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Tags alien life , extra-terrestrial life , god beliefs

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Old 3rd January 2022, 04:37 PM   #1
ynot
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Would extra-terrestrial life threaten god beliefs?

In particular (but not only), Christian god beliefs.

Don't have time to contribute right now but wanted to move this question from the JWST thread.

Originally Posted by ynot View Post

If JWST or subsequent technologies every find really good evidence of some forms of life on other planets, would that pose a problem/threat to current religious beliefs? I think it would have to, but when I asked a “DIY” Christian friend recently he quickly said “No, of course not”. When I bombarded him with a barrage of “what about” and “yeah but” examples of how and why it should, he just hand-waved them all away with silly “God works in mysterious ways” and “We can’t understand the mind and workings of God” type dodges.
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Old 3rd January 2022, 05:02 PM   #2
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I would say no because religions are immune to logic and falsification. The fact that the Jehovah's Witnesses are still around after all of their failed end-time prophesies is Exhibit A here. "You cannot reason someone out of a position that they didn't reason themselves into."

Because religions are based on faith and not on science in the first place, they are basically immune to being killed by science. If Darwin's theory of evolution and learning that the Earth is 4 billion years old didn't kill them, or indeed that the earth is round and orbits the sun didn't kill them, I think any discovery of aliens will not have any effect.
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Old 3rd January 2022, 05:18 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
I would say no because religions are immune to logic and falsification. The fact that the Jehovah's Witnesses are still around after all of their failed end-time prophesies is Exhibit A here. "You cannot reason someone out of a position that they didn't reason themselves into."

Because religions are based on faith and not on science in the first place, they are basically immune to being killed by science. If Darwin's theory of evolution and learning that the Earth is 4 billion years old didn't kill them, or indeed that the earth is round and orbits the sun didn't kill them, I think any discovery of aliens will not have any effect.
Agreed. There's nothing left to disprove. We literally KNOW that every religion is wrong. The only god that is left is the agnostic one, and that one can never be disproven, because there could always be something behind the curtain, even if we can't find the curtain.
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Old 3rd January 2022, 05:31 PM   #4
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There are LDS I know who would say, "We told you so."

And also, the Seventh-Day Adventist Prophetess, Ellen G. White, had a vision of extraterrestrials living on some ringed planet.

C.S. Lewis already covered this ground in a couple of didactic, Christain novels, Out of The Silent Planet and Perelandra.

So, no biggy.
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Old 3rd January 2022, 05:35 PM   #5
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https://www.americamagazine.org/fait...-church-240702

[Article in Jesuit magazine about Catholicism and ET life.]
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Old 3rd January 2022, 06:32 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by ynot View Post
In particular (but not only), Christian god beliefs.
I used to go to Ship of Fools forum, which was a collection of very scholarly religious types, and included a couple of absolute experts on Summae Theologica.

Apparently, yes, it would destroy their doctrine. I can't remember exactly why, because it was so unimportant, but along the lines of Jesus didn't die for three days for no stinkin' alien scum.
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Old 3rd January 2022, 09:15 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
Because religions are based on faith and not on science in the first place, they are basically immune to being killed by science.
I'll amend the above slightly to add that religions are based not only on faith, but also on institutions, interpersonal relationships, and sunk costs. People don't want to give up on something that they've invested much of their life into.

Think about it: If you've been faithfully attending church, tithing, participating in all of the church community social functions and so on for decades, would you really want to give all of that up just because some eggheads who you don't even know personally made a scientific discovery that contradicts what the preacher said, or what the Holy Book said?

People who participate in this sort of thing may even be aware that it's all just a myth. They may think of it as a poetic sort of metaphor, not something to be taken literally or examined critically. They choose to "suspend their disbelief" for the same reason that you or I suspend our disbelief when we consume works of fiction such as movies or fantasy books. Because nitpicking over the details that don't add up ruins the experience. It's best experienced when you turn off that analytical part of your brain and just accept everything at face value without questioning it. (I'm saying that most religious people probably feel that way, not that I feel that way.)
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Old 3rd January 2022, 11:18 PM   #8
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Perhaps not for most religions, but for Young Earth Creationists, it would definitely chap their arses. Its going to be hard to reconcile an Earth that was created 6,026 years ago, in which God created man in his image, with life discvoered on a planet circling a star a few light years away... it would mean their Sky Daddy created the alien life first, or at least, before them.

I think they would have no choice but to label such life "The Devil's Work"
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Old 3rd January 2022, 11:19 PM   #9
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Would extra-terrestrial life threaten god beliefs?

Absolutely!

The God believers would have to somehow fit this in to their knowledge of God. Good would have to be involved in their (the aliens) creation. If so maybe they were created in God's image also. Maybe they were created perfect also but somehow veered from the path. Floods, and other Devine attribution would have followed, Just like here on Mother Earth.

Perhaps, the aliens preceded us here and God tried other means to get them to toe the line. If so maybe what happened here was a refinement on what he had tried on them. The mind boggles!
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Old 3rd January 2022, 11:25 PM   #10
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No, simply put;
aliens = fear
fear = god will save us

It was the same with lightening, the goalposts move each time we discover more.
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Old 4th January 2022, 07:37 AM   #11
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As ever the RCC has already covered it - for example: The extraterrestrial is my brother

ETA: most relevant part if you want to skip most of it:

Quote:
...

LOR: Are we referring also to similar beings to us or more evolved ones?

FUNES: It is possible. Until now we have had no proof. But certainly in a universe so big this hypothesis cannot be excluded.

LOR: And this would not be a problem for our faith?

FUNES: I believe no. As a multiplicity of creatures exist on earth, so there could be other beings, also intelligent, created by God. This does not contrast with our faith because we cannot put limits on the creative freedom of God. To say it with Saint Francis, if we consider earthly creatures as “brother” and “sister,” why cannot we also speak of an “extraterrestrial brother?” It would therefore be a part of creation.

LOR: And what about redemption?

FUNES: We borrow the gospel image of the lost sheep. The pastor leaves the 99 in the herd for go look for the one that is lost. We think that in this universe there can be 100 sheep, corresponding to diverse forms of creatures. We that belong to the human race could be precisely the lost sheep, sinners who have need of a pastor. God was made man in Jesus to save us. In this way, if other intelligent beings existed, it is not said that they would have need of redemption. They could remain in full friendship with their Creator.

LOR: I insist: if they were sinners, would redemption also be possible for them?

FUNES: Jesus has been incarnated once, for everyone. The incarnation is an unique and unrepeatable event. I am therefore sure that they, in some way, would have the possibility to enjoy God’s mercy, as it has been for us men.

...
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Old 4th January 2022, 08:26 AM   #12
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“The incarnation is an unique and unrepeatable event.”

I love how some people just know stuff like this.
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Old 4th January 2022, 08:42 AM   #13
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History has shown that religious doctrine is quite flexible. There's no way such ancient modes of thinking would still survive to the modern era if they weren't capable of accommodating massive changes in circumstance.
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Old 4th January 2022, 08:49 AM   #14
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No. Religious people would just rationalize the new facts away and retcon their belief systems to always accepting X was true, same as they do with everything else.

It's repeated to the point of cliche but these people aren't going to reason themselves out of something they didn't reason themselves into.
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Old 4th January 2022, 09:01 AM   #15
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Well, it does say in the Bible that no-one can get to heaven except through Jesus Christ. The Catholic church was forced to create a kind of halfway house called Limbo in order to escape the problem of innocent babies going straight to hell if they died unchristened. AFAIK, all the people who lived and died either before Jesus, or before the arrival of Christian missionaries, also went straight to hell.
Unless Jesus went through a process of being incarnated as an alien, having his tentacles nailed to a cross, and rising again after 3 days of a different length to ours, then all the aliens would be similarly damned.
The same problem would occur in Islam. Unless there were a Martian Mohammed, then, according to their beliefs, once again the aliens would be damned. Also, praying in the direction of Mecca from a distance of several lightyears would require some pretty complex calculations.
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Old 4th January 2022, 09:09 AM   #16
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Captain America in the MCU didn't seem bothered by the presence of extra-terrestrials and even actual gods.
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Old 4th January 2022, 09:12 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Cosmic Yak View Post
Well, it does say in the Bible that no-one can get to heaven except through Jesus Christ. The Catholic church was forced to create a kind of halfway house called Limbo in order to escape the problem of innocent babies going straight to hell if they died unchristened. AFAIK, all the people who lived and died either before Jesus, or before the arrival of Christian missionaries, also went straight to hell.
Unless Jesus went through a process of being incarnated as an alien, having his tentacles nailed to a cross, and rising again after 3 days of a different length to ours, then all the aliens would be similarly damned.
The same problem would occur in Islam. Unless there were a Martian Mohammed, then, according to their beliefs, once again the aliens would be damned. Also, praying in the direction of Mecca from a distance of several lightyears would require some pretty complex calculations.
Oh noes that would require Christians and Muslims to just... make up new beliefs and ignore contradictory ones and they never, ever do that... oh wait sorry my sarcasm generator overloaded there give me a second.
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Old 4th January 2022, 09:32 AM   #18
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You’ve got to remember that the setup has to be just unreasonable enough that basically everyone will need the forgiveness that the religion can bestow or withhold, but not so unreasonable that nobody has a chance anyway and so they stop playing. Like the babies needed purgatory, so will the aliens need some kind of workaround that doesn’t cut them entirely out of the game.
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Old 4th January 2022, 10:22 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by ynot View Post
In particular (but not only), Christian god beliefs.
Far from threatening my beliefs, it is part and parcel of the spiritualist teachings that there are many other inhabited planets like ours in the universe. We re- incarnate on this and other planets to suit the needs of our soul. According to Silver Birch (some of whose teachings can be found on the internet) the beings on most planets are more evolved than us, but some are less evolved.
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Old 4th January 2022, 10:25 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by Scorpion View Post
Far from threatening my beliefs, it is part and parcel of the spiritualist teachings that there are many other inhabited planets like ours in the universe. We re- incarnate on this and other planets to suit the needs of our soul. According to Silver Birch (some of whose teachings can be found on the internet) the beings on most planets are more evolved than us, but some are less evolved.
Would they also be okay with raping and murdering little girls for the good of their souls?
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Old 4th January 2022, 10:32 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
Would they also be okay with raping and murdering little girls for the good of their souls?
Don't forget that Darat says the little girls are beheaded too.
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Old 4th January 2022, 11:02 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by Scorpion View Post
Don't forget that Darat says the little girls are beheaded too.
Well... he can be such a stickler for the details.
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Old 4th January 2022, 11:17 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by Apathia View Post
There are LDS I know who would say, "We told you so."
I'm pretty sure that should be all LDS. My recollection of the discussion I had was that it's codified doctrine that human life exists on other planets. If you delve into the weird discourses by Brigham Young and others, there's some language that suggests he (and others) believed the Moon and Sun were also inhabited. There's some truly weird cosmology in early Mormon literature, much of it yoinked from popular (mis)understanding of ancient Egyptian cosmology. But that's the weird stuff nobody talks about anymore. There's a passage in one of the post-Book of Mormon canons that Joseph Smith wrote in which God tells Moses that he has created many inhabited worlds.

But the same passage hints that there will never be any direct contact between the inhabitants of the various worlds. A Mormon clergyman (probably not official doctrine) told me that it's because such contact would deny faith, since we would have intellectual knowledge, rather than faith-based belief, that the whole Christian atonement scenario was fact. But Mormons do not even bat an eye at the notion that there is life elsewhere in the universe.
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Old 4th January 2022, 11:37 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by Scorpion View Post
Don't forget that Darat says the little girls are beheaded too.
And do you remember why? It was because you objected to a hypothetical child I used to illustrate the horror of your beliefs. So I went and found an actual example to use.

https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/so...-girl-in-india

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/a...campaign=cppst
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Old 4th January 2022, 12:46 PM   #25
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There was an episode of the "Alien Nation" TV series in which a Catholic said "We don't even know if the Newcomers have souls. I'm sure that God has a plan for them, but it isn't necessarily the same plan that He has for us."

Aliens could be dismissed as life that God created for some other part of His plan, maybe to get their homeworld ready for us to someday move there. The universe was created for us, after all.
There was a science fiction story I read in which an alien race was convinced that they were the only truly sapient species in the universe, and other starfaring races were just particularly smart animals that were good at mimicking them and their accomplishments. Aliens could be dismissed as unusually smart animals, and animals were created for our benefit.
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Old 4th January 2022, 12:52 PM   #26
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Also we're missing key information.

Do the hypothetical aliens have money to fleece from them and do the aliens have a boy gender that that Priests can have sex with?
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Old 4th January 2022, 01:12 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by Armitage72 View Post
There was an episode of the "Alien Nation" TV series in which a Catholic said "We don't even know if the Newcomers have souls. I'm sure that God has a plan for them, but it isn't necessarily the same plan that He has for us."

Aliens could be dismissed as life that God created for some other part of His plan, maybe to get their homeworld ready for us to someday move there. The universe was created for us, after all.
There was a science fiction story I read in which an alien race was convinced that they were the only truly sapient species in the universe, and other starfaring races were just particularly smart animals that were good at mimicking them and their accomplishments. Aliens could be dismissed as unusually smart animals, and animals were created for our benefit.
Weren't they called Romans? The barbarians did not speak Latin but had no language and only went "Ba. Ba. Ba."

(It's all here in: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbarian#Etymology)
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Old 4th January 2022, 03:23 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by Armitage72 View Post
There was an episode of the "Alien Nation" TV series in which a Catholic said "We don't even know if the Newcomers have souls. I'm sure that God has a plan for them, but it isn't necessarily the same plan that He has for us."

Aliens could be dismissed as life that God created for some other part of His plan, maybe to get their homeworld ready for us to someday move there. The universe was created for us, after all.
There was a science fiction story I read in which an alien race was convinced that they were the only truly sapient species in the universe, and other starfaring races were just particularly smart animals that were good at mimicking them and their accomplishments. Aliens could be dismissed as unusually smart animals, and animals were created for our benefit.
Originally Posted by Cosmic Yak View Post
Well, it does say in the Bible that no-one can get to heaven except through Jesus Christ. The Catholic church was forced to create a kind of halfway house called Limbo in order to escape the problem of innocent babies going straight to hell if they died unchristened. AFAIK, all the people who lived and died either before Jesus, or before the arrival of Christian missionaries, also went straight to hell.
Unless Jesus went through a process of being incarnated as an alien, having his tentacles nailed to a cross, and rising again after 3 days of a different length to ours, then all the aliens would be similarly damned.
The same problem would occur in Islam. Unless there were a Martian Mohammed, then, according to their beliefs, once again the aliens would be damned. Also, praying in the direction of Mecca from a distance of several lightyears would require some pretty complex calculations.

These somewhat remind me of the joke about St Peter showing Nathaniel (a newly arrived Jew) around Heaven. As St Peter points in various directions to various groups of people he speaks to Nathaniel...

St Peter: "The Hindus are there, the Muslims are there, the Protestants are over there, and your people are just over there."

Nathaniel: "What? There are other religions here too?"

St Peter: "Oh yes Nathaniel. All who have lived a good life free from evil and who believe in the afterlife are welcome in God's kingdom"

Nathaniel (pointing to a long and high stone wall in the distance): "What is that wall for?"

St Peter: "Oh, that is where we keep all the Catholics. They like to think they are the only ones here!
.
.
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Old 5th January 2022, 06:48 AM   #29
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I am sure that there would be a few theists who would become aethists if it could be firmly established that there was intelligent life elsewhere in the universe.

However, I am also sure that if it could be firmly established that there actually is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe, then nearly all of the theists would still be theists. But, these remaining theists would just alter their dogma a bit to fit the new facts.

After all, theists have been altering their dogma in order to fit with new facts for the last few centuries now.
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Old 5th January 2022, 07:00 AM   #30
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I suspect theists would look to convert them.

Give me the whobleflip until he is seven and I'll give you the spintangler.
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Old 5th January 2022, 07:08 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by smartcooky View Post
These somewhat remind me of the joke about St Peter showing Nathaniel (a newly arrived Jew) around Heaven. As St Peter points in various directions to various groups of people he speaks to Nathaniel...

St Peter: "The Hindus are there, the Muslims are there, the Protestants are over there, and your people are just over there."

Nathaniel: "What? There are other religions here too?"

St Peter: "Oh yes Nathaniel. All who have lived a good life free from evil and who believe in the afterlife are welcome in God's kingdom"

Nathaniel (pointing to a long and high stone wall in the distance): "What is that wall for?"

St Peter: "Oh, that is where we keep all the Catholics. They like to think they are the only ones here!
.
.
And at the other end...

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Old 5th January 2022, 07:30 AM   #32
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Everyone knows that Heaven is for Presbyterians.

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Old 5th January 2022, 08:21 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by Lothian View Post
I suspect theists would look to convert them.
What if the aliens also turn out to be religious? Would atheists look to convert them? Would that threaten atheist positions about god(s)?
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Old 5th January 2022, 08:22 AM   #34
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
What if the aliens also turn out to be religious? Would atheists look to convert them? Would that threaten atheist positions about god(s)?
Depends on what evidence they have.
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Old 5th January 2022, 09:11 AM   #35
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Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal

An alien and a priest are conversing outside the alien's spaceship.
"Oh, he comes back every two weeks or so. We gave him this big box of chocolates when he first arrived. Why? What'd you guys do?"
"Uhh ..."

Caption: Well, the good news is that we found out Jesus is worshiped on other planets.

Bonus panel: The alien is reading a Bible while the priest tries to explain.
"But, see, from a theological perspective, it's a good thing."
"Riiight ..."
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Old 5th January 2022, 09:18 AM   #36
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Originally Posted by smartcooky View Post
Perhaps not for most religions, but for Young Earth Creationists, it would definitely chap their arses. Its going to be hard to reconcile an Earth that was created 6,026 years ago, in which God created man in his image, with life discvoered on a planet circling a star a few light years away... it would mean their Sky Daddy created the alien life first, or at least, before them.

I think they would have no choice but to label such life "The Devil's Work"
Originally Posted by Crossbow View Post
I am sure that there would be a few theists who would become aethists if it could be firmly established that there was intelligent life elsewhere in the universe.

However, I am also sure that if it could be firmly established that there actually is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe, then nearly all of the theists would still be theists. But, these remaining theists would just alter their dogma a bit to fit the new facts.

After all, theists have been altering their dogma in order to fit with new facts for the last few centuries now.

Probably closest to the correct answer I've seen. The actual answer is, It depends. As you note, for YECs definitely, probably for most Jews, Christians, and Muslims it would be challenge with especially the more fundie types either declaring aliens to be demons or abandoning their faith for something different. Most folks would just accommodate the way we always have.

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Old 5th January 2022, 10:58 AM   #37
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
What if the aliens also turn out to be religious? Would atheists look to convert them? Would that threaten atheist positions about god(s)?
If the aliens had a religion that exactly mimicked one on earth, maybe, it would at least point to *something* spreading the same idea on two planets in the exact same way.

But since no god on earth has managed to spread it's religion to more than one place simultaneously and no two religions are even vaguely alike it's doubtful that will happen.
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Old 5th January 2022, 11:13 AM   #38
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Originally Posted by Lukraak_Sisser View Post
If the aliens had a religion that exactly mimicked one on earth, maybe, it would at least point to *something* spreading the same idea on two planets in the exact same way.



But since no god on earth has managed to spread it's religion to more than one place simultaneously and no two religions are even vaguely alike it's doubtful that will happen.
Not sure where that last sentence is going.
Abrahamic Christianity is probably the least original. Seems to be a hodge-podge of stolen, copied or kludged aspects of several dozen preexisting faiths.
They just stripped the serial numbers and repainted... sorta like American English and other languages.
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Old 5th January 2022, 01:08 PM   #39
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
What if the aliens also turn out to be religious? Would atheists look to convert them? Would that threaten atheist positions about god(s)?
No

Those of us with any commonsense understand that religions and the belief in the existence of deities is a natural responsive construct by proto-intelligent beings to account for events and phenomena taking place in the natural world (such as seasons, sunrise and set, stars in the sky, earthquakes and volcanoes, storms etc) that their lack of understanding and knowledge leaves them unable to explain

Earthquakes, volcanoes and other disasters = the Gods are angry
Good hunting, fine weather, bumper crops = the Gods are pleased

I fully expect in the unlikely event that we contact any advanced alien technological civilizations, they will either have religions, or will have had religions in the past, and have done what we have so far failed to do - to realise their are no gods, that religions are a load of BS, and dispensed with them.
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Old 5th January 2022, 04:03 PM   #40
Lukraak_Sisser
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Originally Posted by Jim_MDP View Post
Not sure where that last sentence is going.
Abrahamic Christianity is probably the least original. Seems to be a hodge-podge of stolen, copied or kludged aspects of several dozen preexisting faiths.
They just stripped the serial numbers and repainted... sorta like American English and other languages.
I ment that if a true god existed that actually cared what we did, it would have been able to spread it's message, be that Christianity, Hinduism or whatever to multiple peoples on earth at the same time.

"Hey guys over in the America's, this dude on a totally different continent died for your sins, here is your copy of the bible which will tell you what to do for the next 1400 or so years. By they way, you might want to invest in some way of combating infectious diseases. "

Intelligent creatures finding a way to comfort themselves about death via a religion would not be surprising at all.
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