Giuseppe Tanzella-Nitti of the Roman Catholic dipartimento di teologia dogmatica Facoltà di teologia, Pontificia Università della Santa Croce, Roma (the department of dogmatic theology of the theological faculty in the Pontifical University of Santa Croce, Rome) wrote an interesting article about Christianity’s relation to the concept of alien extra-terrestrial life from outer space, “Extraterrestrial life,” Interdisciplinary Encyclopedia of Religion and Science, 2008 AD.
“In the more narrowly scientific realm, the 19th century’s enthusiasm for a possible “close encounter” with other inhabitants of the solar system has been replaced by the methodical research for elementary life forms or pre-biotic material in environments similar to our solar system, not to mention the initiation of long-term programs in radio-astronomic exploration of more remote environments…”
This relates to the concepts of panspermia and directed panspermia. The first refers to the stuff of which life is made accidentally being seeded on Earth via meteors, etc. The second is likewise the stuff of which life is made being seeded on Earth but this time purposefully as by some preexisting extra-terrestrial alien beings.
Francis Crick and Leslie Orgel popularized directed panspermia and the reason is readily discernible.
As the co-discoverer of DNA’s double helix structure, Crick, saw and very clearly understood that DNA is a designed, information containing, information duplicating and information correcting system. Yet, Francis Crick was an Atheist whose mind was enslaved to a materialistic worldview which restricts free thought. Thus, he chose to affirm design but to assign the design to extra-terrestrial aliens.
Crick and Orgel wrote the following—inspiring Atheistic view of human life—in Directed Panspermia (Medical Research Council, Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Hills Road, Cambridge, England - The Salk Institute for Biological Studies, 1972 AD):
We might have evolved from the microorganisms inadvertently left behind by some previous visitors from another planet (for example, in their garbage).
More recently Richard Dawkins reiterated that concept and for the very same reason whilst being interviewed by Ben Stein for the movie Expelled—No Intelligence Allowed:
Ben Stein: What do you think is the possibility that Intelligent Design might turn out to be the answer to some issues in genetics or in Darwinian evolution?
Richard Dawkins: It could come about in the following way: It could be that at some earlier time, somewhere in the universe, a civilization evolved by probably some kind of Darwinian means to a very, very high level of technology, and designed a form of life that they seeded on to, perhaps this planet. Now that is a possibility, and an intriguing possibility. And I suppose it’s possible that you might find evidence for that, if you look at the details of bio-chemistry, molecular biology, you might find a signature of some sort of designer.
Ben Stein (narrating): Wait a second! Richard Dawkins thought that Intelligent Design might be a legitimate pursuit?
Richard Dawkins: And that designer could very well be a higher intelligence from elsewhere in the universe. But that higher intelligence itself would have to had have come about by some explicable or ultimately explicable process. It couldn’t have just jumped into existence spontaneously. That’s the point.
So, Earthly life could have been seeded but, of course, that does not answer how the extra-terrestrial aliens came about so ultimately, for Dawkins and other Atheists, it all comes down to a series of cosmic accidents.
Francis Crick wrote, “Biologists must constantly keep in mind that what they see was not designed, but rather evolved” (What Mad Pursuit, p. 138).
Richard Dawkins wrote, “Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose” (The Blind Watchmaker, p. 1).
In other words: deny the evidence that is right before your very eyes.
Back to Giuseppe Tanzella-Nitti’s article as his focus in not actually cosmic bacteria:
“The theme of cosmic life is brought to today’s culture by science, not philosophy. It reaches the public mostly through the mass media, literature of different genres, and certain other artistic expressions. It suffices to think of the science-fiction novels of H.G. Wells, author of War of the Worlds (1898), which continue to inspire, even after a century, films like Star Wars (from 1977 onward) by George Lucas…”
This is an important point and one that some term programming. For example, in my lecture on multiverse theory I noted this phenomenon because many people believe in multiple universes because they have seen it in so much science fiction but not because they have seen so much scientific evidence.
Let us add to the list above (of the many, many more that could be added) Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek. Note that Phyllis Schlemmer was a trance medium who channeled a cosmic being named Tom who, in turn, claimed to be part of “the Nine” who were a group of beings from “Deep Space.”
One person associated with Schlemmer was Gene Roddenberry:
“…the legendary creator of Star Trek, who, Schlemmer's website claims, was visiting the medium as part of his research for the sci-fi series. Hence Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Maybe. The truth, as usual, appears to be even stranger.
Roddenberry, a humanist who was deeply critical of religion but who was fascinated by psi phenomena and altered states of consciousness (possibly stemming from a childhood out-of-body experience) and who accepted some measure of the "latent abilities" of telepathy, clairvoyance and psychokinesis, appears to have been recruited by a paranormal organization called Lab Nine to help prepare the public, via a film-script that he would write, for an impending first contact event.
Toward this end, he was given tours of parapsychological labs and introduced to Schlemmer and, through her, to Tom and the Nine. Neither the film nor the first contact panned out although the script was written.
Film or no film, landing or no landing, Roddenberry conversed with Tom through Schlemmer. It was Roddenberry, for example who got the entity to affirm that some of us are "of Altean blood" and possess Altean "genetic features . . . mixed with our basic Earth features." Human-alien hybrids again.”
—Jeffrey J. Kripal, Mutants and Mystics (University of Chicago Press, 2011 AD), p. 227 [see my review of this book here]
The article continues thusly:
“As Paul Davies has intelligently pointed out, an implicit religious dimension is concealed within research for extraterrestrial life. This dimension expresses itself in a precise literary fashion and aims to explore human spirituality in relationship to meeting “the other.” To quote from the conclusions of his book, Are We Alone?:
‘The powerful theme of alien beings acting as a conduit to the Ultimate—whether it appears in fiction or as a seriously intended cosmological theory—touches a deep chord in the human psyche. The attraction seems to be that by contacting superior beings in the sky, humans will be given access to privileged knowledge, and that the resulting broadening of our horizons will in some sense bring us a step closer to God. The search for alien beings can thus be seen as part of a long-standing religious quest as well as a scientific project. This should not surprise us. Science began as an outgrowth of theology, and all scientists, whether atheists or theists, and whether or not they believe in the existence of alien beings, accept an essentially theological world view’ (Davies, 1995, pp. 137-138)…”
To get an idea of that which “aliens” are, please see my series on UFOs, aliens, demons, secret government experiments, Whitley Strieber, Barbara Marciniak & Aleister Crowley.
It is true that extra-terrestrial aliens are generally thought of as “superior beings” and yet; superior in what way? We may conclude that such beings are technologically superior but that may very well be the end of it. The Nazis were technologically superior and very intelligent; what of it? Does that mean that they had something to teach humanity about higher ethics, spiritual evolution, etc.?
The general view that extra-terrestrial aliens have and would grant us, “access to privileged knowledge” but why. Even if they do, why assume that this “will in some sense bring us a step closer to God”?
I can think of one “alien” being who gave humanity “access to privileged knowledge” and it most certainly did not “bring us a step closer to God” but took us in the exact opposite direction—he is, variously, known as satan.
Thus, it is quite accurate to note that, “The search for alien beings can thus be seen as part of a long-standing religious quest” but the issue is: how are we searching and for whom are we searching?
Yes, there are scientific endeavors to search for alien beings (such as the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence-the SETI program) but if any are found there is no guarantee that they will be extra-terrestrial aliens. Also, there are other research projects, in a manner of speaking, which consist of occultists of various sorts attempting to make contact with alien beings and these are not extra-terrestrial aliens. They are searching for them via various occult practices; you can actually watch Sean Stone calling out to the “spirits” (within his Islamic context) within the context of attempting to contact UFOs and extra-terrestrial aliens.
In short, we may very well contact alien beings and be granted the unholy grail of full disclosure from the world’s governments but the revelation may not be extra-terrestrial aliens but alien beings or the demonic variety.
Incidentally, note that Paul Davies (physicist, cosmologist and astrobiologist working at Arizona State University) actually believes that “the other,” the “alien beings” are, in fact, us. He believes that these beings are actually human beings who have traveled back from the future, “We in fact create reality.”
For this particular point, see:
For more on this view in general, see: Aliens and time travel
Giuseppe Tanzella-Nitti continues:
“The probable presence of life, particularly of other intelligent creatures, in environments different from the Earth has never constituted a specific topic of theological speculation. Concerning the Magisterium of Roman Catholic Church, it has no official teachings regarding ET life…”
Actually, there has always been theological speculation and in fact, various biblical statements regarding the presence of life in the form of intelligent creatures in environments different from the Earth. But we know them as demons and not extra-terrestrial aliens; but since extra-terrestrial aliens are Giuseppe Tanzella-Nitti’s context I will not belabor the point.
It may be true that the Magisterium of Roman Catholic Church no official teachings regarding ET (extra-terrestrial) life but they have made various, apparently, unofficial remarks about it, see: Are the Vatican’s aliens the universal saviors?
The article goes on:
“Thomas Paine (1737-1809), The Age of Reason (1793), a text that for the first time directly proposed a radical incompatibility between the Christian religion and the existence of intelligent extraterrestrial life. According to Paine, the discovery of non-terrestrial life would inevitably lead to a repudiation of religion:
‘Are we to suppose that every world in the boundless creation had an Eve, an apple, a serpent and a redeemer? In this case, the person who is irreverently called the Son of God, and sometimes God himself, would have nothing else to do than to travel from world to world, in an endless succession of death, with scarcely a momentary interval of life’ (The Age of Reason, New York 1961, p. 283)…”
Well, at least Thomas Paine admits that Jesus is “called…God himself.” One option is that perhaps extra-terrestrial aliens did not experience a fall into sin and are thus, sinless. This is something about which Catholic officials have speculated. Of course, if they are sinless then they could have been our saviors and Jesus need not have died. In fact, this is how may view the extra-terrestrial aliens and why the place their hopes, their “faith” in them.
On the other hand, perhaps Paine makes a convincing argument again the existence of extra-terrestrial aliens.
Moreover, keep in mind that YHVH has different means of judging different beings. For example, Jesus came to seek and save those who were lost: sinners. However, the fallen non-human beings (angels, cherubim, etc.) have no chance at salvation.
Note that the Bible states that everlasting fire, hell, was created “for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41. By the way note that the Qur'an states, “hell was created for sinners” in Surah 3:131).
Everlasting fire, hell, was specifically created for being for whom YHVH’s existence was not a question, not an issue and humans can go there, if they so choose.
Of course, Thomas Paine made this point in 1793 AD and yet, it had already been responded to centuries earlier:
“The point of departure for most theological reflections basically remains [German theologian Joseph] Pohle’s thesis: the Creator’s greatness and glory are compatible with the gift of life and of intelligent life in the cosmos, also in numerous environments other than the Earth, although we do not know what God’s plans are for these creatures.
Thereupon, theology immediately offers a clarification already present in all the works of the writers who replied critically to Paine: redemption from original sin regards the human family and cannot be transposed into the life of other creatures. The same consideration was made centuries earlier by the Franciscan William Vorilong (1390-1463)…”
Tanzella-Nitti makes the following personal statement:
“I believe that the theme of possible intelligent life of extraterrestrial origin, i.e., intelligent life outside the experience of unity of the human family as presented by the entire biblical message, represents one of the major speculative efforts facing Christian theology…
The only available analogy for our topic is the study of the relationship between Christianity and the other religions on Earth…the study of that relationship provides useful guideposts for our problem, including the salvific universality of the Incarnation of the Word…
what the Judeo-Christian tradition professes about the existence of angels. This tradition shows that the meaning of creation is not completely based on the relationship between man and God, “but remains open to other creatures,” which, although likewise dependent on God, have a history and an economy of salvation distinct from that of humankind…”
Actually, “the relationship between Christianity and the other religions” is not “The only available analogy for our topic” but, as noted above, the best analogy is the relationship between Christianity and the other sentient beings aka demons some of whom pretend to be extra-terrestrial aliens much in the same way that, “Satan disguises himself as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14).
It is not surprising that a Catholic would refer to universalism, “salvific universality” as they believe in one way of salvation for “the faithful” and other ways of salvation for non-Catholics. Now “salvific universality” is literally going universal in that, or so it is claimed, it “remains open to other creatures.” Well, of course, if other extra-terrestrial aliens creatures need it and YHVH offers it to them then that is wonderful.
Yet, let us be vigilant of the appearance of other extra-terrestrial aliens creatures who claim to know “God” or even “Jesus” but come to straighten us out with regards to our, Christian, theology. They may preach the mystical “Jesus” who tapped into the Christ consciousness which is something we all can do, etc. (of course, this very popular New Age/Theosophy view is preempted by the New Testament which states that at His very time of birth the angels proclaimed to the shepherds, “...today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” Luke 2:11, thus, Jesus was “the Christ” from birth).
Concluding with the article:
“…a believer who is respectful of the requirements of scientific reasoning would not be obliged to renounce his own faith in God simply on the basis of the reception of new, unexpected information of a religious character from extraterrestrial civilizations. In the first place, human reason itself would suggest the need to submit this new “religious content” coming from outside the Earth to an analysis of reasonableness and credibility (analogous to what we are accustomed to do when any religious content is proposed to us, on Earth); once the trustworthiness of the information has been verified, the believer should try to reconcile such new information with the truth that he or she already knows and believes on the basis of the revelation of the One and Triune God, conducting a re-reading inclusive of the new data, similar to that which would be applied in an ordinary interreligious dialogue.
Generally speaking, such contact could not be considered a sort of “final validation or refusal” of the religious conscience of humanity. Let us remember that, despite the great majority of terrestrials who believe in the existence of a Creator of Heaven and Earth, we humans have not supplied any information of a religious type within the various “messages in a bottle” that until now have been sent out beyond the solar system (see above, I, n. 1). From a materialist perspective, the idea that a new entrance into the Galactic Club will free man from an infantile religious phase and definitely give us back the awareness of our true place in the universe could be suggestive, yet in reality is very naïve. The majority of the great existential, and hence religious, themes pertaining to human life on Earth, such as the meaning of sorrow and death or the moral value associated to our free actions, would not be resolved by the friends of this Club…”
Note that within the article the reference to “this new ‘religious content’” is to “any eventual meeting with a non-terrestrial civilization.” Well, whatever the “new, unexpected information of a religious character from extraterrestrial civilizations” may be once thing is certain and that is that we would have to submit the new data to—both the existence of extra-terrestrial aliens and their message(s)—to Deuteronomy chapters 13 and 18 and that which Paul wrote:
“But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts may be corrupted from a sincere (and pure) commitment to Christ. For if someone comes and preaches another Jesus than the one we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it well enough” (2 Corinthians 11:3-4)
“I am amazed that you are so quickly forsaking the one who called you by (the) grace (of Christ) for a different gospel (not that there is another). But there are some who are disturbing you and wish to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach (to you) a gospel other than the one that we preached to you, let that one be accursed! As we have said before, and now I say again, if anyone preaches to you a gospel other than the one that you received, let that one be accursed!” (Galatians 1:6-9)
Lastly, while it may be “very naïve” for the materialist (Atheist, by any other name) to assume that a new members of the “Galactic Club will free man from an infantile religious…” yet, materialist/Atheist have been at the forefront of seeking such a club for the specific purpose of ridding themselves of YHVH—as was noted above regarding Francis Crick, Richard Dawkins, et al.