In 1958, a peculiar novel was published under the title, A Case of Conscience, by James Blish. In the story, a Jesuit priest named Father Ruiz-Sanchez and a team of scientists travel to a newly discovered planet dubbed “Lithia” to study the Lithians who live there. Unknown to the science team, the Vatican secretly advises the Catholic father to investigate whether the aliens have redeemable souls. What he finds in the Lithians are intelligent creatures whose morality fits perfectly with Christianity but who are devoid of any concept of religion or God. This dilemma grows, and soon the priest is invited to visit with a Lithian family. He writes:
Here was the first chance, at long last, to see something of the private life of Lithia, and through that, perhaps, to gain some inkling of the moral life, the role in which God had cast the Lithians in the ancient drama of good and evil, in the past and in the times to come. Until that was known, the Lithians in their Eden might be only spuriously good: all reason, all organic thinking machines, ULTIMACs with tails and without souls.[i]
Now I will not spoil the ending of that book—which includes the Jesuits (described as “the cerebral cortex of the Church”) dealing with the knotty moral, theological, and organizational issues surrounding a papal proclamation and the seed of Satan—for those who want to read the novel. However, it is important to note that the fictional Father Ruiz-Sanchez warns the Vatican to classify Lithia as X-1—a planet to be forever quarantined from Earth and humans due to its potential for great deception.
“What we have here on Lithia is very clear indeed. We have—and now I’m prepared to be blunt—a planet and a people propped up by the Ultimate Enemy. It is a gigantic trap prepared for all of us—for every man on Earth and off it. We can do nothing with it but reject it, nothing but say to it, Retro me, Sathanas. If we compromise with it in any way, we are damned.”[ii]
When Ruiz-Sanchez uses the phrase, “Retro me, Sathanas,” he is annunciating the medieval Catholic formula for exorcism, “Vade retro Sathanas” (“Go back, Satan”), a clear reckoning that the aliens on Lithia are part of a satanic plot to be avoided at all costs, an astro-theological conspiracy designed to mislead mankind. He eventually convinces the pope (Pope Hadrian in the story) of the satanic stratagem, but, ironically, he is unable to convince all of the Church’s theologians. Now, did the author of A Case of Conscience foresee how such great deception would eventually be embraced by the Vatican as a result of some of Rome’s celebrated scholars and astronomers? When science-fiction writer Jo Walton asked real-life Jesuit Brother Guy Consolmagno—who I also interviewed from Rome—what he made of these issues posed by Blish in his novel, Consolmagno admitted that the Jesuits are: 1) the strongest advocates of “inculturation” (allowing alien cultures to maintain their paganism while modifying expressions of Christian ideas within those beliefs); 2) accepting of “alien cultures for who they are”; and 3) willing to adapt alien “religious practices into a form and a language that can be accepted.”[iii] So, if Brother Consolmagno had been on Lithia, Walton concluded, we’d already be in contact with aliens “and finding out as much as we could about them.”[iv]
From what I have seen, Walton may not have to wait much longer for contact, which raises a hidden aspect of A Case of Conscience involving wordplay around the term “Lithia.” While Blish makes an obvious connection to the name of the planet and its inhabitants as reflecting the abundance of “Lithium” ore on the alien world (ore that could be mined and exploited for use in making nuclear weapons), mention of the goddess I-Lithia or “Ilithyia” is strangely missing from his work. This stands out as possibly a secret code in the book that specifically relates to the deductions of Father Ruiz-Sanchez and the “seed of Satan” being debated by the Church back on Earth according to the story line. If the similarity between Lithia and the goddess Ilithyia is coincidental, it is extraordinary, as it was the job of this goddess in antiquity to protect the very “seed of the serpent” that in turn generates the birth of the “serpent child” and future “serpent-savior.” So important was the goddess Ilithyia’s role in ancient days as the preserver of this serpent seed toward the birth of the serpent-savior that shrines were erected to her by cult followers across Greece (including at Athens, Megara, Korinthos, Argos, Mycenae, Sparta, etc.) in which terra-cotta figures of immortal nurses were depicted watching over the divine children in whom the bloodline would survive. For example, on the mainland at Olympia, a shrine dedicated to Ilithyia was witnessed by traveler and second-century geographer, Pausanias, in which a small inner chamber sacred to the serpent-savior hosted a virgin-priestess who “cared for a serpent that was fed on honeyed barley-cakes and water.”[v] The shrine memorialized the appearance of a Marian-like woman with a babe in her arms who, “at a crucial moment when Elians were threatened by forces from Arcadia,” was placed on the ground between the contending forces and changed into a terrifying serpent, “driving the Arcadians away in flight, before it disappeared into the hill.”[vi]
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Interestingly, the myth of Ilithyia is also connected in ancient history with the birth of Apollo, whose coming as “the promised seed” formed the novus ordo seclorum prophecy of the Great Seal of the United States. This “messiah” who returns to rule the Earth in the latter days is also described (by the same name) in the book of 2 Thessalonians as the Antichrist who becomes the progeny or incarnation of the ancient seed (or spirit) of Apollo. The warning in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 reads: “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition [Apoleia; Apollyon, Apollo]”. Revelation 17:8 also directly ties the coming of Antichrist with the seed of Apollo, revealing that the Beast shall ascend from the bottomless pit and enter him: “The Beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the Bottomless Pit, and go into perdition [Apoleia, Apollo]: and they that dwell on the Earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the Beast that was, and is not, and yet is”.
These verses elucidate a very important and central eschatological issue concerning how all of the Bible is really a story about the ancient and future struggle between the “seed” of the woman (Jesus) and that of the serpent. Genesis 3:15 says, “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed [zera, meaning “offspring,” “descendents,” or “children”] and her seed.” Besides the pre-preaching of the Gospel of Christ in this verse (known in theology as the protoevangelium), another incredible tenet emerges here that Satan has “seed” and it is at enmity (hostility, hatred, antagonism) with Christ.
I believe an example of Satan’s hostile seed can be found in Genesis chapter 6, where fallen angels mingled with humans and produced Nephilim. More importantly, Church leaders including Roman Catholics from the Middle Ages forward believed the Antichrist would be spawned of this demonic seed. Which makes it curious how now some of the highest Vatican authorities are contending the extraterrestrials might actually express the glory of God better than we humans do, even leading mankind to venerate them as gods, a recurrent theme articulated among numerous Jesuit astronomers. For example Father Daniel C. Raible thought the acceptance of aliens as objects of worship might naturally occur as a result of them having godlike qualities and preternatural gifts ascribed by humans to divinity:
For example, they might enjoy infused knowledge (they would literally be born with extensive knowledge and would find the acquisition of further knowledge easy and enjoyable); they might be blessed with harmony and concord in the working of their bodily and spiritual faculties; they might be spared the ultimate dissolution of death, passing to their reward at the end of their time of trial as peacefully as the sun sinks below the horizon at the end of the day. They might possess all these preternatural gifts or only some of them in any of various combinations that are limited only by the omnipotence and providence of God.[vii]
Father Domenico Grasso not only thought such beings would be “far ahead of us in science and related fields,”[viii] but that their version of salvation might be based on a savior other than Jesus…even a messianic member of their own race. These beings, closer to God than man (perhaps even unfallen), would possess superior theology that could “expand markedly” our terrestrial understanding of redemption and knowledge of God, something current Vatican theologians such as professor of fundamental theology Giuseppe Tanzella-Nitti agree with. Another Church scholar, Father Thomas F. O’Meara, a theologian at the University of Notre Dame, imagined these godlike beings spread out across universes “on untold planets called to a special relationship with God” and that “it is a mistake to think that our understanding of ‘covenant,’ the ‘reign of God,’ ‘redemption,’ or ‘shared life’ exhausts the modes by which divine power shares something of its infinite life.”[ix] Such Catholic leaders believe these spiritually superior aliens may even have been created by God with the future redemption of humanity in mind—beings who know their place in the eternal scheme of things to evangelize humans when the time is right. This disturbing and potentially prophetic belief is partially based on theological arguments made during the 1800s by such men as Monsignor Januaris De Concilio, professor of theology at Immaculate Seminary in New Jersey, who believed “that the immense distance in intellect between human beings and the angels suggest that God would create intermediate species to fill in the gap, and these species would be ETI [Extraterrestrial Intelligence].”[x] Monsignor Corrado Balducci (who during his life was the official mouthpiece of the Roman Catholic Church concerning the reality of aliens) agreed with De Concilio, saying, “It is entirely credible that in the enormous distance between Angels and humans, there could be found some middle stage—that is, beings with a body like ours but more elevated spiritually.”[xi] When imagining how this issue could finally be settled, Paul Thigpen for The Catholic Answer section of Our Sunday Visitor resolved that “nothing short of a public, thoroughly documented encounter between earthlings and aliens (or their relics) will be conclusive.”[xii] According to the Quran, the primary religious text of Islam, this encounter may happen sooner than most suspect and at a specific and hidden time that God Himself has already chosen. In Revelation, Rationality, Knowledge & Truth, Muslim scholar Mirza Tahir Ahmad quotes verse 42:30 of the Quran, which says, “And among His Signs is the Creation of the heavens and the earth, and of whatever living creatures [da’bbah] He has spread forth in both.… And He has the power to gather them together [jam-’i-him] when He will so please” (emphasis added).[xiii] Ahmad says of this:
Jam-’i-him is the Arabic expression in this verse which specifically speaks of bringing together of life on earth and the life elsewhere. When this meeting of the two will take place is not specified, nor is it mentioned whether it will happen here on earth or elsewhere. One thing however, is definitely stated: this event will most certainly come to pass whenever God so desires. It should be kept in mind that the word jama’ can imply either a physical contact or a contact through communication. Only the future will tell how and when this contact will take place, but the very fact that more than fourteen hundred years ago such a possibility was even predicted is miraculous in itself.[xiv]
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Furthermore, the expectation that aliens are headed our way extends to the nonreligious worldview as well. Lewis White Black, a philosopher at the University of Rochester, writes, “I believe even responsible scientific speculation and expensive technology of space exploration in search of other life are the peculiarly modern equivalent of angelology and Utopia or demonology and apocalypse.”[xv] Black then adds, “Exobiology recapitulates eschatology. The eschatological hope of help from heaven revives when the heavens of modern astronomy replace the Heaven of religion. That we can learn from more advanced societies in the skies the secret of survival is the eschatological hope which motivates, or at least is used to justify, the work of exobiologists.”[xvi] This applies broadly to other spiritualities as well. For instance, the founder of analytical psychology, Carl Jung, wrote concerning ET belief: “In addition to their obviously superior technology they are credited with the superior wisdom and moral goodness which would, on the other hand, enable them to save humanity.”[xvii] Speaking of the UFO as an archetype, Jung describes its messianic qualities as creating “the image of the divine-human personality, the Primordial Man or Anthropos, a chen-yen (true or whole man), and Elijah who calls down fire from heaven, rises up to heaven in a fiery chariot, and is a forerunner of the Messiah, the dogmatized figure of Christ, as well as of Khidir, the Verdant one, who is a parallel to Elijah: like him, he wanders over the earth as a human personification of Allah.”[xviii]
Thus a belief in “godly” aliens that will ultimately come in contact with man has wide interfaith acceptance among secularists, spiritualists, and the world’s largest religions, who seem ready and even excited about embracing their Official Disclosure moment—something I believe holds dangerous and deceptive end-times ramifications that may manifest sooner than most imagine.
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[i] James Blish, A Case of Conscience (New York, NY: Ballantine Books, 1958), 26.
[ii] Ibid., 92.
[iii] Jo Walton, “Aliens and Jesuits: James Blish’s A Case of Conscience,” TOR, November 29, 2010, http://www.tor.com/blogs/2010/11/aliens-and-jesuits-james-blishs-a-case-of-conscience.
[vii] Daniel C. Raible, “Rational Life in Outer Space?” America: A Catholic Review of the Week, vol. 103,
[viii] “Missionaries to Space,” Newsweek Magazine, February 1960, 90.
[ix] Thomas F. O’Meara, “Christian Theology and Extraterrestrial Intelligent Life,” Theological Studies 60 (1999): 23–24.
[x] Paul Thigpen, “Life on Other Planets: Are Catholics Free to Debate the Issue?” Our Sunday Visitor, November 1, 2010, http://www.osv.com/tabid/7631/itemid/7002/Life-on-Other-Planets.aspx.
[xii] Paul Thigpen, “Life on Other Planets,” http://www.osv.com/tabid/7631/itemid/7002/Life-on-Other-Planets.aspx.
[xv] Lewis White Black, “Extraterrestrial Intelligent Life,” as quoted in: E. Regis, Extraterrestrials (London: Cambridge University Press, 1987), 13.
[xvi] Ibid., 13–14.
[xvii] C. G. Jung, Flying Saucers (New York, NY: MJF Books, 1997), 11.
[xviii] Ibid., 21–22.