Posts Tagged 'god'

If aliens don’t exist, does God?

In the past couple of days, I’ve come across a couple of articles** about space and space exploration that got me asking the following, kinda random questions …

Why haven’t we found other forms life in space yet? More importantly, why haven’t other forms of life found us? And could the fact that we haven’t had any extraterrestrial encounters be at least somewhat supportive of the theory that humans are indeed a unique species, and that maybe there is a god or divine presence that approximates the concept as detailed by many of Earth’s practiced religions?

Now I kind of understand why we haven’t found life yet (by the way, this entire post presumes that Area 51 conspiracies and the like have no bearing in fact, that we have neither seen nor been seen by extraterrestrials, which admittedly is an awfully big presumption). Our space exploration attempts are still too immature, and we’ve barely begun to penetrate the infinite universe beyond our own galaxy, so our lack of success on the contact front shouldn’t be a surprise.

But given that the universe is infinite, wouldn’t one have to assume that there are also an infinite number of planets that DO harbor life and that at least on a few of those planets (if not an infinite number of them), that those life forms are so advanced that they’ve developed much better means of exploring the universe, including the means to contact us.

I know I’ve always thought that it seems almost incomprehensible to think that we’re alone in this universe, but doesn’t the fact that we haven’t been contacted yet by ETs mean that life may in fact not exist anywhere else? Ok, this is a bit of a stretch of an analogy, and a bit silly to boot, but this line of thought is kind of like how I have to assume that our species never develops the ability to time travel because if we ever did wouldn’t we somehow know about it (or perhaps the second we do develop it and test it out, we rip open the space-time continuum and destroy the universe just like Doc Brown always feared).

And if we are alone, what does that say if anything about the god question? I don’t think the answer to the question of whether life exists outside this planet would by itself prove or disprove god’s existence. However, I have always felt it would be very tough for most organized religions to square their beliefs and their written source materials with the existence of ETs. But isn’t the reverse also true – as long as we are unable to find life outside our little planet, doesn’t that support the mostly religious theory that Earth is a singularly unique place, and humans a special species whose purpose for being here is a divine mystery to be solved?

Or am I missing something very basic here?

** One article was actually a fascinating photo journal of some amazing pictures a NASA spacecraft recently took of Saturn. The other story talked about the fact that researchers have found a couple of planets outside our solar system that appear to be same size of Earth (but likely too hot to harbor life).

USAir Flight 1549: Do you believe?

So I was watching next-day coverage of the Hudson River airplane crash on CNN today and at some point one of the anchors brings up God and says something to the effect, “And if you’re not already religious, something like this may make you believe.”

And it made me wonder,

<—————————

IS THIS PROOF OF GOD??

<—————————

Well, of course not.

Look, what happened in New York yesterday was amazing. I’ll go even so far as to call it a miracle, in the sense that the very happy outcome was also a very unlikely one (although this fascinating and potentially useful Time article says a surprisingly high 76% of passengers in serious plane accidents survive).

But it’s another thing entirely to believe that God was responsible for what transpired, that He or She or It was the reason why the 155 people aboard USAir Flight 1549 survived yesterday’s crash.

First of all, that kind of blind faith minimizes the heroics of the people involved in yesterday’s events – the pilot who steered an engine-less plane safely into the middle of a river in one of the country’s most populous metropolitan areas, the passengers and crew who took charge of the plane’s evacuation, the ferry boat operators and other good Samaritans who helped in the rescue effort.

Secondly, if we are to give credit to God for yesterday’s good news, mustn’t that mean we also hold him responsible for all the crappy things that happen in this world. If we are to say that for some reason God thought those 155 people yesterday were worthy of being saved, then we must also admit that God thought all 230 people on TWA Flight 800, and all 1,836 people in Hurricane Katrina, and all 2,974 people in the 9/11 attack, and all 225,000 people in the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, and all 6 million people in the Holocaust, that God thought all of them deserved to die (of course, some evangelicals have argued just that – that these tragedies have all served some sort of divine purpose).

Don’t get me wrong: It’s nearly as tough for me to understand how someone can be an atheist, certain of God’s absence, as it is to understand how someone can be just as certain that there is a God (and even more incredibly, that they know what such a God is like). As far as I’m concerned, the Hudson River Airplane Miracle is no more evidence that God exists than the picture of the two towers above is proof that He doesn’t. But I’d venture to say that if you were to line up all the wonderful miracles that occur in this world alongside all the awful tragedies that happen, the list would be overwhelmed by the depressing side of the ledger.

But true believers have an easy, pat response when a seemingly incomprehensible tragedy occurs: “God works in mysterious ways.” I’ve heard people say that all the time to mourners who have watched their children die or suffered some other overwhelming loss, and the insensitivity of the sentiment astounds me.

If it gives comfort to you to think that there is a just and merciful God out there who has a plan for each and every one of us – a plan that we will never in our earthly existence fully understand but one that may at times require the deaths of innocent infants, the destruction of entire cities and the occasional systematic slaughter of millions of citizens – then who am I to take away your comfort and solace?? I cannot prove otherwise.

But as for me, I’ll stick with what I know. That life is usually short and sometimes sweet. It is precious and precarious. That bad things happen to good people, and vice versa. That for no other reason than there is already enough pain and suffering in this world, that I must do what I can to balance out the scales – by enjoying myself while I’m alive and able, by spreading joy and love to others, by being grateful for the blessings I have … and by celebrating happy moments like yesterday’s miracle, without ascribing to it some kind of divine meaning.


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