On Pope Francis and the Baptism of Martians


Was Pope Francis pulling our legs last Monday when he said he would baptize a Martian?

It is a hypothetical, of course.  His point was that the Church is inclusive and will not turn away any who sincerely seek redemption.  A very kind, noble,  and compassionate gesture, to be sure. And consistent with the Pope’s interpretation of the Gospel’s teachings. Love thy neighbor as thyself.

And if we find one, the Martian is certainly our neighbor in a very real sense.  38.4 million miles away.

Yet the very idea of baptizing an extraterrestrial strikes me as a bit bizarre.  Even assuming the ET wants to receive the sacrament.

But let’s accept this improbable  scenario. A Martian (or any intelligent life from outer space) has somehow—I can’t imagine why—decided to land on Earth. Let’s further assume our visitors had no hostile intentions  and come solely on a  scientific expedition. They trekked here to boldly go where none has  been before.

And since this is purely a thought experiment, let’s even  imagine these aliens are very much like us in appearance. Let their template be Klaatu (played by Michael Rennie) in “The Day the Earth Stood Still”.

I know I am painting the rosiest picture  about this close encounter of the third kind. Still It boggles my mind that baptism would be the right response if Klaatu or any other extraaterrestrial did venture here.

The whole rationale for baptism is to wipe away the primordial sin committed in the Garden of Eden. In Adam’s fall, we sinneth all.  Now I’m not a theologian by any means.  But why pin this guilt trip on an alien?

In this best of all hypotheticals, they have come in peace and friendship, and the last thing they want to hear is that they have original sin.  It might violate their idea of hospitality. And might very well offend their sense of fair play.

No, I think, in this  best case scenario, it would be more to our advantage to do a meet and greet. Let them rest after the long voyage. They might be suffering from jet lag.




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  • The Daily Mail among others, seemed to stress "if they asked for it."

    This might be like the Ethopian Jews complaining that the Israelis requiring them to go to the Mikveh was like requiring them to be baptized, but maybe they just needed a bath.

    Due to the one link limit, my next point is below.

  • On whether the aliens need it, the Guardian has speculation on whether extraterrestrials do, with the prevailing view that aliens are already closer to God. Aside from what stories were cited there, that reminds me of the theory that the Elohim were space travelers, and how does one explain Elijah the Prophet taking off in a fiery chariot?

  • I assume these aliens are conscious? Original Sin is the sin of consciousness, bringing with it the knowledge and conflict of opposites. The Pope offers these hapless aliens reconciliation through a non-rational function, the symbolism of the Baptism.

  • In reply to 4zen:

    Maybe the Pope better assume that the aliens are not made of sodium.

    If they have the will to get here, I assume that they are conscious, unless they are the robot tools of their alien masters, in which case the latter are conscious. But, again, giving the former a dip in the font might short them out.

  • In reply to 4zen:

    4zen, I was only playing with the idea. . As for original sin, it is presumed to affect all the descendents of Adam. But extraterrestrials wouldn't fit that description, unless they first originated on our planet. Therefore, they would not inherit Adam's guilt. I think even a symbolic baptism would be, for this reason, inappropriate.

  • The conflict of opposites is a psychological conflict inherent in consciousness, it's projection is seen in the stories of most religions as it is in the story of Adam and Eve. To gain consciousness man had to fall from God, or fall psychologically from the blissful unconscious state, the Baptism offers a symbolic reconciliation of this loss. Another example would be the initiations seen in the Eleusinian Mysteries of Demeter.

    So what you're saying is you would not give these suffering aliens relief from their dissociative state and the Pope's comment is inappropriate.....good grief Aquinas, these aren't Republican aliens.

  • In reply to 4zen:

    Nobody knows what political system is on Uranus.

    I think I'll go with the theory that when a human gets new neurons, they become more aware, but forget anything those neurons replaced, apparently explaining why it is hard to remember anything before one was about 4 years old.

    I'll stay out of the theological argument, other than I don't think that Africans, Native Americans, Buddhists, etc. share any guilt from what might have happened in Mesopotamia; of course that assumes that one believes in tracing DNA, instead of that everyone is descended from Noah.

  • In reply to jack:

    I'm not really speaking of Adam's guilt, I'm describing the dissociated state that a conscious mind must deal with as opposed to unconscious bliss. This is symbolized by the story of Adam and Eve. Baptism is a symbolic way of dealing with it.

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