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

Alien life would threaten some but not all religions Show more Show less

Some religions can support the existence of extraterrestrials (or aliens) better than others. A religion’s ability to accommodate the existence of aliens would depend on how open that religion’s belief system is. If it is not, dealing with the idea will be difficult.
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Religions vary in their theological flexibility with aliens

Some religions adapt very easily to new ideas in the world while others hold strict lines of thought that would struggle with new information about the world

The Argument

Certain religions are more flexible in their theologies than others, meaning that some can support the possible discovery of alien life. For example, in the religion of Islam, the belief of life on other planets can be interpreted in the Qur’an, but notes that these extraterrestrial beings may not practice Islam “as it is practiced on Earth”.[1] Other religions that originated in Asia, such as Buddhism and Hinduism, are more flexible in their theological beliefs when it comes to the possibility of life on other planets. Their beliefs reflect on life on other planets through theories like reincarnation. Though several religions leave room to support alien life, others show to be less flexible in their beliefs. Christianity may not be as accepting, since the Bible claims the creation of man in God’s image, and that God created Earth solely for human beings. The Bible gives little to no indication that life could exist in other parts of the universe. If scientists confirm life on other planets, this could lead to a potential downfall of Christian religions, since alien life contradicts their beliefs. Despite the incompatibility, a considerably large amount of people who practice religion believe in the existence of alien life, including a significant amount of Christians. Recently, 6,000 Americans participated in a survey conducted by market research company, Survata, to answer the question as to whether they believe in alien life, based off of their religious affiliation.[2] Christians had the lowest percentage of 32%, with the highest percentage being Muslims at 44%. Many participants claimed that the discovery of alien life would not alter their religious beliefs. While belief in alien life is not consistent with every religious tradition, some would accept their existence if presented with the evidence. Even for religions that don't directly support the existence of extraterrestrial life, their believers are much more open to the possibility.

Counter arguments

Religion and alien life cannot coexist, since the discovery of alien life would mean the end to major religions like Christianity and Judaism. Recent surveys have proven that even though many religious people believe in the existence of aliens, or that their beliefs would remain unaffected by the confirmation of alien life, the numbers are significantly lower than those who do not believe in life on other planets. The existence of aliens contradicts many religious theologies, meaning that religion would eventually die out as research on alien life progresses. Many religions are also at odds with science. The discovery of aliens would be one of many scientific claims rejected by religious communities, much like climate change, the age of the universe, and evolution.

Proponents

Premises

Rejecting the premises

References

  1. https://news.vanderbilt.edu/2014/09/29/religion-ready-for-et/
  2. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/less-god-less-extraterrestrials_b_3999273
This page was last edited on Sunday, 4 Oct 2020 at 09:56 UTC

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