Home » Extraterrestrial life, Science » Is faith in the space aliens a duty? Are doubts anti-science?

Is faith in the space aliens a duty? Are doubts anti-science?

Evolution News and Views

Consider:

The Copernican Principle, that Earth is not an unusual planet, is asserted as everyday science even when it anchors unlikely speculation. New Scientist informed us in 2008 that

There’s nothing special about the Sun that makes it more likely than other stars to host life, a new study shows. The finding adds weight to the idea that alien life should be common throughout the universe.

Are doubts “anti-science”? Certainly, faith is urged on us as a duty. We read, “Finding planets outside our solar system that can sustain life should be made a top priority, say Australian astronomers,” because “Life, by managing its own environment, makes a planet habitable. It has produced adaptive features as a result of Darwinian evolution to live in colder and warmer environments.”

And the essentially religious character of the quest is unmistakable. More.

If it isn’t a religious quest, what would you make of this, from MSNBC?:

The discovery of intelligent aliens would be mind-blowing in many respects, but it could present a special dilemma for the world’s religions, theologians pondering interstellar travel concepts said Saturday.

Christians, in particular, might take the news hardest, because the Christian belief system does not easily allow for other intelligent beings in the universe, Christian thinkers said at the 100 Year Starship Symposium, a meeting sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to discuss issues surrounding traveling to other stars.

These Christian thinkers (names don’t ring a bell) are talking nonsense, of course. green space alien

For the record, as better informed Christian thinker C.S. Lewis put it,

We know that God has visited and redeemed His people, and that tells us just as much about the general character of the creation as a dose given to one sick hen on a big farm tells us about the general character of farming in England.…It is, of course, the essence of Christianity that God loves man and for his sake became man and died. But that does not prove that man is the sole end of nature. In the parable, it was one lost sheep that the shepherd went in search of: it was not the only sheep in the flock, and we are not told that it was the most valuable—save insofar as the most desperately in need has, while the need lasts, a peculiar value in the eyes of Love. The doctrine of the Incarnation would conflict with what we know of this vast universe only if we knew also there were other rational species in it who had, like us, fallen, and who needed redemption in the same mode, and they had not been vouchsafed it. But we know of none of these things. – “Dogma and the Universe,” from God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics, ed. Walter Hooper (New York: Ballantine Books, 1990), 14.

That’s more the usual line of reasoning (so MSNBC and friends sent it back to the script doctor, right?).

In any event, traditional Christians appear unaware of the dire supposed threat, in part because they are less likely than others to credit claims and speculations about them.

Is that just more evidence that Christians are anti-science? And that a firm belief in space aliens is pro-science? Why?

See also: What has materialism done for science?

Big Bang exterminator wanted, will train

Copernicus, you are not going to believe who is using your name. Or how.

“Behold, countless Earths sail the galaxies … that is, if you would only believe …

Don’t let Mars fool you. Those exoplanets teem with life!

But surely we can’t conjure an entire advanced civilization?

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12 Responses to Is faith in the space aliens a duty? Are doubts anti-science?

  1. MSNBC Quote:

    Christians, in particular, might take the news hardest, because the Christian belief system does not easily allow for other intelligent beings in the universe, Christian thinkers said at the 100 Year Starship Symposium, a meeting sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to discuss issues surrounding traveling to other stars.

    Well, then those Christian thinkers had better re-think. Why on Earth any Christian would think that Christian doctrine prohibits the existence of extraterrestrial life is beyond me.

    Unfortunately, this is the kind of thinking that gives religious adherents a bad name. And they’re spreading this at a DARPA conference, no less?

  2. Well, that’s what the report says. As I noted here, Christians are more likely to just not believe it than to think it a threat. The only people who have addressed the matter tend to sound like Lewis, quoted above. – O’Leary for News

  3. As a Christian, I come down on the side of aliens don’t exist, and if they did it would be a real problem. This is probably closely tied to the YEC v OEC stance. YECs take literally the Bible when it says that through one man’s sin, death entered the world, and that “all of creation” groans from the sin. If aliens exist, and all of creation was affected by Adam’s sin, then the aliens (who could not have inherited Adam’s sin nature, not being human) are being punished for Adam’s sin. Problematic, no?
    However, trying to say that Christians are anti-science because they don’t believe aliens can exist is kinda like saying they’re anti-science because they don’t believe in purple unicorns and fairies, no? Carl Sagan’s book Contact was a prime example of Christian-bashing based on a fictional scenario – feel free, but don’t expect me to take you seriously, cause guess what….

    Aliens don’t exist.

  4. Oh, and regarding…

    The only people who have addressed the matter tend to sound like Lewis, quoted above.

    There’s actually quite a bit of YEC material on Aliens and Christian belief:
    Aliens and the Bible

  5. I’m going to have to come down on the “aliens don’t exist outside of human imagination” side. The question is rightly asked: “What difference does it make whether there is life beyond Earth or not?”

    If there are no aliens, then we as humans may eventually learn to value life here on Earth in view of its uniqueness. However, if there are aliens, then what could we learn from them? Intergalactic travel? The cures to diseases? A way to protect the environment?

    Or, at the very least, give us flying cars and maybe lightsabers.

    We’re reminded of the famous “Fermi paradox.” Originally posed in 1950 by nuclear physicist Enrico Fermi, the question capped an argument that went something like this: If intelligent life has arisen on other planets in our galaxy, many civilizations should now exist that are millions of years ahead of our own. They should have developed interstellar travel long ago and spread abroad in the galaxy, colonizing and exploring at will. So where are they?

    To many scientists, it seems logical to believe that if life could evolve from nonliving matter on this planet, that could be true on others as well. As one writer put it: “The general thinking among biologists is that life will begin whenever it is given an environment where it can begin.” But that is where evolution faces an insurmountable objection. Evolutionists cannot even explain how life began on this planet.

    Many scientists believe in alien “visitors” in their own way. They see the impossibility of life originating by chance here on the earth, so they claim it must have drifted here from space. Some say that aliens seeded our planet with life by sending rockets loaded with primitive bacteria. Some scientists draw conclusions from the evidence that simple organic molecules are fairly common in space. But is that really evidence for the chance formation of life? Is a hardware store evidence that a car must accidentally build itself there?

  6. Ladies and gentlemen, the Bible speaks of nothing but aliens, what with the powerful gods (elohim) of ancient Egypt, Babylon, Sumeria, and the other nations? Not to mention the untold legions of good and bad “angels”. Yahweh himself is an alien, the big Kahuna whose throne is in heaven and uses the earth as his footstool (all the lesser aliens respect him). Jesus, too, is an alien.

    The old civilizations of Peru (Machu Picchu), the Aztecs, the Toltecs, the Mayans, etc., all speak of alien gods who came from heaven and were worshiped as gods. Some were complete jerks too, requiring frequent human sacrifices to satisfy their sadistic blood lust.

    Aliens are everywhere and they’ve been here for a while. They left their marks all over the place. We’re just too blind or too proud to acknowledge it. It’s not an atheist or materialist concept even if they claim to have invented it.

  7. drc466:

    Well, that is the kind of argument that gives, if I may be so blunt, religious people a bad name among scientists. Mind you, we don’t have hard evidence for aliens (I’m ignoring for a moment the points Mapou raises), but to reject the possibility of their existence on religious grounds tends to immediately turn people off.

    Especially when the religious grounds are not solid. There are plenty of ways to interpret scripture (even if one is a YEC) that do not conflict with the idea of life beyond the Earth.

    Your argument contains a number of assumptions and steps, if we flesh it out a bit: (i) the Bible applies to the entire universe, not just Earth or the local cosmic surroundings that could be seen by Moses et al., (ii) “all of creation” means everything in the universe (rather than the local context), (iii) in ironic contrast to the Fall of Adam which holds ominous sway over “all of creation,” for some unexplained reason the atonement of Christ does not apply to “all of creation,” (iv) there is no other way for God to redeem any creations outside of the Earth; (v) that would be unfair, (vi) God wouldn’t be unfair. Therefore, no aliens.

    The first 4 of these are highly questionable, even for a Biblical literalist; certainly for Christian doctrine in general. A deist could even quibble about (v) and (vi), but I’m willing to grant them for purposes of the general Christian concept of God.

    Anyway, I don’t mean to demean anyone’s beliefs, but this does highlight what I’ve been trying to point out the last few days: strong opposition to the idea of life beyond Earth is, quite often, driven by religious presumptions.

  8. strong opposition to the idea of life beyond Earth is, quite often, driven by religious presumptions.

    Same for support of the idea, of course. Although many are blind to their own world view being such.

  9. butifnot @8:

    Yes, at this stage probably true enough. At this point the best we can say (again, discounting the items Mapou has raised, though perhaps an argument could be made that we shouldn’t), is that we don’t know, but that it is an interesting possibility.

  10. Doc, I was not able to access the article you linked to, but I’m assuming it is by Gary Bates who has done much research on the matter. He has a very interesting and I would say probably accurate view on this subject. It won’t satisfy any Materialists, but I think Christians, need to consider what he says.

    I am YEC of course, but I do not take quite as strong a position as you, Doc.

    However, I don’t see how “all of creation” can mean anything but that. I mean, if God meant “all of creation”, how else could He have said it? Could He have been any clearer?

    I come down on the “no aliens exist” side, but it would not threaten my faith if life was found. If panspermia is really possible, then life could have spread to Mars for example from earth.

    At any rate, the Bible does not say that it does not exist per se, but from what IS written, it doesn’t seem to fit. So if there are aliens, it would be very surprising to me!

    Dr. Bate’s thesis is that some kind of mysterious things very well may exist, but that they are demons, not space aliens. His reasoning based on the evidence makes sense. Creation.com has more information on his thesis for anyone who is curious.

  11. Eric @7,

    i) True
    ii) True
    iii) Logical (un-ironic) conclusion if MAN is the only creation that needs redeemed, from out of “all of creation”.
    iv) Correctly stated is “there is no other NEED to redeem”
    v) True
    vi) True

    The first four are hardly “highly questionable, even for a Biblical literalist” – they are, in fact, the de facto position of Biblical literalists. Please ref my earlier link to creation.com. If you can provide a link to a major Biblical literalist (aka YEC-advocating) group that disagrees, I’d be pleased to see it. As a matter of fact, your 6 points ONLY make any kind of sense as an argument against the no-alien position if you start with the presumption that alien life (at least, intelligent alien life) exists.

    strong opposition to the idea of life beyond Earth is, quite often, driven by religious presumptions.

    Well, yeah – that is true, and should be true. As Christians, our “religious presumptions” should drive some of what we believe scientifically. Hence, YEC. You may not like the logical conclusions of a literal interpretation of the Bible, but they remain logical.

    Again, I don’t have any problem with evolutionists wasting time looking for purple unicorns aliens, but to say I’m anti-science for not believing in something there is no scientific evidence for seems kinda silly.

  12. @ Denyse, You may want to reply to Timothy on ID facebook page on above OP, he mentions you by name (third post down) >

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/IDOfficialPage/

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