argument top image

Is alien life a threat to religion? Show more Show less
Back to question

When Copernicus and Galileo championed a heliocentric view of the universe, they were demonised by the Catholic authorities for fear of threatening their legitimacy. Would the discovery of alien life on other planets threaten the power and importance of modern religions in a similar way?

The existence of alien life would be a threat to religion Show more Show less

Alien life would challenge the legitimacy of modern religion. Religions have a clear set of beliefs, and some of them do not account for life on other planets. Some reject the possibility outright. The discovery of aliens would conflict with what these religions teach, undermining their credibility.
(1 of 3) Next position >

Humanity's special relationship with God will be undermined by aliens

Religions argue for a special relationship between God and mankind. Mankind is often said to be the highest form of creation. The existence of alien life will show that these beliefs are false.

Context

Humanity's belief that we are special and have been given knowledge of God will prove to be a construct of human culture.

The Argument

Most religions focus on prophetic revelations which are given specifically to humankind. In the biblical creation story, Mankind is a reflection of God's image, and man is the highest form of life, given lordship over all other beings. The Koran also has many passages which seem to award man dominion over creation.[1] If there are other intelligent life forms, especially if they are more advanced than humans, scripture it calls scripture into question. Religions like Christianity, Judaism, and Islam argue that God reveals himself through events in human history. Suppose there are many worlds with many civilizations, we may ask the question why God would choose to act specifically on our planet and why he speaks to humans in particular.[2] Many religions are vulnerable to some version of this scrutiny. Why would Jesus only save human beings? Why is Mecca so important to Islam if the earth is one of millions of worlds?[3] Unless aliens have identical religious stories to us, religious myths will appear to be cultural constructs, which privilege human beings out of ignorance, not revelation. In the Christian tradition, Christ died to save mankind specifically. Other worlds would have to have their own version of the crucifixion to seem credible.[4] Even if religions attempt to shoehorn aliens into their dogma, their credibility will be irreparably damaged because mankind will no longer seem special. Earthly religions focus on humans, and the discovery of new species will take the spotlight from them.

Counter arguments

For people, there’s a separation between gods and God. This distinction isn’t because of a matter of importance or difference in power but from a sense of personal connection. It is the difference between someone else’s god and your own God. Despite this differentiation, it does not diminish their importance nor a person’s faith. It’s just another religion that co-exists alongside another. Different faiths and beliefs do not have to be at war with one another. The same can be said for humans dealing with the alien existence. Neither side has to give in to the other belief system and convert due to these new revelations.[5] God’s existence has never been measured in proof but through belief and faith. With the existence of aliens changing everything we know about the universe, the faithful would likely remain so. Even with these new questions, people will find a way to rationalize and continue to have faith in their God.

Proponents

Premises

[P1] The discovery of extraterrestrial life will undermine the claim that mankind is the highest form of life, made by many religions . [P2] Revelations given to man concerning the nature of the universe will be undermined by alien religions, or their ignorance of our religions.

Rejecting the premises

References

  1. https://islam-science.net/islam-and-extraterrestrial-life-2908/
  2. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14746700.2015.1023522
  3. https://www.skyatnightmagazine.com/space-science/how-would-religion-react-if-we-discovered-extra-terrestrial-life/
  4. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14746700.2015.1023522
  5. https://sensuouscurmudgeon.wordpress.com/2019/07/01/jason-lisle-says-there-is-no-alien-life/
This page was last edited on Thursday, 15 Oct 2020 at 21:08 UTC

Explore related arguments