A survey has suggested that the world's religions would survive the discovery of extraterrestrial (ET) life, and not collapse out of shaken beliefs.
According to a report in New Scientist, the survey was designed by Ted Peters, a professor of Systematic Theology at the Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary and the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California.
AdvertisementThe surveyors asked 1300 people - both religious and non-religious - whether they thought the discovery of extraterrestrial intelligence would shake their individual belief, the strength of their religion as a whole or would adversely affect the beliefs of other religions.
None of the 70 Buddhists questioned thought that the discovery of ET would undercut their belief systems, although 40 per cent thought it could pose problems for other religions.
More Roman Catholics believed ET could pose a problem for their faith.
Only 8 per cent of the 120 surveyed thought that their individual beliefs would be shaken, but nearly a quarter - 22 per cent - said it could adversely affect their religion.
Even more - 30 per cent - thought it could threaten the beliefs of other religious people.
The patterns were similar for the other Christian sects surveyed, including evangelical and mainline Protestants, but there was not enough data to draw firm conclusions about people of other religions, such as Hindus and Muslims.
Of the 205 people who identified themselves as non-religious, only 1 per cent thought it would affect their atheist or spiritual outlooks.
But, 69 per cent thought the discovery of ET could cause a crisis for other world religions.
An average of only 34 per cent of religious people shared that belief.
According to one Roman Catholic, "I believe that Christ became incarnate (human) in order to redeem humanity and atone for the original sin of Adam and Eve. Could there be a world of extraterrestrials? Maybe. It doesn't change what Christ did."
"From an evangelical Christian perspective, the Word of God was written for us on Earth to reveal the creator... Why should we repudiate the idea that God may have created other civilizations to bring him glory in the same way?" another said.
"There is nothing in Christianity that excludes other intelligent life," asserted an evangelical respondent.
In fact, Vatican astronomers have said in recent years that there is no conflict between believing in God and in the possibility of "extraterrestrial brothers".