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How Would Religions Cope With Extraterrestrials? It Depends

A newly published book delves deeply into questions about extraterrestrial life, and what discovering E.T. would mean for the world's religions.
How would the existence of aliens affect the world's religions?
How would the existence of aliens affect the world's religions?Vanderbilt via YouTube

If we ever find intelligent life beyond Earth, most atheists would be cool with that. Mormons and Seventh-Day Adventists might actually embrace it. But fundamentalist Christians? Not so much. Vanderbilt astronomer David Weintraub delves into those differences, plus other spiritual and cultural perspectives on the search for extraterrestrials, in a newly published book titled "Religions and Extraterrestrial Life: How Will We Deal With It?"

Weintraub takes a close look at the doctrines laid out by more than two dozen religions, cross-checking how they'd accommodate the discovery of alien life. He concludes that Asian religions would have the least difficulty (although a recent survey indicated that only 36 percent of Hindus believe extraterrestrials exist). Biologist Richard Dawkins, an outspoken atheist, said last week that it's "completely implausible and arrogant" to think we're alone in the universe. So are any of us ready to deal with it if E.T. shows up? "While some of us claim to be ready, a great many of us probably are not," Weintraub said in a news release.



— Alan Boyle