For centuries it has been the domain of various religions to seek the truth out in the universe. The possibility that there are other creatures somewhere in galaxies far away, perhaps more intelligent than we are, prompted some to speculate that their discovery could mean an end to all religious beliefs or even cause an existential crisis.
The possible discovery of alien life forms poses no threat to traditional religions, which have determined the scheme of things around us, Professor Ted Peters from the Center for Theology and Natural Sciences at Berkeley told The Daily Express. According to him, “things will probably go on the way they have been, without much change.”
He shared his concerns over some scholars and scientists’ assumption that “if we encounter creatures in space more intelligent than we are, our religions would somehow suffer. On the contrary, he noted that even one of the surveys dedicated to this problem revealed that believers seem optimistic about the prospect of meeting extraterrestrial intelligence.
“The Peters ETI Religious Crisis survey found that this was not the case with self-appointed or self-defined believers in various religious traditions. They’re a trifle worried about their traditions, but for the most part, their respective traditions will survive,” he explained, sharing one of his favourite comments on the matter, which came from “a mainline Protestant”: “I’d share a Pew with an alien any day.”
According to the theologian, who conducted the survey, while representatives of all religions seem to be at ease with “the discovery of aliens“, non-religious respondents were the only group, who predicted consequences for believers.
“There was one group who said that ‘yes, religious traditions would suffer’ and that group consisted of the non-religious. So non-religious people are worried religions will suffer collapse or a crisis, but religious people themselves don’t forecast a collapse or crisis,” he offered his paradoxical results.
According to him, religious people might be OK with the concept that earthlings are not the only children of God.
“God’s creation is going to include the entire cosmos, any living creatures that might be in it…” A lot of comments were of this nature- that God is the creator of a very large universe and this universe was not meant only for us, but to be shared with other creatures of God,” he mulled.
However, some theological questions need to be sorted out, including, whether Earth can be named a unique planet as Jesus Christ was born here, or God has had multiple incarnations in other intelligent civilisations, probably scattered around the universe. Peters and his colleagues stepped onto this terra incognito in their 2018 book Astrotheology, which might give a name to a new field of studies.
“Out of five subjects, four answered they would expect God to incarnate multiple times – one for each planet with an intelligent civilisation. One of the subjects said, ‘No, the historical event of Jesus Christ’s birth suffices for God’s atonement of the entire cosmos’,” he recalled the opinions outlined by this work.