Exotheology

Exotheology

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Exotheology'
Start a new discussion about 'Exotheology'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
"Exotheism" is a fictional denomination in the Vampire: The Requiem
Vampire: The Requiem
Vampire: The Requiem is a role-playing game published by White Wolf, set in the World of Darkness, and the successor to the Vampire: The Masquerade line. It was first released in August 2004, together with a new core rule book for the World of Darkness...

 role-playing game.


The term Exotheology was coined in the 1960s or early 1970s for the examination of theological
Theology
Theology is the systematic and rational study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truths, or the learned profession acquired by completing specialized training in religious studies, usually at a university or school of divinity or seminary.-Definition:Augustine of Hippo...

 issues as they pertain to extraterrestrial intelligence
Extraterrestrial life
Extraterrestrial life is defined as life that does not originate from Earth...

. It is primarily concerned with either conjecture about possible theological beliefs that extraterrestrials might have, or how our own theologies have been or will be influenced by evidence of and/or interaction with extraterrestrials.
One of the main themes of Exotheology is applying the concept the possibility of extraterrestrials who are sentient, and more to the point, endowed with a soul
Soul
A soul in certain spiritual, philosophical, and psychological traditions is the incorporeal essence of a person or living thing or object. Many philosophical and spiritual systems teach that humans have souls, and others teach that all living things and even inanimate objects have souls. The...

, as a thought experiment
Thought experiment
A thought experiment or Gedankenexperiment considers some hypothesis, theory, or principle for the purpose of thinking through its consequences...

 to the examination of a given theology, mostly Christian theology
Christian theology
- Divisions of Christian theology :There are many methods of categorizing different approaches to Christian theology. For a historical analysis, see the main article on the History of Christian theology.- Sub-disciplines :...

, occasionally also Jewish theology.

A Christian writer early to address the question was C. S. Lewis
C. S. Lewis
Clive Staples Lewis , commonly referred to as C. S. Lewis and known to his friends and family as "Jack", was a novelist, academic, medievalist, literary critic, essayist, lay theologian and Christian apologist from Belfast, Ireland...

 (1898–1963) who in a 1950s article in the Christian Herald contemplated the possibility of the Son of God
Son of God
"Son of God" is a phrase which according to most Christian denominations, Trinitarian in belief, refers to the relationship between Jesus and God, specifically as "God the Son"...

 incarnating in other, extraterrestrial, worlds, or else that God could devise an entirely distinct plan of salvation for extraterrestrial communities from the one applicable to humans.

Lutheran apologist Ted Peters
Ted Peters
Ted Peters is a Lutheran theologian and Professor of Systematic Theology at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary. In addition to his work as a theologian and educator, he is a prolific author and editor on Christian and Lutheran theology in the modern world...

 (2003) asserts that the questions raised by the possibility of extraterrestrial life are by no means new to Christian theology and by no means pose, as asserted by other authors, a threat for Christian dogma. Peters points out that medieval theology had frequently considered the question of "what if God had created many worlds?", as early as the discussion of the Antipodes
Antipodes
In geography, the antipodes of any place on Earth is the point on the Earth's surface which is diametrically opposite to it. Two points that are antipodal to one another are connected by a straight line running through the centre of the Earth....

 by the Church Fathers
Church Fathers
The Church Fathers, Early Church Fathers, Christian Fathers, or Fathers of the Church were early and influential theologians, eminent Christian teachers and great bishops. Their scholarly works were used as a precedent for centuries to come...

.

The Catholic Vatican
Holy See
The Holy See is the episcopal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, in which its Bishop is commonly known as the Pope. It is the preeminent episcopal see of the Catholic Church, forming the central government of the Church. As such, diplomatically, and in other spheres the Holy See acts and...

 theologian Corrado Balducci
Corrado Balducci
Monsignor Corrado Balducci, , was a Roman Catholic theologian of the Vatican Curia, a close friend of the pope, long time exorcist for the Archdiocese of Rome, and a Prelate of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and the Society for the Propagation of the Faith...

 often discussed the question in Italian popular media, and in 2001 published a statement UFOs and Extraterrestrials - A Problem for the Church?
In a 2008 statement, José Gabriel Funes
José Gabriel Funes
Fr. José Gabriel Funes, S.J. , an Argentine Jesuit priest and astronomer, is the current director of the Vatican Observatory.-Biography:...

, head of the Vatican Observatory, said
"Just as there is a multiplicity of creatures on earth, there can be other beings, even intelligent, created by God. This is not in contrast with our faith because we can't put limits on God's creative freedom".

Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan
Aryeh Kaplan
Aryeh Moshe Eliyahu Kaplan was a noted American Orthodox rabbi and author known for his "intimate knowledge of both physics and kabbalah." He was lauded as an original thinker and prolific writer, from studies of the Torah, Talmud and mysticism to introductory pamphlets on Jewish beliefs and...

, who was also a physicist, was inclined toward the belief in extraterrestrial life, citing various classic Jewish authorities. Among them are the medieval philosopher Rabbi Chasdai Crescas (Ohr Hashem 4:2) and 18th century kabbalist Rabbi Pinchas Eliyahu Horowitz (Sefer HaBris). After presenting his sources, Rabbi Kaplan remarks, "We therefore find the basic thesis of the Sefer HaBris supported by a number of clear-cut statements by our Sages. There may even be other forms of intelligent life in the universe, but such life forms do not have free will, and therefore do not have moral responsibility" -- at least in the same sense as human beings.

Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm
Norman Lamm
Norman Lamm is a major American Modern Orthodox rabbi, scholar, author and Jewish communal leader. He is presently the Chancellor of Yeshiva University....

, former chancellor of Yeshiva University, has also written on this subject, asserting that if the existence of extraterrestrial life should be confirmed, religious scholars must revise previous assumptions to the contrary. He, too, does not rule out this possibility from an Orthodox Jewish point of view.