Would The Discovery Of Alien Life Cause A Crisis For Religion?

Many people have asked the question, “Are there aliens out there in the universe?”, but the one question that rarely gets asked is “what would their discovery mean for the very foundation of organized religions here on Earth”?

In the course of writing this article, I took the time to ponder the question myself, as well as ask people of different faiths how they think people would react given substantial evidence that intelligent life exists outside of our planet.

It should be known that this article is entirely theoretical and opinion based, but it’s certainly fun to think about.

I firmly believe that there is intelligent life out in the universe; it is not a matter of if we will get in contact with these beings, but a question of when.

In the year 2000 it was known that astronomers had located about 50 “exoplanets,” and in the year 2013, that number had grown to 850.

In just 13 years, out of the 850 that have been discovered, 20 of the planets have been found to be “Earth-size exoplanets that occupy a habitable zone around their star, including the most recently discovered Proxima b, which orbits Proxima Centauri,” according to the BBC.

The idea that something could be going on outside of Earth would surely be something that God would have told us about, right?

It is estimated that by the year 2045 the number of exoplanets discovered will be well over one million.

At a certain point, it just becomes silly to think that we are actually alone in the universe.

Now that the framework for this conversation has been laid out, and the argument made that it is only a matter of time before we find a form of advanced life that resides outside of our world; we can begin to examine the question of what the discovery of alien life would mean for religion on earth.

Photo Credit: William Murphy/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

The very first thing that would probably happen is that there would be a period of denial for many people that have a religious life and background.

The idea that something could be going on outside of Earth would surely be something that God would have told us about, right?

The denial would just be dismissive at first, but then we would move into our second stage: anger.

Anger would envelop the masses of religious people, and for the first time in the history of religion, there might even be a shared understanding among all faiths to combat the false lies that are being spread about alien life that exists in the universe.

There would be a strong effort to dispel any rumor or fact that there is extraterrestrial life, and people would gather en masse to protest and show their anger for the contempt of their religion.

This brings us to step three and three and a half: denial and depression.

After being shown substantial evidence that alien life exists outside of our earth, and with all their theories and rhetoric thoroughly exhausted, the religious people that have no accepted the reality of this fact will have a severe attack of cognitive dissonance.

Photo Credit: Chris Murtagh/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

It’s a very unfortunate thing to say, but some people will no doubt be so overcome with doubt and depression that they will likely take their own lives as they see everything that they have ever known fundamentally shaken.

Luckily, I see this as a short period of time, and slowly the fog will begin to clear.

This will lead us to step four: acceptance and rationalization.

When I asked people of different faiths the question about how they would personally feel about being show substantial evidence of the existence of alien life, and how it would affect their belief in their religion I was generally given the same answer: “There are things that we just don’t know about, and in due time God will reveal them.”

It is no secret that the Bible, Torah, Qur’an and other religious text were all written by man.

I believe that these religious texts have been drafted through divine inspiration from a higher being and that higher being only gives us as much information that we are able to handle at any given time.

Photo Credit: Jason Trbovich/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

If you were to tell the people of the world back in 300 A.D. that we would have these magical machines that could fly us across vast oceans in a matter of hours they probably would have looked at you like you had four heads.

We are only given as much information that we can cognitively process, and that will continue to happen if people have a truth faith and allegiance to their religion.

Religion is rarely based on things that can definitively be proven.

Religion is based on belief and faith.

When there is tangible evidence of alien life existing outside of our Earth, the true believers of faith will continue to believe that there is a supreme being in the heavens that is looking out for all that it created, and in this circumstance, the creation extends to extraterrestrial beings.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: DeeAshley/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

What Do You Think?


About the Author
Christopher Shanahan is a current Sociology-Anthropology student at Towson University in Baltimore, MD. Previously, Christopher was in the U.S. Army as an Intelligence Analyst for 4 years with a 9-month deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Christopher has also written and published a novel under the pseudonym Noah Twain which can be found on Amazon.
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