One of the seminars I attended purported to be about science and faith, which, of course, meant the tedious and persistent Christianity versus Western materialism debate. The seminar also turned out to be a gathering point for Opus Dei cult members, converts to various kinds of Christianity (mostly catholic) and a few interlopers with an interest in philosophy and religion. There were also the required handful of postmodernist atheists present to make the truth claim that truth doesn’t exist. Since magic and misogyny were to constitute key ideas promoted at the seminar, the seminar co-coordinators made sure to bring in two female physicists from ivy league schools to promote Christian orthodoxy–as if that in any way makes magic violate the laws of science any the less or misogyny any the less offensive. The logic seemed to be something along the lines of “I am a scientist and I believe in magic, therefore, magic is compatible with science” and “I am a female and I believe woman is the subordinate of man according to natural law, therefore, it is not misogyny to believe woman is the subordinate of man according to the will of the Lord.” We are, of course, meant to assume that it’s impossible to be female and be a misogynist or to be a scientist and be batshit crazy. Neither assumption is warranted.
As someone with a degree in biology, I can affirm that all that’s required to do science is that you do science. If you also happen to believe in conspiracy theories, that you were abducted by aliens, or that tiny mechanical elves pick up your bed at night and move it to Mars and then set it down again by morning before you wake up, it doesn’t really matter. You aren’t publishing a paper on mechanical elves from Mars. You’re publishing a paper on cell biology. In fact, my friend who is getting a Ph.D. in STEM regularly hears stories from a Mormon professor in her department about miracles at academic meetings in between his mathematical demonstrations (which are all very neat, intelligent, and orderly).
So go ahead and believe that a man had the virtual containment of humanity in him such that when he consumed an apple after being told not to this constituted a cosmic act requiring the redemption of humanity which could have been achieved by God saying “fuck it” and forgiving everyone because He had the power to do so in his infinity but instead deemed it more fitting that he impregnate a virgin to give birth to Himself in the form of a man with a beard in the middle east who was 100% the Lord and 100% human (i.e. 200% awesome) to be nailed to wood by Romans and then leave his tomb without notice, walk around in ghost-form with holes in his body and ask a dude named Thomas to stick his finger in one of his ghost-holes before going into the sky so that the entirety of virtual humanity that Adam fucked over because he contained it in himself when he ate an apple (also he made woman from his rib) be fixed one at a time through sprinkling water on babies (BUT ONLY IN THE RIGHT CHURCH) except that baptism also doesn’t save humanity because people sin and even people who were water-sprinkled as babies by priests who have cocks like Jesus did still have to go to Church and feel bad about having sex until they die, whereupon their bodies decay underground until they rise uncorrupted out of the earth when the lamb breaks the seventh seal to signal the apocalypse thereby summoning seven angels with trumpets to open a pit into hell and slay 1/3 of humanity with the elect following the example of the virgin-mother and the God-man by shooting into cloud-land while the vast majority of humanity plunges into the hell-pit opened by the angel’s trumpet to suffer in fire-land for all eternity at the hands of the all-merciful and all-loving man with a beard who is also not a man with a beard because he is both one and three persons.
This seminar (hosted by an ivy league university) had the usual. A girl citing homosexuality from the entire encyclopedia of human history when asked to give an example of evil, someone asking me to join a self-lacerating celibacy cult that reads your mail and takes your wages, a loud-mouthed convert tweed male with a pipe who thought he was G.K. Chesterton who shouted over me so many times that even the priest moderator told him to shut up, and a nun standing up in front of the room to ask that we communally denounce the Enemy at the end of the seminar etc.
The part I didn’t expect, however, was the wonderful conversation that took place during one of the breakout sessions on the topic of whether or not intelligent aliens, presuming they exist, would need their own alien Jesus to save their souls or if human Jesus sufficed.
I MAKE UP NONE OF THE CONTENT ON THIS BLOG.
And in case you think I am making all my stories up and don’t believe that aliens and the science of catholic theology are topics of great academic importance:
You can read this academic article in full here (that is, if you want to pay $42.00 or can get it through institutional access).
Or…you could let your favorite infidel Unacknowledged Legislator use her Ph.D. powers to not only explain the contents to you, but to explain the entire ongoing debate in systematic theology on the topic of alien Christ–a topic which the above article is only a fraction of. As the author tells us, “There are three main schools of theological thought on the issue of the soteriology of intelligent extraterrestrial life” (Lazarri, 451).
THREE MAIN SCHOOLS.
To let us know he’s done his research Lazzari writes, “Before we continue on to some possible Thomistic approaches to different theological positions of extraterrestrials, it may be beneficial to give a survey and explanation of the existing scholarly literature on the subject” (451). Gotta’ love how that “positions of extraterrestrials” promises more than it delivers for, as it stands, the sentence offers to give us a location of aliens according the theology of Thomas Aquinas when, doubtless, the intended meaning of the author is scholarly “positions on extraterrestrials.” Nonetheless, I can’t express the tremendous delight I experienced when I learned that the conversation that took place at the seminar I attended was not a one-off, but a sub-discipline.
This might very well be my favorite academic paper ever written other than Sokal’s. A paper on Jesus and aliens is definitely a contender with “Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity,” in Social Text, Alan Sokal’s famous troll of a left-wing postmodern academic journal in which he argued that quantum gravity was a social and linguistic construct to see if “a leading North American journal of cultural studies—whose editorial collective includes such luminaries as Fredric Jameson and Andrew Ross—[would] publish an article liberally salted with nonsense if (a) it sounded good and (b) it flattered the editors’ ideological preconceptions.”
The answer was, of course, yes, you can publish jargon postmodern radical leftist bullshit in a jargon postmodern radical leftist bullshit humanities journal. The problem is, rather, when you want to publish something that is not jargon postmodern radical leftist bullshit. Write some readable liberal humanist shit and you’re done for. Or, in my case, dare to entertain non-Western ideas to talk about poetry instead of using Western philosophers to talk about how the West sucks and get a quick slam of the materialist door in your face followed by a recommendation to talk about Western materialism instead of Vedanta. Don’t you know you’re supposed to rant about orientalism, not actually take Eastern ideas seriously? And comparing ideas between cultures? For shame. Don’t you know ideas are like a ball to be passed down from one person to another and not abstract ideas that different persons from different eras and cultures can arrive at? Go back to doing Marxist materialism and historicism. It’s not like comparative mythology and comparative religion were entire disciplines with books written by famous people. Besides, if we started talking about poetry through Eastern philosophy we might undermine the supreme Truth of Western materialism which we need to colonize the world with.
Ok, so I got off topic ranting about pomo again. Now, to return to the matter of alien soteriology. Ah, I see you are intimidated by the term “soteriology.” This is a word whose true meaning is too smarticle for you to understand, but to reduce the mystification a bit, I will dumb it down for you. “Soteriology,” deriving from the Greek σωτηρία (sōtēria) meaning “salvation,” itself derived from σωτήρ (sōtēr) meaning “savior” and λόγος (logos) meaning “study” or “word” is the theology of how your ass is saved by God. In other words, it is the field of theological science pertaining to your salvation including what it consists of and the conditions dictating when, if, and how it occurs, themselves dependent on how morally broke-ass the religion in question says you are.
Thus, anthropological soteriology concerns how homo sapiens are saved while the study of cephalopodological soteriology concerns how “hypothetical extraterrestrial mollusk-like creatures” are saved, to quote Lazarri (442). The author offers a critical scholarly qualification: “While any alien species presumably would not be stricto sensu mollusks or cephalopods, the characteristic case I am imagining in my study is the squid-like Admiral Ackbar from the Star Wars film series, who is described as being a part of the Mon Calamari species. I thought the category title would be appropriate to such a species” (442). A person who combines a needless Latin flourish with a reference to Admiral Ackbar in total seriousness in a footnote and then follows it with a footnote telling the reader to explore “Aristotelian philosophy of nature, especially with respect to its functioning in the natural sciences” as told by Catholic men simply cannot be trolling.
I must say that, for all that the author backs his claims with dense citations to catholic dogmatists, I was disappointed by the lack of citation regarding Admiral Ackbar. There really ought to at least be a link to Wookiepedia to reassure us that he is, indeed, a member of a larger class of mollusk aliens termed Mon Calamari because this is not stated in the film series. There has also been a dearly missed opportunity in the keywords. As truly satisfying as it is to find “systematic theology” and “extraterrestrial life” in the same keyword cluster on a library-accredited academic search engine, imagine how much better it could have been if this happened:
Now that I think about it, I really should have found a way to cite my life-sized cardboard cut-out of Anakin Skywalker from Episode III in my dissertation.
By the way, I had catholic converts over for dinner once with this cardboard statuary just five feet away from the dinner table and NOT A SINGLE ONE OF THEM commented on it. Much like female sexuality, it hovered obvious and unmentioned in the background of orthodox consciousness.
I’m not one for gross rebellions, but one ice-cold evening conversing with converts over nothing but catholic dogma and I longed to return to the table-pounding and screaming at Rory Dolan’s in the Bronx when an entire pub full of drunks suddenly came alive to cheer for the horse race on the T.V. because one of the animals happened to be named “Irish War-Cry” even though none of them had bet a cent.
But to return to the matter of how the cosmos is ordered…
In order to discern whether or not alien Jesus is necessary we will have to determine the “role that extraterrestrials would play in the universal plan of God” (440). To “apply Christian revelation to this new problem, there would need to be an analysis of the nature of that extraterrestrial species,” by which Lazzari means the species of Mon Calamari, of which Admiral Ackbar is representative (441). Thus, the author first spends four entire pages explaining to us that something is the thing that it is. Naturally, he spices it up with jargon terms like “quiddity” in a lengthy philisophico-cosmo-decolothological-idiotological expoundification to demonstrate that because humans are human and aliens are aliens, aliens are, therefore, not human.
To do this, he first lets us know that because Aquinas defines humans as “rational animals” it “would be tempting to use this definition in a broad way to include other species of rational animals and thus apply all of the teachings of the Christian tradition to extraterrestrials with almost no modification” (442). Very tempting indeed since orthodox Christianity is supreme Truth. However, “In Thomistic metaphysics, the terms ‘essence,’ ‘quiddity,’ and ‘nature,’ all denote the same aspect of being and have several important meanings that are applicable to the question at hand” (442). Translation: You see, it is clear and distinct. To understand the nature of alien nature we must understand that I can use the words “essence” and “quiddity.” Words. They have important meanings.
He further enlightens us: “Essence also confers ‘quiddity’ or ‘whatness’ on real beings, making real beings definable. Quiddity makes real beings the kind of beings that they are” (442). Not only do we learn that what a thing is, it is but also that a thing is what it is: “Finally, essence is a metaphysical principle that constitutes real beings and is that through which and in which they exist” (443). Have you ever encountered an argument more air-tight, more adamantinely unassailable than “material beings are made up of matter” and “Since material beings are made up of matter, matter is a constituent of what they are”? (443). Again, none of this is wrong, it’s just that it’s the professorial equivalent of a seventh grader turning the font white and adding “A A A A A A A A A A A” until their document reaches the desired word count.
Since “neither form nor matter alone constitute the essence of a material being” and “Because the essence of a thing must include all that is denoted in the definition of a thing, it must include both form and matter” (443). Translation: An apple is an apple because it is made of apple and structured like apple. This can be applied to humans: “the essence and definition of human beings must include both the specifically human form (which is the rational soul that is both the seat of the intellect and substantial form of the human being) and specifically human matter” (443). Translation: only a human is a human. Therefore, an alien is not a human.
Of course, Lazzari’s point is that even if aliens are smarticle like humans they aren’t human and can’t, therefore, be saved by human Jesus because his human-ness was essential to his saving specifically human ass. To recap:
Rational Soul + Human Stuff = Human
Rational Soul + Alien Stuff = Alien
Jesus = Human + God —> Jesus = (Rational Soul + Human Stuff) + God
As of now, it’s looking pretty good for the possibility of alien Jesus. If stuff-ness is necessary for God to save alien ass we’re gonna’ need:
Jesus = (Rational Soul + Alien Stuff) + God —> Jesus = Alien + God
Lazzari next notes that “It is here where the biological investigation of extraterrestrial species is crucial to our investigation” (443).
Lazzari next spends a couple of pages proving the immortality of alien souls on the basis that “if the soul of something is intelligent, it is immaterial and if it is immaterial, it is immortal” (444). Mr. Chubbles the cat does not have an immortal soul because he is not smarticle enough. Even though Mr. Chubbles has a soul, it’s not a rational soul. Thus, Mr. Chubbles, along with fruit flies and pizza, will merely disintegrate upon death.
The point of this is that Lazzari can demonstrate that a rational alien, supposing it exists, has to have an immortal soul. This is very important because Lazzari next tells us that its having an immortal soul entails nothing whatsoever about whether or not Admiral Ackbar was saved by Jesus. As Lazzari writes, “While the merits of His actions were infinite, they were applied to human beings because of His assumption of our human nature” (448). So what is at stake is being human not being immortal.
To be fair, it does sorta’ matter whether or not aliens have immortal souls because if they do, this means God will have to figure out something to do with them when they die even though they aren’t saved by Jesus. If they were like fruit-flies or pizza this wouldn’t matter cause those things don’t have rational souls. Or rather, they appear not to. How do we really know that a tiny fruit-fly isn’t judging the quality of your skin care when you swoosh it away from your arm? Why, in God all things are possible. The very armchair that stares forth in dead silence from the corner of your grandmother’s living room might very well be harboring some secret sentience that warrants it a seat on the eternal throne. Get it? A seat on a seat.
And it matters to soteriology that human nature is only human because: “The two aspects that are crucial for the soteriology of St. Thomas Aquinas are the restoration of the divine image in human nature as union with the divine nature and the satisfaction of the fault of the original sin on behalf of humanity” (449). Translation: God saved human ass and only human ass when he became human. As we know from the earlier proof, aliens aren’t human so the act of redeeming human ass does not apply to them. To save Admiral Ackbar, God-man redemption will, therefore, have to take place when God becomes a Mon Calamari.
Or He’ll have to save Mon Calamari ass in a different way–that is, if it needs saving. What do I mean by that? Is it possible that intelligent non-human life is auto-saved? Well, that all depends on if Mon Calamari have original sin. Not just sin.
Otherwise known as “being fallen.” That’s right. There are two different ways to do the naughty. There’s the kind of naughty that you do that affects just you cause you did it and requires you to get God’s forgiveness. For example, stealing an apple from the neighbor’s yard. Then there’s the kind of naughty that you do that affects literally every human ever because you virtually contained humanity when you did it. For example, stealing an apple from God’s garden. But only if you’re Adam and you virtually had every man within you.
Now, if you’re like me, then perhaps this is what comes to mind when you hear “virtually had every man within you”:
But that’s not what Lazzari means by it. What he means is that Adam fucked up human nature itself when he ate the apple after God put it in his garden and told Adam not to eat it. Personally, if I were God and I didn’t want my sims to eat an apple, I wouldn’t plant an apple tree in their yard, but if I did, I definitely wouldn’t have named it “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” I would have named it “the tree of the knowledge of other people’s judgments about you.”
As Lazzari tells us, one of the schools of alien soteriology argues that because Adam fucked up human nature, that doesn’t mean aliens got fucked up, which means they might not have original sin. Thus, if the Mon Calamari did get original sin, it would have to be because the first alien, let’s call him Xenu, who contained the entirety of the Mon Calamari virtually within him, didn’t take Admiral Ackbar’s advice and fucked up the Mon Calamari nature by eating the apple God placed on Mon Cala (“Gial Ackbar,” Wookiepedia).
On account of Xenu having given into wickedness, it would be fitting according to Thomistic soteriology that the restoration of the Mon Calamari image in Mon Calamari nature occur as union with the divine nature and the satisfaction of the fault of the original sin on behalf of the Mon Calamari proceed by the Passion of the Word become Mon Calamari incarnate. In other words,
Before we ensconce ourselves in the minute and subtle demonstrations Lazzari uses to get us to super Truth, here is a brief summary of the possibilities Lazzari outlines throughout the paper coupled with the status of alien Jesus in the said scenario:
1) Only humanity is fallen and the Mon Calamari are unfallen and never commit sins (boring AF). Even if this is the case, Lazzari has proven that they have immortal souls because they are smarticle (unlike Mr. Chubbles the cat, fruit-flies, pizza, and your grandmother’s armchair). This leaves us with the problem of what happens to the immortal souls of unfallen Mon Calamari that are without sin, such as whether or not they go to cloud-land. In this case…
2) Only humanity is fallen and the Mon Calamari are unfallen and some commit personal sins. Do the personal sinners go to fire-land and the others to cloud-land? Remember folks, Lazzari tells us that you can still be a sinner even if there is no original sin. Remember the earlier discussion about the difference between doing a naughty when you virtually contain all humanity (e.g. Adam eating from God’s garden) and doing a naughty when you don’t virtually contain all humanity (e.g. when you steal from your neighbor’s garden)? Only the first case fuck ups the entire nature of the species and is called original sin. The second case is just you being a dick–what Lazzari calls “personal sin.” Since it’s possible to commit personal sin without committing original sin and this distinction hinges on whether or not you virtually contain the entire species within you, we must discern what it means to virtually contain the entire species within you. We must also discern if all actions or just certain kinds of actions performed by a Mon Calamari who virtually contains the entirety of the Mon Calamari within him constitute original sin. So in this scenario alien Jesus is a solid….
3) Humanity fell on its own and the Mon Calamari fell on its own but the two events are independent of each other just as one old lady may knock a carton of eggs on the floor at Walmart on Tuesday and an old man knock a carton of eggs on the floor at Target on Thursday. Alien Jesus?
4) Because humanity fell, LITERALLY THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE WAS FUCKED (dude, I know this sounds epic but it totally rules out the need for alien Jesus so don’t root for it).
As my grandmother always said, “if you read too much you’re gonna’ go crazy” and “If you go to school too long you’re gonna’ get confused.” Only now do I realize her absolute wisdom. Also she said some racist shit about how Jews ran the banks and were also communists, forgetting apparently that Jesus was a Jew. After all, we all know that it’s the Mormons who run the banks and the kids of rich suburban WASPS that are the communists.
Read on to my next post and watch as Lazzari’s metaphysical demonstrations unfold super Truth before your very eyes.