I was tempted to summarize & discuss the content of the ‘Closer to Truth’ episode but you can watch it yourself, so I’m going to skip that.
What I found surprising was the consistent assertion that proof of intelligent aliens would be a serious problem for the major Western religions, Christianity in particular. That theme appears in the movie “Contact” as well—but I never “got” that bit there, either. While I suspect that I’m a pretty liberal version of a Christian, I certainly think of myself as one and I’ve got the papers to prove it 😉 ! Somehow, I missed the part where Christianity decided that God was limited when it came to other intelligent beings. If they’re out there, I won’t be surprised and it’s entirely consistent with my notion of God as Creator. If He wanted to create a Universe full of life and intelligence, then that’s what is out there waiting for us (cool!). So far, that proposition isn’t proven, but looks promising.
My personal convictions aren’t threatened at all by the existence of alien intelligence. I think they’re probably there, but I have no idea what they’re like, much less how they might conceive of Him or what relationship they might have to Him. Things get much more interesting on lots of levels if they are, indeed, out there and we can figure out how to communicate meaningfully with them. That scenario could present huge challenges to all of humankind’s cherished ideas, theories and convictions. And, yes, on that list will be our ideas about God.
To me the idea is supremely interesting, though I certainly admit that advanced intelligences could pose a huge threat in an exaggerated version of the way Europeans posed a threat to the civilizations of the Americas. While it could all change literally overnight, it looks like we’re several really large steps away from that circumstance. To me, the most plausible scenario is that we identify Earth-like planets and eventually succeed in getting spectroscopic evidence that makes it likely that something’s going on that isn’t easily accounted for by natural processes.
Let’s speculate that we somehow come up with unambiguous evidence that there’s an intelligence at work out there.
For me at least, religion isn’t high on my list of things to worry about, but to my surprise, it is for some folks. Instead, such an event would be, for me, simply a confirmation that God’s plan includes us, but is bigger than us.
As Mr. Spock might put it, “Fascinating”.