

As for me, I’d just be happy to see some aliens.

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