Have extraterrestrials created God

Are aliens also the creatures of the biblical god?

A Vatican astronomer finds the question of the existence of extraterrestrial life stimulating and assumes that intelligent aliens could only enrich the (Catholic) belief in God

In the Vatican you don't just read the Bible, you also look at the stars. Giordano Bruno and Galileo Galileo seem to have long been forgotten. For example, Father Dr. Guy Consolmagno, a Vatican astronomer, with a telescope in Tucson, Texas, asteroids and meteorites, but also from Castel Gandolfo, where the headquarters of the Vatican Observatory is located. But for people these have always been signs of upcoming special events; on the other hand, observing the cosmos is also observing God's creation, which in itself is good and beautiful. Before joining the Jesuits, Consomagno had studied at MIT and also worked at NASA. Now he is not only interested in the formation of the planets and the smaller celestial bodies, but also in the extraterrestrials, if they should exist.

In fact, a lot has been thought and written about whether there is intelligent life outside the earth, how these beings look and live or what scientific and technical level they might have reached, but also how an encounter of people on earth or would take place in space with an alien culture. Do the extraterrestrials also believe in God or gods, do they resemble people's ideas of God? What kind of religion or religions might they have developed? Like the Christians, will they want to proselytize or fight the unbelievers?

There are sects who hope for aliens or see them as the creators, i.e. the gods of humanity. But the great monotheistic religions still have little to say about this. Perhaps they are concerned that such considerations could undermine the generally geocentric foundations of the respective belief in a creator god even more than the competing religions and the Enlightenment. The decentering of the earth in the solar system had already shaken faith, especially since the beginning of modern astronomy also gave rise to the idea of ​​countless worlds that could also be carriers of life. Long before Giordano Bruno, whom the church sent to the stake, Nikolaus von Kues, for example, toyed with the idea that there might be other living beings elsewhere. Since then, the idea of ​​extraterrestrial intelligent life has not gone out of their minds, be it the expression of a desire to break out of cosmic loneliness, fear of the strange or simply curiosity that fantasizes about the thinkable.

Would this perhaps finally return the plurality of gods, each responsible for an inhabited planet, and make the idea of ​​almighty God impossible? Did prophets or even incarnations of God land on other planets? Did Christ, who came to earth, also redeem beings on other planets at the same time? Or would the host of infidels and idolaters simply increase with the existence of aliens? Now it is hardly possible to convey, if one does not believe in the chosen avant-garde, why, for example, Moses, Christ or Mohammed appeared precisely where they lived and proclaimed the true God or true faith. Would aliens also descend from Adam or were they created and driven from other paradises?

But now Consomagno wants to take on the subject. As a representative of the Jesuits, he was constantly asked about this topic when he gave lectures on his research. People would like to hear answers because they are interested in the possible existence of extraterrestrials and, in the case of Consomagno, the attitude of the Catholic Church. So he not only answered questions in an interview, but also wrote a book that seeks to answer these very questions in the Catholic sense: Intelligent life in the universe? The Catholic Faith and the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligent Life.

Consomagno says reassuringly that the questions about intelligent life somewhere in space could not endanger the Catholic faith - and he also assumes that there should also be life outside the earth. In any case, he is convinced, although the Galileo case is still being worked up by the scientists of the Vatican, that science and discovery harmonize wonderfully with religion - and that the church has been much more open and tolerant in the past than it is presented by critics. If you were to discover extraterrestrial life or even more intelligent beings, that would be a downright strengthening of your belief, because you would then experience "that everything is truer in a way than we could previously imagine".

His colleague Christopher J. Corbally from the Vatican Observatory argues similarly. Joseph L. Spradley, the observatory's deputy director, appears to be rather skeptical about the existence of aliens, but does not want to rule out anything either.

Nothing in Scripture contradicts the assumption that there is nonhuman intelligent life on other planets

Of course, Consomagno is cautious as a scientist and adheres to a two-world theory with a clean separation of science and religion, which others, such as the supporters of intelligent design, are currently trying to overcome. The Bible, according to Consomagno, "is divine science, a work about God. It is not designed to be natural science." There are at least two representations of creation in the Bible, and there are more versions in science. With regard to the Bible, the only thing that matters is that the universe was created by God "who exists beyond space and time" of his own free will and out of love. What the biblical creation story says is therefore true, science then only shows "how rich and glorious and inventive God really is".

Because the biblical God created the entire universe, he must actually be responsible for other planets and other life on them as a logical consequence. According to the Christian faith, he is omnipotent and unique. Therefore "the idea of ​​other races and intelligent beings does not contradict traditional Christian thought". It's similar to the dinosaurs or video recorders. They didn't appear in the Bible either, but their existence wouldn't have to be denied because of that. In addition, non-human intelligent beings such as angels or "divine beings" also appear in the Bible. However, nothing can be found in the Holy Scriptures "which confirms or contradicts the possibility of an intelligent life anywhere in the universe". It is tempting to add not to the idea, but perhaps to the reality of intelligent beings who might be surprised if Catholic clergymen told them that the biblical God must be theirs too.

God's most notable intervention in the actual historical process, according to the Christian outlook, was the Incarnation. What this a unique event, or has it been re-enacted on each of a countless number of planets? The Christian would recoil in horror from such a conclusion. We cannot imagine the Son of God suffering vicariously on each of a myriad of planets.

E. A. Milne, Modern Cosmology and the Christian Idea of ​​God (Oxford University Press, 1952)

After all, the brother Consolmagno is of the opinion that it stimulates the spirit to wonder whether aliens have a soul or whether Christ has also redeemed them. As long as the aliens have not come or the humans have met them, everything remains relatively harmless for the Catholic believer. With his remarks he wants to have demonstrated that the Church is not afraid of science and that Catholics can calmly face all speculations, however absurd they may be. Unlike atheists, believers can always withdraw behind the non-falsifiable assertion that everything has a meaning, but that we cannot understand it as God's creatures. Human knowledge is always incomplete, which of course could also relate to the question of God. But Consolmagno would probably see it differently, because the incompleteness does not serve to doubt, but to secure faith:

It would be crazy to underestimate God's ability to create something at such depths that we will never fully understand. And it is just as dangerous to think that we fully understand God.

(Florian Rötzer)

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