But first, E.O. Wilson explains why he believes extraterrestrial life is out there:
Many readers counter Linker’s doubts that monotheistic faiths could cope with the discovery of E.T.:
There is no problem here. It’s called the scandal of particularity. God revealed himself to the Jews and not to other nations. Nevertheless, it became incumbent upon the chosen people to spread the good news to the other nations. “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” Isaiah 49:6
The nations were the aliens of their day.
Samaritans, then the Greeks, then the Romans, …. the Irish and the Native Americans we all aliens to the promise, yet God preaches peace to those who are far off and to those who are near. Eph 2:17 The Irish took to the Gospel like ducks to water. So much so that there were no Irish martyrs. Why would we assume that ET wouldn’t be receptive to the good news as well?
Damon Linker says, “the discovery of advanced life on other planets would imply that human beings are just one of any number of intelligent creatures in the universe.” And that is a problem how? Indeed, the would need to be intelligent in order to receive the gospel. He seems to think that God speaks to us because were better than others.
Not so. The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but because the LORD loved you and kept the oath which He swore to your forefathers” Deuteronomy 7:7-8
Finally, does Linker think created in God image means body shape? Surely, he can’t be that naïve!
Another notes “one obvious flaw” with Linker’s position:
The monotheistic religions I know of all believe in “Angels”, who are not human, nor are of earth (also Devils/Demons, fallen versions of the same). To adapt to finding a THIRD group of intelligent beings, is different than if they believed we were unique in our intelligence and will.
Has Damon Linker communicated with all of the space aliens out there? If not, how can he write the line that you quote: “Did God create those other intelligent creatures, too, but without an interest in revealing himself to them? Or did they, unlike human beings, evolve all on their own without divine origins and guidance?”
If he doesn’t chat with them, how does he know that they have no divine origins and guidance, that they do not have religion? How does he know that God has not revealed himself to them? If they are out there, maybe some space people live in far greater harmony with God than we do on earth.
Seventh-Day Adventists, the denomination of my youth that I no longer claim, believe quite readily in aliens. The story is that other worlds do in fact exist, that god created a universe of many inhabited planets with unique beings, that each had a Tree of Life and a temptation and that we are the only planet that fell. So life on this planet is part of a “Great Controversy” between God and Satan to determine who’s right about everything, and the other planets are simply waiting and watching for the outcome. Adventism came out of the mid 1800s, I’m sure there are some cultural contributions to the SF narrative in their eschatology. But I’ve never seen anyone really pick it apart.
One more reader:
For a decade or so, all the subjects surrounding these questions have been discussed in conferences held by the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences in Berkeley and in its journal, Theology and Science. So Christian, Jewish and Moslem theologians are involved and will not be caught unaware. Both CTNS and the Vatican (with an observatory in Arizona) are active participants in SETI – the search for extraterrestrial intelligence.