Would ET Discovery Destroy Religion?

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Would ET Discovery Destroy Religion?

Post by Taxious » Tue Jan 13, 2009 3:11 pm

As far as I know, the more popular religions don't account for any type extraterrestrial involvement. If we discovered life on another planet, what kind of impact would it have on our religious beliefs?
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Re: Would ET Discovery Destroy Religion?

Post by Freecare Spiritwise » Tue Jan 13, 2009 3:36 pm

Damn, that's a good question.

What if we meet ET and he/she/it has radically different religious beliefs than us? Or even better, what if they've settled the matter? What if they believe in something like human sacrifice? That would suck for mankind...

We've formulated our own religious beliefs but in all likelyhood we're just a tiny dot in the universe. I'd really like to hear what an alien a billion times smarter has to say about the subject! Not just religion but philosophy in general.

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Re: Would ET Discovery Destroy Religion?

Post by Taxious » Tue Jan 13, 2009 3:44 pm

Freecare Spiritwise wrote:What if we meet ET and he/she/it has radically different religious beliefs than us? Or even better, what if they've settled the matter? What if they believe in something like human sacrifice? That would suck for mankind...

We've formulated our own religious beliefs but in all likelyhood we're just a tiny dot in the universe. I'd really like to hear what an alien a billion times smarter has to say about the subject! Not just religion but philosophy in general.
Discovering intelligent life would definitely be more interesting than finding something like bacteria. Even if the life we are hypothetically discovering isn't intelligent, I think it would still have a big impact on our religious views.
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Re: Would ET Discovery Destroy Religion?

Post by Select » Tue Jan 13, 2009 7:21 pm

I always hear about intelligent life being more advanced than us. What if they're not as advanced as us, which is why we find them first? I see religion trying to convert them and saying the lack of advancement meant they were "created" after humans.
What if they believe in something like human sacrifice? That would suck for mankind...
Human sacrifice as in as soon as they discover us they want to sacrifice some of us? I'm too worried about that :P
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Re: Would ET Discovery Destroy Religion?

Post by Kulaf » Tue Jan 13, 2009 7:25 pm

Would be sort of arrogant to believe that God created the entirety of the Universe and only put us in it.......wouldn't it?

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Re: Would ET Discovery Destroy Religion?

Post by Ariannda Kusanagi » Tue Jan 13, 2009 7:44 pm

Kulaf wrote:Would be sort of arrogant to believe that God created the entirety of the Universe and only put us in it.......wouldn't it?
Precisely !~ thats the problem however with religion that doesn't believe in anything other then human (as we know/currently define it) life.
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Re: Would ET Discovery Destroy Religion?

Post by Embar Angylwrath » Tue Jan 13, 2009 8:28 pm

Kulaf wrote:Would be sort of arrogant to believe that God created the entirety of the Universe and only put us in it.......wouldn't it?
Or proof that the God exists, since the chances (scientifically speaking) of non-sentient life evolving someplace else are pratically a certainty.

That said...

Given the VAST distances between solar systems, and the relative rarity of planets within those systems that could support carbon based life, the chances that we'll receive some kind of signal from some other world is pretty sparse, even if they do exist. Current thining is the universe is about 90 billion light years across. The earth has been around about 4.5 billion, and humans with the ability to receive radio communications from ET sites have been around for less than 100 years. Some of the closest stars are only about 4.5 LY away, but many of them are red dwarfs, incapable of producing energy in the form needed to sustain carbon based life.

As a side note, the reason life is supported on this planet is for 1 reason.

WATER

The planet must be in the orbital "sweet spot" (not too far, not too close) to ensure water can move rather freely among all its stages (solid, liquid, gas). Too close to the sun, it turns to gas. Too far, it turns to solid. Carbon-based life could not be supported without at least a vapor/liquid water phase sustaining planet. It could survive without the ice phase.

The rarity of that planetary composition and positioning would be very, very, rare. First, a solar system would have to contain medium sized orbital bodies in stable orbits that don't vary too far from the eclipitic. Then those bodies would have to have a certain amount of H2O, and THEN, the orbital body would have to be in a certain orbital length and duration that prevented the H2O from remaining in an ice phase, or remaining in a vapor phase.

Venus could be similar to earth if only it were a little farther out. Mars could be similar to earth if it had greater mass and was able to hold water vapor in its atmo.

So planets that could support life as we know it will be rather rare (as a porportion). So lets take a couple stabs at the math....

There are over 100 billion stars in our galaxy. Lets say 10% of those contain planetary bodies, and that of those systems that contain those bodies, lets say that only 1% of those contain a planet capable of sustaining carbon based life. That means that there are still 100,000,000 (100 million) planets that could suport life in our galaxy. The Milky Way galaxy is about 100,000 light years across. So all we would need that there is proof of ET life in our own galaxy is for one single planet to evolve life capable of sending a coherent radio signal, and for that signal to have started over 100,000 years ago.

Why haven't we heard somethng?
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Re: Would ET Discovery Destroy Religion?

Post by Ariannda Kusanagi » Tue Jan 13, 2009 8:36 pm

Maybe it is our technology that is too far behind to capture the signals that have been sent ?

Personally I believe given such reasons as the math Embar supplied us with, that the chances of us being the only intelligent life in the galaxy are slim to none. Maybe other intelligent life simply doesn't care, has deemed other intelligent life as not highly evolved enough, has not bothered to send a signal, or we simply haven't received it yet. I just feel it's a tragic waste of space, beauty and knowledge if we are the ONLY intelligent life anywhere.
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Re: Would ET Discovery Destroy Religion?

Post by Ddrak » Tue Jan 13, 2009 9:59 pm

It's as close to a mathematical certainty as you can get that there's other intelligent life in the universe. The real question is whether there's any way to contact them or create a meaningful dialog, which according to current physical theories is pretty grim.

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Re: Would ET Discovery Destroy Religion?

Post by Alluveal » Tue Jan 13, 2009 11:27 pm

I don't think it would change religion. Many Christians I talk to say that if life is found elsewhere (intelligent life,) that it's just all part of God's plan and we can't know his whole plan (or something similar.)

An interesting scenario would be this: if we contacted another intelligent race in the future, what would their "religions" look like?

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Re: Would ET Discovery Destroy Religion?

Post by Turaylon Soulshadow » Wed Jan 14, 2009 8:26 am

Ariannda Kusanagi wrote:Maybe it is our technology that is too far behind to capture the signals that have been sent ?

Personally I believe given such reasons as the math Embar supplied us with, that the chances of us being the only intelligent life in the galaxy are slim to none. Maybe other intelligent life simply doesn't care, has deemed other intelligent life as not highly evolved enough, has not bothered to send a signal, or we simply haven't received it yet. I just feel it's a tragic waste of space, beauty and knowledge if we are the ONLY intelligent life anywhere.
Everyone always thinks of beings from other planets as being super advanced with everything. What if they aren't? What if they can travel places, but still live in crude mud huts and fight with sticks?

Or maybe they are super advanced. Maybe their technology is so advanced they actually have made cloaking devices and are living in places like Mars, Venus, Mercury, etc and we just can't see them? Nothing said they ahd to be carbon based or need the same type of atmospheric conditions we need to survive.
I'd like to see things from your point of view but I can't get my head that far up my ass.

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Re: Would ET Discovery Destroy Religion?

Post by Ariannda Kusanagi » Wed Jan 14, 2009 8:42 am

Turalyon is correct. Ok so we're waiting on other intelligent life to catch up to our technology but our technology has come and gone. What about the era of the Egyptians and Mayans where they had technology that we still can't duplicate to this day ? Then the dark ages came of course and all was lost. Now thats not to say that maybe ancient cultures did or did not have contact with our beigns but it seems safe to say there's probably both kinds of intelligent life. However that theory gives headway to the idea of evolution versus the God theory to begin with now doesn't it ?
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Re: Would ET Discovery Destroy Religion?

Post by Baginns Hobbiton » Wed Jan 14, 2009 9:10 am

Hey there,

I don't think the discovery of extraterrestrial intelligent life would destroy religion at all. The thought that we must be alone in the universe is not exactly a biblical one and stems more from our own pride than anything else. Back in the 1500's it was common belief, supported by the church, that the earth was the center of the universe. After all, God created us in his image; the universe must revolve around us.

Eventually the evidence Copernicus published showing that the earth revolves around the sun was accepted by the church and became common belief. The bible never changed, just our interpretation of it. I think the same will be true if intelligent life is discovered. The church will be in shell shock for a while. People who had clumsy faith to begin with may decide that it somehow disproves God's existence. Religion will come to realize that it was just an assumption that we are alone, and the new knowledge will be integrated into our belief structure.

Of course, there would be some very tough questions. Do these other intelligent beings have souls? Is it now my job to share the gospel with them? Does it even apply? If tradition holds, we'll most likely go with the wrong answers... at least at first.
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Re: Would ET Discovery Destroy Religion?

Post by Ddrak » Wed Jan 14, 2009 9:12 am

ETs would give most religions a good shake-up, but not necessarily destroy them. If Jesus came to rescue us from our sins, what about the aliens? Why are we special and not them? The whole thing would create a theological shitstorm.

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Re: Would ET Discovery Destroy Religion?

Post by Kulaf » Wed Jan 14, 2009 9:32 am

Ariannda Kusanagi wrote:Turalyon is correct. Ok so we're waiting on other intelligent life to catch up to our technology but our technology has come and gone. What about the era of the Egyptians and Mayans where they had technology that we still can't duplicate to this day ? Then the dark ages came of course and all was lost. Now thats not to say that maybe ancient cultures did or did not have contact with our beigns but it seems safe to say there's probably both kinds of intelligent life. However that theory gives headway to the idea of evolution versus the God theory to begin with now doesn't it ?
Ok I gotta ask.....exactly what tech did the Egyptians and Mayans have that we can't duplicate?

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Re: Would ET Discovery Destroy Religion?

Post by Partha » Wed Jan 14, 2009 9:34 am

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Re: Would ET Discovery Destroy Religion?

Post by Arathena » Wed Jan 14, 2009 9:53 am

Ahh, the Drake equation.

The chance of contacting others without the development of FTL technology is rather depressingly low, and the outlook for FTL is kind of bleak.

However, I suspect the following for the major religions:

Eastern religions would not particularly change, though the mythology they are steeped in would probably shift around somewhat. As the central tenets are centered around the experience of life, the contact with new cultures is altering in that new experiences need to be dealt with - it is not a significant challenge to the central tenants of the religion. The literality of the creation myths is not particularly important.

Of the Abrahamic religions, which rely on the literal truth of their mythologies, expect the same response that they give to everything: massive splintering and schisming. Christianity, in particular, will have to grapple with the questions of the neccessity of grace and belief for the intelligent members of a species which is not accounted for in the Original sin. Is an alien made in the image of God? Do they have their own original sins? If not, is an alien being, made in the image of God, capable of sinning in a fashion that requires the grace given by the sacrifice of Christ? There will be ten million answers to these questions, and it should be ludicrous to watch Baptists try to prosetylize Klingons.

It is much more difficult to predict what an alien might think about God before meeting us. After all.. they're alien, and their views on the nature and purpose of reality will be shaped by their culture, which may have underpinnings in biological neccesities vastly different from ours.

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Re: Would ET Discovery Destroy Religion?

Post by Taxious » Wed Jan 14, 2009 10:09 am

Embar Angylwrath wrote:Why haven't we heard somethng?
That's quite the question and I wish we (as humans) could find an answer. I also wish I could do something to help bolster the scientific community right now other than using SETI@home (shameless promotion). It aggravates me when I think about how little funding science gets in our country compared to other departments - especially the military.

Personally, I'm excited to see travel plans to Europa sometime here soon.
Arathena wrote:it should be ludicrous to watch Baptists try to prosetylize Klingons.
rofl!
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Re: Would ET Discovery Destroy Religion?

Post by Klast Brell » Wed Jan 14, 2009 10:28 am

ET does not appear inthe bible. That would cause consternation for some, but others would adapt as they always have. Lots of things are not in the bible and people have adjusted their religious beleifs to make it "OK" and to make it work with the current world.

The germ theory of disease for instance. Disease was seen as a punishment for sin. There are several quotes in the bible that support this. The germ theory was not compatible with the bible. Indeed many people still believe that this is still true in the case of AIDS etc. When the germ theory was first coming out religious people freaked. But as the evidence piled up people eventually rationalized it as compatible with their religion.

Meteorology is another science that people eventually rationalized. God no longer makes the weather, etcept when he sends hurricanes to punish sinful New Orleans (see AIDS above).

Young earth creationists are phasing out as more and more people rationalize Evolution and plate tectonics in to compatibility with the bible.

I'm positive that if ET landed on planet earth there would be a strong reaction from the religious community. ET is not mentioned int eh bible. what's the closest thing in the bible to ET? Demons, the Antichrist, etc. If ET was hostile the religious would be comfortable in their beliefs that ET came from Satan. If ET was benign and friendly Religious people would eventually decide to rationalize it in to compatibility with the bible and even try to proselytize and "save" them.

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Re: Would ET Discovery Destroy Religion?

Post by Arathena » Wed Jan 14, 2009 10:36 am

Taxious wrote:
Embar Angylwrath wrote:Why haven't we heard somethng?
That's quite the question and I wish we (as humans) could find an answer. I also wish I could do something to help bolster the scientific community right now other than using SETI@home (shameless promotion). It aggravates me when I think about how little funding science gets in our country compared to other departments - especially the military.

Personally, I'm excited to see travel plans to Europa sometime here soon.



Remember that radio communication from another world will come in the form of a 'candy shell' around their civilization. They will broadcast for an unknown number of years, then broadcast will cease, with either the cessation of radio by collapse or replacement. It is entirely possible that the transmissions from our nearest neighbors stopped when we were still beating Neanderthals over the head with sticks, in one last staticy emission of nuclear flame.
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