The Effect Of Aliens On Religious Beliefs

MSNBC is running a story that asks the question, “Would finding aliens shatter religious beliefs?” “Experts” don’t think so and neither do I. When belief is faced with any potentially contradicting evidence, it reacts in one of four ways.

  • Morphs to accommodate the evidence
  • Claims that the evidence supports faith
  • Finds some reason to claim that faith predicted the evidence
  • Denys the evidence

In addition, schisms often develop over which of these approaches best reflects core beliefs. Once in a while a new religion, supposedly based on the new evidence, comes into existence. But faith remains. Only a very very few people see new evidence as negating their core beliefs.
Faith does not fall to evidence because faith doesn’t rest on evidence. All evidence is explainable one way or another. Faith does fall to parsimony. Faith doesn’t provide anything useful to any discussion except a discussion of faith itself. But because human cognition is complex, I think we’ll have faith to kick around for some time to come.
The MSNBC article approaches the subject from a compatible but somewhat different angle.