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Preach to the choir
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Crux of the matter
Speak of the devil
An act of faith
Just as there is a multiplicity of creatures on Earth, so there could be other beings created by God [beyond it].
—José Gabriel Funes, Vatican astronomer[1]

Exotheology is a branch of religious study that concerns itself with the potential impact on earthly religions and theologies of the discovery of life or intelligence elsewhere in the universe.

As with the development of most science, such discoveries would in all likelihood overturn at least some notions or dogmas held by religions, especially fundamentalist ones. This in turn would lead to fierce opposition to the evidence of such life, and political battles over funding of research and the nature of how we would teach about our discoveries.

There are also bound to be religious orders that have no problem encompassing any such scientific breakthroughs, just as we have seen with other advances and their acceptance by some churches or religious people. An example is the Roman Catholic Church, which announced in May 2008 that "Aliens are My Brother". True. The Vatican also speculated that some aliens may have avoided original sin.[2][3]


Speculative fiction (a euphemism for science fiction, of course) often plays about with the concept of exotheology. Carl Sagan's Contact (both the novel and film) questions what effect alien contact would have on the human population. Particularly the selection process of who should make first contact with an alien species becomes a conflict between science and religion and which view should be primarily put forward. In a more negative sense, it also depicts religious fundamentalists destroying the multi-billion dollar "machine" that the aliens had the human race build in order to make contact — sadly a quite probable scenario.

Another example of science fiction to touch on exotheology are Orson Scott Card's Ender series, specifically in Speaker for the Dead, Xenocide, and Children of the Mind. In these books, a race of sapient aliens, having initially rejected the gift of a copy of the Bible, is exposed to Catholic missionaries after partially integrating into human civilization, with mixed results. Parts of the plot explore the implications of human- and Christian-specific concepts like human exceptionalism and original sin as applied to species for which they are clearly unsuited, as well as the short history The Star by Arthur C. Clarke, in which a Catholic priest who forms part of a space mission suffers a strong hit to his faith upon learning the Star of Bethlehem from the Gospel stories was caused by a star going supernova which destroyed an entire alien species on a planet orbiting it. He questions how an all-loving God could do this to show Jesus would be born.

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