Philosophical and religious implications of extraterrestrial intelligent life
If any evidence of extraterrestrial intelligent life were ever to be discovered, what would the likely reactions of our society be, and how should we manage such a discovery? The answer depends largely on the following question: What are the implications of such a discovery for our religious beliefs? This issue is the core subject of this chapter. Two basic assumptions are made: (1) There will not be direct contact with extra-terrestrials (ETs) or with intelligent probes, only indirect contact via electromagnetic waves, as in the “classic” SETI scenario. (2) The contact will take place in the “near” future (i.e., in a few decades), which very likely means within a range of some hundreds of light years, due to the limits of our present technology.
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- 245.SETI is the acronym for Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence. In favor of this scenario there are not only technological reasons, but also the so-called “Fermi Paradox”, which postulates that, if interstellar travels are possible and ETs exist, they should already be here. Musso, Paolo. What the Fermi Paradox Tells us about the Dangers of Active SETI. 2006. (Talk given at the 57th International Astronautical Congress (IAC), Valencia, 4–8 October 2006, presently available at www.filosofiadellascienza.it).Google Scholar
- 248.Since our civilization was “born yesterday” on the cosmic scale. ETs might be much older than us, indeed, even by more than one billion years. Norris, Ray. “How Old is ET?” When SETI Succeeds: The Impact of High-Information Contact. Tough, Allen, ed. Washington DC: Foundation for the Future, 2000. pp. 103–105.Google Scholar
- 249.Musso, Paolo. “How Advanced Is ET?” Life in the Universe: From the Miller Experiment to the Search for life on Other Worlds. Seckbach, Joseph, et al. eds. Dordrecht; Boston and London: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2005. pp. 335–337.Google Scholar
- 250.Vakoch, Douglas. “Roman Catholic Views of Extraterrestrial Intelligence: Anticipating the Future by Examining the Past”. When SETI Succeeds: The Impact of High-Information Contact. Tough, Allen, ed. Bellevue, Washington: Foundation for the Future, 2000. pp. 165–174.Google Scholar
- 251.Ciliberto, Michele. Giordano Bruno. Bari; Rome: Laterza, 1990.Google Scholar
- 252.Tarter, Jill, and Michaud, Michael, eds. “SETI Post-Detection Protocol”. Special Issue of Acta Astronautica 21 (1990).Google Scholar
- 253.Musso, Paolo. “Wide Cultural Communication in Interstellar Messages”. Bioastronomy 2002: Life Among the Stars. Norris, Ray P. and Stootman, Frank H, eds. Ann Arbor, Michigan. International Astronomical Union, 2004. pp. 511–513.Google Scholar
- 254.Musso, Paolo. “How Advanced Is ET?” Life in the Universe: From the Miller Experiment to the Search for life on Other Worlds. Seckbach, Joseph, et al. eds. Dordrecht; Boston and London: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2005. pp. 335–337.Google Scholar