Science, Religion, and the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence

Author: David Wilkinson

Publisher: OUP Oxford

ISBN: 019166961X

Category: Science

Page: 240

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If the discovery of life elsewhere in the universe is just around the corner, what would be the consequences for religion? Would it represent another major conflict between science and religion, even leading to the death of faith? Some would suggest that the discovery of any suggestion of extraterrestrial life would have a greater impact than even the Copernican and Darwinian revolutions. It is now over 50 years since the first modern scientific papers were published on the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). Yet the religious implications of this search and possible discovery have never been systematically addressed in the scientific or theological arena. SETI is now entering its most important era of scientific development. New observation techniques are leading to the discovery of extra-solar planets daily, and the Kepler mission has already collected over 1000 planetary candidates. This deluge of data is transforming the scientific and popular view of the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence. Earth-like planets outside of our solar system can now be identified and searched for signs of life. Now is a crucial time to assess the scientific and theological questions behind this search. This book sets out the scientific arguments undergirding SETI, with particular attention to the uncertainties in arguments and the strength of the data already assembled. It assesses not only the discovery of planets but other areas such as the Fermi paradox, the origin and evolution of intelligent life, and current SETI strategies. In all of this it reflects on how these questions are shaped by history and pop culture and their relationship with religion, especially Christian theology. It is argued that theologians need to take seriously SETI and to examine some central doctrines such as creation, incarnation, revelation, and salvation in the light of the possibility of extraterrestrial life.

Religions and Extraterrestrial Life

How Will We Deal With It?

Author: David A. Weintraub

Publisher: Springer

ISBN: 3319050567

Category: Religion

Page: 234

View: 1889

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In the twenty-first century, the debate about life on other worlds is quickly changing from the realm of speculation to the domain of hard science. Within a few years, as a consequence of the rapid discovery by astronomers of planets around other stars, astronomers very likely will have discovered clear evidence of life beyond the Earth. Such a discovery of extraterrestrial life will change everything. Knowing the answer as to whether humanity has company in the universe will trigger one of the greatest intellectual revolutions in history, not the least of which will be a challenge for at least some terrestrial religions. Which religions will handle the discovery of extraterrestrial life with ease and which will struggle to assimilate this new knowledge about our place in the universe? Some religions as currently practiced appear to only be viable on Earth. Other religions could be practiced on distant worlds but nevertheless identify both Earth as a place and humankind as a species of singular spiritual religious importance, while some religions could be practiced equally well anywhere in the universe by any sentient beings. Weintraub guides readers on an invigorating tour of the world’s most widely practiced religions. It reveals what, if anything, each religion has to say about the possibility that extraterrestrial life exists and how, or if, a particular religion would work on other planets in distant parts of the universe.

Extraterrestrial Intelligence and Human Imagination

SETI at the Intersection of Science, Religion, and Culture

Author: John Traphagan

Publisher: Springer

ISBN: 3319105515

Category: Science

Page: 110

View: 9508

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The search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) represents one of the most significant crossroads at which the assumptions and methods of scientific inquiry come into direct contact with—and in many cases conflict with—those of religion. Indeed, at the core of SETI is the same question that motivates many interested in religion: What is the place of humanity in the universe? Both scientists involved with SETI (and in other areas) and those interested in and dedicated to some religious traditions are engaged in contemplating these types of questions, even if their respective approaches and answers differ significantly. This book explores this intersection with a focus on three core points: 1) the relationship between science and religion as it is expressed within the framework of SETI research, 2) the underlying assumptions, many of which are tacitly based upon cultural values common in American society, that have shaped the ways in which SETI researchers have conceptualized the nature of their endeavor and represented ideas about the potential influence contact might have on human civilization, and 3) what sort of empirical evidence we might be able to access as a way of thinking about the social impact that contact with alien intelligence might have for humanity, from both religious and cultural perspectives. The book developed as a result of a course the author teaches at the University of Texas at Austin: Religion, Science, and the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence.

Beyond UFOs

The Search for Extraterrestrial Life and Its Astonishing Implications for Our Future

Author: Jeffrey Bennett

Publisher: Princeton University Press

ISBN: 9781400838486

Category: Science

Page: 248

View: 7913

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The quest for extraterrestrial life doesn't happen only in science fiction. This book describes the startling discoveries being made in the very real science of astrobiology, an intriguing new field that blends astronomy, biology, and geology to explore the possibility of life on other planets. Jeffrey Bennett takes readers beyond UFOs to discuss some of the tantalizing questions astrobiologists grapple with every day: What is life and how does it begin? What makes a planet or moon habitable? Is there life on Mars or elsewhere in the solar system? How can life be recognized on distant worlds? Is it likely to be microbial, more biologically complex--or even intelligent? What would such a discovery mean for life here on Earth? Come along on this scientific adventure and learn the astonishing implications of discoveries made in this field for the future of the human race. Bennett, who believes that "science is a way of helping people come to agreement," explains how the search for extraterrestrial life can help bridge the divide that sometimes exists between science and religion, defuse public rancor over the teaching of evolution, and quiet the debate over global warming. He likens humanity today to a troubled adolescent teetering on the edge between self-destruction and a future of virtually limitless possibilities. Beyond UFOs shows why the very quest to find alien life can help us to grow up as a species and chart a course for the stars. In a new afterword, Bennett shares the most recent developments in extrasolar research, and discusses how they might further our quest to find alien life.

Vast Universe

Extraterrestrials and Christian Revelation

Author: Thomas F. O'Meara

Publisher: Liturgical Press

ISBN: 081468047X

Category: Religion

Page: 104

View: 4182

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If we have learned anything from recent advances in cosmology and astronomy, it is that we have only barely begun to comprehend the vastness of our universe and all that it contains. For Christians, this raises some fascinating questions: If there are intelligent beings out there, what would be their relationship to what Christianity claims is a special history on Earth of life with God? Would the fact of persons on other planets banish or modify our understanding of God? Would it reduce the importance of Jesus? What role might goodness and evil play in extraterrestrial civilizations? Might God have incarnated himself among other races of creatures, as he became incarnate as Jesus among us? Respectful of the sciences that disclose the reality of the universe, Thomas O'Meara wonders about good and evil, intelligence and freedom, revelation and life as they might exist in other galaxies. In this book, one possible aspect of the universe we live in meets the perspective of Christian revelation.

Aliens

The World's Leading Scientists on the Search for Extraterrestrial Life

Author: Jim Al-Khalili

Publisher: Picador

ISBN: 1250109655

Category: Science

Page: 224

View: 7439

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In these lively and fascinating essays, scientists from around the world weigh in on the latest advances in the search for intelligent life in the universe and discuss just what that might look like. Since 2000, science has seen a surge in data and interest on several fronts related to E.T. (extraterrestrials); A.I. (artificial intelligence); and SETI (search for extraterrestrial intelligence). The debate has intensified over whether life exists outside our solar system, what that life would look like, and whether we’ll ever make contact. Included here are essays from a broad spectrum of the scientific community: cosmologists, astrophysicists, NASA planetary scientists, and geneticists, to name just a few, discussing the latest research and theories relating to alien life. Some of the topics include: If life exists somewhere in space, what are the odds that it evolves into something we would recognize as intelligent? What will space travel look like in the future, and will it all be done by cyborg technology? How long until we are ruled by robot overlords? (This is actually a serious consideration.) Are we simply a simulation in the mind of some supreme being, acting out a virtual reality game? For those who have ever wondered, Is there anybody out there? here are the latest theories and evidence that move us closer to answering that question.

Life as We Do Not Know It

The NASA Search for (and Synthesis of) Alien Life

Author: Peter Ward

Publisher: Penguin

ISBN: 1440628564

Category: Science

Page: 320

View: 8856

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An engrossing and revelatory first look at the search for alien life—on Earth and beyond For the past twenty years, Peter Ward has been at the forefront of popular science writing, with books such as the influential and controversial Rare Earth. In Life as We Do Not Know It, Ward, with his signature blend of eloquence, humor, and learned insight, vividly details the latest scientific findings, cutting-edge research, and intrepid new theories on the subject of alien life and the possible extraterrestrial origins of life on Earth. In lucid, entertaining, and bold prose, Peter Ward once again challenges our notions of life on earth (and beyond).

Is Anyone Out There?

The Scientific Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence

Author: Frank D. Drake,Dava Sobel

Publisher: Delta

ISBN: 9780385311229

Category: Astronomers

Page: 272

View: 9867

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The leader of NASA's controversial multimillion-dollar transglobal search for signs of extraterrestrial life pulls fact from fiction in this accessible and entertaining book. Essential reading for anyone concerned with the stirring prospect that We are not alone'.--Carl Sagan. Illustrations. 16-page photo insert.

Civilizations Beyond Earth

Extraterrestrial Life and Society

Author: Douglas A. Vakoch,Albert A.

Publisher: Berghahn Books

ISBN: 1782383166

Category: Social Science

Page: 240

View: 8765

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Astronomers around the world are pointing their telescopes toward the heavens, searching for signs of intelligent life. If they make contact with an advanced alien civilization, how will humankind respond? In thinking about first contact, the contributors to this volume present new empirical and theoretical research on the societal dimensions of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). Archaeologists and astronomers explore the likelihood that extraterrestrial intelligence exists, using scientific insights to estimate such elusive factors as the longevity of technological societies. Sociologists present the latest findings of novel surveys, tapping into the public’s attitudes about life beyond Earth to show how religion and education influence beliefs about extraterrestrials. Scholars from such diverse disciplines as mathematics, chemistry, journalism, and religious studies offer innovative solutions for bridging the cultural gap between human and extraterrestrial civilizations, while recognizing the tremendous challenges of communicating at interstellar distances. At a time when new planets are being discovered around other stars at an unprecedented rate, this collection provides a much needed guide to the human impact of discovering we are not alone in the universe.

The Eerie Silence

Renewing Our Search for Alien Intelligence

Author: Paul Davies

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

ISBN: 0547488491

Category: Science

Page: 256

View: 5024

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One of the world’s leading scientists explains why—and how—the search for intelligent life beyond Earth should be expanded. Fifty years ago, a young astronomer named Frank Drake first pointed a radio telescope at nearby stars in the hope of picking up a signal from an alien civilization. Thus began one of the boldest scientific projects in history, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). After a half-century of scanning the skies, however, astronomers have little to report but an eerie silence—eerie because many scientists are convinced that the universe is teeming with life. Physicist and astrobiologist Paul Davies has been closely involved with SETI for three decades and chairs the SETI Post-Detection Taskgroup, charged with deciding what to do if we’re suddenly confronted with evidence of alien intelligence. He believes the search so far has fallen into an anthropocentric trap—assuming that an alien species will look, think, and behave much like us. In this provocative book Davies refocuses the search, challenging existing ideas of what form an alien intelligence might take, how it might try to communicate with us, and how we should respond if it does.

Alien Life

The Search For Extraterrestrials And Beyond

Author: Barry Parker

Publisher: Basic Books

ISBN: 0786750405

Category: Science

Page: 264

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"Parker has done an outstanding job of pulling together the current scientific understanding of life on Earth and the possibilities of life elsewhere."--Christopher P. McKay, Research Scientist, NASA Ames Research Center

Life on Other Worlds

The 20th-Century Extraterrestrial Life Debate

Author: Steven J. Dick

Publisher: Cambridge University Press

ISBN: 9780521799126

Category: Science

Page: 290

View: 5097

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Lucid and accessible, this otherworldly guide chronicles the history of the 20th century obsession with extraterrestrials.

Planet Hunters

The Search for Extraterrestrial Life

Author: Lucas Ellerbroek

Publisher: Reaktion Books

ISBN: 1780238789

Category: Science

Page: 248

View: 5130

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Astronomers are on the verge of answering one of our most profound questions: are we alone in the universe? The ability to detect life in remote solar systems is at last within sight, and its discovery—even if only in microbial form—would revolutionize our self-image. Planet Hunters is the rollicking tale of the search for extraterrestrial life and the history of an academic discipline. Astronomer Lucas Ellerbroek takes readers on a fantastic voyage through space, time, history, and even to the future as he describes the field of exoplanet research, from the early ideas of sixteenth-century heretic Giordano Bruno to the discovery of the first exoplanet in 1995 to the invention of the Kepler Space Telescope. We join him on his travels as he meets with leading scientists in the field, including Michel Mayor, who discovered the first exoplanet, and Bill Borucki, principal investigator for NASA’s Kepler mission. Taken together, the experiences, passion, and perseverance of the scientists featured here make the book an exciting and compelling read. Presenting cutting-edge research in a dynamic and accessible way, Planet Hunters is a refreshing look into a field where new discoveries come every week and paradigms shift every year.

Contact with Alien Civilizations

Our Hopes and Fears about Encountering Extraterrestrials

Author: Michael Michaud

Publisher: Springer Science & Business Media

ISBN: 9780387686189

Category: Science

Page: 466

View: 1443

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This book describes a wide variety of speculations by many authors about the consequences for humanity of coming into contact with extraterrestrial intelligence. The assumptions underlying those speculations are examined, and some conclusions are drawn. The book emphasizes the consequences of contact rather than the search, and takes account of popular views. As necessary background, the book also includes brief summaries of the history of thinking about extraterrestrial intelligence, searches for life and for signals, contrasting paradigms of how contact might take place, and the paradox that those paradigms allegedly create.

Making Contact: Jill Tarter and the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence

Author: Sarah Scoles

Publisher: Pegasus Books

ISBN: 1681774917

Category: Science

Page: 336

View: 3686

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For anyone who has ever looked up at the night sky and wondered, "Are we alone?" A brilliant examination of the science behind the search for extraterrestrial intelligence and its pioneer, Jill Tarter, the inspiration for the main character in Carl Sagan's Contact. Jill Tarter is a pioneer, an innovator, an adventurer, and a controversial force. At a time when women weren’t encouraged to do much outside the home, Tarter ventured as far out as she could—into the three-Kelvin cold of deep space. And she hasn’t stopped investigating a subject that takes and takes without giving much back. Today, her computer's screensaver is just the text “SO…ARE WE ALONE?” This question keeps her up at night. In some ways, this is the question that keep us all up at night. We have all spent dark hours wondering about our place in it all, pondering our "aloneness," both terrestrial and cosmic. Tarter’s life and her work are not just a quest to understand life in the universe: they are a quest to understand our lives within the universe. No one has told that story, her story, until now. It all began with gazing into the night sky. All those stars were just distant suns—were any of them someone else's sun? Diving into the science, philosophy, and politics of SETI—searching for extraterrestrial intelligence—Sarah Scoles reveals the fascinating figure at the center of the final frontier of scientific investigation. This is the perfect book for anyone who has ever looked up at the night sky and wondered if we are alone in the universe.

Alien Universe

Extraterrestrial Life in Our Minds and in the Cosmos

Author: Don Lincoln

Publisher: JHU Press

ISBN: 1421410737

Category: Science

Page: 208

View: 1949

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If extraterrestrials exist, where are they? What is the probability that somewhere out there in the universe an Earth-like planet supports an advanced culture? Why do so many people claim to have encountered Aliens? In this gripping exploration, scientist Don Lincoln exposes and explains the truths about the belief in and the search for life on other planets. In the first half of Alien Universe, Lincoln looks to Western civilization's collective image of Aliens, showing how our perceptions of extraterrestrials have evolved over time. The roots of this belief can be traced as far back as our earliest recognition of other planets in the universe—the idea of them supporting life was a natural progression of thinking that has fascinated us ever since. Our captivation with Aliens has, however, led to mixed results. The world was fooled in the nineteenth century during the Great Moon Hoax of 1835, and many people misunderstood, with calamitous results, Orson Welles's 1938 radio broadcast, The War of the Worlds. Our continuing interest in Aliens is reflected in entertainment successes such as E.T., The X-Files, and Star Trek. The second half of Alien Universe explores the scientific possibility of whether advanced Alien civilizations do exist. For many years, researchers have sought to answer Enrico Fermi’s great paradox—if there are so many planets in the universe and there is a high probability that many of those can support life, then why have we not actually encountered any Aliens? (Apologies to those who are sure we have.) Lincoln describes how modern science teaches us what is possible and what is not in our search for extraterrestrial civilizations. Whether you are drawn to the psychological belief in Aliens, the history of our interest in life on other planets, or the scientific possibility of Alien existence, Alien Universe is sure to hold you spellbound. -- Jocelyne DiRuggiero, Johns Hopkins University

Alien Life Imagined

Communicating the Science and Culture of Astrobiology

Author: Mark Brake

Publisher: Cambridge University Press

ISBN: 0521491290

Category: Science

Page: 276

View: 378

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Compelling account of how ideas of alien life have evolved for general readers, amateur astronomers and undergraduate students studying astrobiology.

Civilized Life in the Universe

Scientists on Intelligent Extraterrestrials

Author: George Basalla

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 9780198038351

Category: Science

Page: 248

View: 4887

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This book is a selective and fascinating history of scientific speculation about intelligent extraterrestrial life. From Plutarch to Stephen Hawking, some of the most prominent western scientists have had quite detailed perceptions and misperceptions about alien civilizations: Johannes Kepler, fresh from transforming astronomy with his work on the shape of planetary orbits, was quite sure alien engineers on the moon were excavating circular pits to provide shelter; Christiaan Huygens, the most prominent physical scientist between Galileo and Newton, dismissed Kepler's speculations, but used the laws of probability to prove that "planetarians" on other worlds are much like humans, and had developed a sense of the visual arts; Carl Sagan sees clearly that Huygens is a biological chauvinist, but doesn't see as clearly that he, Sagan, may be a cultural/technological chauvinist when he assumes aliens have highly developed technology like ours, but better. Basalla traces the influence of one speculation on the next, showing an unbroken but twisting chain of ideas passed from one scientist to the next, and from science to popular culture. He even traces the influence of popular culture on science--Sagan always admitted how much E. R. Burroughs' Martian novels influenced his speculations about Mars. Throughout, Basalla weaves his theme that scientific belief in and search for extraterrestrial civilizations is a complex impulse, part secularized-religious, and part anthropomorphic. He questions the common modern scientific reasoning that life converges on intelligence, and intelligence converges on one science valid everywhere. He ends the book by agreeing with Stephen Hawking (usually a safe bet) that intelligence is overrated for survival in the universe, and that we are most likely alone.

The Varieties of Scientific Experience

A Personal View of the Search for God

Author: Carl Sagan

Publisher: Penguin

ISBN: 9781101201831

Category: Science

Page: 304

View: 1781

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Carl Sagan's prophetic vision of the tragic resurgence of fundamentalism and the hope-filled potential of the next great development in human spirituality The late great astronomer and astrophysicist describes his personal search to understand the nature of the sacred in the vastness of the cosmos. Exhibiting a breadth of intellect nothing short of astounding, Sagan presents his views on a wide range of topics, including the likelihood of intelligent life on other planets, creationism and so-called intelligent design, and a new concept of science as "informed worship." Originally presented at the centennial celebration of the famous Gifford Lectures in Scotland in 1985 but never published, this book offers a unique encounter with one of the most remarkable minds of the twentieth century.