06 March 2023



Jaime Servera --from Spain-- is a member of the UAPSG that periodically contributes with material to this web page. The one that we reproduce here is dealing with the perspective of finding life somewhere else in the Universe, and the attitude of Theologians of different religions, and particularly from the Catholic church. We warn you that --from our viewpoint-- we find the end of this article very speculative and somewhat idillyc.


At the end of December 2021, many media outlets reported the following news: NASA, in collaboration with the Centre for Theologic Inquiry (CTI) of Princeton University, has hired a team of 24 theologians to carry out a study on how the different religions of the world would react to a possible contact with extraterrestrial civilizations. 

This team is headed by Reverend Andrew Davison, a theologian from Cambridge University and a Ph.D. in biochemistry from Oxford University (Corpus Christi College).

CTI is an independent research institute founded in 1978 that reflects on theology in relation to other disciplines in the   humanities and natural sciences.

Although this news was very striking, it is not the first time that such an association between the US space agency and this theological center has taken place since in 2014 NASA awarded it a grant of 1.1 million dollars for a study called "The Social Implications of Astrobiology" which was developed in 2016 bringing together a large group of Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhistand Shinto theologians who taking into account the faith of millions of people around the world concluded that in reality the world's beliefs would not undergo significant or transcendental changes.

In statements published in the blog of the Divinity Faculty of the University of Cambridge, Dr. Davison stated that throughout his research he had seen how often theology and astrobiology have been the subjects of numerous writings over the last 150 years. In fact, Davison will soon publish a book entitled "Astrobiology and Christian Doctrine" (due for May next) in which he will discover part of the joint CTI-NASA spiritual exploration.

As we can see, NASA takes very seriously the question of extraterrestrial life, its possible existence in the universe and a hypothetical contact with other beings at some point and the fact that it has brought together representatives of various beliefs to talk about extraterrestrials is at least striking.

The director of the organization himself, Bill Nelson, is a firm believer in life on other planets and Carl Pitcher, former director of Astrobiology, also at NASA, finds it inconceivable that the Earth is the only planet with life in the entire Universe.

The search for extraterrestrial life has fascinated mankind for centuries and scientists have been searching for clues. With increasingly sophisticated technological means at their disposal, their knowledge of the universe is growing and the recently launched James Webb telescope, whose mission is to study the distant universe, holds out the hope of providing many answers about the cosmos.

Life as we know it is based on some of the most common chemical elements: oxygen, hydrogen and carbon, and there is no unique or special matter in the chemical composition of the organism of living things on Earth. And although the evidence has yet to be discovered, voices are emerging from the scientific community that speak unequivocally of the possibility that life, even intelligent life, exists outside the Earth's atmosphere. In the year 2000, only about 50 exoplanets were known; today more than 1,000 are known and the number is growing steadily.

David Weintraub, professor of astronomy at Vanderbilt University, asked whether the population is prepared for the possible discovery of life on any of the exoplanets and discovered that the answer depends a lot on religious beliefs. And according to Weintraub himself, it is among Christians thatthe possibility of life on other worlds has been most discussed.

One of the first academics to propose the expansion of the universe and outline what would be the Big Bang was the priest, mathematician and astrophysicist George Lemaître, who asked whether it is possible to believe in God and follow the scientific method. 

Religion, and in particular the Catholic religion, is based on the axiom of faith, which implies the absolute belief in a divine being, not contemplating the possibility of proving or disproving its existence. Science and religion are such different aspects of human thought that they should not enter into dispute, although there is a tendency to mix scientific and religious arguments trying to justify one or the other; but they arecomplementary and should be explored separately. 

And although many religious  traditions show that extraterrestrial life is possible, the idea of intelligent life could pose a threat to some conservative (and not so conservative) Christians' interpretation of the Bible.

In a 2008 interview with the then director of the Vatican's Astronomical Observatory, Argentinian Jesuit José Gabriel Funes, he said that belief in God would not clash with the existence of extraterrestrials. "As an astronomer I believe even more strongly that God is the Creator of the Universe. If there are thousands of planets and there are only intelligent beings on one, in a way it is like putting limits to God's creative freedom; and although there is still no proof of the existence of life outside our planet, we can think about what would be the position of the Catholic Church in the event that cosmic brothers were discovered. If we were to find intelligent extraterrestrials, endowed therefore with a spiritual and immortal soul, they would also be as much our brothers as other human beings of different races".

For Christians, the theological implications that would derive from the existence of intelligent life would directly affect the very essence of faith?

Most theologians maintain that the existence of these beings would not change Catholic doctrine in any way; the Bible teaches us that God possesses supremacy and absolute power over everything created and therefore they would also have been created by God, who created everything visible and invisible, and man in his image and likeness; that is, they could be in every way similar to man, endowed with immortal souls. But would these beings have committed mortal sin? Would theIncarnation and Redemption by Jesus Christ affect them too? Would they need to be baptized?

As creatures created by God, they would be totally dependent on the one God and if they had intelligence, they would have been created to know, love and serve Him and would therefore also be subject to Jesus Christ, Lord of all Creation.

But the extraterrestrials could be a pure species, uncontaminated, without sin; a species living in "paradise", like the human being before rebelling against his Creator, losing his privileges and being contaminated by sin with all its consequences.

Perhaps the extraterrestrials have not rebelled against God and therefore, have not needed the redemption of Christ to establish a bridge between God and men. Perhaps it is the primordialand happy race, symbol of what we believers hope to be in the afterlife.

Jaime Servera




NASA hired 24 theologians to study reaction to aliens: book (nypost.com)

Heavens above: Nasa enlists priest to prepare for an alien discovery | News | The Times




NASA signs up British priest to prepare for alien life: ‘May discover it next week!' (msn.com)






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