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For many decades the debate on whether there are extraterrestrials out there has been a hot topic. However, many skeptics believe those who think they exist are out of this world. Others have shared eerie and sometimes frightful tales of alien abductions and sightings. NASA has decided to enlist the help of a priest and theologians to help prepare religious factions of the possibility.
Reverend Dr. Andrew Davison and 23 other theologians participated in a NASA- sponsored project at the Center for Theological Inquiry (CTI) located in Princeton, New Jersey. CTI is an independent nonprofit organization that is an international program of interdisciplinary research. Here they focus on how theology makes an impact on global concerns, according to their website.
The theologians who participated in the NASA-sponsored program set out to assess how the major religious factions in the world would react to the news that humans are not alone in the universe. NASA launched its $10 billion James Webb Space Telescope on Christmas day in an effort to collect data on other possible life forms.
The telescope will use revolutionary technology to study every phase of cosmic history from within the Milkyway system to the most distant observable galaxies in the early universe.
Its infrared technology will help NASA explore a wide variety of science questions to help humankind understand the origins of the universe and what mankind’s place is within it.
One expert stated that they “may not discover life for over 100 years. Or we may discover it next week.”
With that thought process in mind, NASA sought out theological help in establishing how alien life would alter religious factions’ views of God. They also wanted to know if extraterrestrial life would impact things like the biblical creation story. If these life forms are real would religions of doctrine have to change their theories and teachings?
Dr. Davison and the 23 other theologians spent an academic year at Princeton as part of The Societal Implications of Astrobiology program to help answer these questions. NASA sponsored the program with a $1.1 million donation.
Director of the CTI, Will Storrar, stated that NASA searched for “serious scholarship being published in books and journals” to help address the “profound wonder and mystery and implication of finding microbial life on another planet.”
It is hard for non-religious individuals to see “the challenges that religious people . . . would experience if faced with evidence of alien life,” Dr. Davidson stated in his book.
NASA’s “astrobiology” department has been looking for answers to these questions for around 25 years. Although, there are some who believe there have been hints of extraterrestrial life all throughout history. Maybe one day soon NASA will be able to answer these theories with definitive results.
Written by Sheena Robertson
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Inset Image Courtesy of dotlizard’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Top and Featured Image Courtesy of Nathan Rupert’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License