Belief in intelligent extraterrestrial may just be another expression of our religious impulse (2:36)
Only the Church has had a dialogue with the inhabitants of another world — the saints
In a 2018 video, Michael Shermer, a writer for Scientific American, wrote a column called "Sky Gods for Skeptics, or as they used to call it, Aliens for Atheists." Here is the transcript of the video:
Basically the idea is that aliens and extraterrestrials in our imagination—and we haven’t found any yet so they’re all in our imagination—are often portrayed as these almost god-like deities, you know, they’re super advanced technologically, scientifically, morally. They’ve somehow overcome war and poverty and these sorts of things. And so I got to thinking about this. It’s very similar to the religious impulse, which is that: we’re not alone. There is something out there more powerful than us who knows about us and cares about us; who loves us. That’s the kind of deep religious impulse: “We’re not alone.” And that’s the same impulse people get when they think about extraterrestrials.
The crux of my article in Scientific American is that there was there was a new paper published that showed that people who have this longing—so there’s variation in this: some people have more of that longing than others—those who have that longing but are not religious are more likely to believe extraterrestrials are out there.
In other words, if you have the religious beliefs, God, Jesus, Mohammed, whatever your religion is, you don’t really need the aliens, so you’re satisfied with that. But if you don’t have that then you’re more likely to go for the extraterrestrial hypothesis as a viable one in the sense that “it makes me feel good”.
Because let’s face it, religions have no more evidence for god than scientists have for extraterrestrials. It’s all imagination and speculation based on reason and logic and arguments, but we still don’t have any empirical evidence. So short of that I find it interesting that it becomes sort of an emotional appeal or a deep desire for us to feel like there’s somebody else out there, and "I’m not alone". And let’s face it, that does feel good, and there’s nothing wrong with that—but we should always suspend judgment until we actually have evidence for this. We may be the only ones in the cosmos that are sentient beings, and if so, all the more reason we should care for our world and each other, because that would mean this is it.
Only the Church has always maintained a dialogue with the inhabitants of another world — the saints – that is both possible and profitable. That is what we proclaim when we say the Creed, “I believe in … the Communion of Saints” and when we celebrate All Saints Day. Even if inhabitants outside of the solar system existed, communication with them would be impossible, because between the question and the answer, millions of years would pass. But in the case of saints, the answer is immediate because there is a common center of communication and encounter, and that is the risen Christ. (Adapted from Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap, Vatican). Fr. Tony
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