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Inter-religious Debate Over Aliens

Interfax reports:

The Orthodoxy excludes a possibility of existing extraterrestrial intelligence, the famous theologian and professor of the Moscow Theological Academy Alexey Osipov said.

According to him, such position is based on the fact that “the New Testament lacks” allusions to extraterrestrial forms of intelligent life.

“Secondly, there have been very many people in the Church who reached highest degree of God-likeliness and sanctity but no one of them has ever mentioned them (extraterrestrial civilizations – IF), though they pointed out to many other things,” Osipov said.

…Besides, the professor said that modern astronomy “advancing into the depth of the Universe still hasn’t found any planet with the life similar to that on Earth.”

This is, of course, a response to the recent claim made by Vatican Observatory head Jose Gabriel Funes that aliens may exist. However, while the Orthodox Church is dismissive, other religious groups in Russia agree with Funes:

“According to the Holy Koran, the Almighty speaks about creation of various worlds. We know the world of people, jinns, plants and animals. Perhaps, we don’t know everything. The Creator can create anything. Other creatures may inhabit the worlds out of our reach,” the chairman of the international department of the Muftis’ Council Rushan Abbyasov was quoted as saying by the Moskovsky Komsomolets daily on Thursday.

…Rabbi Zinovy Kogan said that “the Lord is the first cause for everything existing in micro and macro worlds.”

“It couldn’t be excluded that other creatures similar to man exist in other worlds,” he stressed.

Meanwhile, a recent entry on Billy Graham’s website tells us that

There may be life on other planets, but I believe man is unique in the sense that he was created in the image of God.

Some time ago Graham suggested (in Angels: God’s Secret Agents) that UFOs are actually angelic in origin, noting similarities between the theophany in Ezekiel 10 and accounts of UFO sightings. This was a weird inversion of Erich von Däniken’s idea that such religious accounts are actually records of alien visitations; both interpretations are equally mind-numbingly unscholarly, but Graham faced most opposition from co-religionists who believe that such phenomena are demonic. One such text (inevitably available from WorldNetDaily) explains that demons want us to believe in the existence of aliens as a ruse to make us accept the theory of evolution; this was an idea I blogged here.

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