So what does the latest Indiana Jones flick have to do with the creation/evolution debate? Plenty.
As reported by Catholic News Agency last week, Fr. José Gabriel Funes, director of the Vatican’s Observatory, told the Vatican daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano that Catholic doctrine allowed for the belief in the possible existence of extraterrestrial life. Fr. Funes, who tentatively believes in the Big Bang theory for lack of a “more complete and precise explanation of the origin of the universe,” posits that the hypothesis that extraterrestrial life exists should not and cannot be discounted, especially when one considers the size of our universe. I agree with Fr. Funes.Even when I was a young-earth creationist, I never fell for the common YEC argument that extraterrestrial life didn’t exist soley because God’s redemptive focus was on our blue and green ball alone. (Be sure to read Answers in Genesis’ full response to the ET question, in which they claim that “the thrust of the biblical testimony [and] the purpose of creation is uniquely centred on this earth.”) Maybe it was because I had been immersed in science fiction (“Star Trek,” Star Wars, Planet of the Apes, “Battlestar Galactica,” etc.) from an early age that I could theorize beyond my YEC shackles. Regardless of the intellectual contradiction, the question always simmered on my mind’s backburner. After reading C. S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy, I began to think more seriously about the possibilities, both scientific and theological. Fr. Funes certainly has:
“I think there isn’t [a contradiction]. Just as there is a multiplicity of creatures over the earth, so there could be other beings, even intelligent [beings], created by God. This is not in contradiction with our faith, because we cannot establish limits to God’s creative freedom. To say it with St. Francis, if we can consider some earthly creatures as ‘brothers’ or ‘sisters’, why could we not speak of a ‘brother alien’? He would also belong to the creation.”
And what would alien scriptures look like? I’m sure they would read completely differently. God would have accomodated Himself to their history, their myths, their traditions, and demonstrate His love for them in a way that may be completely lost on us. This, of course, begs a completely different but intimately related question: Was there a Fall of Spock? Is an alien “fall” inevitable?
And this is where I disagree with Fr. Funes’ assertion that “[the alien race]could have remained in full friendship with the Creator.” Granted, we don’t know how long it took for mankind to go from an guiltless covenantal state to one of estrangement from the Creator, but I’m not so sure that any finite being, however intelligent, could stay in God’s good graces long. Last September, I pondered the origin of sin while finishing up a 19-novel Star Wars series titled “The New Jedi Order,” which takes place 25-30 years after 1977’s Star Wars: Episode IV—A New Hope. What is most unique about this series (and this novel in particular) is its emphasis on the nature of the Force, the philosophy of its use, and the origin of the dark side. The following extract from the hardcover version of Star Wars: The New Jedi Order—The Unifying Force (p. 268) features Jedi Master Luke Skywalker speaking with his nephew Jedi Knight Jacen Solo, son of Han Solo and Princess Leia:
“… the dark side is real, because evil actions are real. Sentience gave rise to the dark side. Does [the dark side] exist in nature? No. Left to itself, nature maintains the balance. But we’ve changed that. We [sentient beings] are a new order of consciousness that has an impact on all life. The Force now contains light and dark because of what thinking beings have brought to it. That’s why balance has become something that must be maintained—because our actions have the power to tip the scales.” [emphasis in original]
(I was hoping to save questions like these for a special series on the theological ramifications of evolutionary creationism, but the timing of Fr. Funes interview and the release of the latest Indiana Jones flick was too tempting. I apologize for jumping the gun!)