Author Topic: How Would Christianity Deal with Extraterrestrial Life?  (Read 2184 times)

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Offline kevindavis

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How Would Christianity Deal with Extraterrestrial Life?
« on: July 24, 2014, 10:24:32 PM »

How would the world's religions react to the discovery of extraterrestrial intelligence? There is, of course, no single answer. But for Christians who believe in the redemption of humanity through a singular event—the Incarnation of God through Christ—the question poses an especially complex dilemma.


To appreciate the conundrum, a good place to start is with the words of Father Jose Funes, a Jesuit astronomer and current director of the Vatican Observatory, who suggested in an interview that the possibility of "brother extraterrestrials" poses no problem for Catholic theology. "As a multiplicity of creatures exists on Earth, so there could be other beings, also intelligent, created by God," Funes told the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano. "This does not conflict with our faith because we cannot put limits on the creative freedom of God."


Source: http://io9.com/how-would-christianity-deal-with-extraterrestrials-1609896927
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Offline kevindavis

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Re: How Would Christianity Deal with Extraterrestrial Life?
« Reply #1 on: July 24, 2014, 10:25:05 PM »
I'm not worried about.. Besides Jesus had other 'flock' to attend to.. ;)
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Re: How Would Christianity Deal with Extraterrestrial Life?
« Reply #2 on: July 24, 2014, 10:41:27 PM »
Don't know about some sects, but I believe the good Father gets the gist of it right.
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Offline kevindavis

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Re: How Would Christianity Deal with Extraterrestrial Life?
« Reply #3 on: July 24, 2014, 10:46:41 PM »
Don't know about some sects, but I believe the good Father gets the gist of it right.


Some will go ape sh*t and some won't.. However, I will accept it..  My faith in God is strong. To me there is no way in hell that god created this vast universe of billions upon billions of stars for us to be alone.
"Die-hard conservatives thought that if I couldn't get everything I asked for, I should jump off the cliff with the flag flying-go down in flames. No, if I can get 70 or 80 percent of what it is I'm trying to get ... I'll take that and then continue to try to get the rest in the future."

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Re: How Would Christianity Deal with Extraterrestrial Life?
« Reply #4 on: July 24, 2014, 10:50:17 PM »

Some will go ape sh*t and some won't.. However, I will accept it..  My faith in God is strong. To me there is no way in hell that god created this vast universe of billions upon billions of stars for us to be alone.

absolutely.  it seems to me that, following in the footsteps of Paul, more or less, extraterrestrials would be just another set, albeit a big one, of "gentiles" to whom Christians have a duty to bring the Good Word.  And the creatively inclined might even suggest that, religious-wise, their arrival at Earth suggests that God has directed them here in order to bring them to the Light.
Trump does not represent the will of the people.  If we really wanted to respect the decision of "the people," then Clinton would be the president-elect, not Trump, for the simple reason that she won the popular vote.

Offline kevindavis

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Re: How Would Christianity Deal with Extraterrestrial Life?
« Reply #5 on: July 24, 2014, 10:54:47 PM »
absolutely.  it seems to me that, following in the footsteps of Paul, more or less, extraterrestrials would be just another set, albeit a big one, of "gentiles" to whom Christians have a duty to bring the Good Word.  And the creatively inclined might even suggest that, religious-wise, their arrival at Earth suggests that God has directed them here in order to bring them to the Light.


Well if the Aliens do come here, I pray to God that they don't convert to Islam..
"Die-hard conservatives thought that if I couldn't get everything I asked for, I should jump off the cliff with the flag flying-go down in flames. No, if I can get 70 or 80 percent of what it is I'm trying to get ... I'll take that and then continue to try to get the rest in the future."

Ronald Reagan

"We must continue to go into space for humanity.” - Dr. Stephen Hawking

Offline Chieftain

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Re: How Would Christianity Deal with Extraterrestrial Life?
« Reply #6 on: July 24, 2014, 11:08:00 PM »
"A sad spectacle. If they be inhabited, what a scope for misery and folly. If they be not inhabited, what a waste of space." Thomas Carlyle


Offline evadR²

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Re: How Would Christianity Deal with Extraterrestrial Life?
« Reply #7 on: July 24, 2014, 11:39:10 PM »
Consider God as a farmer who has planted a field of corn.  How relevant would earth be?
Would it be:
The entire field
The south 40
A row
A stalk
A cob
or
just one little kernel???
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Re: How Would Christianity Deal with Extraterrestrial Life?
« Reply #8 on: July 24, 2014, 11:48:49 PM »
Consider God as a farmer who has planted a field of corn.  How relevant would earth be?
Would it be:
The entire field
The south 40
A row
A stalk
A cob
or
just one little kernel???


one of the constituent atoms in that one little kernel.
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Offline evadR²

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Re: How Would Christianity Deal with Extraterrestrial Life?
« Reply #9 on: July 24, 2014, 11:51:27 PM »
one of the constituent atoms in that one little kernel.
heh..perhaps a quark.
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Re: How Would Christianity Deal with Extraterrestrial Life?
« Reply #10 on: July 25, 2014, 04:30:37 PM »
heh..perhaps a quark.

Which flavor?
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Offline Dexter

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Re: How Would Christianity Deal with Extraterrestrial Life?
« Reply #11 on: July 25, 2014, 10:26:15 PM »
At this point I have to wonder how anybody could hold onto the thought that we might actually be alone in the universe. All of the essential elements for life as we know it on Earth are abundant in the universe, so there is no reason to think that life is some rare occurrence at all. Not to mention that I believe our concept of what is necessary for life to exist is flawed by the thought that other life elsewhere in the universe would need the same things we do. Of course life on this planet is going to utilize and rely on the resources present here for survival. Why should we assume that life couldn't adapt in other ways that we haven't considered? There may be aliens out there breathing gases we find poisonous and living in extreme temperatures that would be unsuitable for us.

I think there is a chance that the reason advanced aliens haven't/won't contact us is they really wouldn't have a reason to. What could an advanced alien race capable of intergalactic space travel possibly have to gain from contacting some technologically primitive world that has absolutely nothing to offer them? You walk by an ant pile and are barely conscious of its existence because it is largely meaningless to your life. Your thoughts and your concerns are so above anything the ants could even comprehend that there is no feasible way they could ever be of real use to you. I think a similar situation could possibly exist between us and advanced life in the universe. I think it'd be arrogant to assume such an advanced species wouldn't naturally think and comprehend at a level far above our own.

You also have to consider the possibility that the resources on Earth would be valuable to any aliens that happened to notice us, and that our meager existence in their eyes would justify the complete annihilation of humanity so they could harvest the Earth for precious resources. Humans often times put their own needs above less intelligent life that we consider inferior to ourselves, so I see no reason to think aliens wouldn't do the same thing. We'd be pretty much SOL too I think, because any species with technology advanced enough to reach us would have weapon capabilities beyond anything we could fathom. I don't think it'd be like those cool sci-fi humans vs aliens movies. I think we'd be completely and hopelessly outmatched.

One more possibility and the one I most hope for is that life even as intelligent as us would be rare enough to be of legitimate interest to an advanced alien race that may possibly have been searching for intelligent life for millennia. The universe is pretty big, so it would probably be possible for us to be the first sign of intelligent problem solving life that they have ever encountered. Maybe we'd even get really lucky and they'd be willing to share some of the secrets of the universe with us. Hopefully they wouldn't decide that we'd make perfect slaves or zoo animals.
« Last Edit: July 25, 2014, 10:30:17 PM by Dex4974 »
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Offline Dexter

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Re: How Would Christianity Deal with Extraterrestrial Life?
« Reply #12 on: July 25, 2014, 10:57:23 PM »
Consider God as a farmer who has planted a field of corn.  How relevant would earth be?
Would it be:
The entire field
The south 40
A row
A stalk
A cob
or
just one little kernel???

I really like this analogy. Christians should also consider that God may have had no reason to tell earlier humans that they were just one tiny piece of a much grander plan that encompasses the entire universe. God may have realized how much of a shock that would have been for people back then and instead conferred just enough knowledge as was necessary to put them on the path He wanted. Masterful foresight seems like it would be one of God's strengths.
« Last Edit: July 25, 2014, 10:59:35 PM by Dex4974 »
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Re: How Would Christianity Deal with Extraterrestrial Life?
« Reply #13 on: July 25, 2014, 11:30:15 PM »
At this point I have to wonder how anybody could hold onto the thought that we might actually be alone in the universe. All of the essential elements for life as we know it on Earth are abundant in the universe, so there is no reason to think that life is some rare occurrence at all. Not to mention that I believe our concept of what is necessary for life to exist is flawed by the thought that other life elsewhere in the universe would need the same things we do. Of course life on this planet is going to utilize and rely on the resources present here for survival. Why should we assume that life couldn't adapt in other ways that we haven't considered? There may be aliens out there breathing gases we find poisonous and living in extreme temperatures that would be unsuitable for us.

I think there is a chance that the reason advanced aliens haven't/won't contact us is they really wouldn't have a reason to. What could an advanced alien race capable of intergalactic space travel possibly have to gain from contacting some technologically primitive world that has absolutely nothing to offer them? You walk by an ant pile and are barely conscious of its existence because it is largely meaningless to your life. Your thoughts and your concerns are so above anything the ants could even comprehend that there is no feasible way they could ever be of real use to you. I think a similar situation could possibly exist between us and advanced life in the universe. I think it'd be arrogant to assume such an advanced species wouldn't naturally think and comprehend at a level far above our own.

You also have to consider the possibility that the resources on Earth would be valuable to any aliens that happened to notice us, and that our meager existence in their eyes would justify the complete annihilation of humanity so they could harvest the Earth for precious resources. Humans often times put their own needs above less intelligent life that we consider inferior to ourselves, so I see no reason to think aliens wouldn't do the same thing. We'd be pretty much SOL too I think, because any species with technology advanced enough to reach us would have weapon capabilities beyond anything we could fathom. I don't think it'd be like those cool sci-fi humans vs aliens movies. I think we'd be completely and hopelessly outmatched.

One more possibility and the one I most hope for is that life even as intelligent as us would be rare enough to be of legitimate interest to an advanced alien race that may possibly have been searching for intelligent life for millennia. The universe is pretty big, so it would probably be possible for us to be the first sign of intelligent problem solving life that they have ever encountered. Maybe we'd even get really lucky and they'd be willing to share some of the secrets of the universe with us. Hopefully they wouldn't decide that we'd make perfect slaves or zoo animals.



I don't want to dampen your enthusiasm - I, too, hope/believe that there is other intelligent life in this Universe other than on Earth - but much, much better minds than mine have taken on this challenge and concluded that the evidence suggests we are alone.  In particular, Enrico Fermi, along with Michael H. Hart, developed what is now known as the Fermi Paradox.  The gist of the Fermi Paradox goes like this:
Quote
*    The Sun is a typical star, and relatively young.  There are billions of stars in the galaxy that are billions of years older.

*    Almost surely, some of these stars will have Earth-like planets.  Assuming the Earth is typical, some of these planets may develop intelligent life.

*    Some of these civilizations may develop interstellar travel, a technology Earth is investigating even now (such as the 100 Year Starship).

*    Even at the slow pace of currently envisioned interstellar travel, the galaxy can be completely colonized in a few tens of millions of years.

According to this line of thinking, the Earth should already have been colonized, or at least visited.  But no convincing evidence of this exists.  Furthermore, no confirmed signs of intelligence (see Empirical resolution attempts) elsewhere have yet been spotted in our galaxy or (to the extent it would be detectable) elsewhere in the observable universe.  Hence Fermi's question, "Where is everybody?"


Boiled down to its guts, the Wiki article puts it thus:
Quote
The Fermi paradox is a conflict between an argument of scale and probability and a lack of evidence.  A more complete definition could be stated thus:
Quote
The apparent size and age of the universe suggest that many technologically advanced extraterrestrial civilizations ought to exist.
However, this hypothesis seems inconsistent with the lack of observational evidence to support it.





Take it for what it is:  an interesting, and logically compelling, argument, but certainly not proof that we're alone.
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Offline Chieftain

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Re: How Would Christianity Deal with Extraterrestrial Life?
« Reply #14 on: July 25, 2014, 11:54:50 PM »
Which flavor?

I, of course, favor Strange....

I'm pretty sure we are not out here on our own, and that there are more forms of life out there than we can possibly imagine.  Some have similar biology and many will be totally alien, but I simply cannot accept that we are the only spec of life that God ever created.  What a terribly lonely thing to inflict on your Children, who are incapable of understanding His will anyway.

If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.  Tell him about how well you understand His Will and His Mind.....

Go ahead....


Offline NavyCanDo

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Re: How Would Christianity Deal with Extraterrestrial Life?
« Reply #15 on: July 26, 2014, 01:58:05 AM »
If there is life on other planets then God is greater than I imagine and his universe more vast. It would not shake my faith one iota.
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Offline Dexter

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Re: How Would Christianity Deal with Extraterrestrial Life?
« Reply #16 on: July 26, 2014, 08:47:27 AM »
Take it for what it is:  an interesting, and logically compelling, argument, but certainly not proof that we're alone.

I respect the opinions of the people that wrote that argument, but I disagree with it entirely. There are a couple of things that I feel they are not considering when they say we should have been contacted by now, and one of them is something I mentioned in my post above. How do we know aliens would even have a reason to contact us? What if intelligent life is more common than we expect, but we're not actually anywhere near the peak when it comes to intelligence in the universe? It's possible that Earth is collected is some alien planetary archive and that we're seen as some violent and ignorant/stupid species that is of no use.

Another thing I don't agree with is their assumption that contact would have to have been made by now based on the size of the universe. NASA now believes that some form of life, complex or not, is actually quite abundant in the universe due to recent discoveries involving the number of planets that exist in what they have deemed the hospitable zone (even though I think some aliens could survive outside of what we believe is hospitable). They make no mention of intelligent life, though, because it could very well be an extremely rare phenomenon. The closest intelligent life to us could be a couple of galaxies away, or even more than that. How long do they think it would take an alien civilization to map and uncover the universe? How long would it take them to uncover every last star and planet? The universe is also like our continents in the sense that it is always moving and changing. I think it is ridiculous to assume that mathematically we should have made contact by now when considering the vastness of the universe (which by the way we still have no clue about the actual size of). Just leaving your own galaxy would be an unbelievably incredible feat. There may be aliens out there in other galaxies that have spent the last 10 million years just discovering and colonizing their own galaxy.


It's also possible that there is a lot of intelligent life out there that is approximately as advanced as we are now and are for the most part incapable of escaping their home planet. Maybe not enough time has passed yet; maybe someday we will be the super advanced aliens exploring the universe, and maybe by then other intelligent life will have attained similar technological advancement. I think there are way too many variables and possibilities for them to make an argument like that. I am 100% certain that other intelligent life exists in the universe, but I am not certain about how uncommon or how far away it might be. Considering the size of the universe I feel it is entirely possible for multitudes of intelligent civilizations to exist without ever managing to bump into each other.
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Re: How Would Christianity Deal with Extraterrestrial Life?
« Reply #17 on: July 26, 2014, 09:25:03 AM »
I respect the opinions of the people that wrote that argument, but I disagree with it entirely. There are a couple of things that I feel they are not considering when they say we should have been contacted by now, and one of them is something I mentioned in my post above. How do we know aliens would even have a reason to contact us? What if intelligent life is more common than we expect, but we're not actually anywhere near the peak when it comes to intelligence in the universe? It's possible that Earth is collected is some alien planetary archive and that we're seen as some violent and ignorant/stupid species that is of no use.

Another thing I don't agree with is their assumption that contact would have to have been made by now based on the size of the universe. NASA now believes that some form of life, complex or not, is actually quite abundant in the universe due to recent discoveries involving the number of planets that exist in what they have deemed the hospitable zone (even though I think some aliens could survive outside of what we believe is hospitable). They make no mention of intelligent life, though, because it could very well be an extremely rare phenomenon. The closest intelligent life to us could be a couple of galaxies away, or even more than that. How long do they think it would take an alien civilization to map and uncover the universe? How long would it take them to uncover every last star and planet? The universe is also like our continents in the sense that it is always moving and changing. I think it is ridiculous to assume that mathematically we should have made contact by now when considering the vastness of the universe (which by the way we still have no clue about the actual size of). Just leaving your own galaxy would be an unbelievably incredible feat. There may be aliens out there in other galaxies that have spent the last 10 million years just discovering and colonizing their own galaxy.


It's also possible that there is a lot of intelligent life out there that is approximately as advanced as we are now and are for the most part incapable of escaping their home planet. Maybe not enough time has passed yet; maybe someday we will be the super advanced aliens exploring the universe, and maybe by then other intelligent life will have attained similar technological advancement. I think there are way too many variables and possibilities for them to make an argument like that. I am 100% certain that other intelligent life exists in the universe, but I am not certain about how uncommon or how far away it might be. Considering the size of the universe I feel it is entirely possible for multitudes of intelligent civilizations to exist without ever managing to bump into each other.


With all due respect, although Fermi Paradox is not proven fact, nothing you've said weakens that hypothesis.  Any rebuttal needs to be a little more rigorous.
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Offline Dexter

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Re: How Would Christianity Deal with Extraterrestrial Life?
« Reply #18 on: July 26, 2014, 09:31:11 AM »

With all due respect, although Fermi Paradox is not proven fact, nothing you've said weakens that hypothesis.  Any rebuttal needs to be a little more rigorous.

If the hypothesis could be weakened to the point of irrelevance it would have been by now. The problem is none of us really knows, so all we can do is speculate. We need to further our understanding of the universe before we can answer some of these questions definitively.
« Last Edit: July 26, 2014, 09:32:08 AM by Dex4974 »
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Re: How Would Christianity Deal with Extraterrestrial Life?
« Reply #19 on: July 26, 2014, 09:51:44 AM »
If the hypothesis could be weakened to the point of irrelevance it would have been by now. The problem is none of us really knows, so all we can do is speculate. We need to further our understanding of the universe before we can answer some of these questions definitively.


The problem with that is you're contradicting yourself.  If the hypothesis cannot be weakened, then it must be the case that we're alone.  Given that, no amount of studying the Universe is going to find other intelligent life, so why bother on that account?

The simplest refutation, but also the most depressing, is that there is other intelligent life out there but it's simply impossible for that life to travel from star to star.

The other argument - persuasive, but not disproof - is that we're simply on the wrong side of probability at this point:  i.e., since the Universe has only been around for a finite amount of time, the probability of having found, or been visited by, other intelligent life is less than one.  Even if the odds are small, they still imply that there is a possible state of affairs in which they exist but we haven't yet made contact.

Fermi's argument is essentially a variation on the law of large numbers:
Quote
In probability theory, the law of large numbers (LLN) is a theorem that describes the result of performing the same experiment a large number of times.  According to the law, the average of the results obtained from a large number of trials should be close to the expected value, and will tend to become closer as more trials are performed.

The LLN is important because it "guarantees" stable long-term results for the averages of some random events.  For example, while a casino may lose money in a single spin of the roulette wheel, its earnings will tend towards a predictable percentage over a large number of spins.  Any winning streak by a player will eventually be overcome by the parameters of the game.  It is important to remember that the LLN only applies (as the name indicates) when a large number of observations are considered.  There is no principle that a small number of observations will coincide with the expected value or that a streak of one value will immediately be "balanced" by the others.  See the Gambler's fallacy.


Fermi's argument essentially posits that there have been enough samples already that the hypothesis has been sufficiently tested.  I'm not sure that that's correct.
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Offline Dexter

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Re: How Would Christianity Deal with Extraterrestrial Life?
« Reply #20 on: July 26, 2014, 09:58:06 AM »
The problem with that is you're contradicting yourself.  If the hypothesis cannot be weakened, then it must be the case that we're alone.  Given that, no amount of studying the Universe is going to find other intelligent life, so why bother on that account?


The only reason it cannot be weakened thus far is we can't actually go out exploring and prove it wrong. We are limited by what we can know while still stuck on Earth, which isn't that much. Not being able to weaken a hypothesis due to technological limitations does not make that hypothesis correct.
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Re: How Would Christianity Deal with Extraterrestrial Life?
« Reply #21 on: July 26, 2014, 10:00:45 AM »
The only reason it cannot be weakened thus far is we can't actually go out exploring and prove it wrong. We are limited by what we can know while still stuck on Earth, which isn't that much. Not being able to weaken a hypothesis due to technological limitations does not make that hypothesis correct.

No.  It's an argument based on logic and a lack of evidence.  That means that one can weaken it simply by attacking its logic, a very simple example of which I gave with the analogy to the law of large numbers.
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Offline Chieftain

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Re: How Would Christianity Deal with Extraterrestrial Life?
« Reply #22 on: July 26, 2014, 10:03:52 AM »
If there is life on other planets then God is greater than I imagine and his universe more vast. It would not shake my faith one iota.

Exactly. 


Offline Dexter

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Re: How Would Christianity Deal with Extraterrestrial Life?
« Reply #23 on: July 26, 2014, 10:31:58 AM »
No.  It's an argument based on logic and a lack of evidence.  That means that one can weaken it simply by attacking its logic, a very simple example of which I gave with the analogy to the law of large numbers.

I didn't mean to imply that it was impossible to logically weaken the argument. I can see how it looked that way, but I more meant that currently we cannot definitively disprove the argument. When I said "If the hypothesis could be weakened to the point of irrelevance it would have been by now." I was saying that we can't currently weaken it to the point that we know it is definitely/probably wrong, and if we could we would have. I can't prove that argument wrong even though I completely disagree with it. I understand that logic and reasoning can be used to make an argument against that hypothesis, and I actually feel I did a decent job of that in my earlier post. Honestly though, I don't really care about weakening it logically. I care about outright proving it wrong, and to do that we need to get into space. All of this is just speculation. There is no hypothesis or idea or logic that can prove anything one way or the other. I personally believe there is no way we're alone out there, and the argument you presented doesn't logically make sense to me, so I will continue to believe that. Whether or not I can weaken it is irrelevant because it will all still just be speculation. To get the answers we seek we need to go out there and find them.
« Last Edit: July 26, 2014, 11:06:04 AM by Dex4974 »
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Offline aligncare

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Re: How Would Christianity Deal with Extraterrestrial Life?
« Reply #24 on: July 26, 2014, 12:15:45 PM »
I, of course, favor Strange....

I'm pretty sure we are not out here on our own, and that there are more forms of life out there than we can possibly imagine.  Some have similar biology and many will be totally alien, but I simply cannot accept that we are the only spec of life that God ever created.  What a terribly lonely thing to inflict on your Children, who are incapable of understanding His will anyway.

If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.  Tell him about how well you understand His Will and His Mind.....

Go ahead....

I agree with diverse lifeforms in the universe. Which is why, I suppose, I love Star Trek. The original series. There was so much real science intermingled with fantasy in that series.
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