Will Religion Survive the Discovery of Life in Space?

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.

Tags: astronomy, extraterrestrial, life

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That's about all we'd be good for Dr. Allan!

Perhaps, but they would not have to play nice for that either. If they view us as primitive, as we do other animals, they would not have to care how the study was done. Do we ask monkeys or labrats if they want to vivisected and studied? Why should they see or treat us any differently if we are below them?

I might see their interest if we share common traits, but if we were too different physiologically, our study would be of limited benefit for them beyond satisfying curiosity.

If the nonevidence believers leave earth to preach to the universe there will be more room for evidence based thinkers here on earth.

Yeah, but can you imagine the havoc they would bring to the galaxy?  It would be like the haciendas all over again if we let them.

I don't know your analogy of the hacienda. 

http://www.sandiegohistory.org/journal/78spring/labor.htm

Feel free to read up, but don't take the sugar coating they try to feed you.  They make it sound so nice.  "Natives were not irrevocably bound to missions until baptism".  Is that an apology for keeping them as slaves AFTER they were baptized?

And forget about the two years till baptism part.  I have read about other places where people were baptized, having no idea what was going on, and then because their "pagan" marriages weren't recognized by the Spanish, were forced to live in all male or all female dormitories away from their spouses.  Just sick.

We would probably be destroyed, as we could not have picked worse representatives for our race. The fundamentalists would make them think of us as little more than cattle... cattle too violent and hateful to be allowed to exist.

That does make sense, haha.  I certaintly would not want religious psychology to represent my own psychology.

Well, religion has survived the early great thinkers, the early astronomers, the Darwinists, dinosaur bones, modern telescopes, space travel, space probes, the computer age, etc.  I guess it can survive more but hopefully there is a limit.  One thing that gives me hope is that church attendance is down and young people are questioning everything.

This is an interesting question because at the current rate of discovery many of us may see this scenario play out in our lifetime. My guess is that religion will survive the initial discovery based on its track record of adaptability and become increasingly marginal thereafter. I think most people embrace religion because they are scared and lonely and have not found an alternative that meets their emotional needs.

social axiety from psychological perceptions of need, hmmm. 

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