Geoffrey Stetson (02/18/04)
My preconception of finding life on mars was that the whole religious institution would be flipped upside-down. The earth was God's canvas and was where he did all his work, watching out for us and testing us to see if we would stick with him. We were his focus and the rest of the cosmos was to demonstrate to us his infinite power and size. If life was discovered this idea of the earth being God's concentration would be lost. It would be a lot like the chaplain's example of being the older kid when your parents are having another child. You are no longer the focus of their attention.
Through discussion and my friend's e-mail, I found that this is not the case in a lot of instances. Some religious people would feel that way but the majority would think it was another one of god's creations. The real problem would arise if we found a civilization that was more intelligent than us or equal to us. Then our specialness in the universe would go down significantly. I like the point that was made that even if we found a civilization that was more advanced, we would find a way to say that they weren't more advanced. Religions would have a lot of ways to deal with this occurrence. I liked the explanation of Hinduism's outlook. They have many gods they don't resemble humans at all. Their religious views would not change due to the introduction of life on another planet.
My personal views are not very strong. I know very little about religion. My friend who wrote the e-mail is my Christian resource. This past summer he and I would have many philosophical discussions, as he would explain his views to me, I would think up ways to refute them and he would back up his claims. I learned a lot about the Christian religion but I don't know enough to classify myself in any sort of religion. I am an agnostic and I feel my views of God would not be disrupted by discovery of life, but my human specialness factor would decrease.
Our specialness is debatable. I mean, a colony of bees or ants could be considered more special than us. They are strong, amazing creatures that look out for the greater good of the society rather than their own. But still I feel that the human race is rather unique. We have created art, and music. We have discovered math, and technology. We have done amazing things that nothing we know of is capable of. But what if we found something that was capable of all that. That would mean that God has chosen for more organisms to be special. This is when the older child syndrome would kick in. We were no longer the chosen ones and would have to share our glory with another race of organisms.One last thing I wanted to say was thanks to chaplain Cooper-Nelson. She was an incredible resource and aided in what I thought was our best discussion yet. I also liked the new set up of the room, it was very conducive to group interaction.