Pretty soon my students will be asking me questions about how aliens from other planets factor into the economy of salvation. No, seriously. It’s one of the most common questions I face throughout the spring semester as we talk about human nature, Original Sin, and Christ’s saving work.
I first encountered this line of worry in my college metaphysics class, taught at Franciscan University by the most fittingly eccentric metaphysics professor one could ever hope to have. Naturally, it was the delightfully weird professor himself who brought it up; I’ve been fascinated ever since. What follows is roughly how I walk my students through the issue when they ask.
First thing’s first: despite the wonders of imagining, despite the fact that I myself am a sci-fi and fantasy nerd who hopes that all such enchanting things are real, despite the fact that pop science remains committed to it, it really must be said that there might not be any other rational creatures in the universe. Maybe the universe really is just vast and beautiful so that we can marvel at it and never travel to see any of it. I don’t really want that to be true but it’s worth considering. More to our point here, maybe the universe is teeming with bizarro aliens but none of them are rational creatures. The only way the alien question becomes theologically interesting is if there are Predators or Klingons or Goa’uld or whatever out there.
Listen, Catholics already believe in the existence of non-human rational creatures. If you ask Aquinas, there’s like billions of species of them out there. We call them angels. There doesn’t seem to be any requirement that all rational creatures in the universe share biological descent. Getting weirded out by Necromongers seems a little silly at that point. And yes, I’m going to keep flashing my nerd cred until someone is impressed. Continue reading Christ and the Alien