Monday, December 31, 2007

Aliens who Love Jesus

A question that appears repeatedly in science fiction, and which too many people take seriously, is the one of whether or not it's a good idea to evangelize extraterrestrials. So far, the question has been a moot one, and I'm comfortable in believing it will likely remain moot for some time.

Nonetheless, Father Fernando at Agnus Daily has addressed the question. His answer is good for a belly laugh, but it's also quite sensible. Check this out:

First off Darin Gaylord Simpson, the Catholic Church isn’t called universal for nothing. Any rational soul can belong to the Church, whether human or not. If for some reason you don’t believe me, you can take it up with St. Michael, St. Gabriel, and St. Raphael. Last I heard, they were angels, and not human. That being said, if there is indeed intelligent life off in the distance, there shouldn’t be an impediment to them being Catholic. [more...]

Since this isn't a real theological issue, I shouldn't argue with Father Fernando. Nonetheless, in this little essay, he says one thing I feel deserves an answer. It must be my duty to work to secure the religious rights of extraterrestrials; after all, if The Sci Fi Catholic won't defend them, who will?

According to Father Fernando, a tentacled alien could not be permitted to the episcopacy because, lacking hands, he would be unable to perform sacraments that require the laying on of hands. I will now attempt to counter Father Fernando and in the process show just how theologically ignorant I really am.

Let us begin with the Aristotelian distinction between substance and accident. I will claim that it is the substance of the hand that it is a manipulative appendage. The accidents of the hand are that it is a modified forelimb of a quadruped and that it has five fingers. If a man were to lose a finger, his hand would not cease to be a hand. In other words, it would remain the same in substance even though the accidents have altered.

Now, if an alien had a set of tentacles that it could use in much the same manner that a human uses a hand, the alien would have a manipulative appendage that could be considered the same in substance as a hand, even though the accidents are different. Therefore, the alien could be considered to have hands, could be permitted to the episcopacy, and could validly ordain or confirm by the laying on of tentacles.

Furthermore, the aliens simply must be permitted full rights within the Church. It would be impious to think that God had created a sentient species with free will and immortal souls, but no means by which to fully receive and confer all the sacraments God has created for their salvation.
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