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Post  Khephra on Tue Feb 02, 2010 8:32 pm

See New Scientist for the complete article.

Religion could survive discovery of ET, survey suggests

Could the world's religions survive the discovery of extraterrestrial life? Or would their beliefs be so shaken that they would eventually collapse?

A survey (pdf) discussed on Tuesday at a meeting on the search for alien life at the Royal Society in London suggests religion would survive.

The survey, designed by Ted Peters, a professor of Systematic Theology at the Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary and the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, asked 1300 people whether they thought the discovery of extraterrestrial intelligence would shake their individual belief, the strength of their religion as a whole or would adversely affect the beliefs of other religions. The survey included both religious and non-religious people, and most respondents were based in the US.

None of the 70 Buddhists questioned thought that the discovery of ET would undercut their belief systems, although 40 per cent thought it could pose problems for other religions.

More Roman Catholics believed ET could pose a problem for their faith. Only 8 per cent of the 120 surveyed thought that their individual beliefs would be shaken, but nearly a quarter 22 per cent said it could adversely affect their religion. Even more 30 per cent thought it could threaten the beliefs of other religious people.

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Post  sendoshin on Wed Feb 03, 2010 1:24 am

I'm thinking "suggests" is a strong word, here. Very small sample, and hardly representative.

However, I would tend to agree. Many religions have survived what they have simply by being flexible in the interpretation of their holy writ. There is much evidence of this happening on multiple occasions in the Roman Catholic Church, for example.

Some would have it easier than that, as extraterrestrial life is very much a part of their doctrine. Mormonism is one such example; though they don't often say straight out that life on other planets is inevitable, they do believe that other gods are the creators and maintainers of other diverse worlds throughout the Universe. The phrasing of the commandment that followers shall have "no other gods before me" seems to back them up in this. And of course Scientologists fear little more than the return of the beings that caused so much trouble for our world and its inhabitants all those millenia back.

Still others would be completely unaffected by it, such as Buddhists, because extraterrestrial life has nothing to do with their beliefs - their writ simply doesn't touch on the subject, or otherwise tends to present the possibility as one to consider.

Would some religions collapse? Almost inevitably. But certainly not all. Not in this commenter's opinion.

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Post  fatebeats on Fri May 21, 2010 2:11 pm

I gave this some thought when I was a child, and decided that one of the only things that would make me a believer would be if ETs came down preaching the Christian gospel. I also thought that Genesis, being as Earth and human-centric as it is, would be hard put to jibe with an ET intelligence. I don't think that Genesis being "proven" wrong is that much of an issue for many Christians, however. It's already pretty hard to reconcile with modern scientific reasoning. When I was that age and was trying to make Christianity work, I took Genesis as an allegory. I figured God may have set life into motion, and let evolution do the heavy lifting.

I wonder if the arrival of ETs might set off "end-times" scares. I've read speculation that demons masquerading as ETs might usher in a new, "interplanetary" religion, helping the ascension of the anti-Christ.

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Post  Nicky Lubu on Sun May 23, 2010 1:03 am

alright heres what we do, we get an E.T. when they come to our planet, then we get the biggest broadcasting system, then we get a lie detector test going on the E.T. and we ask questions like are there multiple gods out there, how about one god who is ruler of all multiple gods, will all religion lead us all to the same destiny, etc. etc. i think then we'd have our answers but its a whole nother case if the E.T.s dont speak any world language then they would have to get a translator and we would have to have him translate their language to us so that we can translate and then we translate to the interrogated E.T. Only then will we get our answers and it doesnt have to be those 3 questions ive asked because i could come up with better ones but those seem to be the questions of the issues with religion at the moment.
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