Religious responses to the finding of life on Mars…

Sorry if this has been discussed recently, I’ve not been reading the boards much.

Would the finding of any form of life on Mars, however small, be a large stumbling block to many faiths here on earth?

Would the idea of abiogenesis having occurred independently on a neighbouring planet be a large (or fatal) blow to many strands of fundamentalism, or even to mainstream faiths? Would it affect or contradict the idea that we (humans) were created uniquely in the eyes of God, that Earth was a special case in creation? Any thoughts on the significance of such a discovery on traditional thoughts and viewpoints? Would it have any noticeable affect on any specific denominations more than others? Or would it mainly be ignored and we all carry on as before within our accepted dogmas? Would it affect your own faith, personally?

I believe it should rock the foundations (or at least the interpretation and teaching of certain aspects) of particular belief systems , but that it, in actuality, wouldn’t. We would all carry on regardless with the same comforting acceptance of our feelings of superiority and righteousness. It would be of passing interest, nothing more.

What do you think? Thanks for any comments.

the only thing that might be a challenge to any Fundist belief would be the finding of extraterrestrial human-style sentient life, but there are just as many Fundists who have worked that into their theologies.

I’m lost.

What religion is it that teaches life exists only on Earth?

Where’s Gallileo when you need him?

If we find life on Mars, it’s all part of God’s plan. Or if we don’t.

Actually, I think extraterrestrial, sentient life that ISN’T human-style would be the biggest problem for fundies. Or, well, would get the most hatred from fundies… since they obviously wouldn’t be created in God’s image, and thus would either be less than humans or possibly the work of the Devil!

As for life on Mars… I personally can’t see how someone could take Genesis as a literal account of creation but still allow for other life, but maybe that’s just me.

Some of this topic was recently covered in the thread:
Is the Bible alien friendly?.

Thanks Mangetout. Missed that one.

Perhaps this would have been best suited to IMHO then, to get a more personal opinion on what the discovery may mean to your individual faith.

Am I the the only atheist on this board who cringes when he sees the word “fundie” written by a poster? Especially in this context-- the implication that anyone who believes God is the creater of all life must necessarily be a “fundamentalist”. (Fundamentalist = Jerry Fallwell type of religious person). To me it is no different than calling someone a Jap, as it is meant to ridicule someone.

At any rate, it’s clear that most Christians view “In God’s Image” to refer to the soul, and not to the body. That is certainly what I was taught as a child.

But the truth of the matter is what Attryant said. An Omnipotent God pretty much stands up to any twist.

I’m afraid I’m not up on the terminology… is “Fundist” less offensive than “fundie”? My reply was to FriarTed’s comments on “Fundists”, and, since I’d never seen the term “Fundist”, I used the version that I was familiar with.

Which is exactly why we were discussing fundamentalists (although I guess “literalists” would have been a better term), not Christians in general. I’m sure most Christians could accept extraterrestrial life without too many problems… but I think literalists would have problems fitting them into their view of creation. I’m sure an appropriate shoehorn would eventually be found, but I’m also sure there would be initial fears, claims that the scientists were lying, etc.

Well, I guess that depends on the kind of life that’s found. Suppose we went to Mars and found some mold in the bottom of a crater somewhere where it’s still damp. Would that “rock the foundations” of religion on Earth?

I doubt it.

Actually, I didn’t mean to single you out in particular, but just used your post as a bouncing off point. I’m still amazed, though, at how this board seems to tolerate the use of “fundie” is obviously slurring contexes. One could easily substitute “rag head” in most of these statments, and the person would be banned.

I disagree completely. For example, the literalists have no problem ignoring the monumental amount of scientific evidence concerning the evolution of humans. It’s the not-so-literalist Christians who are more likely have the faith shaken by science. Is there something in the Bible that says God create life on earth only? If you believe in a physical heaven and hell (clearly not of this earth), what’s so hard to believe about life on other planets?

As a Christian, I would be fascinated by sentient life on another planet. I would want to know – do they believe in an omnipotent Creator? In what ways has He revealed Himself to them? Do they have any concept of separation from Him, and if so, do they have any kind of salvation theology? I would love to compare notes.

In Islam there is nothing that excludes the possibility of life forms on other planets.

Salaam. A

Oh! I meant to start a thread on this a while ago when a debate came up about whether or not Fundy/ies was a derogatory term. I’ve coined the term Fundist to replace it as it’s just a contraction.

Btw, as a Christian who has been & in some ways still am Fundamentalist, I have no problem with the terms Fundy/ies or Xtian but I now use Fundist & C’tian as they are less provocative.

Pretty sure the Catholic Church would have no trouble with it either, although most likely it would be something in the vegetable or fungal kingdoms that wouldn’t really raise a lot of questions. It would be fascinating to see the belief systems of other sentients, though, although it seems pretty sure we’re not going to find them on Mars.

But then again we learned evolution in science class in Catholic school with no problems, so whadda we know.

As a youngster my mother tried to railroad me into the Christian Fellowship Church, a fundamentalist sect if I ever saw one. One night two of the Church members dropped in on me for a little reeducation session.

One of my very first questions was the topic of this thread. Their answer? God created everything entirely for us. There is no life elsewhere, I was very specifically told. I still chuckle when I remember what one of the guys said: “you can search the entire universe, even past Jupiter, and you won’t find another of God’s creatures.” What two things did Einstein say were infinite?

Those guys were ardent creationists, and that stance appeared to be the basis of their opinion about life on other planets. I thought it was very arrogant of them to assume such insight into the mind of God, though as a kid I didn’t dare say it. Interestingly enough, they also relied upon another creationist argument to answer my follow up question. If we did discover life on another planet, it would be just like dinosaur bones: an attempt by Satan to mess with our heads.

No problem for me. When Jesus spoke of eternal life, He didn’t mean cellular reproduction. Biological life is trivial. In fact, biologists aren’t even sure what it is.

There’s nothing in the bible that precludes alien lifeforms - even sentient ones. The bible was written for man. There is no mention of Platypuses in the bible either, yet they exist. Why? Because the existence of the Platypus is not essential to understanding God’s message for mankind.

Therefore, if non-sentient life is found on other planets, theologically it has zero implications. In fact, it has far more relevence to non-theistic theories on the formation of life.

If an allien civilization is found, then there are plenty of explanations compatible with the bible - the simplest being that individuals of the other race do not have souls, and therefore irrelevant to the bible. Another explanation would be that they have souls, and God has a plan for them as well, but it’s seperate from God’s plan for mankind.

About the only thing contentious would be the notion that man is made in God’s image. But that’s open to all kinds of interpretation. Most Biblical scholars these days treat the story in Genesis as alleghorical anyway, so I’m sure they could re-interpret just about anything.

Fundist it is, then. I wasn’t looking to offend… although I’ll admit I’d never really thought about the connotation of “fundie”.

To be fair, it’s highly unlikely that any life we find anywhere will be plant, fungus, animal, prokaryote, or any form of bacteria. Those kingdoms contain related organisms. While alien life might resemble one or more of those kingdoms, it wouldn’t belong to any of them. We’d technically need a new term for a classification higher than kingdom (and higher than domain, for those who might wish to correct me on that bit :)); something to classify which separate evolution of life it came from (Terran/Martian/whatever)…