For those people like me and millions of others who were fans of Star Trek and enjoyed Mr. Spock, the half-human and half-Vulcan, the character who played a major role in the TV series and in the movies, and who served as the science officer and the first officer of the USS Enterprise, the existence of extraterrestrials is an intriguing possibility.
The existence of extraterrestrial life has not been proved and the likelihood of life outside the planet Earth remains only a possibility. However, my student’s question reminded me of a press release, published in 2008, in which it was reported that the Vatican was looking for the implications of the existence of life on other planets.
In that news release, the Pope’s chief astronomer, Father Jose Gabriel Funes, said he believed that intelligent life may exist on other planets and that the Vatican was studying the question of extraterrestrial life and its implication for the Catholic church.
The following is an excerpt from the news release:
[T]he Vatican has called in experts to study the possibility of extraterrestrial alien life and its implication for the Catholic Church.
"The questions of life's origins and of whether life exists elsewhere in the universe are very suitable and deserve serious consideration," said the Rev. Jose Gabriel Funes, an astronomer and director of the Vatican Observatory.
Funes maintained that if intelligent beings were discovered, they would also be considered "part of creation."
In an article titled “Aliens Are My Brothers,” published in the official Vatican newspaper, Funes said that just as there are different forms of life on earth, so there could exist intelligent beings on other planets who were also created by God. Funes also believes that some of these aliens could even be free from original sin.
The acknowledgment by the Vatican of the possibility of life on other planets is a radical shift for the Holy See. During the days of Galileo, the Vatican was willing to put scientists to death for saying that the Earth moved around the Sun. In fact, the Italian philosopher Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake as a heretic in 1600 for speculating, among other ideas, that other worlds could be inhabited. But as Father Funes said, “mistakes were made, but it is time to turn the page and look towards the future.”
Beam me up, Scotty.
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary
Tags: Aliens, Extraterrestrials