16 May 2008

Dougal, we are not watching aliens!

Hmm. So the Vatican's official astronomer has finally got around to outlining what James Blish predicted 50 years ago would be the Catholic church's position on the spiritual implications of extraterrestrial life[1]. (Admittedly he misses out the "sentient creatures without souls" category, but it's difficult to imagine that one catching on. Unless the aliens in question were militarily naïve and owned large amounts of oil, obviously.)

As Blish suggests in his introduction to A Case of Conscience, Fr Funes refuses to countenance the possibility that extraterrestrials might have experienced their own salvation event as well as their own fall from grace -- making it the church's duty, if they exist, to evangelise them mercilessly. He calls Jesus' incarnation "a unique event that cannot be repeated", which seems parochial to me.

There is, by assumption, only one divine Logos, the active principle of the Creator of the universe, but I don't see any reason to believe that this entity could only become incarnate once, or couldn't work towards the salvation of other planetary populations in other ways. (Nor does the Reverend Father cite any evidence for this. What does he expect us to do, just take it on faith?)

...And speaking of damned creatures doomed to eternal torment, I've just landed another writing gig. The usual reasons of commercial secrecy mean I can't say anything about it yet, but I'm looking forward to it already[2].

[1] Actually, Blish was quoting Gerald Heard,but since he doesn't cite the source and I'm largely unfamiliar with Heard's work I can't say where he gets it from. Look, if you want unimpeachable standards of academic rigour, go and read someone else's blog.
[2] There is actually a sequitur there, but it's one that won't become apparent until I can tell you more about the story. Sorry about that.

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