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ETpro's avatar

How would the discovery of alien life with advanced intelligence impact human-centered ideas of religion?

Asked by ETpro (34425points) December 29th, 2012

This is a follow up to this question regarding the likelihood of finding intelligent life elsewhere in spacetime.

Most human religions posit a creator who flung this vast Universe into being as a place specially designed for mankind to inhabit. How long would it take the Pope and the leading Mullahs and Muftis of Islam to come to grips with alien intelligence, particularly if they turned out to be advanced beyond man, and held religious beliefs at odds with sky-daddy based Earth religions?

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16 Answers

El_Cadejo's avatar

I dont see why it’d make any difference. We can’t even agree with our own species on the origin of life, what makes you think we’d be able to agree with some extra terrestrial species?

bookish1's avatar

Innaresting question. I don’t think Hinduism would have much problem accepting the existence of aliens. Many of our gods look only marginally humanoid, anyway, and anything can be deified. Hell, rather than decry Buddhism as a heresy or challenge, Vaishnavism just found in the Buddha yet another avatar of Vishnu.

serenade's avatar

The Catholic church has already said ‘It’s okay to be grey.’

wundayatta's avatar

Look. Ideas about a creator are all imaginary, anyway. There is no evidence to support such hypotheses. So if there were aliens, people could easily change the notion of the creator to include the new discoveries. It has happened time after time in history. Religions—even the most staid and conservative ones, always find a way to incorporate new realities into the religion.

Most likely they would reinterpret the writings to show how they predicted aliens. In one way or another, they would say the aliens were always there and are nothing new and the religion is the same as it always was. Religions are about tradition and stability, and the way they achieve that is by saying that anything new and different was actually the same as was always predicted. Since language is so flexible and vague, it is usually pretty easy to do this.

Jaxk's avatar

Since virtually every civilization has created their own gods, what makes you think aliens wouldn’t bring a new religion with them. Religions have a way of adapting. I suspect they will continue to do so.

Coloma's avatar

Well…clearly if a more advanced life form/culture is discovered that pretty much refutes the religious assertion that God made us in his image.
It would render he and we as the developmentally disabled of the universe. lol

flutherother's avatar

We would have to pray that our god would save us. Or pray that their god would save us.

TheProfoundPorcupine's avatar

We already have a wide range of religions and beliefs here from those that are seen as being mainstream to the rather more obscure such as the Raelians which is a UFO religion and of course there was the Heaven’s Gate thing years ago as well. I do think that if it turned out that people like the Raelians were right there would be billions of people around the world wondering how they didn’t see that one coming.

It is interesting to note how there have been attempts by various people to find links to aliens in things such as the Bible and the Quran and if you read books by people such as Von Daniken and Hancock (personally I find Von Daniken to be quite funny) then ancient civilizations were influenced by aliens and all kinds of things already.

I think what I’m saying is that there may be a slight alteration to interpretation if this did indeed happen and we would carry on in pretty much the same way as we do now with the only difference being that Men in Black changes from a movie to a fly on the wall documentary.

Self_Consuming_Cannibal's avatar

Some people are so egocentric and whacked out, they might consider alien life-forms to be demons or angels, just so they can have God all to themselves.

Paradox25's avatar

I don’t believe that much would change because most religions, especially the ones concerning eastern and western mysticism, are already open-minded philosophies for the most part. Most religious practicers already accept reductionist theories of science shown to be likely true.

I think there would be a problem among many moderate and conservative Christians in America though, where close to half of them don’t even accept most evolutionary theories. Nontheist and/or theistic aliens who are advanced enough to come to earth would likely be seen as the antichrist by many moderates and fundamentalists. Open minded Christians would be more accepting of some tenants of their beliefs being wrong, and most Christians that I personally know have many doubts about their own beliefs anyways.

JenniferP's avatar

That will never happen but it would make a great book or movie.

ETpro's avatar

@uberbatman To Christians and Jews who have read their Bible or Torah , it should make a great deal of difference. Genesis is very specific about how the Sun and stars all revolve around the Earth, and were all put into the dome above the Earth for the benefit of man. It took the Catholic Church over 3 centuries to formally apologize to Galileo. Imagine having to cope with the fact that all the stuff in the nonexistent dome of the sky wasn’t put there just for us.

cutiepi92's avatar

Well as a Christian, I personally don’t think it would change my views much. It depends on how you look at the Bible. I look at it as more of an allegory, used to represent overall concepts to lead us through life. Many others look at it as literal though. I believe there is a God, but who is to say that we were the only ones that God created? I’m being a bit farfetched here and might get stoned for this, but why would we be the only living beings in the ENTIRE UNIVERSE? The universe is one big ass place, so I just can’t see how that’s possible. I suppose it can be, but aliens wouldn’t surprise me either.

I think I’m considered to be an extremely open minded Christian though lol.

ETpro's avatar

This just in on the likelihood of life on an alien world. Even if the probability of life developing in places suitable for it turns out to be extremely low, with hundreds of billions of planets in our own Milky Way Galaxy and hundreds of billions of other galaxies within just the portion of the Universe we can observe, the probability of life existing somewhere else is close to 100%.

ETpro's avatar

@uberbatman Fascinating video. Thanks. This article today in The Register says that the Kepler study so far points to there being something like 17 billion Earth-like planets in the Milky Way Galaxy. If abiogenesis then is a common process wired into the laws of the Universe, there are a great many planets out there supporting life of some form. And it certainly appears that life given sufficient time and favorable conditions does inherently tend toward higher levels of intelligence, as this enhances survival.

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