Whether it’s angels coming down from heaven or ET coming in peace, NASA wants to know how exactly world religions would react if it finds evidence of alien life. That’s why the agency funded a program to find out just that.
NASA brought together 24 theologians at the Center for Theological Inquiry at Princeton for a year-long program called “The Societal Implications of Astrobiology” in 2016, The Times reports. The group was tasked with addressing how exactly religions would respond to the discovery of alien life.
It’s a worthwhile task — especially when you consider that billions of people all over the world subscribe to a religion in one form or another. How would alien life change their perception of God? How would it impact things like the biblical creation story? Would religions have to change their doctrine?
Turns out, not a lot will change actually.
“The headline findings are that adherents of a range of religious traditions report that they can take the idea in their stride,” Rev. Dr. Andrew Davison, an Anglican priest and theologian at University of Cambridge who took part in the program, said in a new book about the initiative titled “Astrobiology and Christian Doctrine.”
Davison added that the non-religious community at large tends to “overestimate the challenges that religious people” would encounter if we ever discovered evidence of alien life.
A rabbi, an imam, and another Anglican priest (this isn’t the set up for a dumb joke, we promise), also told The Times that Christian, Jewish, and Islamic doctrine would be fine if alien life was discovered.
It’s delightful that NASA would bring together a group of religious leaders to talk about aliens for a year. However, it’s also low-key telling of how confident the agency is about discovering evidence of extraterrestrial life in the near future.
Plus, with the brand spankin’ new James Webb Space Telescope headed to orbit, we’re likely on the precipice of finally answering the question of whether or not life is out there. It makes sense that the agency wants to make sure that everyone will be mostly fine with it.