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Aliens artifacts and Religion

Posted on 2011-09-19
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Just finished reading an interesting fictional series of books Area 51 by Bob Mayer, Robert Doherty. The basic premise of the books is that Earth is visited by Aliens some 10,000 years ago and the Aliens brake into a number of faction with a resulting civil war, which ends in a uneasy truce, with thier suragates continuing a low level conflict into the present.

The series goes on to incorporate a number of legends, religious and historical events  in the story. Many, of what we consider religious/legendary items, such as the Ark of the Covenant, the Grail, Excalibur, and people such as Moses, Jesus, King Arthur, Hitler are in fact Alien artifacts and Alien agents.

The series has plenty of action and is well thought out as fiction. So, what would be the affect on Judahism, Christianity, and Islam if we to discover that the Ark of the Covenant is an Alien artifact?
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Question by:leonstryker
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tliotta earned 10 total points
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what would be the affect on...

I'd guess that there would be many different effects rather than just "the effect". (Or did you really mean "affect"?)

You might read A Case of Conscience by James Blish for one kind of perspective if sci-fi is a way for you to investigate such questions. Alien artifacts, and aliens themselves, are viewed from a couple possible religious viewpoints in the book. The linked Wiki article gives a decent synopsis of the story and the issues.

In a reality governed by a Judeo-Christian-Islamic deity, the problem of deceit can be tricky. What would be the reality of "an Alien artifact"? It kind of depends on the individual making the judgment. If the individual is a religious leader who can sway many followers, the effect could be whatever follows from such a judgment.

Tom
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by:Rich Weissler
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Ah, so the Illuminati have new agents in this decade.

I have to agree that there probably wouldn't be one effect.

Looking at challenges to belief in the past; challenges to an Earth Centered universe, women not being second class (subservient) humans, evolution, etc - and in some cases the response is to ignore any change.
In others, the response is to incorporate the new information into existing beliefs.  If a religious text that was suppose to have been written by the divine is shown to be written by several different hands, then the divine was behind the writing, driving mortal hands.  E.g. If the Arc of the Covenant is proven to be an alien artifact, then rename the aliens as Angels and the aliens were agents of God.  It therefore wouldn't change the basic belief.  

In the hands of a skilled (or inspired) leader, a new revelation such as this is as likely to spur a religious movement to new heights as it manipulates and reinterprets past doctrines to suit the modern whim.
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by:Hugh McCurdy
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I think an awful lot of people simply wouldn't believe the evidence and react with anger, perhaps violence.

Many people certainly don't accept evolution.  Some simply reject science.  A few reject math and call it a theory.

What might be interesting is the change in scientists that are also Christians.
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by:dhsindy
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Seems to me - just looked the definition of ALIEN - that God is a very good representation of alien.  We are suppose to be created in his image but God really seems nothing like us.  Maybe God was just the first alien visitor.
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by:Hugh McCurdy
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dhsindy, using my understanding of Christianity, I disagree with "nothing like us."

There are at least two common areas which I think are significant.

1. The parallel between God as a parent and humans as children and human parents as parents with children.  What I want as a father, I don't see as being very different than what God wants as a father.

2. The Great Commandment -- Matthew 22:36-40 (NIV).  

36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

From this, I conclude that God wants people to love Him.  This would explain free will because without free will, there'd be no ability to love.  
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by:tliotta
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...I don't see as being very different than what God wants as a father.

That's tricky for me.

I see that as a distinctly 'alien' viewpoint. It feels as if G-d picked a single one of all His "children" (Abraham) and set him apart from all others. Abraham (and descendents) were 'chosen', effectively given the right to conquer all the other "children", even killing them.

Somehow I can't grasp being a father and expecting love from such a setup.

As for bits like 'eternity' and 'hell' for "children", those are so far removed from human experience that I can't see how to think of it all as anything but 'alien'.

I'm pleased by love from my daughter. If there was none, though, I'd look to myself for blame.

Tom
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by:Hugh McCurdy
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Tom,

It is tricky especially without a definition of God that we all agree upon.  Did the book address God?  Was God a being or just a concept from the perspective of the aliens?

Hugh
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by:BigRat
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Hmmm, what would then happen if this alien artifact is indeed an alien RELIGIOUS artifact?

I think it would cement it more than it might "uncement" if it was only discovered to be alien.

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by:PaulHews
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I think it would have some impact, but far from revolutionary.  People filter out what they don't want to hear.

http://pewforum.org/Science-and-Bioethics/An-Overview-of-Religion-and-Science-in-the-United-States.aspx

When asked what they would do if scientists were to disprove a particular religious belief, for instance, nearly two-thirds (64%) of people in an October 2006 Time magazine poll said they would continue to hold to what their religion teaches rather than accept a contrary scientific finding.
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by:Hugh McCurdy
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Paul, that's a good article.  

One issue with the 64% is that the conflict is hypothetical.  Each person would then make up their own conflict.  Even if the conflict was defined, the evidence doesn't actually exist.  Some people likely have a problem with exploring avenues that conflict with their faith because they think it makes them unfaithful.  With abstract exploration happening, I don't trust the 64% as accurate.

The Pew article mentioned evolution.  The problem I have with the conflict is that I don't think people are actually following their faith (if Judeo Christian) when they argue against evolution.  In Judeo Christian faith, God is all powerful.  Thus, God would be able to create the world however He wanted.  He could have wanted to make an Earth with all the evolutionary evidence in place.  To argue against evolution then requires that the speaker argue against God being all powerful.  Oops...

A good scientist isn't arguing that God could have "planted" all the evidence.  It's not something the scientist can dispute with science.  All the scientist is saying is that this is what appeared to have happened.  It is, after all, what appeared to have happened.

Anyway, I see no conflict between creationism and evolution if God is all powerful.
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by:tliotta
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A good scientist isn't arguing that God could have "planted" all the evidence.

Evidence can also be seen as "evidence of deceit".

Tom
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by:PaulHews
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@hmccurdy
>One issue with the 64% is that the conflict is hypothetical.  Each person would then make up their own conflict. Even if the conflict was defined, the evidence doesn't actually exist.  Some people likely have a problem with exploring avenues that conflict with their faith because they think it makes them unfaithful.  With abstract exploration happening, I don't trust the 64% as accurate.<

I think we could take religion out of it altogether.  Look at the 911 conspiracies.  Surely given the amount of evidence and investigation that has been done by third parties, engineers and scientists, we can say the destruction of the towers follows the official story.  Yet:

"A Scripps-Howard poll of 1,010 adults last month found that 36% of Americans consider it "very likely" or "somewhat likely" that government officials either allowed the attacks to be carried out or carried out the attacks themselves."

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1531304,00.html

My point is simply that a lot of people do not let the facts get in the way of their beliefs.

If science could demonstrate that something like the ark of the covenant was an alien artefact (assuming they could prove it exists in the first place)
Skeptics and atheists would have their doubts about the ark affirmed
The moderate religious would just adapt that information into their understanding, and it probably wouldn't affect their beliefs all that much, given that they think the stories in the Bible are largely metaphor anyway.
Extreme fundamentalists would ignore the evidence.  If they are capable of believing in a 6000 year old world, demon possessions, etc. then we could expect that any evidence could be rationalized away with some supernatural trump card.
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by:Hugh McCurdy
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Tom, yes it could.  But what difference does it make?  If the evidence exists, it exists.  

Put another way, if the scientific model of evolution can be used to make successful predictions, why does it matter what actually happened?  What science teaches is that there's evidence of this history.  Science (taught properly) doesn't teach "this is what happened a million years ago."  I still see no conflict.

Hugh
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by:Hugh McCurdy
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Paul, I largely agree.  Reminds me of the quip -- "don't muddle the issue with facts!"

However, I'm not sure demons don't exist.  Proving a negative is exceptionally difficult.

I could put it another way, demons do exist simply because the neural connections in people's brains say they exist.  I don't know if I want to pursue that right now except to say I get that perception from adult learning theory.  (James Zull's textbook.)

As for the Bible, I think a lot of it is metaphor.  Some is clearly true - the Romans did occupy Jerusalem.  Others are stories.  The story of Noah is likely an adaptation of an actual flood story (there's geological evidence of a "thousand year storm" or at least that's what I saw on the History Channel a few years ago) into a rather tall tale.
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by:PaulHews
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> Proving a negative is exceptionally difficult.

We are straying from the question I guess...  Have  a look at http:Q_24727504.html where the existence of demons and demon possession is discussed.  I am not familiar with James Zull's ideas, but if you open another question on it, I would certainly check it out and comment.  Rather than require someone to prove demons don't exist, I would rather someone prove that they do.  Extraordinary claims require solid, unequivocal evidence.  Otherwise, we might as well believe in elves, Santa Claus and smurfs, because no one can prove they don't exist, right?
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by:Hugh McCurdy
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We have strayed.  James Zull's book is on learning theory so it doesn't really fit in Philosophy and Religion.  I was just saying the neural connections exist.  Everything we learn that's not true, still has connections in our brains.  He was discussing the difficulty of unlearning false information.  That, in a sense, is remotely on topic because people who believe will have a hard time unlearning when confronted with new information.

Thanks for the link to the thread.

Now what's the topic again?  Aliens.
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by:PaulHews
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>so it doesn't really fit in Philosophy and Religion.

Ha!  They made this zone 50 points so that everything fits!  ;)  I see where you're coming from, thanks.
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by:tliotta
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...what difference does it make?  If the evidence exists, it exists.

I can find evidence that one of my cats made it in the front door with a live mouse. But I can't use it as evidence that Windows has bugs.

Just because a thing (that exists) is given the label "evidence" doesn't mean that it actually is 'evidence' for some other thing.

A big part of Christianity involves a belief in existence of Satan, the master of deceit. To some, or many, Christians, evidence that seems to support evolution, or anything that presents a contrary explanation for any fundamental religious belief, must be false, deceitful. It would necessarily have been manipulated by Satan to deceive us.

Since the question is about the (an?) Ark of the Covenant being claimed to be an alien artifact and the resulting effect on religious beliefs that are related to it, the evidence that supports the claim should be considered. One potential effect is that the evidence could be interpreted as "evidence of deceit", or evidence of the actual existence of Satan.

The existence of evidence wouldn't be disputed. Conclusions drawn from the evidence could easily be disputed. That's where the difference is.

Tom
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by:Hugh McCurdy
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These are good points, Tom.  I started a new thread so we could stop hijacking this one....
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by:leonstryker
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I do not think you are hijacking this thread. The main thrust appears to be that all evidence contrary to religious thought would be disbelieved.

I am not sure that would be the case. Granted some hard core conservatives would behave that way, but I foresee disillusionment for the majority especially in the more progressive areas of the world.
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by:Hugh McCurdy
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I agree with disillusionment for the majority.  I don't think it would change my philosophy in that I agree with some core tenets of Christianity.  

Love your neighbors
Love your enemies (which is really difficult)
We are not perfect.
Forgive others
Take care of your family
Take care of children.


Even if those came from aliens, they still work for me.  (I probably missed some too.)
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by:leonstryker
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>I don't think it would change my philosophy

Yes, your philosophy is unchanged, but your belief in God, as he is presented by established religions, will be destroyed.
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by:Hugh McCurdy
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Perhaps.  Perhaps I could twist it all to say that God sent the aliens...
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by:tliotta
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The main thrust appears to be that all evidence contrary to religious thought would be disbelieved.

As long as "would" is changed to "could", I'd accept that statement. Or a qualifier like "...by some (or many)" might be added at the end of the statement.

Galileo had evidence that the Earth was not the center of all things when he could see moons around Jupiter. His "evidence" was dismissed since Satan could cause illusions. The evidence existed, but conclusions differed. Telescopic evidence has been disputed on those grounds by some ever since. Similarly, various measurements of intergalactic distances have been disputed (by some) as impossible and therefore illusory.

I wasn't so much declaring that evidence of alien origin would be flat out dismissed as much as proposing that that is one potential outcome for some segment of society. There would be various effects overall; that is just one possible one that would strengthen the beliefs of some. (I'm personally aware of a likely one in particular from a few years in a different forum.)

Tom
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by:Hugh McCurdy
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Tom, you make a good point about Galileo.  Some believe men haven't been to the moon. (Perhaps those aliens would teach us how to defeat radiation...)
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by:BigRat
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>> His "evidence" was dismissed since Satan could cause illusions.

His evidence was dismissed because it contradicted comtemporary religious though. His evidence is accepted today because comtemporary religious thought has changed.

The question, as stated above, lacks a context. The "discovery" that something  is an alien artifact requires the context of aliens - like for example that they have landed on the Earth. there is therefore a good chance that religiuos thought at that time had changed to absorb that fact. Galileo's discovery did not invalidate religion, it invalidated an interpretation of the bible.

I think what would happen is twofold. First the established religions will find a way to accommodate the "discovery" and a new religion will be created which will follow the god(s) of the alien(s). For, as we say, plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose.
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