According to a Wednesday story in Salon, Pat Robertson, a televangelist and former presidential candidate, took to the airwaves on his “700 Club” and choose to inveigh against NASA in general and the exploration of Mars in specific. He seems to have it on good authority that God would not choose to create life on any other world but the Earth. His supposition is in the distinct minority among mainstream theologians though perhaps not of fundamentalist Christians like Robertson.
A study of religion and ETs cited by a recent piece in LiveScience reports that “37 percent of the 5,886 Americans who were polled said they believed in the existence of extraterrestrial life, while 21 percent said they didn’t believe, and 42 percent were unsure. Responses varied by religion: 55 percent of atheists said they believed in extraterrestrials, as did 44 percent of Muslims, 37 percent of Jews, 36 percent of Hindus and 32 percent of Christians.” Some fringe cults, such as Heaven/s Gate and Scientology, incorporate the existence of aliens in their theology. Robertson, however, does not, according to Raw Story.
“Folks, I want to tell you something. They talk about life on other planets. In my opinion, there’s nothing but gaseous balls and barren rocks up in space. That’s all that’s there. This planet is where God has got an experiment in what he wants to have accomplished. But somehow, people want to spend a lot of money to go to Mars! I don’t want to think that Mars is someplace I want to visit, and it would take a lot of money to get there! But nevertheless, our government, our NASA is exploring new horizons.”
Many theologians would take issue with Robertson’s assertion. They would suggest that he is trying to limit God’s power to seed the universe with life as he sees fit, an act of arrogance verging on blasphemy that would seem to be unworthy of a man of the cloth. The Catholic Church, according to an article in Lablit, certainly takes a view contrary to that of Robertson.
“In May 2008, the Reverend José Gabriel Funes, director of the Vatican Observatory, stated in an interview to the Vatican’s newspaper L’ Osservatore Romano that extraterrestrial beings, however they may appear, and wherever they may be, are also God’s creation, and therefore modern Christianity can readily accept the existence of forms of life outside Earth, including intelligent ones. In the opinion of Reverend Funes, to deny the existence of extraterrestrials would be to limit God’s power.”