Science fiction has been asking the question, “Do Aliens exist?” for years now. And with every new planet discovered, the notion that intelligent life may actually exist in the universe comes closer to being science fact. NASA couldn’t help but wonder how humanity would actually react if aliens were to come into contact with those of us who are Earth dwellers.
In a 2017 partially funded NASA thought experiment, respected experts in the religious field came together to discuss how humans would react. Rev. Dr. Andrew Davison, Starbridge Lecturer in Theology and Natural Sciences at Cambridge, was one expert that shared his experience working with the NASA-funded project.
NASA’s Astrobiology program gave partial funding in a grant to the Center of Theological Inquiry back in 2015. The money NASA gave to the CTI project concluded in 2017. And it is also important to note that NASA was not directly involved in the selection of researchers for the study.
Davison claims that “Religious traditions would be an important feature in how humanity would work through any such confirmation of life elsewhere.” And with the Christian religion having over 2.3 billion believers (in 2017), it would be easy to see why Davison makes this case. This is also one of the main reasons NASA had granted money to Princeton’s Center of Theological Inquiry, which aims to build bridges of understanding by gathering, “theologians, scientists, scholars, and policymakers to think together – and inform public thinking – on global concerns.”
In a post on Cambridge’s Divinity blog, Davison shared more about how and why science and religion are closer than we all think. He writes, “the main discovery I would report on to date is finding just how frequently theology-and-astrobiology has been topic in popular writing for at least a century and a half.” He thinks it’s a shame that it has never exited the realm of pop culture, as he believes a real conversation could be had about the connections.
Davison’s main focus has been on who Jesus was and what it would actually mean if He both human and divine. This is in direct line with how people would react to the prospect of life on other worlds — imagine finding out Jesus was REALLY real and then also finding out Aliens were REALLY real. I’d probably start praying, too… unless the aliens looked like Baby Grogu, then I might be making some snacks for the little tike.
What would you do if new neighbors moved in and they were literally from out of this world? Let us know in the comments!