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ETpro's avatar

What if intelligent aliens visit us and we find they worship a god we earthlings have never heard of?

Asked by ETpro (34543points) January 14th, 2012

For some reason, various inhabitants of Earth have decided to worship different gods. Some worship the God of the desert. Some worship Vishnu. Some bow to Brahman. We even have various cults that worship their leader and believe that he or she is the creator incarnate in the body of a human.

If we look back through history and prehistory, it is clear that humans have worshiped hundreds of different creator gods. So if we humans have “discovered” so many gods;, it is reasonable to expect that a race of intelligent aliens might have developed a god or two just as we have. Now if their god’s characteristics happened to perfectly coincide with any one of ours, that would go a long way toward validating such a deity as being the one true god. But if their planet has a whole host of different gods as ours does, and none of theirs match up with any of ours, wouldn’t that suggest that gods are created by intelligent life forms, and not the other way around?

If you are a believer, would such a revelation shake your faith that you have picked the one true god from among the many that humanity has worshiped? If you are agnostic or atheist now, would it strengthen your conviction that there is no god? Or would it make no difference to you?

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27 Answers

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ZEPHYRA's avatar

Highly likely!

ETpro's avatar

@69blondie420 Unless there actually is one or more.

@ZEPHYRA Me too. :-)

AdamF's avatar

It still comes back to the nature of the claims, and the evidence available to support them.
Extraterrestrial in origin or otherwise.

For instance, even if they all worshipped one of our thousands of gods (ie Vishnu), the question would still remain as to whether it is more likely that Vishnu exists, or another lifeform with a demonstrated capacity to visit us, could have visited us in the past and seeded the religion, or vice versa.

If some of them worshipped a range of unique different gods to ours, based on some extraterrestrial equivalent of faith, it might just demonstrate that a technologically advanced lifeform can unquestionably accept unjustified and/or mutually contradictory claims.

But we already knew that. :)

ETpro's avatar

@AdamF Thanks. Interesting way of parsing through the question.

Berserker's avatar

As an atheist, it would probbaly strengthen my conviction that gods don’t exist, especially if those aliens had more than one god. That might depend on how they go about it and what they say of these deities, or the one deity, if they only worshiped a single one. Could be that I’ve been highly influenced by the stereotypical alien from the movies though, and how they barely ever have anything to do with any kind of god, unless it’s some comic series from the fifties. Either way though, if their belief systems resembled anything like ours, I’d be more interested in what they want with my ass. Or ’‘concerned’’ should be the word. XD

AdamF's avatar

No worries. Great question!

In my imaginings the aliens don’t believe in supernatural beings and then I wonder what impact 1) their existence and 2) their dismissal of human religions, would have on Earthling faith….

“They’re the devil!” is cried out from the pews.

Sunny2's avatar

It would certainly be fascinating to compare systems, just as it’s interesting to to study the role of religion as mankind has developed here on earth.

ETpro's avatar

@Symbeline As an atheistic agnostic, it would tilt me further toward pure atheism.

@AdamF I’m sure those who are fervent believers, or who manipulate believers in order to earn their mansions, would go into immediate actin to defuse any impact the alien belief system might have on their flock.

@Sunny2 Fascinating is putting it mildly.

flutherother's avatar

It would make no difference to me at all. It is the situation we have on Earth now with different people believing different things. I would be astonished if aliens believed in a God we already knew of. I would be astonished if an isolated tribe living in the jungle turned out to already believe in Jesus. I would be more than astonished as Jesus is a product of our culture and values and it wouldn’t make sense. We may have things in common, but not our gods.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Turn it around. What if aliens came to earth and specifically disavowed the existence of any gods at all?

How would they be seen?

SavoirFaire's avatar

I would be interested in learning about their religions and what sorts of arguments their philosophers would make in favor of them. Maybe they’d have something new to offer. It would not surprise me, however, if all intelligent beings were subject to some of the same mistakes. The reason why poor reasoning exists is not because people are stupid, but because poor reasoning so often masquerades as good reasoning.

P.S. Relevant.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

There was an abductee story I heard where tbe man was being transported onto an alien space craft, and during the event, he awoke. Shocked and terrified he shouted “Oh dear God please help me!”

Apparently, one of the Aliens touched him, calming him instantly, and said “We are all equal in the eyes of God”. I wonder which God that alien was speaking of.

basstrom188's avatar

If you are a person of faith especially if you are a Christian, Jew or Muslim you would know that man is God’s singular and special creation. There are no extraterrestrials, they cannot exist God made only man.
I suspect if such a civilisation exists, who have unlocked the secret of travelling over the vast distances of space, had long rejected any notion of a supernatural being. When you look at our own history it is often religion which held us back.

Charles's avatar

The first thing we would have to do is convince them they have the wrong god. Everyone knows our god is the right one. If they won’t be convinced we have to eliminate them. Bomb their trade centers, throw them in gas chambers, feed them to lions, ...there are all sorts of things we can do.
Second, we need to go to their planet and open McDonalds restaurants there.

If you are agnostic or atheist now, would it strengthen your conviction that there is no god? Or would it make no difference to you?

But to answer these questions, realize most atheists or agnostics have no convictions or faith. “Faith” is the process of “Non-Thinking”. Most atheists look at the facts and assign probabilities. Atheists don’t really “believe” anything. “Believing” is an unnecessary weakness or hindrance in the efforts to learn the truth.

Aliens having a different god would support the theory that there are no gods. And, whatever god they believe in is the 69th most important thing I would be thinking of. First, Are they going to kill me? Second, how can we do business with them?

Ron_C's avatar

1. I expect that an alien culture capable of reaching and communicating with us would have outgrown superstition. If they did have some sort of religion, I suspect it would appear similar to Yoga to us.

2. If the Aliens had a religion exactly like Christianity or another major religion, I would have to reconsider my non-belief.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@basstrom188 Nothing in the Bible says that man is God’s singular and special creation. At best, you could only conclude that we were first.

@Charles “Conviction” here clearly means “belief.” If you don’t have a belief that God does not exist, you are not an atheist. Atheists believe God does not exist, non-theists lack a belief that God exists, and agnostics suspend judgment on the matter of God’s existence or non-existence. Assigning probabilities does not preclude belief, after all. Many people believe things precisely because they are the most likely option.

Keep_on_running's avatar

Or…Wouldn’t it be funny if every new alien civilisation we discovered had a “son of god” named Jesus? “Oh he visited you too? Cool.”

Charles's avatar

Atheists believe God does not exist,

Not necessarily. Breaking down the word “a” means without, “theism”, or “godless” (see below) the belief in a god. So, an atheist is someone who doesn’t believe in god. Some definitions hint at going one step further and holding a belief there is no god – a stance that requires faith. However, most atheists are of the former, that is, they don’t believe in god and are open to the possibility that god exists but there are not enough facts available.

Shown here:

1. the doctrine or belief that there is no God.
2. disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings.
Origin: 1580–90; < Greek áthe ( os ) godless + -ism

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Charles Disregarding the fact that you’ve just appealed to an etymological fallacy, your dictionary definition agrees with me. Standard usage in philosophical circles is also on my side. Moreover, a belief that there is no God does not require faith (understood in the standard way of “spiritual apprehension in the absence of strong evidence”). Many atheists believe that their view can be known.

philosopher's avatar

They may worship some of their own. They may believe in some God or power we No nothing about.
It is feasible. I think however that a truly advanced Civilization would depend more on Science and Technology and; an less on any God.
Educated humans are beginning to base their life’s on Scientific Documentation. Despite their religionists beliefs. What holds us back from becoming a Class one Civilization is Politics, religionists beliefs and greed.
A Class One Civilization will not burn Fossil Fuels and will not be preoccupied with killing it’s own.
I often wonder what humanity could achieve if the goal was improving the human condition. Instead of greed, consumption, power and control.
I think an advanced Civilization that could reach Earth will be above the pity nonsense humans waste time on.
We can find solutions to the difficulties humanity has but it will require foresight, hard work and concentration.
It is possible they observe us and move on because most of humanity is not worthy of their time.

mazingerz88's avatar

Assuming just like us, these aliens have theists, atheists and agnostics between them, well, not much of a big deal to me. Unless they also have a Fluther-like intergalactic social website whose membership consists of cool space jellies or somethin. Now that would be cool. : )

ninjacolin's avatar

This is the premise of the game Halo if ever you want to play it out. :)

Berserker's avatar

@mazingerz88 Hmm, space jelly.

hiphiphopflipflapflop's avatar

Robert L. Foward wrote an amusing short story, “Twin Paradox”, in which SETI discovers a rich multi-species galactic civilization but faster-than-light travel was still regarded by even the most advanced societies as impossible. At tremendous expense, a lone astronaut is sent to the nearest inhabited outpost in an anti-matter rocket. As the latest, inconsequential primitives to struggle up from the muck, a boorish missionary from a fringe religion gets the nod to return with him and start the process of “civilizing” us. Although the astronaut (who conveniently has an Earth-bound twin brother) ages much slower than every other human, there is a surprise waiting for him when he gets back.

ETpro's avatar

@mazingerz88 I hadn’t thought of an intergalactic FLuthre, but that would be SUPER cool.

@ninjacolin Interesting. I did not know that. My son used to play it. He works in the computer game industry. So I will ask him about the gameplay of Halo.

@Symbeline The [NSFW] posibilities for space jellies are manifold.

@hiphiphopflipflapflop That sounds like a fascinating story. I have putt it on my reading list. If I age far slower than all the humans around me, I may get through it some day—even though it keeps growing just about as fast as I can read.

mattbrowne's avatar

If there is a God, then there’s only one God for the whole universe. Or multiverse. So I don’t see the problem.

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