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For Atheists, the Idea of Aliens Seems Real. Religious People Doubt it.

(RNS) — Tom Flynn doesn’t consider in God.

He’s much less prepared to say the identical about aliens.

“Given the proof now we have now, I feel it’s extra seemingly {that a} dispassionate observer would conclude that clever life elsewhere is feasible,” stated Flynn, a science fiction author and editor of the humanist journal Free Inquiry. “Now that’s a really completely different factor from saying little inexperienced males are visiting Earth in UFOs.”

A 2021 examine from Pew Analysis discovered that atheists and different nonreligious Individuals are extra seemingly than their non secular neighbors to be open to the concept that clever aliens exist.

Eighty-five % of atheists and agnostics say their greatest guess is that clever life does exist past Earth. So do 80% of unaffiliated Individuals, often known as nones.

In contrast, solely 51% of Protestants — and 40% of white evangelicals — are open to the potential of clever aliens. So are about two-thirds of Catholics and mainline Protestants and about half (55%) of Black Protestants.

General, 57% of Christians in america say their “greatest guess” is that there’s clever life on different planets.

Pew’s survey was prompted by the discharge of a report from the Workplace of Nationwide Intelligence, detailing a variety of “unidentified aerial phenomena” and the difficulties concerned in explaining these phenomena.

Curiously, the query of UFOs and their which means scrambles the way in which non secular and nonreligious Individuals line up. Catholics (61%) and those that declare no specific non secular identification (59%) are probably to say UFOs are undoubtedly or most likely an indication of alien intelligence. Atheists (31%) and white evangelicals (35%) are least seemingly.

General, about 65 % of Individuals say their greatest guess is that clever life exists on different planets. About half (51%) say that UFOs reported by navy personnel are undoubtedly or most likely indicators of clever alien life.

The survey additionally discovered that non secular observe impacts how Individuals see aliens. Those that pray usually and often attend companies are skeptical concerning the existence of alien life. Those that don’t pray or attend companies are usually not.

Flynn chalks up the distinction between the 2 views to how folks see the origins of the universe. Many conventionally non secular folks in america, he stated, consider in a single act of creation — the place God created life as soon as and Jesus got here to Earth to redeem folks as soon as.

As a result of the concept of clever life on different planets undermines a core non secular perception, non secular folks appear to be much less open to the concept of life elsewhere.

Nonreligious folks don’t have that constraint, Flynn stated.

In contrast to nonreligious folks, non secular believers sometimes additionally really feel that human life is exclusive and beloved by a better energy, stated bestselling sci-fi writer John Scalzi.

“If you happen to consider that, then the concept that there is likely to be different clever life on the market would possibly really feel bizarre, as a result of we wouldn’t be then distinctive and particular and beloved; we might simply be one other creation,” Scalzi, who’s agnostic, instructed Faith Information Service in an e-mail.

“If one will not be notably non secular or has a connection to a better energy, then this isn’t a part of one’s considering, and subsequently entertaining the concept of clever life elsewhere isn’t as a lot of a difficulty,” he stated.

Writer Sasha Sagan, who identifies as secular, stated there’s a distinction between being open to the potential of clever life within the universe and being sure that such life exists. She will not be able to embrace the latter with out extra proof.

Sagan, daughter of the famed astronomer Carl Sagan, additionally stated that the concept that life on Earth might need occurred accidentally — and that there might not be different clever life on the market — can add which means to human life as one thing treasured.

“There’s one thing about that that makes … it feels prefer it issues rather a lot to be on this world,” she stated.

With no proof of alien life within the universe, nevertheless, either side are working purely on perception, based on David Weintraub, professor of astronomy at Vanderbilt College. Whereas scientists have found planets that seem like Earth-like, there is no such thing as a proof, at the least for now, that life exists there.

He suspects that might change sooner or later, pointing to a brand new era of house telescopes that can permit astronomers to look at the atmospheres of distant planets. 

“I can simply think about that inside 100 years we could have studied and surveyed tens of 1000’s and even thousands and thousands of planets round different stars,” he stated. “Then we’ll have some strong numerical proof for or towards the existence of extraterrestrial life. However proper now, now we have nothing.”

Discovering alien life would have “profound” implications, he stated.

“Having actual information that we aren’t alone within the universe — I truthfully can’t consider a extra philosophically, theologically profound discovery,” he stated. “It could have monumental results on our understanding of our place within the universe.”

For some, the sheer enormity of the universe makes the potential of alien life extra seemingly than not.

There are such a lot of stars and so many galaxies, stated Jake Kerr, a science fiction writer and screenwriter from Dallas, that the likelihood of life present elsewhere is smart. The concept people are alone in such an unlimited universe doesn’t, stated Kerr, who identifies as an atheist.

Kerr stated the vastness of the universe actually got here residence to him after attending the Launch Pad Astronomy Workshop, which provides science fiction writers the prospect to be taught extra about fashionable astronomy. Throughout the workshop, Kerr and different members climbed a mountain for an unobstructed view of the night time sky.

Seeing the Milky Means in that setting introduced him to tears, he stated.

“You see the Milky Means in all its undiminished glory and it’s spectacular,” stated Kerr.

Sagan stated that she’d be thrilled to listen to different types of clever life within the universe. For one factor, she stated, people have some issues that we might use a hand with. And the concept of assembly an alien, she stated, can be wonderful.

“It nearly brings me to tears desirous about it,” she stated. “My first thought would simply be how I want that my father had been right here if that had been to occur, to share in that surprise.”


Article initially revealed by Faith Information Service. Used with permission.

Photograph courtesy: ©Joshua Coleman/Unsplash

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