Father Gabriel Funes, the Vatican Chief astronomer has not ruled out the possibility that aliens could exist. “Just as there are multiple forms of life on earth, so there could exist intelligent beings in outer space created by God. And some aliens could even be free from original sin, he speculates.” (BBC). Even if the statement is of itself mind boggling I have a particular problem with the use of the words “some aliens”. Had the sentence been that all aliens could be free from original sin I would understand. But some? Who will decide? How?
Methinks that this is simply “cover your behind” technique. Essentially the existence of life out there would cause huge theological debate among mere mortals. If you are a believer it does not take a great leap of faith to believe that in His six days of creating, God created EVERYTHING and that includes potential Zaphod Beeblebroxes and Jar Jar Binkses. When it comes to declaring who or what is free from original sin we tread on new ground… seeing that the whole theory seems to centre around those beings created in His image. Seeing that the punishment for original sin seems to be work, work and more work (and pain during childbirth), a positivist approach would be that aliens that (a) do not count work as an ethic and (b) give birth painlessly must be free from the sin. I’ll stop here for fear of sounding too heretical – which is not my intention.
As an aside, it’s worth remembering that the original sin condundrum was also dealt with by Dante who relegated philosophers and the like to a special part of his otherworld since they had never known God and therefore could not be considered as sinners as such. Or something like that. Could aliens qualify in that category?
Elsewhere, life as we know it is not exactly having a good time. China trembles under the quake, hundreds of thousands of Burmese suffer the effects of the inundated plains and many North Koreans are threatened with starvation. It might sound a bit materialistic but surely there are better things to worry about than conjecture about the salvation of the alien soul.
* Picture: The Incredulity of St. Thomas (Caravaggio)