How would religions react to the discovery of life on other planets?

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  • Tators Logan, UT
    Oct. 27, 2014 10:14 a.m.

    Brigham Young emphasized that the LDS church and religion believes in and accepts all truth, regardless of its source, and thus incorporates into it's overall doctrine.

    Additional truths concerning our existence are being revealed to us as time goes on and as our need to know evolves. It was revealed to Moses (per the Pearl of Great Price) that life does indeed exist on other planets, and which are all creations of God. There is no end to His dominion, glory and kingdoms.

    One side-note... Many hypotheses of men, which may seem like truth, don't necessarily constitute truth, which by it's very definition is unerring and unchangable.

  • Utah Keith Roy, UT
    Oct. 26, 2014 6:21 p.m.

    In the LDS Church it's Known Doctrine, we are not alone! Adam, Abraham, Moses, all the Prophets given visions of it have seen we just are not alone in this Universe! Reason would tell any plain man starring into space on a clean night and contemplating the universe with all those stars knowing each star has planets orbiting it, have to know in their conscience and by the Spirit of God, it just can't be that we are all "alone". You can't begin to count the stars, and if each star had only 1 planet revolving around it, what are the chances we are the only intelligent life in the universe? About a million to one, maybe a zillion to one. God has revealed through script, we are not alone, all you need to do is read it, to look up at the stars, and pray, God has told us again and again we just are not alone! I'll even go so far as to say other planets know the Atonement took place on another world, Ours! Atonement has been made for other Gods Children as well on other worlds and spaces!

  • Eliyahu Pleasant Grove, UT
    Oct. 26, 2014 8:04 a.m.

    As a Jew, I would have no problem at all with life on other planets, intelligent or not. Our scriptures are silent on the subject, neither affirming, denying, or even discussing the possibility. What would they look like? Who knows? When we're told that God created man in his own image, it's obviously not a reference to our physical bodies unless you're ready to believe that the Creator of the Universe is about six feet tall with a body subject to various ills and breakdowns and needs to use the toilet several times a day. I'd like to imagine that there are many planets where the inhabitants managed to avoid temptation and live without sin. Otherwise, if free agency automatically creates sin and failure, it would suggest that God's designs are inherently flawed.

  • CamN san diego, CA
    Oct. 24, 2014 10:45 p.m.

    @Tyler "There’s too much in for all involved – leaders want the control and followers cannot tolerate their own fear of death or the unknown."

    Tyler, I respectfully suggest that you are quite mistaken about your assumptions regarding dominant motivations behind most religions--at least the one I am most familiar with. Most people are worried about their making ends meet and their families and doing good in the world. I haven't met anyone that resemble Siggy from "What About Bob," and I've met thousands...

  • NightOwlAmerica SALEM, OR
    Oct. 24, 2014 2:02 p.m.

    I have a hard time believing UFOs visit this world filled with visitors form other plants to see where Christ was born and walked. Why visit a world full of sin and in a sad state of glory? In addition we are under a set of govorned eternal rules how the plan of salvation pertains to the inhabitants of this earth. Anything from the outside would contradict and interfere with that.

    We are visited by extraterrestrials, no doubt about that. They are called angels and exhaled beings. A couple of men we know as Heavenly Father and Jehovah made a visit together to a young boy known as Joseph Smith.

    For all we know Christ has also visited other worlds and has.

    Abraham saw people and creatures not of this world in a vision praising the creator.

  • kolob1 sandy, UT
    Oct. 24, 2014 8:19 a.m.

    No religions has ever stated that God created life on other planets. Those that stated there was "life' on other planets did so to cover the "future". All religious doctrines and covenants have been written to emphasize that we mortals here on planet earth are the "one and only". Where have I heard that before?
    Should there prove to be some form of life on the other planets I suppose that the major religions will jump up and say "I told you so" , and then proceed to write donation requirements for the newly founded members.

  • WRK Riverton, UT
    Oct. 23, 2014 7:32 a.m.

    It is an interesting point you bring up. Let us see the religion of science:
    In my time in school we were told that with all the harm people were doing to the earth, science proved that another ice age was on the way. Very convinient for science - much money to be made.
    Now, we are headed for global warming. Again, very convinient - much more money to be made.

    You are right, religions do find flocks to believe anything they are told.

  • Shelama SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Oct. 22, 2014 2:25 p.m.

    NT, SomewhereIn, UT

    Perhaps the return of the 12th Imam is more likely? And sooner rather than later?

    Very interesting times, indeed, I agree.

    More and more it leads to the conclusion that the only true hope we have is cooperation, the values of secular humanism, and science.

  • SCfan clearfield, UT
    Oct. 22, 2014 8:17 a.m.

    LDS liberal

    You think there are no genetic pre-dispositions? Talk about being in denial.

  • NT SomewhereIn, UT
    Oct. 21, 2014 6:55 p.m.

    Conversely, what will be the reaction of the non-spiritual, the atheists, the agnostics, the "scientists" - when Jesus returns in His glory to rule and reign for a millenium? I think that will be an interesting time, for sure.

  • Victor Mclean, VA
    Oct. 21, 2014 9:08 a.m.

    The bigger concern would be the reaction of the non-spiritual, not the spiritual. I do not say non-religious or religious because it is the people that are easy to harbor hard feelings that will have the hardest time dealing with the realities of the universe.

    With that in mind, I think the most shock might come upon realizing how similar the "aliens" are to us. They might not look all that special and maybe even less than average by some standards of our societies. Yet, they could be far more advanced in terms of wealth, knowledge, health etc. Then we could see a level of envy, greed and resentment never seen before on this planet.

    My guess is compared to the rest of the universe the quality of life here on earth may not scratch the surface to what is possibly out there. From an LDS/Mormon perspective, one of the most significant parts of mortal life is recognizing our current state as a learning opportunity and accepting our current roles as a step towards our divine maturity.

  • MiP Iowa City, IA
    Oct. 20, 2014 8:26 p.m.

    "There is no doubt that religion would adapt to conclude that life on other planets is proof that they were right.

    Religious leaders make statements. The flock accepts them on faith. Some prove to be correct, some incorrect."

    You could also remove the words "religion/religious" in your statement and instead insert "atheiests/atheist" and you would be, undoubtedly, equally right.

  • Kings Court Alpine, UT
    Oct. 20, 2014 7:50 p.m.

    Like the issue of Global Warming, most Christian groups would deny the existence of life in outer space no matter how much evidence supported it. Keeping the proverbial head in the sand is the modus operandi of most religious faiths.

  • Red Corvette St. George, UT
    Oct. 20, 2014 4:13 p.m.

    Don't forget Joseph Smith said there were people living on the moon and Brigham Young said they lived on the Sun too.

  • FanOfTheSith Vernal, UT
    Oct. 19, 2014 10:42 p.m.

    LOL..............Now how would our government react to it? Would they still aim the nuclear warheads towards outer space?

  • Gildas LOGAN, UT
    Oct. 19, 2014 6:07 p.m.

    Scriptures of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints state clearly, as others have indicated, that there are countless other worlds very like ours, as well as other more glorious worlds. There are three orders: celestial, terrestrial and telestial orbs all inhabited by sons and daughters of God. We live on the lowest order of these three types of populated planets and we will be sorted according to our performance in this mortal stage, every individual being graded justly for that higher world for which he or she is most suited.

    Mortal people live on telestial worlds, and there are also countless higher planets inhabited by angels, and still others inhabited by translated men and women graduating from our own and other telestial planets. This is also stated, though in less detail, in the Bible as the Apostle Paul stated that there are bodies celestial and bodies terrestrial, one being less and one being more glorious.

  • The Caravan Moves On Enid, OK
    Oct. 19, 2014 1:02 p.m.

    Article quote: "I think if you walk down Main Street of any town in the U.S., you would find that many people believe in extraterrestrial life. But if you then asked them to explain if that life is compatible with their own religion, they would be pretty confused," Weintraub said."

    They obviously never talked to a practicing Mormon. Latter-day Saints know that God has created "worlds without number".

    And so what would we do when we meet them?

    We'll reach out, shake their hand and say "Hello, brother."

  • antodav TAMPA, FL
    Oct. 19, 2014 12:43 p.m.

    I’m a little bit surprised that the article, especially being on Deseret News and all, doesn’t mention this, but the one Christian group that almost certainly would have no problem whatsoever with the discovery of life on other worlds is the Latter-Day Saints. Our scriptures and doctrine already teach that such life exists (both in the Book of Moses and in the Doctrine and Covenants), so such a discovery would just be an affirmation of Joseph Smith’s prophetic call rather than something that would or should cause any kind of crisis of faith or cause any Latter-Day Saint to call his or her beliefs into question.

    The article is correct however about the devastating impact that such a discovery would have on Evangelicals; I would like to imagine that perhaps the discovery of life on other worlds would cause a mass defection from Evangelical Protestantism into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, but given the longstanding and deep-seated antipathy between the two groups, that’s probably not realistic. Oh well. One can dream.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    Oct. 19, 2014 11:40 a.m.

    I've always thought they would react badly. Religions are all rooted in a creation story, with us right smack in the middle. We know god because we're created by god in the image of god. Finding life, even evidence of life, on another planet will upset that core tenet. God created us, and life here, why is there life elsewhere?
    In the end, of course, religion will adapt, and the show will go on. The gig is too good to give up.

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    Oct. 17, 2014 4:14 p.m.

    ‘How would religions react to the discovery of life on other planets?’


    About the same way they already have reacted to other Scientific discoveries like: --

    We are not the Center of the Universe,
    The Earth is not flat,
    Drunkenness is a chemical reaction to Alcohol, and not "spirits",
    bacteria causes diseases, not God's punishment on sin,
    Genetic dispositions [gayness],
    Global Warming,


    I'm good with ALL Truth --
    beit Scientific OR Religious.

  • happy2bhere clearfield, UT
    Oct. 15, 2014 8:36 a.m.

    I would only add that the Book of Moses, which is of course LDS, says that God created worlds without number. And we certainly can believe that, what with todays modern telescopes like Hubble and the ones looking at the invisible energy in the universe. I guess Moses had a pretty good telescope in his day. Or for you non believers, Joseph Smith. Good guess, considering the stars you could see in his day in the night sky would not add up to a grain of sand on a beach compared with what we can see today.

  • happy2bhere clearfield, UT
    Oct. 15, 2014 8:27 a.m.

    illuminated, one point to consider. We on Earth have only been sending out signals, radio and TV for a few decades now. In other words, only about 70 or so light years. That's not very far from Earth. And others thousands or millions of light years away could not send us any signals that would get here anytime soon either.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    Oct. 14, 2014 6:03 p.m.

    "No adaptation necessary when the religion has explicitly stated since its founding that there is life on other planets."

    And hence my point.

    Life found? See, we were correct. Even if the life is just single cell organisms.
    No life found? Doesn't mean it does not exist. It just hasnt been found.

    The problem comes when the "predictions" become provable.
    Sun and Moon are inhabited.

    Proven false. Means nothing. Brother B was just speaking his opinion.

    Until someone can show me the distinction between "prophetic" words and personal opinion, it appears to me like a coin toss. I'm a visionary when I am right and an ordinary person when I am not.

    How grand would life be if everyone gave me that benefit.

  • mhenshaw Leesburg, VA
    Oct. 14, 2014 8:17 a.m.

    >>There is no doubt that religion would adapt to conclude that life on other planets is proof that they were right.

    No adaptation necessary when the religion has explicitly stated since its founding that there is life on other planets.

  • Casey See FLOWER MOUND, TX
    Oct. 14, 2014 8:18 a.m.

    I actually wrote a book, that was never accepted for print. But the premise was that there are other beings on other planets. That "UFOs" are simply visitors from other planets looking to see the planet where their creator was born, lived, atoned for the sins of all of his creations, died, and then was resurrected. They come her just the same as many Christians would love to visit the Holy Land". These Beings would look similar to us as we are all created in His image. However, I think that there will be some difference as well. Perhaps eyes that have different tints than Homo Sapiens eyes, etc.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    Oct. 14, 2014 8:03 a.m.

    Wondering about God is good. Wondering about what He is capable of doing is good. Wondering why there would be other worlds with people created in the image of God is good.

    Any time we ponder the existence of God and wonder about His creations is time well spent.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    Oct. 14, 2014 6:22 a.m.

    There is no doubt that religion would adapt to conclude that life on other planets is proof that they were right.

    Religious leaders make statements. The flock accepts them on faith. Some prove to be correct, some incorrect.

    The Religious use both as proof of their correctness.

    It is rather entertaining.

  • mhenshaw Leesburg, VA
    Oct. 14, 2014 5:35 a.m.

    >>I wonder how Mormons would react if the intelligent life we found looked nothing like us at all and were in fact completely different types of lifeforms.

    We would find it fascinating; admit that we know only a small part of how God does His work; and take it on faith that someday someday, all truth, whether learned through science or revelation, will mesh together in a consistent way.

  • bass679 Novi, MI
    Oct. 14, 2014 5:32 a.m.

    @ Donn
    To be fair though, when pressed on if that was a personal belief or something he knew as a prophet President Young admitted it was just his personal belief which was not too far from popular thought at the time.

  • A Quaker Brooklyn, NY
    Oct. 13, 2014 11:39 p.m.

    "How would religions react to the discovery of life on other planets?"

    Probably no better than they've reacted to the study of life on THIS one. Think about it:

    There are religions that deny evolution, that deny primatology.

    There are religions that deny geoscience, that deny plate tectonics, that deny archaeology.

    There are religions that deny biology, that deny anthropology, that deny paleontology.

    I wouldn't expect anything approaching a rational analysis from clerics and religious hierarchies trying to not so much explain something new which is outside their theological foundation, as trying to shoehorn it in. It wouldn't be pretty.

    I don't happen to believe that rational, fact-based thought, and acceptance of the reality of natural forces and processes is antithetical to holding spiritual beliefs. Unfortunately, I see too many instances of dogmatic faith being used to justify willful ignorance. Denying scientific reality is hardly evidence of spiritual enlightenment.

    Luckily, encountering sentient lifeforms from another planet is statistically unlikely, so we may succeed in avoiding that particular embarrassment. We'll have plenty of others, though.

  • Red Corvette St. George, UT
    Oct. 13, 2014 10:23 p.m.

    Let's all hie to Kolob.

  • donn layton, UT
    Oct. 13, 2014 2:44 p.m.

    RE: Extra-Terrestrials. As far back as 1837, I (JS)know that he said the Moon was inhabited by men and women the same as this earth, and that they lived to a greater age then we do, that they live generally to near the age of 1,000 years. "He described the men as averaging near six feet in height, and dressing quite informally in something near the Quaker style.

    Brigham Young: "Who can tell us of the Inhabitants of this little planet that shines of an evening called the MOON?...when you inquire about the Inhabitants of that sphere you find that the most learned are as ignorant in regard to them as the ignorant of their fellows. So it is in regard to the Inhabitants of the SUN. Do you think it is inhabited? I rather think it is. Do you think there is any life there? NO Question of it..

  • gmlewis Houston, TX
    Oct. 13, 2014 1:07 p.m.

    We talk about "intelligent life", but there are lots of intelligent species (dolphins and chimpanzees, for example). I think finding "life with moral agency" on other worlds would be the real goal.

    Will it looks "human-like?" If some wookie comes down in a spaceship, we'll just have to examine what he looks like without all that hair.

  • bass679 Novi, MI
    Oct. 13, 2014 12:24 p.m.

    @ The Wraith
    That's what most folk assume but it's not stated as such. Oddly enough this was explored in a video game called Advent Rising about 10 years ago which, if i recall correctly, had the script done by Orson Scott Card. Overall I think most LDS people would be surprised for non-human aliens but it wouldn't conflict with any doctrine.

  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    Oct. 13, 2014 12:13 p.m.

    The Pope before this one said if aliens landed the Catholic church would offer them baptism. Does anyone besides me find this odd? Why would they need to come here to get baptised? Assuming they needed it wouldn't God make it available on their own planet? If Catholic baptism is needed the Universe wide then all the people on all the other planets that don't or can't make it to earth are just out of luck? That would be poor planning on Gods part.

  • GameTheory Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 13, 2014 11:27 a.m.

    I would also love to see the reaction of the religious communities, I have also wondered which faiths would break down and which ones would continue if extra-terrestrial life was found.
    The truth is probably all of them would continue . Every religion can and has squared its teachings with whatever fact comes along that was previously contradictory to their beliefs. It has been happening with evolution, heliocentric, disease etc,. @New Yorker, 7000 years this world has been peopled?... I guess this is what I'm talking about. No matter what facts are discovered religion sticks to their books and tries to change the wording; " well this verse actually is just talking about the peopled existence of the world and not the world as a whole" or "evolution is apart of Gods plan"... even though it totally goes against what the bible and your church teaches. Faith doesn't make you search for the truth, rather it says, here is the truth, now don't think about it or question it too much because then you don't have faith.

    Oct. 13, 2014 11:26 a.m.

    @ Tyler D: "If there is one thing religion should be known for it is its ability to adapt to facts and insert itself (as the answer) into areas still unknown."

    How is this much different than "scientific discovery"? Science claims to "know" things until further experiments, study, and observation prove otherwise. Then the "new" facts tend to become a scientific absolute.

    Since religious leaders are not out performing scientific experiments I would not expect them to make these discoveries. However, there is nothing wrong with embracing new knowledge of our temporal existence and incorporating into the spiritual existence of religion. The two are not mutually exclusive, nor do they have to be at odds.

    My religion (LDS) teaches that we are given knowledge "line upon line, precept upon precept". That knowledge doesn't always come from a bruning bush. Sometimes it comes from a dilligent and intelligent scientist...

  • Vanceone Provo, UT
    Oct. 13, 2014 11:25 a.m.

    I have a reverse question: One of the most "fundamental" parts of science today is the absolute belief in the speed of light as a speed limit; if anything even hints at breaking the speed of light (and more importantly, the speed of information transmission over light speed) then the world of science will, basically, shatter.

    Any meaningful belief in religion and God as a member of this Universe must of necessity believe in something faster than light. What happens when we find out that religion was right and science wrong? That's the fireworks I'm looking forward to.

  • Furry1993 Ogden, UT
    Oct. 13, 2014 11:12 a.m.

    Personally, I would be surprised if there aren't other planets with life on them.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    Oct. 13, 2014 11:09 a.m.

    @ordinaryfolks – “I don't think that the vast majority of fundamentalists in the Abrahamic religions can possibly deal with the probability of life on other planets in the Universe.”

    Your comments are astute however I don’t think it would go this way.

    If there is one thing religion should be known for it is its ability to adapt to facts and insert itself (as the answer) into areas still unknown. If it didn’t do this religion would die out and I very much doubt it ever will. There’s too much in for all involved – leaders want the control and followers cannot tolerate their own fear of death or the unknown.

    It might rock the worldviews of certain sects for a generation or two, but not only would they accommodate new facts, they would do it in a way as to suggest they really knew it all along (i.e., “we see through the glass darkly, but now a little less so.”)

    I wish it were so easy to break the spell of religion but 400 years of it adapting to modern science suggests this is a uniquely powerful incantation.

  • The Wraith Kaysville, UT
    Oct. 13, 2014 10:53 a.m.

    I realize that LDS theology does indeed teach that there are other planets with people on them out there there in the universe. But I believe it also teaches that these people will look like us as all people were created in the image of god. I wonder how Mormons would react if the intelligent life we found looked nothing like us at all and were in fact completely different types of lifeforms.

  • illuminated St George, UT
    Oct. 13, 2014 10:45 a.m.

    Or maybe we won't find anything. That would be far more profound and thought-provoking - that we really are the only ones. See the Fermi paradox. Based on even the most conservative calculations, there should already be mountains of evidence of extra-terrestrial life. But we haven't found any yet. Very strange if you think about it.

    There is a theory growing in popularity that the Big Bang caused near-infinite universes to be created with slight or drastic variations that exist in different dimensional planes. I think it's more likely than not that our our own physical universe is simply a "simulation" created by a higher intelligence who resides on a separate plane of existence.

    The "multiverse" is likely how we explain near-death experiences - our "spirits" are merely beings that can only reside in a separate dimensional universe that likely has completely different laws on time, energy and physics. In other words we have a extremely limited understanding of the universe as we know it.

  • New Yorker Pleasant Grove, UT
    Oct. 13, 2014 8:51 a.m.

    To add to Casey See's comment, because the peopled existence of a world (at least this one is thought to be in the neighborhood of 7,000 years before being rolled out to another plane) in LDS theology is so geologically short, finding a world "populated with spirit children of our Heavenly Father" would be very very, very rare. It will be much more likely that we find a lot of worlds in preparation for receiving intelligent life that has been granted a degree of moral agency. This means those who are able to make reasoned choices not governed by instinct. Per Section 77, you may not recognize all of them. Consider the great variation of humankind found on this planet, all being from a single genetic chain.

    Just sayin' :-)

  • ordinaryfolks seattle, WA
    Oct. 13, 2014 8:06 a.m.

    I don't think that the vast majority of fundamentalists in the Abrahamic religions can possibly deal with the probability of life on other planets in the Universe. It will rock the central tenets of their faith, which include the unique creation of our Earth by an almighty deity. Heck, these people are so tribal as to fight amongst themselves for dominance. You have got Baptists, fighting Catholics and Mormons, who are not so nice to Muslims, who hate Jews. And this has been going on for hundreds of years.

    Our species is inherently tribal, unsophisticated intellectually and prone to childish faith. The existence of any form of life on another planet threatens the very notion of their self chosen special nature. I probably won't be around when this extraterrestrial life if found. But I sure would enjoy the shock and disbelief that will accompany the discovery.

    It took the Catholic church hundreds of year to exonerate Galileo from its charges of apostasy. I wonder how long it will take the religious fundamentalist to come to grips with the new fact that there is more to the universe than their self designated unique existence.

  • Casey See FLOWER MOUND, TX
    Oct. 13, 2014 7:55 a.m.

    For those of LDS faith, we would expect to find life on other planets as we are told in Moses 1:35-38 that there are other planets populated with spirit children of our Heavenly Father.