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.

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I think the religious can wrangle and twist their "story", regardless of what evidence is presented.


Way back in the 70s, catholics wanted to start preparing priests for space travel so they could spread the "good" news in case the astronauts ran into aliens.  Crazy stuff.

I'm with the good doctor, here. If religion could survive the rise of humanism, democracy, and modern science, it will survive finding life off Earth. Just like previous survival strategies, there will probably be a combination of denial and revisionism lasting just long enough to pretend it was never contrary to religious belief at all. It has worked for over 500 years. It does appear to be growing thin, thank "god", but I expect it has a few more centuries before it falls through completely.

There appears to be no expiration date on BS.

I've often wondered what would happen as well. I once said to a co-worker, knowing full well he was a devout christian, "our only hope is to get off the planet". Being the first time I'd ever done that, I assumed it would throw him for a loop. Nope, he just went on his way as if we were talking about "other" people who are making our lives miserable. I was the one thrown for a loop. It really hadn't occurred to me that some people think christianity, or any other religion, would be able to survive when we moved off-world. I think they'll just rationalize it. In fact, we should look forward to future new sects, similar to LDS, that will find new scriptures to retread the old ones.

I was really disappointed. I was hoping for a silver bullet, stake through the heart, stubbed toe, something...sigghhh.

Can you imagine praying towards Mecca from Titan?  Ha!  I am 100% sure it would happen, though.

Speaking of which, have there ever been any observant Muslim astronauts?  I wonder how they got through that issue.

It's amazing how mormonism survived with no apparent setback when we visited the moon, given the fact that the first two "prophets" said there were people living on the moon.

Don't mormons teach that there are many planets and they come from the planet Cobol or something?  Or is that Battlestar Galactica?

Hehe.  Close.  There are many gods, each with his own planet.  Our god lives on a planet nearest to the star Colob.

Another interesting fact: The 2nd prophet Brigham Young said there are people living on the sun.

Nice and toasty for winter retreat!  

I just noticed how, if you drop the second m in mormonism, you get moronism. Maybe a better name for them. . .

Actually, regardless of the improbability--no, make that absurdity--of so much of what they believe, I hate them because they're anti-gay and spent millions of dollars to help pass Proposition 8 in California, which repealed gay marriage.

Yes, that's just one of the ways they try to control peoples sex lives, creating huge amounts of guilt and disfunctionality. 

It is my hope that when when we do make contact with ET, we find out that they are similar to us wrt religion except for one thing - that their entire population is made up of beings that are split between atheism or a single religious belief system. Imagine how the representatives of the numerous religions here on earth would react to an entire species that can agree on a single form of religion, and how embarrassed these reps would be about the chaos and disorganization that they are a part of here on our planet. I imagine that if that were the case, then that planet would know a level of peace that this one has never known - until they found us, anyways. They would probably see the chaos we have brought upon ourselves and decide that we should be put out of our misery before we try to spread it on to them.

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.




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