|By John Hart
"The discovery of life on another planet is potentially one of the most important scientific advances of this century, let alone this decade, and it would have enormous philosophical implications."--Terrestrial Planet Finder
Since NASA discovered bacterial fossils in the Mars meteorite ALH84001 everyone has been obsessed with the thought of life on other planets. NASA has invested billions of dollars in upcoming missions to search for new worlds. Recently the aging Hubble telescope received a $172 million upgrade to aid in the search for extra-solar planets. Not only is the government searching, so is the general population. Over a million people have downloaded the [email protected] software to analyze radio data collected by the Arecibo radio telescope. It would seem as though everyone is getting in on the search for Extraterrestrial life, but what would such a discovery mean.
I recently read an article entitled "Communication with Extraterrestrial Intelligence," by Lewis Thomas. The article stated that after we recover from the initial shock of discovering another intelligent race of beings, we all be overjoyed with knowing that we are not alone. As good as the article was the author seemed too skipped right over the most obvious and controversial issue that would arise from contact with beings from another planet. For thousands of years the human race has believed that God created the heavens and earth. If there are other planets in the universe that contain life, what being or beings created them? Were these other planets and their inhabitants created by our God, if so why? The religious community has always thought of themselves as God's children, but if there are other life forms out there does that mean that we weren't good enough for him. Would we suddenly feel like a child whose father leaves and has children from a second marriage? If there are more inhabited planets in the universe could it be possible that each one has there own separate God. Is it possible there are many God in the universe each controlling different galaxies? Maybe the entire universe is an ongoing experiment being conducted by some superior beings. This first argument assumes that these beings from another planet look like us, but according to all the popular science fiction aliens don't look anything like us.
The Bible states that, "God created man in his own image," but everyone that has claimed to have seen aliens say they don't look like us at all. When we finally have definite visual proof that aliens exist and they turn out to have a different appearance than us, won't we wonder whose image were they created in. Better yet whose image were we created in? What will this do to our religion? The mere presence of these alien beings will cause many people to question their faith. We will suddenly have to deal with the fact that it might have all been a lie. Even if they appear human there will be many more questions. With so much of our society built around religion this could throw our society into chaos.
While it is true some people would welcome the proof that we are not alone, I seriously doubt that the portion of our society that bases their lives on religion would take it so easy. Since the majority of the people that make up the human race are religious, proof that we are not alone could be a devastating blow. I for one would welcome the proof, but I don't think the world is ready. I don't think it ever will be ready.
I have left more questions than answers but with this topic there is no way to answer even one of these questions. We will have to continue living our lives, wait for the day we first make contact and pray that it all goes smoothly. But if we aren't alone, why pray?
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