LOR: Are we referring also to similar beings to us or more evolved ones?
FUNES: It is possible. Until now we have had no proof. But certainly in a universe so big this hypothesis cannot be excluded.
LOR: And this would not be a problem for our faith?
FUNES: I believe no. As a multiplicity of creatures exist on earth, so there could be other beings, also intelligent, created by God. This does not contrast with our faith because we cannot put limits on the creative freedom of God.
To say it with Saint Francis, if we consider earthly creatures as “brother” and “sister,” why cannot we also speak of an “extraterrestrial brother?” It would therefore be a part of creation.
LOR: And what about redemption?
FUNES: We borrow the gospel image of the lost sheep. The pastor leaves the 99 in the herd for go look for the one that is lost. We think that in this universe there can be 100 sheep, corresponding to diverse forms of creatures.
We that belong to the human race could be precisely the lost sheep, sinners who have need of a pastor. God was made man in Jesus to save us. In this way, if other intelligent beings existed, it is not said that they would have need of redemption. They could remain in full friendship with their Creator.
LOR: I insist: if they were sinners, would redemption also be possible for them?
FUNES: Jesus has been incarnated once, for everyone. The incarnation is an unique and unrepeatable event. I am therefore sure that they, in some way, would have the possibility to enjoy God’s mercy, as it has been for us men.
Funes cree que se puede admitir la existencia de otros mundos y otras vidas.
Believing in aliens not opposed to Christianity, Vatican’s top astronomer says.
The Director of the Vatican’s Observatory, Fr. José Gabriel Funes, said in an interview with the Vatican daily, L’Osservatore Romano, that believing in the possible existence of extraterrestrial life is not opposed to Catholic doctrine.
The 45-year-old Argentinean priest heads the Vatican Observatory, founded by Pope Leo XIII with offices at Castelgandolfo, near the Apostolic summer palace, and another in Tucson, Arizona. Fr. Funes has been in charge of the Observatory since August 2006.
The astronomer began the interview titled, “The Alien is my Brother,” by saying that, “Astronomy has a profound human value. It is a science that opens the heart and the mind. It helps us to put our lives, our hopes, our problems in the right perspective.
In this regard, and here I speak as a priest and a Jesuit, it is an apostolic instrument that can bring us closer to God”, said Fr. Funes in the interview.
Regarding the beginning of the universe, Fr. Funes says that he personally believes that the “big bang” theory seems to him the most plausible, and that it does not contradict the Bible.
“We cannot ask the Bible for a scientific answer here. At the same time, we don’t know if in a near future the ‘Big Bang’ theory will be superseded by a more complete and precise explanation of the origin of the universe.”
When he was asked about the possibility of extraterrestrial life, the Director of the Vatican Observatory responded that “it is possible, even if until now, we have no proof. But certainly in such a big universe this hypothesis cannot be excluded.”
Inside the walls of this Castle an unassuming Jesuit from Argentina leads the Vatican Astronomical research and has recently caused an uproar by opening a debate about aliens.
“In a universe so big, huge I would say, as the one where we live with 100 billion of galaxies, each galaxy with a hundred billion stars probably with many of these stars having planets, it could be possible that life could evolve as they way we know on earth.”
Father Funes says he is not sure if other forms of life would be more or less intelligent than humans, but he is convinced that the existence of Aliens is not a contradiction with the Catholic faith.
There has been no word from top vatican officials about Funes’ comments.
Atlanta Journal Constitution – Shelia M. Poole
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Noted author and theologian Ted Peters will be the guest speaker during the annual D. Perry and Betty Ginn Lecture Series at Mercer University’s McAfee School of Theology in Atlanta.
Peters is an authority on science and religion and a professor of systematic theology at the Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary and Graduate Theological Union and director of the Institute for Theology and Ethics.
He will speak about “Evolution, Atheism and Faith” at 10:45 a.m. Tuesday in Cecil B. Day Hall, and on“Extraterrestrial Life and the Christian Earthview,” at 10:45 a.m. Thursday in the Academic and Conference Center Chapel.
At 10 a.m. Wednesday, Peters will speak in chapel on Mercer’s Macon campus.
That afternoon, at 4 p.m., he will lecture on “The Stem Cell Controversy: Who’s Fighting with Whom about What?” in the Medical School Auditorium.
Peters serves as editor-in-chief of Dialog, A Journal of Theology, and co-editor of Theology and Science journal.
Christian theology and alien life.
Since God created the universe, theologians say, he would have created aliens, too. And far from being weakened by contact, Christianity would adapt. Its doctrines would be interpreted anew, the aliens greeted with open — and not necessarily Bible-bearing — arms.
“The main question is, ‘Would religion survive this contact?'” said NASA chief historian Steven J. Dick, author of The Biological Universe. “Religion hasn’t gone away after Copernican theory, after Darwin. They’ve found ways to adapt, and they’ll find a way if this happens, too,” Dick says.
The central conundrum posed to Christianity by alien contact would involve the Incarnation — the arrival of Jesus Christ as God’s representative on Earth, his crucifixion and the absolution of humanity’s sins through his forgiveness.
“It would still be true — but if there are other races and intelligences, then what is the meaning of this visit to our race at that time?” asked Vatican astronomer Guy Consolmagno, who in 2005 penned the booklet Intelligent Life in the Universe?
Some propose that the Earthly incarnation of Jesus some 2,000 years ago redeemed all intelligent creatures, in all places and — since a space-faring race is likely older than us — in all times. Others have suggested that Jesus could take multiple forms.
“Just as Jesus is human like you and I, you would find an alien-specific Jesus,” said Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary professor Ted Peters.
But Peters and others also say that aliens may not have fallen into sin, instead existing in a state of grace, neither having nor needing Jesus. In that case, missionaries would have no call to convert them.