Vatican chief astronomer Father Jose Gabriel Funes in a long interview with the L’Osservatore Romano newspaper this week made news by saying there is a certain possibility of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe, and that such notion ‘doesn’t contradict our faith.”
“How can we rule out that life may have developed elsewhere? Just as we consider earthly creatures as ‘a brother,’ and ‘sister,’ why should we not talk about an ‘extraterrestrial brother’? It would still be part of creation,” he said.
The statements by Funes are the latest in a string of recent comments by Vatican astronomers confirming a belief that discovery may be made in the near future of alien life, including intelligent life, and that this discovery would not unhinge the doctrine of Christ.
In 2005, another Vatican astronomer, Guy Consolmagno tackled this subject in a 50-page booklet, Intelligent Life in the Universe, in which he concluded that chances are better than not that mankind is facing a future discovery of extraterrestrial intelligence.
Approximately 7 years ago Monsignor Corrado Balducci made similar news when he said ETs were actually already interacting with earth and that some of the Vatican’s leaders were aware of it.
Before his death in 1999, maverick Catholic theologian Father Malachi Martin hinted at such more than once. In 1997, while on Coast to Coast AM radio, Art Bell asked him why the Vatican was heavily invested in the study of deep space at Mt Graham Observatory in southeastern Arizona. As a retired professor of the Pontifical Biblical Institute, Father Martin was uniquely qualified to hold in secret, information pertaining to the Vatican’s Advanced Technologies (VATT) project at the Mount Graham International Observatory (MGIO). Martin’s answer ignited a firestorm of interest among Christian and secular UFOlogists when he said, “Because the mentality… amongst those who [are] at the… highest levels of Vatican administration and geopolitics, know that, now, knowledge of what’s going on in space, and what’s approaching us, could be of great import in the next five years, ten years.”
Those cryptic words “…what’s approaching us, could be of great import in the next five years, ten years,” was followed in subsequent interviews with discussion of a mysterious “sign in the sky” that Malachi believed was approaching from the North. People familiar with Malachi believe he may have been referring to a near-future arrival of alien intelligence.
If ET life is something Vatican officials have privately considered for some time, why speak of it so openly now, in what some perceive as a careful doctrinal unveiling over the last 24 months? Is this a deliberate “warming-up” by the church in anticipation of ET Disclosure? Are official church publications on the subject an attempt to soften the blow before disclosure arrives, in order to help the faithful retain their orthodoxy in light of what such unprecedented knowledge could represent?
There might be a more mundane explanation for the Vatican’s recent interest in all things spacey.
Writing on Thursday, May 15th for Newsweek (The Vatican and Little Green Men), Sharon Begley noted that “[this] might be part of a push to demonstrate the Vatican’s embrace of science (in 1992 it apologized for that whole unfortunate Galileo mess, after all)… Interestingly, the Vatican has plans to host a conference in Rome next spring to mark the 150th anniversary of the Origin of Species, Charles Darwin’s seminal work on the theory of evolution. Conference organizers say it will look beyond entrenched ideological positions—including misconstrued creationism. The Vatican says it wants to reconsider the problem of evolution ‘with a broader perspective’ and says an ‘appropriate consideration is needed more than ever before.’”
The ‘appropriate consideration’ Begley mentions may have been alluded to by Guy Consolmagno two years ago in an interview with the Sunday Herald. That article pointed out how Consolmagno’s job included reconciling “the wildest reaches of science fiction with the flint-eyed dogma of the Holy See” and that his latest mental meander was about “the Jesus Seed, a brain-warping theory which speculates that, perhaps, every planet that harbours intelligent, self-aware life may also have had a Christ walk across its methane seas, just as Jesus… did here on Earth in Galilee. The salvation of the Betelguesians may have happened simultaneously with the salvation of the Earthlings,” the article said. This sounds a bit like holy panspermia to me — the idea that life on earth was “seeded” by something such as an asteroid impact — but in this case “the seed” was divinely appointed and reconciled to Jesus/God.
Do other religions agree with the Vatican on ET brethren?
Following L’Osservatore Romano’s interview with Jose Funes, Muslim and Jewish leaders joined to say their religion could accommodate an ET reality, while a scholar for the Russian Orthodoxy excluded the possibility of extraterrestrial intelligence.
The question of how the world’s political and religious communities would respond if suddenly faced with visitors from beyond is something world religions and even the US Government has studied. Paul Davies of The Atlantic Monthly wrote in 2003 that the discovery of even a single bacterium somewhere beyond Earth could force mankind to revise its understanding of who we are and where we fit into the cosmic scheme of things. Davies speculated that such a find could throw the human race into a spiritual identity crisis that could leave some gasping for faith in God.
In contrast, the Alexander UFO Religious Crisis Survey of ministers indicated that a majority of people — both religious and non-religious–not only believe in but could accept an ET reality without throwing God out with the bathwater.
Davies hopes this is true. As a cosmologist he sees order in the universe, including the anthropic balances that make life possible elsewhere. This has led to a deep personal interest in the subject of God and ET in which his response to either an ET discovery or visitation would be compatible to his religious ideas. He says the discovery of extraterrestrial life might actually substantiate biblical creation, not challenge it, if mankind is — as the Alexander UFO Religious Crisis Survey suggests — ready for it.
Professor Anthony Tambasco of Georgetown University not only believes the world, including its religious people, is ready for ET, but responding to NASA’s recent press releases about life potentially existing on Mars, he said that if the discovery of life is substantiated, “it will not unravel traditional biblical convictions, but rather provide an opportunity to enlarge or broaden them.”
In a related CCN article, Sayyid Syeed of the Islamic Society of North America said, “Most Muslims would also welcome the discovery of life off of Earth.” The Koran refers to Allah as the God of ‘worlds,’ he said, not just one world.
Rabbi James Ruden of the American Jewish Committee says most Jews also leave open the possibility of life on other planets in their interpretation of Genesis.
But What if ET Is Already Here, And He’s the Devil?
Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs) are historically connected to the idea of extraterrestrial life. In some cases, behavior of these strange sightings have left witnesses feeling as if they had observed something alive, not mechanical. “I have become thoroughly convinced that UFOs are real,” popular Christian writer Hal Lindsey once wrote. “I believe these beings are not only extraterrestrial but supernatural in origin. To be blunt, I think they are demons.”
In Angels Dark and Light, Gary Kinnaman accepts UFO sightings as the manifestations of angels of darkness. “My main reason for thinking this is that UFO sightings have never, at least to my knowledge, led a person closer to God. In fact, most UFO experiences have just the opposite effect.””
Associate professor of psychology Elizabeth L. Hillstrom points out in her book Testing the Spirits that a growing number of scholars support similar conclusions of UFOnauts being synonymous with historical demons:
From a Christian perspective, Vallee’s explanation of UFOs is the most striking because of its parallels with demonic activity. UFO investigators have noticed these similarities. Vallee himself, drawing from extrabiblical literature on demonic activities, establishes a number of parallels between UFOnauts and demons….Pierre Guerin, a UFO researcher and a scientist associated with the French National Council for Scientific Research, is not so cautious: “The modern UFOnauts and the demons of past days are probably identical.” Veteran researcher John Keel, who wrote UFOs: Operation Trojan Horse and other books on the subject, comes to the same conclusion: “The UFO manifestations seem to be, by and large, merely minor variations of the age-old demonological phenomenon.”
Some theologians caution about connecting UFOs with demonology. They say if UFOs represent anything supernatural at all, the unidentified objects could be manifestations of good angels, while phenomenon such as so-called alien abduction is more in line with manifestations of demons. In other words, good “Watchers” observe earth from UFOs (using what one evangelical theologian recently referred to as “celestial conveyances”) while fallen Watchers such as those spoken of in the apocryphal book of Enoch do evil.
Regardless of the position one takes on UFOs specifically, the possibility of open contact with intelligent extraterrestrial life has never been better according to those who study deep space for the Vatican.