Home » Intelligent Design » Take This Survey: If SETI found ET, would that destroy your faith?

Take This Survey: If SETI found ET, would that destroy your faith?

What difference would a real live ET make to your faith (whatever it is?)

Ted Peters, a researcher in the field of science and religion and author of SCIENCE, THEOLOGY, AND ETHICS (Ashgate 2003), is conducting a survey. The central question is this: Would contact with extraterrestrial intelligent life affect religion on earth? Would you be wiling to participate? The questionnaire is very brief and would take only 5 minutes to fill out. Although we will tabulate the data anonymously and will take every step to maintain confidentiality, please note we cannot guarantee full confidentiality when receiving email responses. Thank you. Ted Peters, Principle Investigator, is professor of systematic theology at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, the Graduate Union, and the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences. Julie Froehlig, Research Assistant, is a student at PLTS.

I found the survey questions interesting, but I couldn’t really answer most of them decisively.

For example, I have no idea what the religious opinions of an extraterrestrial would be. It would be just my luck to run into a hopelessly conflicted alien who believes that space travel is sinful … but it feels so good anyway that he just can’t … and so his shrink says … (O’Leary yawns and switches off tape … )

Go vote at Survey Monkey. You can leave comments too.

Also, just up at the Overwhelming Evidence blog:

Prof thinks profs’ intellectual sneers at public are not great TV, and he sure is right

Check your calendar … is it still Orwell’s 1984 where you live?

Science teacher symposium: Answer student questions without getting sued or fired

In some ways, bonobos (pygmy chimps) are more similar to humans than to other chimps

How fares the Expelled film? Still No. 5 – and who’s ahead of it anyway?

David Attenborough, 81, to make one last film – on evolution

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56 Responses to Take This Survey: If SETI found ET, would that destroy your faith?

  1. Well, one headline today was that the Vatican (or at least a major Vatican official) said it’s not a sin to believe in aliens. So it’s less an issue to at least one large segment of Christianity.

  2. But, nullasalus, it IS a sin to let an alien finish any sentence that begins with “My therapist thinks that I might be … ” Wilful death by boredom is a form of suicide.

  3. 3
    JunkyardTornado

    I could quote a lot of verses from Revelation here that talk about extra-terrestrials, but one never knows if that’s acceptable or not.

  4. JT, I think it is more a matter of whether it is relevant or not.

  5. Here are the comments I left at the end of the survey:

    The existence or nonexistence of intelligent aliens is not necessarily a threat to the Christian Faith, although it does present difficulties. Scripture teaches that the original man (defined as a rational animal: a creature possessing intelligence, being made in the image of God) rebelled against God and was expelled from paradise, thereby becoming subject to death. His original sin is passed on to his posterity through normal generation; i.e procreation. Thus, all men descend from a common ancestor, and either alien beings must be descendents of earthbound men, or we of them, and all must be subject to death.

    As regards Christ, his death and resurrection were universally salvific. It must apply equally to alien beings and to us. However, just as here on earth knowledge of the Good News was not known immediately everywhere but was spread gradually throughout the world via evangelization, so there’s no particular difficulty presented by the fact that the event didn’t occur on the alien planet and wasn’t immediately known to them. (I disregard scenarios involving multiple Christs, bilocation, etc. as either flatly impossible or highly unlikely depending on the scenario.)

    As for the likelihood of finding alien intelligences: the probability approaches zero. While there are ways to cram the Christian faith into the lunatic box of Saganism, as I’ve suggested, there is in reality no evidence whatsoever (period; none; zero; zilch), either Scriptural or scientific, that any living creature exists in the universe besides the ones here on earth. That they do exist is nothing but a superstitious hope based on the materialist faith of modern scientists.

    P.S. Asking a person of one religion to evaluate the intellectual effects of extraterrestrials on all religions is ridiculous and, frankly, stupid. In the first place, how would I know how that would affect Zoroastrian doctrine? Second, and more importantly, different religions are by definition based upon different principles and beliefs. Who is so stupid that they don’t understand that this means there are likely to be as many answers to your questions as there are religions? In the hope that your purpose in asking is other than what it appears, I will refrain from offering the obvious answer.

    Also, a survey like this seems worthless except as a polemical instrument. Without taking into account the reasons why a respondent answers the way he does, any data you collect must be essentially meaningless. Just to take one example, if I reply that I neither agree nor disagree that ET’s will be willing to come to earth to help achieve world peace and save the planet, what am I saying? That I think they won’t be willing? That while I think that’s possible, I also think they might come for other reasons, like to shoot us with their death rays? That while they might want to help us save our planet, they might not give a damn about world peace? Or simply that I’m not so dumb as to think I could have a clue about their motivations? Answer: it could be any of these and more, but you will simply report it as “X percent of Christians give answer Y,” which tells us pretty much nothing.

  6. 6
    JunkyardTornado

    I started to write previously that it will be the scientists and other agnostic types who aren’t sure what they believe until they see it who, once they see extra-terrestrials performing fancy tricks, will be seduced. OTOH there are those of religious persuasions who are awed and enamored by anything perceived as miraculous or supernatural. I think they will be susceptable as well. (Not that I have glib self confidence in the whole matter. Unfortunately I’ve already been overcome and defeated to an extent by the strange and disturbing nature of the world we live in today.)

    As far as the Biblical take (which I subscribe to):

    (Luke 10:19 NKJV) “Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you.

    (Rev 9:3 NKJV) Then out of the smoke came locusts upon the earth, and power was given them, as the scorpions of the earth have power.

    (Rev 9:10 NKJV) They have tails like scorpions, and stings; and in their tails is their power to hurt men for five months.

    (Rev 12:3-4) Then another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. And his tail *swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth.

    (Rev 12:7) And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war, and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven.

    (Rev 12:9) And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.

    (Rev 12:12) “For this reason, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them. Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has a short time.”

    (Rev 14:6-7) And I saw another angel flying in midheaven, having an eternal gospel to preach to those who live on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people; and he said with a loud voice, “Fear God, and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come; worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters.”

    (Rev 22:8-9) I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed me these things. But he *said to me, “Do not do that. I am a fellow servant of yours and of your brethren the prophets and of those who heed the words of this book. Worship God

    (Rev 22:16 NKJV) “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”

  7. Oh, and just to answer the question – no, the existence of ETs would not destroy my faith. The question’s been kicked around in the Christian west for a long time, though mostly out of idle speculation. CS Lewis seemed particularly favorable to the idea.

    Though I think if ETs were contacted who were both technologically advanced and had religious leanings even in part, many agnostics and atheists would have trouble coping.

  8. “Though I think if ETs were contacted who were both technologically advanced and had religious leanings even in part, many agnostics and atheists would have trouble coping.”

    I find it very funny that atheists always seem to assume that ETs will confirm and share their agenda.

    But as the song goes:

    Who can tell what other cradle
    High above the Milky Way
    Still may rock the king of heaven
    On another Christmas Day ?

  9. It would shake my faith a bit if some aliens showed up and said, “You know that intelligent designer youre all talking about? It’s us.” And then proceed to prove it by , I dont know, creating designed living things and new universes and all that.

    But then again I’d ask them, Well youre obviously designed, so who designed you?

    It would shake traditional Christian belief I guess but not God belief.

    (I forget the title of that science fiction book written by a Canadian where aliens visited Earth and it turned out they were theists and said the existence of God is pretty obvious from creation.)

  10. 10

    Here is a (conservative estimate for) Probability For Life On Earth

    Hugh Ross

    http://www.reasons.org/resourc.....arth.shtml

    excerpt:

    Probability for occurrence of all 322 parameters ? 10-388

    dependency factors estimate ? 10-96

    longevity requirements estimate ? 1014

    Probability for occurrence of all 322 parameters ? 10-304

    Maximum possible number of life support bodies in universe ? 1022

    Thus, less than 1 chance in 10282(million trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion) exists that even one such life-support body would occur anywhere in the universe without invoking divine miracles.

    The hard evidence strongly indicates that the earth is extremely unique in this universe. Thus if (advanced) life does exist elsewhere in the universe God put it there also.

    This allowance for God’s infinite creative agency is reflected in this following recent story:

    May 13, 2008
    It’s OK to believe in space aliens, Vatican astronomer says

    http://www.ajc.com/cobb/conten....._0513.html

    excerpt:

    “Ruling out the existence of aliens would be like “putting limits” on God’s creative freedom,” Rev. Jose Gabriel Funes, the Jesuit director of the Vatican Observatory, said.

    I agree with him to a certain degree in this regard, one lesson I have learned, in learning about the staggering complexity and precision we find in life and the universe, is never to put a limit on God’s creative power.

    On the other hand, If a more advanced (material) life than us is ever found in this (material) universe, which God had specifically created in this universe, The theological issue will be as somewhat illustrated in Dr. Dembski’s paper:

    Christian Theodicy in Light of
    Genesis and Modern Science

    http://www.designinference.com.....eodicy.pdf

    The problem is that the fall of creation (i.e. the universe’s apparent natural evil/entropy/death) can no longer be attributed solely to man’s willful disobedience of God and will present a severe problem reconciling Christ’s atoning work on the Cross.

  11. “’Ruling out the existence of aliens would be like ‘putting limits’ on God’s creative freedom,’ Rev. Jose Gabriel Funes, the Jesuit director of the Vatican Observatory, said.”

    As a well-educated, knowledgeable Catholic, I’m here to tell you: be very careful when listening to a Jesuit. The Society of Jesus has in modern times virtually apostatized from the Faith, having shifted their allegiance over to the secular modernists back in the ’50s and ’60s. Evidence of this is the fact that they have virtually no new recruits coming into their order and haven’t had for many years. That said, there are still a few reasonably sound old guys out there, so maybe this is one of them. I doubt it, though. (Sadly, being connected with the Vatican is by no means any sign of orthodoxy these days.)

    Anyway, what Father Funes doesn’t say is absolutely key: There may not be limits on God’s creative freedom in principle, but the fact is that God has created in a particular way and that that way is revealed to us through inerrant Scripture. So while if it had been His plan, He could have created different races with different qualities of intellect and so on throughout the universe, if such a notion contradicts Church teaching about what he actually, as a matter of fact, did create, it is necessarily false. (While it’s true to say the Bible is not a science book, the contrary fiction–that it says nothing determinate at all–is equally ridiculous.)

    I’m not saying belief in ET’s definitely does contradict Scripture and/or Church Doctrine. I’m saying Fr. Funes is leaving out, either deliberately or because he is soft-headed, an essential qualification of his remark.

  12. I don’t know about my faith, but it would definitely put a damper on my belief in frequency probability.

  13. THEY’RE MADE OUT OF MEAT

    by Terry Bisson

    “They’re made out of meat.”

    “Meat?”

    “Meat. They’re made out of meat.”

    “Meat?”

    “There’s no doubt about it. We picked up several from different parts of the planet, took them aboard our recon vessels, and probed them all the way through. They’re completely meat.”

    “That’s impossible. What about the radio signals? The messages to the stars?”

    “They use the radio waves to talk, but the signals don’t come from them. The signals come from machines.”

    “So who made the machines? That’s who we want to contact.”

    “They made the machines. That’s what I’m trying to tell you. Meat made the machines.”

    “That’s ridiculous. How can meat make a machine? You’re asking me to believe in sentient meat.”

    “I’m not asking you, I’m telling you. These creatures are the only sentient race in that sector and they’re made out of meat.”

    “Maybe they’re like the orfolei. You know, a carbon-based intelligence that goes through a meat stage.”

    “Nope. They’re born meat and they die meat. We studied them for several of their life spans, which didn’t take long. Do you have any idea what’s the life span of meat?”

    “Spare me. Okay, maybe they’re only part meat. You know, like the weddilei. A meat head with an electron plasma brain inside.”

    “Nope. We thought of that, since they do have meat heads, like the weddilei. But I told you, we probed them. They’re meat all the way through.”

    “No brain?”

    “Oh, there’s a brain all right. It’s just that the brain is made out of meat! That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you.”

    “So … what does the thinking?”

    “You’re not understanding, are you? You’re refusing to deal with what I’m telling you. The brain does the thinking. The meat.”

    “Thinking meat! You’re asking me to believe in thinking meat!”

    “Yes, thinking meat! Conscious meat! Loving meat. Dreaming meat. The meat is the whole deal! Are you beginning to get the picture or do I have to start all over?”

    “Omigod. You’re serious then. They’re made out of meat.”

    “Thank you. Finally. Yes. They are indeed made out of meat. And they’ve been trying to get in touch with us for almost a hundred of their years.”

    “Omigod. So what does this meat have in mind?”

    “First it wants to talk to us. Then I imagine it wants to explore the Universe, contact other sentiences, swap ideas and information. The usual.”

    “We’re supposed to talk to meat.”

    “That’s the idea. That’s the message they’re sending out by radio. ‘Hello. Anyone out there. Anybody home.’ That sort of thing.”

    “They actually do talk, then. They use words, ideas, concepts?”

    “Oh, yes. Except they do it with meat.”

    “I thought you just told me they used radio.”

    “They do, but what do you think is on the radio? Meat sounds. You know how when you slap or flap meat, it makes a noise? They talk by flapping their meat at each other. They can even sing by squirting air through their meat.”

    “Omigod. Singing meat. This is altogether too much. So what do you advise?”

    “Officially or unofficially?”

    “Both.”

    “Officially, we are required to contact, welcome and log in any and all sentient races or multibeings in this quadrant of the Universe, without prejudice, fear or favor. Unofficially, I advise that we erase the records and forget the whole thing.”

    “I was hoping you would say that.”

    “It seems harsh, but there is a limit. Do we really want to make contact with meat?”

    “I agree one hundred percent. What’s there to say? ‘Hello, meat. How’s it going?’ But will this work? How many planets are we dealing with here?”

    “Just one. They can travel to other planets in special meat containers, but they can’t live on them. And being meat, they can only travel through C space. Which limits them to the speed of light and makes the possibility of their ever making contact pretty slim. Infinitesimal, in fact.”

    “So we just pretend there’s no one home in the Universe.”

    “That’s it.”

    “Cruel. But you said it yourself, who wants to meet meat? And the ones who have been aboard our vessels, the ones you probed? You’re sure they won’t remember?”

    “They’ll be considered crackpots if they do. We went into their heads and smoothed out their meat so that we’re just a dream to them.”

    “A dream to meat! How strangely appropriate, that we should be meat’s dream.”

    “And we marked the entire sector unoccupied.”

    “Good. Agreed, officially and unofficially. Case closed. Any others? Anyone interesting on that side of the galaxy?”

    “Yes, a rather shy but sweet hydrogen core cluster intelligence in a class nine star in G445 zone. Was in contact two galactic rotations ago, wants to be friendly again.”

    “They always come around.”

    “And why not? Imagine how unbearably, how unutterably cold the Universe would be if one were all alone …”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gaFZTAOb7IE

  14. jnewl wrote:

    Thus, all men descend from a common ancestor, and either alien beings must be descendents of earthbound men, or we of them, and all must be subject to death.

    As regards Christ, his death and resurrection were universally salvific. It must apply equally to alien beings and to us.

    I have to disagree. To the biblical theist, there is another race of sentient beings who are not descended from men and do not (necessarily) share in redemption: angels. (Can an angel be saved? While some can argue that Messiah died for men by becoming one forever, his death also has effects on the animals and eventually all of creation. Also, if animals can atone for men, why can’t men atone for animals?)

    Anyway, I think it is completely possible aliens may be another creation like angels that neither die nor marry and are not descended from men.

    But this is all conjecture. The really interesting question is how many of these aliens would be able to dance on top of a pin…

  15. The Bible is silent on the topic of aliens. Therefore, the mere existence of aliens would not refute anything the Bible says.

    What if the aliens are Christians? As a Christian I believe God created the entire universe, not just our cozy little corner of it. Presumably, if he created aliens on other planets, he made himself manifest to them as well.

  16. Is it arrogance or pride that makes us think that we are the only technologically capable living organisms in this universe?

    Page 329 of The Privileged Planet

    14) You haven’t shown that ETs don’t exist.

    “This is true, but we did not intend to. In fact, ironically, design might even improve the possibility of ETs.”

    Well, yeah…

  17. Not at all.

    I watch Star Trek nightly. I am fully prepared.

    Even have a Klingon Bible, which proves the universality of the Christian experience once and for all.

    In all seriousness, I’m a little annoyed by the questions. In one qeustion in particular, they assume (or believe the subject will assume) that an E.T. who is more highly evolved will also have a more progressive morality.

    IMHO, I think this demonstrates a lack of evolutionary understanding. Who’s to say that “more highly evolved” doesn’t simply mean better/more efficient at killing and breaking things to their advantage?

    Further, how in the world am I supposed to have ANY opinion concerning an experience I have never had? Concerning E.T.s, there simply IS no frame of reference. None. There is only the musing and wild speculation of humans, which are also grounded in a complete lack of experience.

    This seem more an attempt to smoke out superstitious holdovers from the Copernican revolution rather than serious sociologic inquiry.

    Pointless.

  18. As a matter of fact several of TPP’s predictions could be fulfilled if we found living organisms on other planets. For example:

    1-If the same conditions exist there as do here- that is the same factors spelled out in the book.

    2-If the organisms use a similar or the same genetic code.

  19. Actaully, now that I think about it, the one item that could seriously make me question my faith would be contact with The FSM. However, I would not believe unless I actually put my hand in his noodly appendage.

    Guess I’m just a doubting Thomas.

  20. Er, that’s “actually”.

  21. LOL! Good one Allen. I think that “frames” Denyse’s question in the right perspective.

  22. One other thing: when NASA can collectively believe that life evolved not once, but twice, in the same solar system — and on planets right next to each other — maybe it’s time to reexamine the surrounding plausibility structures.

    I smell Spinoza’s pantheism.

  23. I found the survey to be quite poorly done from a traditional Christian (and Muslim) perspective. Both traditions believe in angels. Would not angels qualify as extraterrestrials? But the questions do not allow for differentiation between angels and other ET’s.

    Furthermore, question 6 seems to assume evolution. Did the questioners (who appear to be Lutheran) not want responses from creationists? Or did they just want us to assume that we are wrong and that the ET’s would naturally prove this?

    Finally, the assumption seems to be made that all ET’s are benign and truthful. At least in the case of angels, for Christians and Muslims this would seem to be a naive assumption. How do(es) the author(s) of the questionnaire assume that UFO data are to be trusted, even if the human reports are honest?

    Ptfxnjxn (19) may be right.

    I agree with Allen’s (15) point; If ET’s exist, they might very well want to avoid establishing contact with us, although I suspect that our warlike tendencies would be more repulsive than our physical state. It sort of reminds me of the bumper sticker:

    “Beam me up, Scotty. There’s no intelligent life here.”

    Atom (16) may have the most interesting question. :^)

  24. Before the modern age of “enlightenment”, before the whole UFO, Hollywood ET, Roswell thing – great theologians were already postulating the probability of life elsewhere.

    Charles Spurgeon and Charles Finney to name but two. So why the bother and why so much ado if it turns out true?

    Changes nothing of either faith or the bible. If it’s true it’s true.

    Personally I hope it is. If true, I’ll bet they are far more Christ-like than us.

    Read Lewis’s cosmic trilogy. He certainly had no problem with it.

  25. 25

    O’Leary and onlookers post this on the site- write a story etc

    http://network.nationalpost.co.....lieve.aspx

  26. The existence of intelligent ETs would not pose any problem at all for theism, as far as I can tell. The problems it would pose for Christian theism, specifically, would be, as has already been mentioned in this thread, the concepts of sin and salvation and their relations to such beings. These would be problematic, to be sure, but I see no reason why they should be fatally problematic.

  27. 27
    seanbutnotheard

    Greetings everyone, long time lurker, first time poster. I probably won’t post much here, but I had to register because one researcher immediately came to mind concerning the ET/Christianity intersection, whose views seem sound and Biblically-backed, or as much as is possible in such a realm: Michael Heiser. He has several blogs devoted to the subject, accessible from michaelsheiser.com (note his middle initial in the domain name). Lots of mind-expanding reading available there.

  28. Agreed, “The existence of intelligent ETs would not pose any problem at all for theism, as far as I can tell.”

    In fact, all the talk of the utter unlikelihood of another “priviledged planet” evaporates with theism (but not with TEism). The designer not only designs life but also planets—likely even the laws—chance explains none of it. Therefore there could be zillions of life supporting worlds. If our scanning of the heavens reveals none maybe the cosmos is waiting on us, sort of a la Tipler and (midrashically) Romans 8:22, maybe as, I believe, some long ago rabbis have suggested.

  29. Crandaddy 28: “The problems it would pose for Christian theism, specifically, would be, as has already been mentioned in this thread, the concepts of sin and salvation and their relations to such beings.”

    That may not apply to all Christendom. My (typically flawed) recollection is that Syriac Christianity rejects the notion of a ransom much the same as Judaism.

  30. Such surveys are not new as demonstrated by the Alexander UFO Religious Crisis survey and the NASA commissioned Brookings Report.

    The religious-crisis conundrum is often cited by the UFO research community as one of the major reasons for the US government’s constant denials and/or suppression of evidence relating to inexplicable UFO sightings and/or other ET phenomena. The conclusion of these reports is that disclosing such explosive, sensitive information could be detrimental to society if it causes a sudden and drastic upheaval of fundamentalist religious beliefs. The theory being that western culture (if not the US) is heavily intertwined with a Judeo-Christian fabric. Another reason: maintaining civil order would be extremely difficult every time a natural or artificial atmospheric spectacle were to take place due to the possibility of these causing mass hysteria, invariably resulting from and fueled by the official confessions.

    These surveys, though, are based on the erroneous materialistic assumption that all life in the universe is strictly reducible to chemical particles alone, thereby failing to capture the whole essence and flexibility of religious thinking. It is a fact that the ET topic has been studied by many biblical scholars and theologians from a wide range of angles for some time now, the likes of Michael Heiser, for one, who figures prominently in Divine Council theology. The ET entity, though, is taken to mean an alien with inter-dimensional properties (i.e. spirit being), since, as pointed by a previous poster, the size (and inhospitable condition) of the universe virtually makes any time and space travel (and consequent viability of biological life as we know it) virtually impossible.

  31. Where is LarryNormanFan? He would have provided the following lyric from the ’70s Larry Norman song “U.F.O”:

    and if there’s life on other planets / then I’m sure that He must know / and He’s been there once already / and has died to save their souls

    (In Another Land, Larry Norman, 1973, Glenwood Music Corp., Strawbed Music)

  32. Pardon me,

    S Cheesman,

    But might I interest you in going here?

  33. the size (and inhospitable condition) of the universe virtually makes any time and space travel (and consequent viability of biological life as we know it) virtually impossible.

    This argument assumes current space propulsion systems are optimal and impossible to improve on. Many years ago a famous astronomer “proved” it was impossible to reach the moon. I wouldn’t rule out exotic propulsion methods just yet.

    In fact, if there is any truth to some UFO sightings, it seems quite unlikely that UFOs use anything close to our propulsion methods. If more advanced methods of travel are possible, you can bet that any very advanced intelligence has already figured it out.

  34. JvG:
    “If more advanced methods of travel are possible, you can bet that any very advanced intelligence has already figured it out.”

    Interestingly, this is precisely the picture that ancient sacred Hebrew scriptures paint for us in its depiction of the benei Elohim, creatures exhibiting all the characteristics of an advanced intelligence, which accords with a more penetrative rendering in the Book of Enoch, where a sub-group, the Watchers, teach and reveal all kinds of forbidden mysteries and destructive technologies, to the detriment of the pre-flood populace.

    The only exception is that they didn’t have to “figure out” how to travel, since, due to their interdimensional nature, they are not bound to physical laws as earthlings are.

  35. I always found this a strange question when asked.

    After all, wouldn’t it depend what the aliens believed ?

    What if aliens turned up who had a belief in one God and a fall of their race into rebellion, but the redemption of their race by the sacrifice of the same God in an act of substitutionary atonement ?

    Why would that trouble me exactly ?

  36. My take on this is that if there is life out there, then it probably doesn’t include intelligent life. God could well have made other ‘Earths’ to colonise when we had filled this one to capacity.

    If there is intelligent life, then it may not have fallen as we have. If so, they have very good reason to avoid us.

    And, I also reccommend C.S.Lewis’ Cosmic trilogy.

  37. Space travel to other star systems would be as easy as crossing the street if our lifespans were longer (or unlimited) and/or we could “power down” during long flights without loss of memory or structural integrity. That this is clearly within the capability of “non-meat” entities is one of the points addressed in “They’re Made Out Of Meat”. If there are interstellar travelers, they clearly would not be made out of meat.

  38. Allen

    Meat can be maintained for any length of time given sufficient technology. Don’t forget Clarke’s law about advanced technologies appearing as magic.

  39. JP Collado

    the erroneous materialistic assumption that all life in the universe is strictly reducible to chemical particles alone

    Straw man. No such assumption exists. There is no “life” in the universe to test other than what we find on our own planet.

    the universe virtually makes any time and space travel (and consequent viability of biological life as we know it) virtually impossible?

    I’m putting you on the moderation list so I don’t have correct your mistakes after they appear. Backward time travel is probably impossible but space travel within light speed restriction is quite possible as is forward time travel (one way trip).

  40. I have a question for all of you that I’m genuinely curious about.

    Let’s say that, hypothetically, scientists duplicate the evolution of early life in a laboratory in conditions similar to the early Earth. It’s a purely naturalistic process, and it’s readily repeatable.
    How would that affect your faith?
    How would that affect your position on Intelligent Design?

  41. I have very little idea what they are trying to accomplish with this survey. In some ways, it appears that it might gauge assumptions on the unseen, from all angles.

    I answered that I probably would have some kind of “crisis” of faith– likely until I could reconcile it–or not. But I have no idea how it would affect “traditions”.

    And I found myself having to disagree with most of “probably” statements. Not that I know better but I thought the NAND response as taking a position that they weren’t the exceptionable statements that I found them.

    I think the movie Signs deals with this–and in a positive light, for faith and mysticism.

  42. I don´t know why the existence of other forms of life in the Universe would be a threath to faith.

    I think the only threath here is to think that the hole Universe was “made” to humans and the rest of earth life.

    In most of the religions of the world there is the “beliefe” of other forms of life, of other humanities; is acepted, in most of the world traditions, that there are numerous habitated worlds.

    But, in my perspective, there are 3 major aspects to consider:

    the materialistic paradigm in science;

    the distorcions ocorred in some literalistic religions (christianity, for example), transforming the powers and laws of the manifestated universe in personal God(s);

    our resistence to consider other realms of consciousness and life (and its hierarquical distribution, in terms of counsciousness levels);

    our mistake in imagining the future (or any other form of humanity or life) in a linear way – not considering that evolution means evolution in form and consciousness.

  43. But meat is messy and perishable. Would I like to be silicon and metal, rather than meat? Especially if my mental hard drive were able to be backed up and re-downloaded (like the Time Machine that has saved my ass several times already)? You betcha…

  44. Allen,

    Metal rusts and silicon can crack.

    Also, if science is correct, a silicon and metal “entity” requires a meat-based entity to create it.

    If there are interstellar travelers, they clearly would not be made out of meat.-Allen

    And you know this, how?

  45. Meat, unlike metal and silicon, can repair itself. It’s almost like it was fearfully and wonderfully designed or something.

  46. Crandaddy 28: “The problems it would pose for Christian theism, specifically, would be, as has already been mentioned in this thread, the concepts of sin and salvation and their relations to such beings.”

    Disagree. Why would that pose a problem?

    And furthermore what if, as Jason suggests, they believed in one supreme Godhead, a fall of some kind, a redemption etc.?

    Why do so many people automatically suppose aliens would be materialists? That’s a telling question and it’s answer is even more telling.

  47. Let’s say that, hypothetically, scientists duplicate the evolution of early life in a laboratory in conditions similar to the early Earth. It’s a purely naturalistic process, and it’s readily repeatable.
    How would that affect your faith?
    How would that affect your position on Intelligent Design?-fsda

    ID would be essentially falsified as living organisms are the ultimate in IC and CSI.

  48. Fellows,

    Someone correct if I”m wrong, because I am not a scientist; when stating that the distances between stars are a barrier to interstellar travel, doesn’t Einstein come into play here? Although it may be 4.3 light years to the Alpha Centauri triple system, for the crew of a ship reaching 3/4 the speed of light, their travel time would be much less (months) than the *observer* time. I think this is called “time dilation”. If true, then distances would be absolutely NO barrier to interstellar travel. Two excellent books that deal with the subject in some manner are “Unconventional FLying Objects” by Paul Hill, and “Science and Flying Saucers” by Stanton Freidman.

  49. An extraterrestial is a being outside of the realm of Earth. Those who believe in God, Jesus, angels, and heaven already believe in extraterrestrials…they simply don’t define them as ‘alien’.

  50. From “Unconventional Flying Objects” by Paul Hill:

    “[Eugene) Sanger’s scientific critics nearly crucified him on two points. One for his statement that, when an interstellar vehicle accelerates at 1g for over a years time and the on board integrating accelerometer (a type of speedometer which multiplies accleration by time) reads a velocity greater than light speed, in the on board reference frame the reading is correct. The other thing was Sanger’s calculations than an interstellar vehicle acclerating and deaccelerating at 1g (for maximum passnger comfort) could cross the known universe, stopping at the most distant galaxy in less than fifty years in passenger or occupant time. Somebody was wrong. I always thought it was the critics”.

  51. Hi,

    I know the boards kind of slow tonight, but ETs interest me more than gay marriages. So can I please get a ruling on the interstellar-distances-as barrier to ET visitations theory? Anyone? Anyone?

  52. gleaner

    It’s possible to accelerate matter to significant fractions of C (light speed) between stars. Time dilation is already proven (trust me). This is pretty much the limits of the possible. There is a causally connected universe and it’s limited (as far as we know) by light speed. Don’t believe everything you see on Star Trek (faster than light or FTL). :-)

  53. Answers in Genny has a short and straight to the point article on the issue of aliens vs Christianity:

    http://www.answersingenesis.or.....ronomer-et

    I dont know whats the big surprise. Romanists believe in the councils, not in the Bible (PS: You guys are americans, you dont know what REAL Romanism is).

  54. gleaner,

    There are other problems with interstellar travel. One of the major ones is the energy required to accelerate a vessel to near light speeds. The requirements using current known methods are staggering (to say the least.) You might want to read up on it at:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interstellar_travel

    Another problem is that even traveling at near light speeds with the time dilation “helping” the travellers. Depending on the “real time” length of the trip they might return after a few years to find that everyone and everything they knew is long gone. They will be, essentially, traveling into the future.

    You can do most of the calculations yourself with nothing more than high school algebra and an introductory physics text. Almost all of them discuss relativity.

  55. If by aliens one means, “Really strange creatures not from this planet”, then the Bible has several examples in Ezekiel and Revelation.

    From a Christian perspective, alien life on another planet is certainly not a problem; but either they are not “fallen” (have no sin nature and no need of salvation) or no eternal soul, and also, no need of salvation.

    Since God took the form of a human (Jesus) and has chosen to retain that form for all eternity, then he can only represent the human race as our propitiation or substitutionary atonement.

    Perelandria (Book II of C.S. Lewis’ SciFi triolgy) deals with this.

    Alien Life??? Anything is possible is a created universe. However, human uniqueness, with a soul made in the image of God is still an absolute. (From a Christian perspective.)

  56. DS:

    I like worm holes, actually . . . [cf Weber's Honorverse etc; and yes I am aware of the subtler side; the use of Sci Fi to advance socio-cultural and worldview agendas, as in the link from Star Wars to the new age movement. That has always been so . . . ]

    Maybe, just maybe, on track record, our knowledge base will be opened up again and we will find ways to move about the seas of quasi-infinity in our cosmos?

    On track record of the impacts of opening up navigation ~ 500 years ago, the transforming effects would be well worth the devotion of resources to explore. (Think of the failure of China after Cheng Ho to continue with wide-ocean navigation and its implications. Do we want to spend the next few millennia going through the interstellar equivalent of the history of China over the past 500 years? On history, far better to be the discoverer than the discover-ee — only, let us avoid the inexcusable [adn of course Biblically unjustifiable . . .) slaughter and/or enslavement of the indigenous peoples that so shames our civilisation to this day.)

    But, would finding Kzinti or the like out there etc destroy my faith?

    ANS: Why should it? [Especially with a Bible that from Genesis on is replete with interesting hints at more than just us in the cosmos! (E.g. Who were the sons of God who married the daughters of men, siring the mighty men of renown in Genesis . . .?)]

    GEM of TKI

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