Does Jesus Save Aliens?

AlienJesusHannah Devlin writes in the Times:

Four hundred years after Renaissance philosopher Giordano Bruno was burnt at the stake for his belief in the “plurality of worlds” (aliens), scientists and religious leaders gathered this week at a seemingly more open-minded Vatican for a conference on astrobiology (aliens).

The meeting focussed on current science, rather than the theological quandaries thrown up by the possibility of other life forms beyond this planet. But that hasn’t stopped debate spilling over outside the conference.

Yesterday I spoke to Paul Davies, a cosmologist from Arizona State University, just after he addressed the conference. In his view, the possibility of other civilisations — potentially more intelligent than our own — puts Christians “in a real bind”. Specifically, he says that nobody’s satisfactorily addressed the question of whether aliens get saved. “The Catholic church offers a very species specific brand of salvation. Noone says that Jesus came to save the dolphins and certainly not little green men,” he said.

The possibility of extraterrestrial life does not pose the same problems for Eastern religions, which tend to be less Earth-centric, or Islam, which speaks explicitly of life beyond Earth, he said.

More on the Times

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  • http://enfranchisedmind.com/blog/ Robert Fischer

    Cosmologists shouldn't go around making theological statements. And neither should Times reporters.

    Ultimately, the problem is the same one as a previously known problem: does Jesus save those who never had a chance to know Him? This wades into the entire theological space called “natural theology” and is ultimately going to be decided based on the particular flavor of Christianity's understanding of 1) how the Christ event effects salvation, and 2) the necessity of sacraments and other magic. But given a solid answer to #1 and #2 (which denominations already have), the answer to #3 is obvious.

    There's no news here.

    • Word Eater

      The answers I've heard revolve around the fact that God is good and just. This means that God won't “punish” someone for rejecting a choice he or she was never given. At the same time, God won't force someone to spend eternity in His presence if he or she doesn't want to do. That would be its own sort of Hell.

      “Hell” is just being eternally outside of God's presence. It's only Hell if you are a Christian and look forward to spending time with the Creator.

      • http://enfranchisedmind.com/blog/ Robert Fischer

        That's a fairly popular, liberal, and Pelagian (i.e.: heretical) answer, probably born out of a gentle reading (and divinization) of CS Lewis's “Great Divorce”.

        Even in Aquinas (the great hero of Catholic theology), we have an assertion that it is only by God's grace that we become capable and worthy of doing those things that God measures as good. And since God's grace is irresistible (that is, if God wants to give you religious super-powers, you can't stop Him), then the only reason people might not be saved is because God did not deign to provide grace to them. Aquinas argues that not all people can be/are/will be saved, so therefore there are people out there that God chose for salvation and there are those God didn't. Now, Aquinas will also say that the ones God chose for salvation can still mess it up (this is where Aquinas and Calvin might differ), and there are other things required to accomplish salvation (like the sacraments), but if you stay on the straight and narrow, God will arrange to save you.

        I suppose you could argue that God's grace is not irresistible, but then you end up having to ask what God's grace is doing in the first place. And if you toss out God's grace, you end up with Pelagianism, and with a pretty harsh and vicious conception of God: humans have to work your ASS off to prove to God you're worthy of being saved, and God's not even throwing you a rope to help out. Not a lot of “love” in that understanding of God, and only dubious “justice”.

        If you wander afield from Catholicism, life is just getting worse for that worldview. Luther places yet more emphasis on grace, and Calvin takes it to its logical extreme.

        Note that nowhere in this conversation do we have assertions that God's grace is somehow limited to human beings. The whole alien question is just bogus.

        • bhurt

          Theologians should also avoid making cosmological statements (and so should Times reporters).

          Which is more (or less) evil: a god who doesn't help humans be saved but instead leaves it all up to the humans, or a god who pre-ordains that some humans are damned no matter what they do?

          There is, in fact, a third choice which doesn't require god to be evil. There's a wonderful old joke my parents used to tell. So a very devout family was at home, and a flood was comming. When the water was up to their front door, the local sheriff in his bass boat came around, and yelled at them “The water's rising! I've come to get you out!” “No,” they reply, “God will save us!” So he leaves. And the waters rise, flooding the ground floor of their house, and they're up in the second story, when a Coast Gaurd boat comes along. “The waters are rising! You've got to evacuate!” “No,” they reply again, “God will save us!” So the Coast Gaurd boat leaves. And the water rises yet again, and they're huddling on the roof of their house, when a National Gaurd helicopter shows up. “The water's rising! We've come to rescue you!” shouts the helicopter. And again, the family declines- “God will save us!” And the helicopter departs. And the water rises again, and the family drowns. After passing through the pearly gates to heaven, they look upon God and cry “Oh god, why did you abandon us to drown? We believed in you, worshiped you, and trusted in you? Why didn't you save us?” And God looks at them, and goes “What are you talking about? I sent two boats and a helicopter!”

  • The Gremlin

    Aliens are more plausible than a man rising from the dead. Jesus=bullshit.

    • Santodios48

      Jesus=epic win. You people need to get out of your science-fiction reality.

  • Gregory

    Don't you love synchronicity? A couple days ago a YouTube friend of mine was ranting about the series “V” and that why would people look to the church after aliens visit us when that would automatically invalidate religion. As Lee Corso sez, “Not so fast my friend.”

    As the Bible f'rinstance, is allegory and metaphor, with some history blended in to give it relevance…much like the works of Hunter S Thompson…(In fact changing the name of the Holy Bible to Fear and Loathing in the Middle East would work out pretty well and sounds like a good Terry Gilliam movie because deity knows we're about starved for a good Terry Gilliam about now)…AS the bible is allegory and metaphor, we know of course that the whole Adam and Eve committing original sin by disobeying the deity and the deity knowing full well they would disobey, which is why Yahweh gave them a theme park with just one attraction they weren't allowed to ride, so they would be tempted to disobey, we know that this is an allegory of the “something must go wrong for it to be right” idea.

    If we look at the big bang as, per it's name a big nihilistic explosion, the fall from the garden of all forces being unified into an impossibly small and dense point, an atom of perfection and balance, then the eventual coagulation of all that disseminated energy is the original point of perfection taking the chaos and trying to make it into order again and that physical reality is the leaf that the caterpillar is feeding on until it can become the butterfly again. That physical evolution and the cycle of reincarnation is the evolution of all layers of reality trying to join together again. It's like looking at a wedding cake but only being able to see the little figurine of the bride and groom on top.

    If we look at the biblical account of the fall and then the redemption of man from the fall as an allegory of the universe leaving perfection but also nothingness to gain experience and to “have a life” only to eventually go back into perfection again. Leaving the garden only to be allowed back into a spiritual paradise, then we can see that the concept of original sin would not only be present on earth, but on every planet that had sentient life.

    As Carl Sagan says “We are a way for the cosmos to know itself,” sentient creatures, not necessarily just humans, (in fact my cats are smarter than a few humans I know, many of which are in Congress), are how the cosmos can interact with itself in a meaningful way. The cosmos lives through us because consciousness needs a thing to get purchase on so it can express itself. In other words, a demon wants to possess your daughter so it can have some fun.

    So as “original sin” translates to the “fall of the universe” in the big bang only so it can be something better than a perfect balance of forces and energy and the potential for matter without any experiences, just a point in the void going “DUH” all day…any other planet would have it's own myths that also expressed this concept. Of course the concept of original sin is reflected across the world, the idea of death and rebirth evidenced in the myth of the dying and resurrecting god, of which Jesus is a Joseph-come-lately. In fact, Xianity is probably the least original belief system out there as the origin for it's theology is clearly derived from other pre-existing belief systems. In fact, it just happened to win the Constantine Lottery. Xianity is the Microsoft Operating System of belief systems…it is very popular and widespread, but if you were to switch to the religions of your true ancestors, you'd have less complaints and a better experience, although you may have to try just a bit harder.

    So yeah, those aliens out there on planet ( name unpronounceable with our vocal organs) that want you to land on their planet so they can lay eggs in your chest with their ovipositors also worship a deity that incarnated as one of their own, was betrayed, murdered, slain by the analog of a serpent that circles the earth or a wolf that can eat the moon or a dragon with multiple heads or by a big flaming eye without peripheral vision…then was resurrected…to reveal to them that although the first of their species was given a perfect theme park but rode on the Forbidden Roller Coaster that all were cursed by the overweening need to defy the Lawd of all Creation, even with that, by believe in the resurrection of this deity therefore all can be redeemed.

    Or to put it another way, despite the big religions of the world whose followers are all over the earth but it should be apparent to anyone smarter than a member of Congress that these are just political systems wearing sheep's clothing, the natural state of sentient creatures is to worship local gods that they can connect with and have a system of belief that is meaningful to their people. The works of Joseph Campbell shows that cultures that never interacted with each other have these similar themes, revealing a universal truth. The same is true for planets. The Amazon River indians understand things one way, don't expect you to belief the same way they do, and that goes for the intelligent slime molds that are on that planet they'll discover next week.

    Call it the theory of the Jesus with a Thousand Faces, assuming aliens have faces.

    Now I must leave it at that because my attorney is trying to snort the contents of the ashtray. Get out of that you filthy devil.

    selah

    • http://enfranchisedmind.com/blog/ Robert Fischer

      Joseph Campbell—and the general comparative religion/universalist move—is really just colonialism dressed in its Sunday best. What you're saying is that no other religion “really” has anything to teach another, since all religions are “really” the same. Or, put it a bit more explicitly, “You've been worshipping my god all along, you just don't know it.” Equating the religions of the world is an insult to their individuality and distinctive aspects of those religions, because it invalidates the distinctions by only allowing the “universal message” to flow through.

      And, of course, the “universal message” of all religions is the message I want to hear/preach/whatever. (For any definition of “I”.)

      • GoodDoktorBad

        “Equating the religions of the world is an insult to their individuality and distinctive aspects of those religions, because it invalidates the distinctions by only allowing the “universal message” to flow through.”

        Every religion is an insult to every other religion, and they all tend to insult our intelligence. The fact that all religions are NOT the same, in my view, invalidates them, since they all claim to be the only truth. We believe these things simply because we don't know where we came from and life and death are a mystery.
        Somewhere along the line, some people figured out how to exploit that mystery and use it as a tool of manipulation, gain under the excuse of “keeping order”.

    • http://www.facebook.com/danielle.jorgenson Danielle Jorgenson

      My other half said the same thing about how ridiculous to expect people to cling to church in the new V series. And has refused to watch it since lol. I tried to tell him I thought SOME people would want to cling very hard to their traditions especially when you're faced with the destruction of their validity. But NOW the Vatican itself embraces aliens and wants to welcome them to convert to catholicism as soon as they show themselves. What a smart move huh? Now if/when it happens the Vatican can maintain credibility with the sheep by saying they had all ready accepted it.

  • GoodDoktorBad

    The Vatican, being the giant sick joke on the world that they are, decide to talk in private about the possibility
    of aliens coming to earth and screwing things up for them. Its like some strategy meeting to discuss how to spin the alien question. After all there's no mention of aliens in the bible. And everything in the bible must be true, right? After all it was written thousands of years ago by a bunch of people who were probably just as backward and ignorant as we are now -probably more so.
    Ever heard of the Counsel of Nicea? That was when a bunch of papal types got together and decided to call Jesus “divine”. Who knows, if aliens come, maybe the pope can make a deal to deify them too. Then we can worship some new “Gods” who will take us into space (heavan) when we die. Won't that be fun?
    Hmmm, or maybe Jesus WAS an alien and heaven is a space station………Wheeeeee!

  • loverevolver4

    This is a really fascinating observation, the bible scripture never refers to life beyond our own and despite believing in God I am also convinced that aliens do exist and most stories and sightings of them are true.

  • http://iaesr.com/pea_research/non-frames/ sdenne

    This region of space, containing Sol and Terra are property of the Elohim and Yeshua. Alien interference may result in retribution to humans and aliens. Humans are already subject to retribution.

  • http://toxxicity.tumblr.com/ ToxxicBelle

    My other half said the same thing about how ridiculous to expect people to cling to church in the new V series. And has refused to watch it since lol. I tried to tell him I thought SOME people would want to cling very hard to their traditions especially when you’re faced with the destruction of their validity. But NOW the Vatican itself embraces aliens and wants to welcome them to convert to catholicism as soon as they show themselves. What a smart move huh? Now if/when it happens the Vatican can maintain credibility with the sheep by saying they had all ready accepted it.

  • Santodios48

    Jesus=epic win. You people need to get out of your science-fiction reality.