Orthodox Christianity on Extra-Terrestrial Life

  1. Lemma
  2. Православие о внеземной жизни
  3. Russian
  4. Asliturk, Miriam
  5. Orthodox theological tradition and practice > Cult and spirituality - Natural and the supernatural
  6. 20-08-2018
  7. Трибушный, Дмитрий [Author]. Православие о внеземной жизни
  8. Православная энциклопедия «Азбука веры»
  9. extra-terrestrial life - Russian Orthodox Church - aliens - occultism
  10. Click Here
    1. <p>Трибушный, Дмитрий (2004). Православие о внеземной жизни. <em>Православная энциклопедия «Азбука веры»</em>. Retrieved from: <a href="https://azbyka.ru/pravoslavie-o-vnezemnoj-zhizni">https://azbyka.ru/pravoslavie-o-vnezemnoj-zhizni</a> </p>
    1. This is a discussion with the Foma Orthodox magazine chief editor Vladimir Legoyda, deputy editor Vladimir Gurbolikov, and literary editor Vitaly Kaplan, as well as deacon Mikhail Pershin, scholar of religion Yury Maksimov and journalist Sergei Vareykin. They are trying to determine if it is appropriate to believe in extra-terrestrial life for Orthodox believers and if this issue hampers non-believers from joining the Church. In other words, can one believe in extra-terrestrial life and God at the same time?

      Kaplan argues that young people want to have the right to believe in extra-terrestrial life because this theme is central in science fiction and popular culture. He points out that the popular misperception creates a false dichotomy: either one can believe in aliens or in God, the latter meaning that he/she cannot believe in extra-terrestrial life. A young person is frightened off from the Church, believing that Church wants to take away his/her freedom to believe in alien life. The problem itself is false because in the Middle Ages Christians believed in the existence of exotic animals in faraway lands, such as centaurs, and this did not affect their faith.

      Fr. Pershin thinks that the problem comes from the perception of life on Earth as an accident. When the Earth is no longer seen as the centre of the universe, people feel lonely and want to believe that there are other forms of life out there. When one believes in God though, there is no feeling of loneliness or lack of security.

      Currently there is no official stance of the Church on the topic because the problem is not viewed as very important. The Russian Orthodox Church does not face a specific heresy on extra-terrestrial life. The Bible and Early Church did not say anything about it. It was only at the end of the 19th century that Russian Orthodox Church leaders started giving their opinion on the subject. Nikolay Yaponsky (1836-1912), John of Kronstadt (1829-1909), Luka Voyno-Yasenetsky (1877-1961) did allow for the possibility of extra-terrestrial life. However, they stressed the applicability of God’s laws in the entire universe. They also spoke of the Earth as a unique place where God descended as Jesus to save people. Patriarch Aleksy II (1929-2008) also emphasized that God could not appear twice on different planets and it was on Earth that Jesus was born.

      Fr. Pershin speaks of spiritual and material life. According to him, it is science that should answer the question of life on other planets. The problem would be if there were other worlds without passions, sins, and mortal life. This would bring a contradiction into the Russian Orthodox Church’s doctrine. The idea of primordial sin supposes that if there are other worlds they also live with death and sins and need salvation. Therefore we should preach there too, to save them. We also should be firm in our perception that the human is the crown of creation.

      Legoyda warns against anthropothizing God, trying to explain the creation in terms of a modern scientific experiment and seeing God as a super scientist. He believes that there should be room for mystery as people cannot answer all questions regarding God’s creations. People start wondering about extra-terrestrial life out of boredom and a desire for adventure and mystery. Fantasies about aliens become a substitute for God. This brings dangerous occult beliefs or the desire to contact UFOs that would lead to salvation.