Sunday, 28 October 2012

A theological response to contact with Intelligent Extraterrestrial Life?

I am looking for help with my MTh Dissertation which is investigating a theological response to contact with Intelligent Extraterrestrial Life - particularly in the present climate where many planets are being discovered weekly. For example, what does a Christian Practice of Hospitality look like when communicating with Intelligent Extraterrestrial Life (and the inevitable time delays in that communication)? There seems to be little work available in this area to consult at present but, in the event of such contact happening, it is too late to be working out a response after the event!

I would be very grateful if you could pass this on to JCP. I am an ordained scientist and have benefited enormously from his work over the past 10 years or so.

Response: We have no theological problem with the idea of intelligent life on other planets (indeed a remark in Questions of Truth sparked a paper from Don Page and a testable-in-principle scientific hypothesis from me which I must say is looking more plausible by the month, that the fundamental constants might be such as to maximise the Expected number of Habitable Earth-Like Planets).  John has written elsewhere that if there are “Little Green Men” then God might well have taken Green flesh.

My own guess is that we are probably the first evolved persons in the galaxy and that the mean time between evolution of persons may be of the order of 10^5-10^7 years. On this timescale many things can happen including of course extinctions and colonisations.  The chances of two species of persons meeting when they are at roughly comparable stages of scientific development (say within 10^2 years) seems very remote.

Our most important duty would be to love these other persons in the most appropriate way, respectfully sharing the best of our cultural heritage and most importantly the Good News of Jesus Christ.

But let’s see what John has to add.

John adds: I have nothing to add to Nick’s excellent response except that we should not seek to limit the creative generosity of God who if he wants “little green men” will enable them to exist and care for them appropriately.

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