God and Aliens
by David Sims
WOULD the discovery of intelligent life on other worlds disprove religions?
If we contact aliens, and those aliens have never heard of Jesus, then either God does not care about the salvation of aliens, or aliens never sin, or the Christian religion is just plain wrong.
That’s the trichotomy that the three big monotheistic religions face, in one way or another.
Most likely, aliens do things that are considered immoral by whatever moral code the aliens have. So they probably do “sin.”
If God cares only about humans, and not about any other intelligent form of life in the universe, then God’s a racist. And that’s okay with me, since I’m not the one to point fingers and assign blame on that score.
But it is far more likely that this bit of anthrocentrism is like many another: It’s a signal that the religions which are based on the idea that mankind has a privileged position are false religions.
So we’re left with “God does not exist.” And the religious people don’t like that line of thinking.
I’m willing to be convinced by evidence; I always have been. But I’ve also always been skeptical of big claims without any real evidence to back them up. I get more suspicious when the big claimers start pointing at “evidence” that isn’t really evidence.
If aliens arrive in the solar system, peaceful contact is made, and cultural comparisons begin, then the leaders of the world’s religious organizations are going to comb through the aliens’ traditions very carefully, in order to gather up whatever fig leaf they can.
If the aliens have any old fable, or poetry, from which human religious leaders can draw even the vaguest allegory, they’re going to start shouting over every TV channel that they’ve found “proof” that the aliens “worship the same God we do” and that “the aliens’ religion agrees with ours in every essential particular” and so on.
When (and if) the scantiness of the comparative theology becomes generally well known, human theologians will float the idea (without additional evidence) that, oh yes, their God’s the same god, but God’s smart enough to know when to use different strokes for different folks. And in time they’ll have their herds duped and stupefied again.
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