Original sin and aliens

There’s no evidence yet of the existence of intelligent life beyond our planet.
But if any evidence was found in the future, how could Catholic theology reconcile it with the doctrine of original sin (wich is not optional for Catholics to believe, but is a dogma of faith)?
As it is understood, original sin is transmitted to all of Adam’s descendants (every human being ) by natural generation.
The definition of “man” in traditional Catholic (Scholastic) theology is “rational animal”.
By this definition, extraterrestrial intelligent living beings should be considered as humans in the order of creation.
But, since they originated from another planet, they couldn’t be biological descendants of Adam, so they couldn’t have inherited original sin by natural generation.
Also, the Bible puts a great emphasis on the sacrifice of Christ having a cosmic effect, so it seems improper (at least to me ) to think that there’s the possibility of the existence of human beings who may have not contracted the original sin, even because, if it was the case, aliens would be incapable of sinning.
What do you think?

Best discussion I’ve heard on this topic:


1 Like

Just some random thoughts:

I think that your definitions need updating.

Keep “Human” as “descendant of Adam (and Eve)”.
Use “Person” instead of “man” for rational being and drop the animal part, so it can include the Persons of the Trinity and Angels, as well as other extraterrestrial intelligences (which may or may not be animal in nature).

In that case, all Humans are Persons, but not all Persons are Human, and Original Sin is a major determinant of Humanness.

Non sequitur. Adam and Eve were capable of sinning even without originally being subject to Original Sin.

1 Like

If you have not done so, you might want to read C.S. Lewis’s book, Perelandra, in which he spends time exploring this topic and does so quite well.


This leaves a difficulty. If humans are just descendants of Adam and Eve and original sin is a major determinant of Humanness, what was the difference in nature between men and other rational beings in the original plan for creation (in wich original sin wasn’t present )?

What I meant is that, without original sin, they would never actually sin, even if they have the real capacity to do so (just like Mary )

I’ll search it, thanks!

I don’t see it as a difficulty per se. I do see it as above my pay grade. If you want to know the details of the original plan (which is in fact how it is all turning out, so on what basis do you say it wasn’t part of the plan from the beginning?) you would have to get them from the Planner. Now that could be a difficulty…

Again, non sequitur. Adam and Eve sinned without having Original Sin, why couldn’t any random extraterrestrial intelligence?

Their first sin would be their original sin. If they have no original sin, it means no one of them has sinned yet.

But that is not the way you stated it in the OP:

This just states that they didn’t inherit Adam and Eve’s original sin, not that they didn’t manufacture one of their own.

But, if there’s more than one original sin, would Christ’s sacrifice be for all of them or just for Adam and Eve’s one? If the latter was the case, would Christ have to repeat His Incarnation and sacrifice on every inhabited planet?

This, too, falls under “above my pay grade”. But since Christ is God and the Creator of all, I would say that it at least could include any species He wanted it to.

Aliens would be their own thing. Our Church and covenant is regarding the redemption and restoration of the descendants of Adam and Eve. Jesus Christ was born into and restored that specific nature.

If aliens are not the descendants of Adam and Eve our sacraments wouldn’t work on them, whether they had their own original sin or not. We could encourage them to offer worship to God as any rational being should, but they wouldn’t exactly be incorporated into the Church or the new covenant.


Excellent suggestion…

Well, some intelligent persons are angels : spiritual, non-corporeal beings.

Since the grace to remain free from sin is a gift given to angels and Adam and Eve, it is logical to conclude that intelligent persons would sin without it.


Creation has human beings at its center as its masterpiece.

If there were alien life, the issue would simply not arise. Perhaps original sin wouldn’t be something they need to concern themselves with, or perhaps they have souls but not rational souls.

In 2014 the Pope stated that we would baptize alien life if found. One of the few benefits of having a pope who speaks off the cuff is topics like this are addressed. Though one might argue there are more pressing matters.
In short, yes, the aliens would have original sin if we baptized them.

How would have they contracted it?

I wouldn’t take off the cuff answers as representative of doctrine, particularly on very nuanced and somewhat unexplored topics as this.


Dont know. And it doesnt matter. There are no known rational beings with bodies outside of earth. But the Pope addressed it. I guess one could ask him.

The exploration of the topic (what little there is) was addressed by the Pope. So if it is theological answers to these important questions you seek. Point to something other than what the Pope said that is directly on point.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.