As you may know, astronomers for several decades have been finding planets outside of our own solar system. The total number found so far is, I believe, over 400.
For reasons having to do with the discovery process, most of those are very large planets. Also, most of them are too close or too far from their suns to be able to have liquid water, which is believed to be vital to the existence of life. Therefore, so far there haven't been any earth-like planets found where life could exist (according to our understanding of how life can form and even exist). But even within our own solar system, some of the moons of Saturn or Jupiter might be able to support life.
In any event, it is probably only a matter of time before planets similar to our own Earth are found. Of course that does not mean that they will be found to have life, let alone intelligent or highly evolved life.
But also, astronomers have been speculating about intelligent life outside of our own earth for a long time; and the famous, late Carl Sagan in fact proposed a formula for calculating the likelihood of extraterrestrial life given the enormous number of galaxies, each with many stars, and many stars no doubt having planets.
So if you want to believe the speculation and calculation, they're out there--though we have not yet contacted them. (Some people of course believe they have visited us.)
Well, if we do ever confirm the existence of creatures like ourselves (or not) elsewhere in the universe, that will pose a problem for religion. Christianity holds that God sent his Son to Earth. Did God send the same son--or anyone else that he progenerated--to other planets? If not, why was Earth singled out? Can we assume that somehow Earth is special in God's sight and was singled out for the blessing of having His Son sent to us?
So the eventual discovery or confirmation of life elsewhere should, in principle, pose a problem for religion--at least for Christianity. But you know what? I think it will survive. Some sci-fi writers have even speculated that Christianity will simply send missionaries and export its religion throughout the universe, just as it did all over the Earth.
I agree with all the responses so far. The nuts will find a way to make it fit. Years ago, when my now 18 year old son was about 11, he had a homeschool science class at the local museum with a child whose parents are very xtian. They were talking about life on other planets, and this kid said he KNEW there wasn't, that's it's just us. My son and another child argued that he couldn't know that, but this kid just smugly said he KNEW it was just us. That's why HIS mother shouldn't have been homeschooling him, LOL. At least she let him go to the science classes at the museum. When he went home she probably undid all the learning. Ugh.
Religion will not survive onslot from life on earth let alone discovery of life in space. Real danger to it is from humen scientific method of attaining knowledge which don't accept any thing true without testing.
As a matter of fact if religious beliefs had something to do with the logic and reasoning, there is enough on the earth to shake them. And to an ilogical, emotional believer life in space dosn't make much difference. They will take it to glorify their gods.
Yes, only changing religions survive.
Buddhism, for instance, will probably do just fine. The Dalai Lama XIV wrote in one of his books that “If scientific analysis were conclusively to demonstrate certain claims in Buddhism to be false, then we must accept the findings of science and abandon those claims.”
There are many others which will do just fine. I'm sure that many Atheists here have experienced how Theists will backpedal until their arguments are immune to logic even if that means that they also produce powerless god concepts.
Religion, spirituality and mystic thinking will survive for quite a while. It would require a much more radical shift in the human social climate for all of it to go extinct.
Thinking in this way it would be intresting to anticipate how religions will change with progress in humen knowledge inspite of discussing if they will survive or not?
I often think that in many cases practically people are athiests like us. For instance in a case of infection every one knows that antibiotic is the solution, no one believes Quranic or verses from Bible will provide the cure.
Will all the religions after gradual change one day end up in athieism?
No not everyone knows. People have gone to court for praying for their children rather than giving them medical attention.
Raëlian also believe in space aliens. And Scientologists. Then there's the Heaven's Gate folks who all killed themselves.
Raëlians are kind of cool. Weird, but cool.
Yeah, sort of, except that at its heart, Raëlianism is more than anything a net to catch sexy young Japanese girls for the pleasure of the prophet Rael. Not that different from Mormonism in that way.... and Mormons also believe in aliens. ;)
Now you've gone and ruined my misconceptions with reality! Damn! I guess I won't go Raëlian now.
Well, there is nothing I can find in any version of the Bible that precludes alien life.
The Book of Genesis specifically addresses Earth, but does not mention other places. Actually, the spin shouldn't be too hard for churches. The real issue is for so many years they have pumped up humankind as God's favourites, yet there is nothing in the Bible that says that, nor that God didn't choose to run other experiments (possibly more successful) elsewhere.