by Justine Schmiesing
I am glad that a little footnote of mine could serve as the inspiration for such an interesting article by Michael Healy, who, in the last issue of the Concourse, defended in detail the probability of Tolkien’s Middle Earth.1 The intimate knowledge of Tolkien that Mr. Healy shared is fascinating, and unveils the complexity and genius of the great mind who introduced the world to Bilbo Baggins. However, I must persist in my original claim that the real existence of creatures like those created by Tolkien’s imagination is incompatible with our Faith.
At the end of his article, Mr. Healy readily admitted that he does not personally believe there are aliens or elves loosed in the cosmos, but he does not think that Catholic doctrine excludes the possibility of their existence, nor of their salvation through Christ if they were to exist. Truly I am with him in the proposal of expedient evangelization and catechesis of non-human sentient life forms, should we be introduced, but I remain unconvinced that anticipation of such an event is warranted.
I draw your attention to the unfortunate fact that by Adam’s sin all of creation fell from grace. According to St. Paul, “All of creation is in bondage to decay,” (Rom. 8:20). Obviously, “all of creation” extends beyond our earth and into the farthest recesses of the universe; therefore any planet where aliens could exist is also “in bondage to decay,” as is our own. A non-human sentient race, existing in our space and time,2 born without original sin would not be compatible with a fallen creation; a non-human sentient race born with original sin would not be just, for it is the race of men alone who brought the downfall of creation.
As this applies to Tolkien, I will concede that any of his characters springing directly from Adam and Eve (such as the pigmy hobbits) could exist as long as they retained their entire humanity. But any race that claimed separate origins, or mixed origins (such as elves or orcs) could not, precisely because there is evidence, as Mr. Healy sufficiently proved, to believe that Tolkien intended his Middle Earth to be our Earth in the distant past.
In light of the discussion on this topic, I would now like to modify my original footnote to read thus: “I regret to note my theory rules out the possibility of the real existence of most of the inhabitants of Tolkien’s Middle-Earth,”—but (again) I see no way around it.
Justine Schmiesing, Class of ‘94
- Perhaps it would be appropriate for Mr. Healy to invite me to accompany him to the Grand Concourse Restaurant in gratitude for my help in his winning the annual Concourse grand prize (see page 16). ↑
- ‘Our space and time’ would not include angels or other beings for whom God might choose to create another space and time.” ↑