Religions and Extraterrestrial Life

Astronomy professor David Weintraub’s new book explains what leaders of the world’s major religious affiliation believe about the possibilities of alien life.

The question of whether humans are alone in the universe has not yet been answered, but it has been the subject of intense scrutiny by both secular and religious thinkers.  One such thinker is David Weintraub, who has written a book, Religions and Extraterrestrial Life: How Will We Deal With It?, on how the discovery of aliens might be handled by various world religions.  While this seems to be an issue far outside the norm of religious thought, it has been a subject that many thinkers of various religions have contemplated for centuries.

The issue has profound implications, according to Weintraub’s findings.  It would bring into sharp focus many questions regarding the concept of creation and the place of humans in a divine cosmos that embraces other life.  Some beliefs would necessarily face more of a challenge from the discovery of aliens, while others would translate well and emerge from the event relatively unscathed.  Evangelical Christianity would likely recoil in horror while the Mormon faith would gain confidence; those who practice the Jewish faith might not have much of a reaction at all.  In any case, Weintraub believes humans should prepare for such a discovery.

In a recent interview, Weintraub says such an event would have a large impact on world religions.  He believes that most religious individuals have a concept of themselves being watched over and cared for by God.  The discovery of aliens would likely cause that assumption to be carefully reviewed, and perhaps, discarded.  Understanding how various religions would translate into practice by aliens on other worlds is a subject of great importance.  Some religions have a definite bias, which would make them nearly impossible to adhere to on other planets.  Others seem as though they would make themselves easily practicable on any world, even those far from Earth.


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