© 2014

Religions and Extraterrestrial Life

How Will We Deal With It?


Part of the Springer Praxis Books book series (PRAXIS)

Also part of the Popular Astronomy book sub series (POPULAR)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xiii
  2. Discovering Extrasolar Planets

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 1-1
    2. David A. Weintraub
      Pages 3-7
    3. David A. Weintraub
      Pages 9-29
    4. David A. Weintraub
      Pages 31-41
    5. David A. Weintraub
      Pages 43-69
    6. David A. Weintraub
      Pages 71-72
  3. Major Religions of the World and Extraterrestrial Life

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 73-73
    2. David A. Weintraub
      Pages 75-82
    3. David A. Weintraub
      Pages 83-90
    4. David A. Weintraub
      Pages 91-109
    5. David A. Weintraub
      Pages 111-117
    6. David A. Weintraub
      Pages 119-125
    7. David A. Weintraub
      Pages 127-133
    8. David A. Weintraub
      Pages 135-144
    9. David A. Weintraub
      Pages 145-151
    10. David A. Weintraub
      Pages 153-159
    11. David A. Weintraub
      Pages 161-168
    12. David A. Weintraub
      Pages 169-175
    13. David A. Weintraub
      Pages 177-185

About this book


In the twenty-first century, the debate about life on other worlds is quickly changing from the realm of speculation to the domain of hard science. Within a few years, as a consequence of the rapid discovery by astronomers of planets around other stars, astronomers very likely will have discovered clear evidence of life beyond the Earth. Such a discovery of extraterrestrial life will change everything. 

Knowing the answer as to whether humanity has company in the universe will trigger one of the greatest intellectual revolutions in history, not the least of which will be a challenge for at least some terrestrial religions. Which religions will handle the discovery of extraterrestrial life with ease and which will struggle to assimilate this new knowledge about our place in the universe? Some religions as currently practiced appear to only be viable on Earth. Other religions could be practiced on distant worlds but nevertheless identify both Earth as a place and humankind as a species of singular spiritual religious importance, while some religions could be practiced equally well anywhere in the universe by any sentient beings. 

Weintraub guides readers on an invigorating tour of the world’s most widely practiced religions. It reveals what, if anything, each religion has to say about the possibility that extraterrestrial life exists and how, or if, a particular religion would work on other planets in distant parts of the universe.


Belief Systems and Aliens Comparative Religious Beliefs Exoplanets and Religion Faith and Extraterrestrials Impact of Aliens on Faith Life on other Planets Religious Beliefs about Exoplanets Religious Issues of Extraterrestrials Science and Religion

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Physics & AstronomyVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA

About the authors

Dr. Weintraub is a Professor of Astronomy and co-Director of the Scientific Computing Program at Vanderbilt University. He earned his PhD in Geophysics and Space Physics from UCLA. His two previous books, Is Pluto a Planet? (2006) and How Old Is the Universe? (2010), were published by Princeton University Press.

Bibliographic information


“This is a valuable and interesting survey of how many of the world’s major religions think about extraterrestrial intelligent life (ETIs). And for those with an interest in, but limited knowledge of, these religions the book also provides a handy introduction into their basic ideas.” (Alan Penny, The Observatory, Vol. 135 (1246), June, 2015)