Monday, November 26, 2007

Should Klingons be baptized?


The other day, driving home from Cincinnati, I entertained myself with the following train of thought...

If and when man explores beyond our solar system, will the Church send missionaries?

If so, to whom? To other species?

If there are other sorts of intelligent beings elsewhere in the universe, and humanity meets them, do we preach the Gospel to them? Will they need it? Will they be stained by original sin? Even if they are, might God have provided another mode of salvation for them?

After all, we profess: "for us men and for our salvation, he came down from heaven; he was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man..."

The occasion for this is an idea I have for a novel: a group of Catholics sent off to another planet, in a nearby star system, where they aim to create a new civilization. And in order to do this, they must take with them bishops and priests; and because they expect to lose contact with the holy father for an unknown length of time, the pope must prepare instructions for them to guide them.

Imagine the situations that might arise:

> What is the liturgical calendar on a planet, where there may or may not be a moon -- so how does one calculate Easter? And in any case, "day," "week," "month" and "year" have different quantities.

> If only a group of fifty-to-sixty can go; the pope has to decide if the discipline of celibacy is reasonable in such a situation; so does he relax it for this group, with instructions "someday" to restore celibacy?

> And of course, the one I dwelt on, already mentioned: what if you meet other intelligent life?

My first thought was, perhaps you can't know if they need baptism, but you can offer it.

Very well then, I thought: that means they are eligible for the other sacraments...including marriage? Do these other species marry humans? Remember, you're in the Vatican, on Earth, trying to give guidance in anticipation of unknowns. Not to be indelicate, but...it may be that such marriage is not meaningfully possible; or that it cannot be fruitful; what then?

But then I thought, that's not the hard question; rather, what if it is fruitful--what of the interspecial (is that the word?) offspring--human?

Because then the question is, would these non-human Christians be found suitable for ordination? Can a Klingon, Vulcan or blue-skinned Andorran (to use the better known fictional species from "Star Trek") act in persona Christi capitis? Only the males of the species?

And if they can't, then can they really be baptized? After all, to be baptized is more than removal of Original Sin and to become a follower of Christ--it is to be incorporated into Christ, to put on Christ, to share in his priesthood, and, with confirmation and the Eucharist, to be truly in union with him. Would it make sense, theologically, to say an entire race of beings cannot image Christ sufficiently to be qualified for ordination, yet could still be incorporated into Christ in baptism?

This may seem an idle question to some, but unless I'm missing something, it seems to me a real question we may face someday; and for all I know, some theologians have already thought about it. After all, the possibility of actually meeting another species may arise rather "soon" as the Church thinks of time, and if I were pope, I'd want plenty of time to think about it before I had to make a decision.

I fully recognize all the comic possibilities in this question, but I hope someone will either take the question seriously, are explain, seriously, to me, why it can't be.

42 comments:

pdt said...

Hi Father Fox -

Fascinating thought process you have, especially since I've never seen you list "watched the Star Trek marathon" in your Life as a Priest series.

There are several things to consider in your questions, and I'd offer a few good books to read for starters:

C.S. Lewis - Out of the Silent Planet
which of course leads to
C.S. Lewis - Perelandra
C.S. Lewis - That Hideous Strength

and for some variety, you can meet up with a Jesuit missionary in space in

Mary Doria Russell - The Sparrow


I start off assuming that mankind is not God's only sentient creation, just the only one we (and Biblical authors) know about. So for your questions to be answered, we'll need to know if The Fall was limited to earth or not. If so, then there would be no need for redemption elsewhere. Those beings would still be walking with God and might have a thing or two to tell *us*! If, on the other hand, The Fall was a creation-wide rejection of God we would have to learn if redemption was on a planet-by-planet or species-by-species basis. And it would take a St. Solomon to decide if the child of a Son of Adam and Daughter of XzqrYptm was born with original sin or not.

What would concern me would be the inherent conflict that will arise. Considering the plight of religious warfare on this planet, the interplanetary potential is frightening. We have a hard time keeping putative Christians from each others' throats in Northern Ireland, let alone Christians and non-Christians around the world. Now try to build a peaceful relationship with beings with whom we have (culturally) zero in common? It makes me glad God put these planets so far apart.

How ironic that your thoughts might really give rise to interpretive questions about the true translation of "pro multis".

John F Kennedy said...

Fr. Fox;

You may be interested ina a Poul Anderson novel called "High Crusade"

http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/a/poul-anderson/high-crusade.htm

In the novel Catholic Englishmen on the way to the Holyland are captured by Space Aliens and become lost in space.

Many of your same concerns are also mentioned in the novel. It's one of my favorites.

Paul, just this guy, you know? said...

Assuming that mankind is not the only sentient creature, it therefore becomes our job to evangelize the others.

Can we even imagine a race of intelligent aliens that shows signs of not having fallen from grace? A race in which no member ever behaves contrary to the ideals and morals of their society? A race that is never subject to disease or death? I cannot, in any meaningful way.

In exploring the universe, I believe the Church should treat intelligent aliens as it should have treated the native peoples of the lands that were discovered in the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. That is, with compassion, understanding, and sharing the gospel message with them.

Yes, the Church should offer them baptism. Yes, the Church should offer them the other sacraments. If they can successfully interbreed with humans, I think that the Church should approve marriage between them and and humans.

No matter how small the group, the clergy should continue to be celibate. This would be more important, not less, in a small group.

I have no expectation that intelligent aliens would have any other path to salvation other than Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church. There was no additional savior for North or South America.

I actually believe that the end of the world is not anytime near, and that the next great phase of human history will be the evangelization of the stars.

Mark Y. said...

Father Fox,
I am a big sci-fi fan and have had thoughts similar to these several times. I wonder if the Vatican has not already reached a conclusion on this, in anticipation. I would think that if and when we do meet extraterrestrial life there could be some serious crises of faith. It would be good if the Church could make a comment immediately rather than waiting and possible losing many people.
Anyways, I had in mind my own novel. In the far future, when interstellar travel is common and there are many known alien species, society has become completely secular. People put their faith completely in science and God has been forgotten. Then, on a distant planet, a civilization is found that still worships God. Curious, an anthropologist goes to research these people. Over the course of the novel, one thing leads to another and he discovers that once, before interstellar travel, each planet in the galaxy had a major religion that was very similar to major religions on other planets, Christianity on Earth. It seems too much of a coincidence, and he soon discovers an evil plot, led by agents of the Devil, to stamp out all religion, and in particular the Christian religion and its sister religions on other planets, throughout the Galaxy. He is able to put the pieces together and rediscover Christianity.
One plot point I thought of, which might be heretical and so I was not sure if I would use it, would be that Angels are actually just creatures like man, but that angels are the one alien species that did not reject God and thus continued to dwell with him. So God used them to spread his message across the galaxy. I don't have time to write this novel, so you are welcome to it, just put an acknoledgment to me in it. :)

Fr. Larry Gearhart said...

A few salient facts might help this discussion: (1) We live in a fallen universe. If you don't believe that, you don't appreciate the second law of thermodynamics. (2) Other intelligent species cannot inter-marry with humans, by definition of "species." It stands to reason that if intelligent life originated independently elsewhere, it will have a very distinct genetic complement. It will certainly be a different species, and may in fact be different on a much more basic level. (3) If there is another intelligent species in this universe, and if they live by reason, it is likely that they too will have a spiritual endowment like what we call the human soul. They will need to have such an endowment to exercise moral choice. Therefore, (4) it is most likely they too will be a fallen species. Therefore, (5) it may help to acquaint them with Jesus, even if Jesus did not come for them, but only for human beings. Finally, (6) if Jesus did not come for them, it stands to reason that the Word of God did, or will, come for them in a distinct incarnation.

Paul said...

Interesting thoughts, and I echo pdt's invocation of the Space Trilogy. So in replying to Paul's comments, one must acknowledge that the situation might not be that simple. The question as to whether aliens would need evangelizing would of course turn initially on whether they are elements of the same creation. That may not be a theologically precise description, but it seems like the concern is whether these aliens are metaphysically, if not physically speaking, human. Were all the beings created in God's image every where in the universe affected by a single fall, or is each an independent reflection of God's image that was able to make the choice of Eden for itself?

In either case, you then face the question of whether and how God has revealed Himself to the alien peoples. Any initial interactions would have to be very cautious, lest early explorers trod on a manifestation of the true faith. If the aliens have their own nature and were not affected by our fall, then their redemption would have to come through some mechanism other than the Incarnation, which was necessarily a one-time historical event. So their religious expression would be oriented in an entirely different fashion, making the discernment of its veracity (and any interstellar union) difficult. (Although I guess you could establish a separate super-Rite for the aliens -- but how is authority shared between the two species, especially given that their rite may be driven by a revelation focused on an entirely different facet of God's nature necessitated by the manner in which they were redeemed?)

The metaphysical problems of either redeeming a second fall or providing divine revelation to a world based on the historical events in OUR world (if all the aliens are human in nature) tend to lead me to believe that man is the only sentient species in the universe. Not a logical necessity, I know, it just makes a bit more sense to me.

As for Mark Y.'s point, I have always tended to dismiss the "interstellar travel = universal atheism" as one of Gene Rodenberry's numerous crackpot ideas. And sure, you could have a planet inhabited by angels, as long as it was clear that they appeared there in simply a drawn-out version of how they appear on earth (as opposed to having it be their naturally ordained home and making them mortal and naturally corporeal). I don't see any reason why, were it to be necessary for salvation history, God would have a bunch of angels hang out on a planet and masquerade as physical beings. But for the scenario as a whole to work, you'd have to find some way to keep Christ's promises of perpetuity to the Church ("the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" and "I shall be with you until the end of the age") intact. But all a very interesting thought experiment.

Clavem Abyssi said...

It is interesting to note that when missionaries and explorers first made contact with North American natives, there was some discussion about whether or not they were human and in need of baptism or not. It was commonly held that the Indians were so innocent and savage that they were not really fallen, and more like animals than humans. Also, it was thought that God would not have allowed entire races to not hear of the Gospel until that time, therefore they must not be human at all. I believe it took a few bulls and encyclicals to undo this notion and declare them to be fully human and in need of the gospel.

Regarding aliens... The Fall is not just some metaphysical state - it is also a historic act by our first parents. Therefore, aliens are not fallen in the sense we are. We could, however, tell them that there is a Trinitarian God that created everything for His glory via communion with His creation. However, I do not think that the Incarnation or the moral precepts of the Bible are relevant for potential alien races, anymore than they are for animals here on Earth. For instance, when a female spider eats her mate, she isn't breaking the fifth commandment, right?

How would our laws about marriage and sex translate to a race of giant space jellies who reproduce via asexual cell division? They don't, obviously. But maybe the general principle of natural theology or teleology would be relevant for them. For instance, if these jellies usually reproduced asexually, but when we made contact with them, they were reproducing using technology to replace the cell division process, we might be able to say "No, that is wrong. That is against the will of God!", although I do not envy that particular homilist.

Anna said...

Father,

Christopher Stasheff has answered some of your speculations in some of his books. He is the author of "A Warlock inspite of himself"; "St. Vidicon to the Rescue" and many others.

You might enjoy his answers.

Father Martin Fox said...

This is great, but let me focus this on the question that interests me:

Can another intelligent species be baptized? Is a non-human species capable of being incorporated into Christ, in this way? (I.e., as opposed to another mode of salvation God may provide them?)

Or, if you prefer: can such a species, let's say, Klingons, be ordained? If not, why not? And if not, then how can they be baptized?

Fr. Ron Williams said...

Fr. Martin,

Unfortunately, all this shows that you have way too much free time on your hands. Perhaps the archbishop ought to consider making you pastor of a third parish.

Fr. Ron

Steven P. Cornett said...

Re, Klingons,

Well, if we can make up a Bible in their language, and marry them, then I suppose they can indeed be baptized.

As for Holy Orders, their menfolk have opposable thumbs as we do, so can in fact use the fingers perform the task of consecration during the mass. It's when you're dealing with something like sentient polar bears that you have to wonder about it (paws, no hands).

Steven P. Cornett said...

Re: Fr. Gearheart,

Walker Percy, at least as far as making it a literary device, thought it was possible to have a race that resisted the fall.

In "Lost in the Cosmos" the last spaceship from Earth encounters an unfallen species. They classified species as C1s, C2s, and C-threes.

C1 - Unfallen
C2 - Fallen and unsaved. Hostile to themselves and others, and headed to physical and spiritual death.
C3 - C2s that realized their plight and asked for help.

One thing for sure is that C1s would likely be in spiritual battle , perhaps even worse than that we face. Or perhaps not.

Fr. Larry Gearhart said...

O.k. I can see that my comment about the second law of thermodynamics was not an obvious one. Please consider the words of St. Paul [Rom 8:19-21], which I won't quote here because of space issues. This universe is subject to the law of futility. Any race of beings that lives in this universe and is dependent on it is, therefore, a fallen race. How they got here is another matter. All we know about our own first parents is that they were originally in a state of natural perfection, and could have lived forever. Yet, they could not live forever in a universe that will die. No physical being, subject to the laws of physics (and, therefore, the second law of thermodynamics) can live forever. Therefore, our first parents did not, at least initially, live in a universe subject to the second law of thermodynamics.

Father Martin Fox said...

Father Ron:

I thought this up while driving from Cincinnati to Piqua. Surely you are not faulting me -- me! -- for failing to multi-task while I drive?

Anonymous said...

Am laffing about your speculation on whether the interplanetary delegation would have to be celibate once off the earth, as if surely there must be some way to weasel out of celibacy. But wait!
It will not be necessary to travel to the moon or Mars! The Byzantine and various other Roman Catholic but non-Latin rites are already non-celibate! Perhaps they are actually space aliens in disguise. . .

Annie

Mrs Jackie Parkes MJ said...

Scary!

Fr. Larry Gearhart said...

As Jackie Gleason used to say, "Well, hardy, har, har, har."

John L. Wright said...

What about true hermaphrodites as specific to species? Perhaps something from "Lumen Galacticum" in the future.

Mark Y. said...

I still hold out hope that when we meet other species we will discover that they have a religion identical to Christianity, with their own savior who came for them. In that case, I would think they would need to be baptized in that religion, not Christianity.
As for our parent's fall versus their parent's fall, there was an interesting episode of Star Trek where it was discovered that long ago one species evolved to the point that the learned to travel thru the stars. Something happened to that species, and as the began to disappear, they spread their genes throughout the universe so they could some how continue. We and all other aliens evolved from those genes. That explained why Klingons, Humans, and other species basically looked alike, i.e. two arms, two legs, and a head. If that were the case, perhaps it was that initial race that fell, and we are all, humans and klingons alike, living we the repercussions of their fall.

TerryC said...

I am an Roll Playing Gamer. Another gamer who I correspond with online talks about a friend who was Catholic and in a gaming group with him. In the science fiction space game the friend played a Catholic priest. They got on the subject of whether an sentient alien could be Baptized and the friend decided to ask the Vatican. So he wrote a letter and some months later got an answer. The answer was in the form of a question: "Why do you ask?"
It was signed by the Cardinal in charge of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. I'm told the friend had it framed.

Annonymouse said...

Well, considering WE, humans, were made in the image and likeness of God; and you are speaking of another species, I would have to say NO.
Maybe I am being too simple, maybe not.

wWolf said...

hmm, are you familiar with the Fermi Paradox?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fermi_paradox

pdt said...

Fr. Fox -

I don't believe that it would be necessary to baptize another species, but it can't hurt unless their skin reacts badly to water! Here are my two reasons for not doing so:

1) their species has not fallen and is not in need of salvation
2) their species has fallen and God has provided them a path to salvation.

Admittedly there is a third possibility:

3) their species has fallen and we are the instruments of God's plan for their salvation.

So the question comes to be when we use the phrase "and all mankind" in our liturgy are we speaking only for earth-bound humans or for all sentient beings? Then we enter the whole melee over what is the soul, and at what level of sentience do we cross the threshhold for having one. Humans? Apes? Dolphins? Pigs? Klingons?

To Fr. Gearheart, I respectfully disagree when you say:

(4) it is most likely they too will be a fallen species.

Doesn't this show a bit of ethnocentrism and/or hubris? Just because WE are fallen doesn't mean there is any likelihood another group would do so. Such an assumption would lead me to believe that "free will" is a fiction, and that God has stacked the deck giving all an inherent tendency to fall. I might buy a 50/50 argument, but would actually hope that God provides us guardian angels and other graces to swing the tendency in His favor.

At the same time it is somewhat discouraging to think that Christ would have to be born only to die on all of the planets to atone for those sins. Thinking of Christ's death in the Carl Sagan numerics is a greater tragedy than I care to dwell upon.

The entropy argument is not too persuasive either. It is a "law" of physics as we know it, but that's a rather limited bit of knowledge despite our power of reason. It is based on the belief - admittedly so far not disproven - that time is a unidirectional feature of the equation. Well, a mere century ago we couldn't fly.

Let's first get off this rock and meet up Fr. Fox's aliens.

And check for their bumper sticker saying "Jesus saved us a LONG LONG TIME AGO IN A GALAXY FAR FAR AWAY"

Fr. Larry Gearhart said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fr. Larry Gearhart said...

pdt, I'm afraid you missed my point entirely. We live in a fallen universe. Any species of intelligent beings that is "native" to this universe is therefore also fallen. This has nothing whatever to do with anthropocentrism and everything to do with the second law of thermodynamics, as well as Romans 8:19-21, both of which apply to any intelligent species native to this universe. Incidently, the flow of time (as we sense it) is an artifact, not the cause of the second law of thermodynamics. The cause is much deeper in the statistical physics, itself. Any reasonable mathematical model of statistical physics will yield the law of entropy. Ask a physicist.

As for your point about human beings learning to take advantage of aerodynamic lift, I'm afraid the relevance escapes me.

Anonymous said...

I still don't understand how the second law of thermodynamics applies here. Are you saying that God can not do whatever he wants and is subject to the laws of physics? He created those laws and can do as he wishes.

freddy said...

This is fascinating! And being a fan of sci-fi, something I've thought about a little. I agree with Fr. Gearhart that we live in a fallen universe and that Fall would affect all species. Although anonymous has a point -- God will do what He will do, it would have to be as Mary -- a species specially held from those effects, for example.

Other rational species could possibley be affected differently by the Fall. Regarding Klingons, for example, a study of their religions would have to be made to see how God interacted with them. If it turns out that they were waiting news of the Savior, then the Gospel could be preached to them and they could be baptized and indeed participate in all aspects of the Church's mission. If God has chosen for them another means of salvation there would then exist a sort of "separate but equal" situation.

I would posit that if humans and any other group could bear offspring together they would then have the religious history in which they were waiting for news of the Christ. I don't like the idea of multiple Incarnations -- but I don't know *why* I don't like that idea. I don't think I'm being xenophobic. Maybe someone can help me out here.

A priest I know says that the only aliens we ever need to worry about are the angels. And we don't need to worry about their religion!

Jane M said...

Well, my fantasy book to write always involved the aliens coming here. When we finally decode what they are saying it turns out to be, "Where is Bethlehem?" which they have been traveling two thousand years to find. This necessitates that they be some sort of electromagnetic energy rather than carbon based movement. This also means that they probably can't be ordained (per the original question) because they have a hard time holding things. But God spoke to them in a prophecy about a place where he became "material" and they went looking for it... Maybe they fall in the category of "other sheep you know nothing about". Also, we live in a universe where the Devil fell long before Adam and Eve. Surely that has something to do with how other sentient races would relate to God. After all, it was the Devil who tempted Eve.

Thom said...

If we can't help the beings that we KNOW exist, how the, pardon me, hell are we to know how to help beings of whose existence we have not one scrap of evidence?

It seems like a lot of great thought is being wasted a frighteningly goofy question.

I'm going to pretend I never saw this, and scroll on down to your excellent homily for Christ the King.

:-)

Pax et bonum.

Fr. Larry Gearhart said...

The God who invented the laws of physics is also the God who inspired St. Paul to write Romans 8:19-21: "For creation awaits with eager expectation the revelation of the children of God; for creation was made subject to futility, not of its own accord but because of the one who subjected it, in hope that creation itself would be set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God." It should be obvious from this that God's invention of the laws of physics of this universe entailed the fallenness of this universe. God can change the universe, giving it a different set of laws, of course, or God can create a different universe. (See Revelation 21:1, for example.)

All of this suggests at least two possible scenarios:

1) God created the current universe specifically for Adam and Eve. Prior to their fall, this universe was not subject to the law of futility (entropy). After the fall, God tweaked the design to include entropy. In this scenario, there are no other intelligent races in the universe.
2) God created the current universe to house fallen species. In this scenario, there could be many intelligent races, but all of them are fallen. Also, in this scenario, none of them originated from here, including Adam and Eve.

Personally, I prefer the 2nd scenario, because I consider the 1st to be very inelegant. There is a significant difficulty with scenario 2, of course, namely God had to insert the fallen Adam and Eve into an evolutionary stream. This is not beyond the realm of metaphysical possibility, particularly if He did so by ensouling a male and female of Homo Sapiens with the souls of Adam and Eve. Ultimately, to be consistent with the fossil record, this explanation must be invoked for scenario 1, as well, except in this case, God could have done it by creating a "prior history" for Adam and Eve (and their evolutionary ancestors) when he changed the universe.

Both of these scenarios strike me as more than a little fanciful, but I have not been able to come up with anything simpler or more logical to explain both scientific data and revelation.

pdt said...

Fr. Fox-

If you ordain your aliens would they belong to the Rom(ul)an Catholic Church?

Anonymous said...

Fr. Gearhart,
In regards to your second scenario, couldn't God do whatever he wants, and keep unfallen creatures in a sort of bubble that keeps them from experiencing the laws of thermodynamics in this universe while still existing in this universe? God can do whatever he wants.
As far as his creating this universe specifically to house fallen creatures rather than God creating a perfect universe that got ruined by our fall, sounds like heresy to me, but what do I know.

A Simple Sinner said...

" a group of Catholics sent off to another planet, in a nearby star system, where they aim to create a new civilization. And in order to do this, they must take with them bishops and priests; and because they expect to lose contact with the holy father for an unknown length of time, the pope must prepare instructions for them to guide them."

This premise was presented at the end of Walter M. Miller's A Canticle for Liebowitz.

Fr. Larry Gearhart said...

Anonymous, if you can find a specific statement either in scripture or in a Vatican document regarding this heresy, I would be most interested. It would eliminate possibility #2 pretty effectively. As for God putting unfallen people in a fallen universe, and protecting them in an alternative-physics bubble of some sort, this is a possibility, but why would he do that? Why not just give them their own universe and let them visit others, even fallen ones, if they wish?

Fr. Larry Gearhart said...

Freddy, I agree with your priest-acquaintance. We don't need to worry about space-aliens. The Lord knows we have enough to worry about already. Personally, I find the metaphysics questions that arise to be interesting.

As for the Fermi paradox, I agree with the assessments that say life is a rarity in the universe. No one really knows how to evaluate that probability, however, because we still don't comprehend how life started on Earth. The question of intelligent life is even more problematic, because no one knows how to evaluate the probability of survival of a fallen intelligent species. There are just too many things we can do to doom ourselves, and too great a predilection to go off in self-destructive directions. On the other hand, God has a tendency to intervene when things get really difficult. So we're dealing with a lot of unknowns when we examine this question.

It comes up from time to time because people with active imaginations and a modicum of science background worry about hostile aliens. It might help to reflect on the fact that no known faster-than-light travel science exists. If there are any aliens who have such a capability, they are likely to be far beyond us technologically. If their technology is so advanced, why would they need us or our planet? It would take very little for us to change our infrastructure and culture to be energy conserving by a factor of 10 or more, for example, and if we did that we could operate purely on renewable energy, all 7 billion of us.

Anonymous said...

Eifelheim by Michael Flynn addresses some of the same questions that you raise. I recommend reading it having heard as little as possible. It was a rare book that I read slower as I got more into it.

Marie

Jon said...

Father,

Twenty-five years ago when I was in college (a state school of all places), I took a survey course in astronomy. At the end of the course, the professor, a very dynamic speaker who easily conveyed to us the wonder of the universe, stood back and flung wide his arms. I'll never forget what he said.

"I want you all to consider, after having looked for the last five months at the universe and her mystery, depth, majesty, and wonder and consider, just consider, that it may be a gift, and has been placed here Only. For. YOU. Have a Merry Christmas!"

During the next the semester, one Sunday while at Mass, I noticed that very professor, reverently approaching Communion to receive the King of Universe.

I think you'd have more peaceful rides if you thought like my wise professor, and didn't spend so much time speculating of the salvation of Klingons.

Steven P. Cornett said...

Fr Gearheart,

Could it be possible that there may be indeed species that are not fallen and, instead of simply being immortal, have the graces necessary to their tasks in this macro-temple and successful entry to God's presence.

It seems to be that such might have been the intent with Garden of Eden. Afterall, Adam and Eve were also granted the permission to eat of the Tree of Life (and indeed, it was for fear that we would be immortal and fallen by eating it that we were exiled from Eden [Gen 3:22-24]).

As for entropy, it could be seen, within that context, as pointing to the fact that real life is impossible apart from grace.

Fr. Larry Gearhart said...

Steven, I don't want to be dogmatic about this. What you say is possible. My question is, why would God put unfallen people in a fallen universe?

What you say about our need for grace is true, not just because of the physical law of entropy, but because of the spiritual law of entropy that seems to apply to human beings: we have a tendency to drift into sin.

beez said...

Of course, no one seems to have considered what might seem like a completely absurd possibility when you think only in Darwinian terms.

What if another species was discovered, one that evolved independently, into a 23 chromosome-pair, bi-pedal primate? In other words, what would happen if men went into space and found, well, men?

Yes, it's absurd unless you accept some "alien seeding" premise OR you assume that God, as author and creator of the universe did, in fact, create only one sentient species and put it on several planets. I don't know why He might do this, and I surely don't know how, in light of that, we lucked out to get the incarnation here on earth.

Finally, through, you need to consider what I think is the most likely possibility. For all our talk of trillions of stars and planets, etc. We may be it... they only sentient life in the universe. We may be it because this could be the one and only place God chose to merge immortal soul with animal body.

He's God, He gets to do that, right?

Alexander Mark said...

Mr Fox,
I think we should take the Bible literally, (I'm a Baptist), and it says to, and I'm paraphrasing a little, "give the gospel to every creature." I don't think this includes animals since we have no way of communicating with them intellectually, but it would certainly allow for sentient alien life. But, I truly doubt that we will ever find sentient life other than man, all of history recorded in the Bible focuses completely on the relationship between us and God, and there are creatures from the heavenly realm that are not aliens because they are in God's presence. It seems logical to assume that any creatures we encounter in the universe as dwellers of a distant planet, will be operating on our level, not the spiritual level.
I really liked your train of thought, makes me glad to see there are others who seriously contemplate these sorts of things. I do have to ask, why would celibacy be suspended at all? For weakness, lack of supervision? Or to keep the group of explorers surviving on a generations long journey? I would say there is no point in suspending any faith practices no matter what, especially considering the reason for such an expedition. But then, I don't believe in celibacy myself, so I see no problem with the suspension of the rule.
In any case, I believe in baptising Klingons, I get the feeling that Stovokor is a hot place!

ewill said...

If theres going to be intersellar space travel, probably be easier to make a new Rite with its own patriarch. then they can decide whether celibacy applies to them or not (Roman Rite, Eastern Rite, and now Galactic Rite). they can be completely catholic but in a situation that makes sense.

As for conversion....well if an alien wanted to be Catholic, why not. It can't hurt! you can always offer something without forcing it.