Are Aliens Not To Be Saved?
The discovery of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe would pose real problems for our anthrocentric religions, argues Paul Davies:
All the world’s major religions were founded in a pre-scientific era. The sacred texts and the various creation myths were formulated long before humans had a good understanding of the natural world or the nature of life. More importantly, they are directed specifically at human beings and human society. Knowledge that we share the universe with myriad other sentient beings would inevitably diminish the sense of human specialness that most religions foster.
Christianity is particularly vulnerable to such a transformative discovery, due to the unique nature of the Incarnation and salvation within the religion:Christians believe that God took on human flesh in the form of Jesus Christ in order to save humankind. He did not come to save the chimpanzees or the dolphins, nor even presumably the Neanderthals, however noble or deserving those creatures may be. And he certainly did not come to Earth to save the proverbial little green men on the far side of the galaxy.
c in Mr. Davies’s argument here:
Even if there are other civilizations in the galaxy, they are likely to be thousands of light years away. A major flaw in radio SETI is that such far-flung civilizations would be very unlikely to beam signals deliberately at Earth. Because nothing can go faster than light, beings located a thousand light years away would see Earth as it was a thousand years ago, long before any technological society. If they could not possibly know we were on the air, why would they bother signaling us?
Surely if other civilizations are advanced enough to be able to signal Earth then their scientists will also have figured out the speed of light? They would therefore be likely to take a punt on us having developed into a technological society, even if all they see are lumbering dinosaurs.
Aert de Gelder