SETI Spirituality

God, I must be a glutton for punishment!

The past few posts I’ve delved into some philosophical debates and gotten some awesome comments in return, which is why I continue to poke my finger in the “Eye of the Super-Unknown”.

Maybe I’m just a pig-headed old Leatherneck who doesn’t know any better when to shut up? ;^)

That too.

So that’s why I’m posting this little piece concerning SETI:

There’s a surprising amount of overlap between seekers of extraterrestrial life and seekers of God.

Not that the folks at SETI are actually hoping to detect the deep-space transmissions of a bearded deity from SGR 1900+14, handing them off to Vatican astronomers for inscription on silicon tablets. Far from it. But in my reporting for an article on the religious implications of finding extraterrestrial intelligence, I noticed that much research was produced in collaboration between scientists and theologians.

Why this partnership between parties whose relationship typically amounts to a truce, and an uneasy one at that?

In part it’s practical: Christianity boasts a small but rich history of so-called astrotheology, particularly within the Catholic Church. It makes sense that they’d run in some of the same circles as the SETI crowd. And since discovering aliens would prompt religious self-examination — if God is universal, maybe the image of God isn’t a hairless biped called homo sapiens — and perhaps devotion, it’s probably good that they’re already talking.

Now some would say that the Catholic Church isn’t Christian anyway, so it is no surprise they have this take. Others would say that since God created us, it stands to reason He created others also, so since we exist, thus they exist.

But some people in SETI don’t have the certitude that alien civilizations exist, like there’s seekers of God who don’t have the certitude God exists. According to Douglas Vakock, the Unitarian director of SETI’s Interstellar Messaging Composition, certitude of any kind is misplaced:

“One of the greatest misconceptions about SETI is that we know in our hearts that there is life out there, and the question is whether we’re going to be the generation that finds it. That’s false,” he said. “SETI requires an acceptance of ambiguity. If there’s a virtue to SETI, it’s that it’s making ambiguity acceptable at a time when people are focused on the concrete and short-term. It is very often uncomfortable not having the answers, but we need to accept that. We try to recognize that, in this domain, with what we now know, the best we can do, the most honest thing we can do, is live with a sense of ambiguity.”

Wise words. Especially at a time when we have a probe on another planet that might very well find the environment sterile and organic compounds never formed there at all (if they can get the soil samples to sift through that is!).

I would be disappointed if Mars is found sterile and the anthropocentrists (like Nick Bostrum) are proved right. It means humanity will never have someone else to bounce philosophical questions about the Universe off from. Not to mention boring.

Maybe that’s the way it’s meant to be, humanity will always need that sense of ambiguity to drive us along the road of discovery.

The Surprising Spirituality of SETI

 

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4 responses

  1. The Highwayman | Reply

    Maybe I’m just a pig-headed old Leatherneck who doesn’t know any better when to shut up?

    So who’s arguing? 😆

    There’s a surprising amount of overlap between seekers of extraterrestrial life and seekers of God.

    Nothing surprising or strange about that! Science, when properly understood, only augments scripture. The pseudo-science of the elitists that is taught in schools, today, is really just a modernized, technical slant on the ancient heretical philosophies of paganism, which were dedicated to the overthrow of Christianity. Christ has always been with man, throughout time, although the Christian era has erroneously been limited to the time comprising His earthly sojourn and since. That’s why pagans think their religion is older than Christianity, but it isn’t.

    Vackock may be relating some sentiment of SETI’s organization, but man does possess a certain desire to know and understand God, and that is inspired by God, Himself. With what understanding we have about the immensity of the universe, it would be arrogance supreme to think that we are the only ones that exist. We are an arrogant bunch, but it borders on the ridiculous to assume that in billions of light-years of space, this small planet is all there is.

    The one always left out of the equation is Satan. He is an extraterrestrial being of immense power, and it stands to reason that if we, being so far above and beyond other simpler life forms on Earth, that we can control and manipulate their lives, he could also influence and control ours. In that sense, and given his agenda, it would be to his advantage if people DIDN’T accept his existence as fact! At least, not as a malignancy toward society, anyway, which is the truth of the matter.

    “Science” is only catching up, when it acknowledges the virtue of spirituality. The two are compatible, when bias and prejudice are removed from the equation. Many accuse of me of the same, when they don’t know my past. My ‘evolution’, as it were, took me over many paths. I’ve always known there are others besides us.

    Ambiguity need not prevail in our thinking. There is plenty of evidence to support ET life, God, and the NWO. The question remains… just what evidence is necessary for me to believe… if I choose to believe at all?

  2. We are an arrogant bunch, but it borders on the ridiculous to assume that in billions of light-years of space, this small planet is all there is.

    That I can agree with!

    Not to mention all that waste of real estate.

    I know people probably think I talk out of both sides of my mug on things I post, it’s not that, I just like to be the devil’s advocate because there’s always more than one side to an argument and I like to poke at both sides to get to the meat of things.

    Philosophical topics like finding ET life and God, a certain amount of belief is involved because of the ambiguity.

    You need that belief I guess in order to imagine what’s over the next hill, to drive the curiosity so one does actually go over the hill to investigate.

  3. The Highwayman | Reply

    There’s nothing wrong with getting different slants on things, and Lord knows we won’t always have forums like these. If guys like Morton Devonshire get their way, we’ll all be goose-stepping down the road to Stalag Can-Am!

    I used to be a big fan of Isaac Asimov, and I liked his down-to-earth approach to space exploration. One got the impression that there was some merit in space exploration, and the way he described things made one believe there had to be other life forms out there.

    Imagine my relief when I realized that I didn’t have to give up that idea we aren’t alone, just because I embraced Christianity. So many out there think they have to, and that’s false. And science, too. The two are more compatible than what popular opinion says.

    The approach to God and the universe is somewhat different when you look at it with a mind free of popular misconceptions – and there are many of those on the Christian side, too!

    Well, like grave-diggers and tax-collectors, I’ll always have a job! With hard-headed Marines and other assorted persons out there to keep an old highwayman in trim, I’ll never be bored!

    🙄

  4. “You need that belief I guess in order to imagine what’s over the next hill, to drive the curiosity so one does actually go over the hill to investigate.”

    “… blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”

    John 20:29

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