A classic sf novel about a Jesuit whose faith is tested by aliens who, to his shock and horror, seem to get along perfectly well without religion. They must be a plant by Satan to make humans think that a society can function without religion!

While I normally don’t have trouble setting aside my atheism in order to sympathize with religious characters’ crises of faith, this particular dilemma struck me as so profoundly non-troubling and the conclusion he draws from it so remarkably stupid, that I ended up reading the book feeling morally and intellectually superior to the hero. That is not actually an enjoyable experience. Surely the Problem of the Righteous Heathen is one which an intellectual priest would have encountered before?

I'm not quite getting the "classic" nature of this, though the aliens are pretty cool. Was it that most sf didn't tackle religion at all other than via made-up alien religions?

View on Amazon: A Case of Conscience (Del Rey Impact)



The priest realizes that in fact, he was a moron, and the alien planet is actually the Garden of Eden, and his stupid Satan theory was directly responsible for introducing the Serpent. Back on Earth, mutant bees and juvenile delinquents kill most of his friends. The alien planet blows up. The priest feels guilty. The end!
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