To the typical Catholic, this question is not even very interesting, let alone important. But to a small group of Catholics — and not just the Roswell-following crowd — it deserves intense attention.
The short answer to the question is, "Yes." Belief in extraterrestrial life is not contrary to Catholicism. The corollary is that if extraterrestrial life were discovered, Catholicism would not be thus falsified.
Father Gabriel Funes, director of the Vatican Observatory, announced in the article "Aliens Are My Brother" that any alien life form would be just as much a part of creation as life on earth. The article itself is no longer available online, but according to the BBC, Fr. Funes even speculated that intelligent aliens may be free from the effects of original sin — that is, they may still live in their equivalent of the Garden of Eden.
Contrast that with the belief of certain Creationists. The staunch Creationist organization Answers in Genesis came to a far different conclusion about even non-intelligent extraterrestrial life:
However, the notion of alien life does not square well with Scripture. The earth is unique. God designed the earth for life (Isaiah 45:18). The other planets have an entirely different purpose than does the earth, and thus, they are designed differently.(Hat-tip to the Blue Collar Scientist.)
The Bible verse refers to God "not creating it [the Earth] to be a waste, but designing it to be lived in." Based on this verse, a formal logical fallacy called "denying the antecedent" underlies this argument:
- If God created a planet for the express purpose of being lived in, then it will have life.
- God created other planets for another purpose.
- Therefore, other planets do not have life.
You can believe in aliens and still be a good Catholic. Apparently, however, you cannot believe in aliens and still be a good Protestant Fundamentalist.
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