Well, four days a go another traditionally minded Catholic with a glorious beard commented on the existence of aliens. So, necessarily, I need to comment here.
To begin with, this blog is mostly built on the metaphorical and RPG game use of aliens and Sci-Fi tropes. The actual question of aliens has not been discussed here much.
I think it is important here to realize the “Do you believe in aliens?” question is really four questions.
- Does life on other planets (intelligent or not) exist? Even one microbe causes this question to be answered in the affirmative.
- Does human-level (or greater) intelligent life exist? To answer this in the affirmative, you need to believe in aliens that can engage in ethical and abstract thinking, have free will and rationality.
- Has said intelligent life developed faster-than-light-travel? When we think of aliens in a sci-fi context this one always gets thrown in for free. It is a completely separate question, and, on face value, more unbelievable than questions 1 and 2 combined. Afterall, as far as we know, the rules of the universe do not permit this.
- Has the alien life in questions 2 and 3 visited us?
Walsh’s friend on the Daily Wire slams belief in aliens. And Walsh fires back.
Walsh’s Rebuttal: Bigness is Evidence
Walsh mostly considers question 1 (and perhaps, a bit of question 2).
Walsh takes on two objections leveled against the ABC (Alien Believing Community). The first, is that the only evidence in favor of ABC is that the universe is super big.
To this he makes a solid point. If you saw fish on the sea-shore that would not prove that there are fish in the deepest trenches of the ocean, where light barely reaches and there are thousands of pounds of pressure. And yet, merely seeing life at the edge, combined with how huge the ocean is, means there is a huge amount of potential. And given how successful life is at thriving in variety of environments, the “the deep ocean is empty” hypothesis would seem – unfulfilling, even improbable.
The rebuttal to this is easy to imagine though. Once life begins on Earth once, it is free to spread everywhere on Earth. For life to exist elsewhere, there would need to be another initiation of life. Afterall, even if faster-than-life travel exists, nothing from Earth has (reasonably) used it yet.
Nonetheless, there are quintillions of planets. Each planet represents a possibility. And given numbers that large, Walsh asserts, the possibility should be taken seriously.
The Wookies -er the Wokies want humans to Not be Special
The next rebuttal against alien life is a bit of an ad hominem argument. Namely, it is charged, that the ABC just wants to make humans less special (a “woke” belief) by having us not be the only life out there. Here Walsh demolishes this argument.
Human value did not diminish when we went from 400 million to eight billion. Even if we find we are one of billions of intelligent species, are dignity rests on who we are not how many of us there are.
Here Walsh invokes his Catholic Faith and argues that God is not required to work in ways we understand and insisting that we are the only lifeforms out there puts a hubris-filled restriction on God.
Would God Want us to be alone in the Universe?
The first response to this is that, according the Bible, we are not alone in the universe, and the beings we share it with put H.P. Lovecraft to shame.
No really, read the book of Ezekiel (my favorite prophet, a prophet for our times). We have multi-eyed wheels and multi-headed beings used to symbolize the angels of God.
15 Now as I looked at the living creatures, I saw a wheel upon the earth beside the living creatures, one for each of the four of them. 16 As for the appearance of the wheels and their construction: their appearance was like the gleaming of a chrysolite; and the four had the same likeness, their construction being as it were a wheel within a wheel. 17 When they went, they went in any of their four directions without turning as they went. 18 The four wheels had rims and they had spokes; and their rims were full of eyes round about. 19 And when the living creatures went, the wheels went beside them; and when the living creatures rose from the earth, the wheels rose. 20 Wherever the spirit would go, they went, and the wheels rose along with them; for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels. 21 When those went, these went; and when those stood, these stood; and when those rose from the earth, the wheels rose along with them; for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels.Catholic Biblical Association (Great Britain), The Holy Bible: Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition (New York: National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA, 1994), Eze 1:15–21.
Per Catholic theology, aliens, -er I mean angels have no material cause. We are made of carbon etc. etc. Angels just are their sheer intellect and will. And because they are so radically simple, each one is of necessity the sole member of their own species. The difference between St. Michael and St. Gabriel is life the difference between Cat and Dog more so than say the difference between you and me or between Man and Woman.
What’s even more trippy is that God considers us important enough to have one of these beings assigned to us for protection.
10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones; for I tell you that in heaven their angels always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven.Catholic Biblical Association (Great Britain), The Holy Bible: Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition (New York: National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA, 1994), Mt 18:10.
And if there are more demons than humans (as St. Padre Pio asserted) and there are twice as many angels as demons (as Revelation asserts) there are unfathomable beings without number greater than anything we have ever imagined, and horrific monsters worse than the most depraved of Lovecraft’s visions.
But if we insist on material lifeforms – would God want the universe to be full or empty?
Here a complicating factor is the incarnation – there is only one Son of God and his membership in our family is part of why he is able to save us. But even if there is no second incarnation of God as another species (sorry Aslan) perhaps the other lifeforms do not need salvation (either being like animals, or having spiritual needs more akin to angels even if they have bodies) or, for reasons unfathomable to us, need to be saved by something other than an incarnation.
I can see the attraction to wanting to believe in aliens – after all I imagine fantasy worlds as a hobby. Worlds without number seems fitting for an infinite God.
Though the legions of angels already in some sense gives us a colossally large population of radically diverse beings. And perhaps the huge universe does exist, simply to remind us carbon-stardust how small we are next to the divine.
I don’t know. God is hard to predict. Maybe on the flip side of eternity, we will one day meet other embodied non-human persons. Maybe one day we will meet on this side of eternity.
But till then remember, some have entertained angels unawares.
1 Let brotherly love continue. 2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. 3 Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them; and those who are ill-treated, since you also are in the body.Catholic Biblical Association (Great Britain), The Holy Bible: Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition (New York: National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA, 1994), Heb 13:1–4.
Stories about Angels:
- Book of Tobit
- Book of Ezekiel
- Genesis 32 (Jacob and the Angel)
- The Gospels, especially the Gospel of Luke