Where is the place of aliens in terms of a religious concept? This is the very question that the US space agency NASA is trying to get an answer to.
For this purpose, NASA has recruited 24 religious experts from the Center for Theological Research (CTI) at Princeton University in New Jersey. NASA believes that these people will be able to explain how humanity will react to news of the existence of intelligent life (potential) on other planets.
According to the Times UK, Priest Andrew Davison of Cambridge University, who also holds a Ph.D. in biochemistry from Oxford, is one of the 24 experts.
In a recent statement to a blog by the Faculty of Theology at the University of Cambridge, Davison said the study has already shown how often theology and astrobiology have been the main topics of popular literature over the past 150 years.
Davison’s forthcoming book Astrobiology and Christian Doctrine, due in 2022, will cover part of the CTI / NASA collaborative study, and the most important question will be how theologians deal with the problem that our universe could have had many incarnations. Christ.
Back in 2014, NASA provided a $ 1.1 million grant to CTI to study believers’ interest and openness to scientific research called the Social Implications of Astrobiology.
This study, which began in 2016 and ended in 2018, has shown, among other things, that people with a strong desire to find a meaning of existence, but with low adherence to a particular religion, are more likely to believe that aliens exist.
This indicates that belief in any theory can come from the same human impulse.
With NASA’s support, CTI Director Will Storrar said they hope to see “serious scientific publication in books and journals on the subject” to uncover “the mystery and implications of discovering microbial life on another planet.”
According to the Times, Davison’s book notes that “large numbers of people would turn to their religious traditions for guidance” if aliens were discovered, and that this is important “to the position and dignity of human life.”
“The discovery of alien life may happen in a decade or so only in future centuries, or it may never happen at all, but if it does happen, it will be useful to think about the consequences in advance,” Davison writes.
Various studies and polls in recent years have shown that Christians in the United States are less likely to believe that life exists on other planets, but Davison is not the only believing theologian who does not consider the idea of aliens to be impossible.
Duilia de Mello, an astronomer, and professor of physics at the Catholic University said there are several seminarians in her classrooms who often raise theoretical questions about intelligent life in the universe.
“If we are the products of creation, why can’t there be life on other planets? There is nothing to say otherwise,” de Mello told The Washington Post in August 2021.
In 2008, the Vatican’s chief astronomer stated that there is no conflict between belief in God and the possibility of the existence of “extraterrestrial brothers”, possibly more advanced than humans.
“In my opinion, such an opportunity (of life on other planets) exists,” said the Reverend José Gabriel Funes, 45-year-old Jesuit priest, head of the Vatican Observatory and scientific adviser to Pope Benedict.
“How can we rule out the development of life elsewhere?” – he told the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, explaining that this became possible thanks to a large number of galaxies with their own planets.
When asked whether he meant beings similar to humans or even more advanced than humans, he replied: “Of course, in such a large universe, you cannot rule out this hypothesis.”