Saturday, 30 January 2010

New survey: ”ET is no threat to religion”

According to New Scientist, ET is not a threat to religion. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Joel Kontinen

When little or nothing happens in science, popular magazines resort to speculations. New Scientist with its fascination for extraterrestrial life is the latest example of this trend. Last week the magazine discussed how we should communicate with ETs. Now, it’s obviously time to assess what effect the existence of extraterrestrials will have on religion.

Last Tuesday, the Royal Society in London discussed a survey on how the discovery of ETs will have an effect on religious faith. Ted Peters, a professor of Systematic Theology, drew up the questionnaire. Most of the 1,300 respondents represented various religions as well as non-religious individuals in the USA.

The discovery of ET would not be a problem for Buddhists. Only 8 per cent of Roman Catholics thought that it would shake their faith. Neither did Protestants think that it would make an end of their belief. Interestingly, one per cent of the non-religious or atheists thought it would affect their ”faith”.

Little green men have nevertheless become an object of religious worship. Darwinian evolution is probably the greatest culprit.

New Scientist also recounted the views of Paul Davies, an astrobiologist at Arizona State University in Tempe. He thinks ETs would pose theological problems for Christianity. "They believe that Jesus came down to earth to save humankind – not dolphins, Neanderthals or extraterrestrials," he said.

According to a genuine Christian worldview Neanderthals were real humans, descendants of Adam, just like me and you and Paul Davies. The Bible is silent on the existence of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe so perhaps we should refrain from hasty speculations.

New Scientist could also have speculated whether atheism could survive if scientists were to discover that that there is no extraterrestrial life elsewhere in the universe.


Griggs, Jessica. 2010. Religion could survive discovery of ET, survey suggests. New Scientist (26 January)