James Kytta (02/18/04)
Monday's topic of discussion is one that I have always had a particular interest in. Religious studies are something that I find intriguing as per its heavy weight within the human race throughout history. The persistence of religion since the beginnings of organized civilization and also the variety of beliefs, values and practices among religions is something to be awed by.
I was not able to find a proper time to interject with my question for Mrs. Cooper Nelson, so instead I emailed her my inquiry instead, and will post the response when I receive it. My question was this: On the first page of Genesis there is a passage that says “And God said, Let us go down and make man in our own image and after our own likeness:…” (Ch.1 Vs. 26). I once had a theology teacher tell me that through this passage we are led to believe that there is more than one god- the Bible only says that the God who speaks is the God of the Hebrew people, not that he is the only god. I am wondering how possible it would be for this explanation to be invoked upon finding more intelligent life forms elsewhere in the universe, and how valid the interpretation itself was. Seems to me as this would be an easy way for Christians and possibly Jews and Muslims (I am not certain as to how similar the interpretations/translations of this passage are) to incorporate extraterrestrial religions into their own worldviews.
In speaking with a few family members on the issue (self- identifying Protestants, though not practicing), the possibility of intelligent life elsewhere seems to not be an issue at all- it's a certainty they don't question in the least. I was quite surprised by the response, though they admitted they never thought how finding ET life would affect their religious views. It's a mountain that many are not going to consider scaling until they have to- perhaps because they don't believe that the issue will be brought up in their lifetime.The classroom discussion flowed very well, but there didn't seem to be enough time to get everything on the table. This is obviously very much a hot topic issue for many in the class other than myself. The topic of human specialness and its ramifications is something that continually was brought up in the talks. I think this is a very important idea to consider on the large scale. Of course there are quite a few among us who would not be bothered by finding superior beings. But as for the masses, the panic that would likely spawn from contact with such organisms would be irrational to say the least. Humans are too used to being at the top of the ladder, even more so those that live in the US. Getting knocked down a rung would not benefit already flaring egos in any way. People need to stop and think more often, and perhaps take a glance at the sky on a clear night- the endless expanse of the universe, when one attempts to ponder such a thing, is a better device to humble one than any other I know.