Last night Joshua and I attended a lecture by the Rev. Prof. David Wilkinson entitled “Science, Religion, and the Search for Extraterrestrial Life.” He holds a PhD in theoretical astrophysics, a PhD in systematic theology, and he is a Methodist Minister. He is one who is well equipped to engaged the questions posed by some today: “What will Christianity do if or when we do make contact with alien life forms?” Some have said that it will be the end of faith as we know it. Some Christians have welcomed it as proof of an omnipotent God. Additionally, there are a million questions in between.
This is a Borderlands Lecture. The idea behind the Borderlands lecture is to embrace the areas where the church and the world may have traditionally made borders–you stay on your side and I’ll stay on mine. This engages those areas as places of valuable discussion. It readily admits that we may not have all the answers, but let’s have the important discussion.
The lecture hall was packed with theologians, scientists, students, and other curious people. David did a wonderful job of engaging the questions at hand while weaving in discussions and examples from popular culture. He looked at the questions raised in television, movies, and the news. I think my favorite line of the night went something like this: A recent survey has shown that nearly 4 million Americans said they were abducted by aliens. Which leads us, immediately, to ask the question: “WHY would aliens WANT 4 million Americans?!”
David touched on the history of the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) and some of its arguments over approximately 1400 years. He discussed Hubble, Drake, and Fermi’s paradox, among others.
If this sort of discussion interests you, I’d commend his book to you. You can find it on Amazon, among other places: http://www.amazon.com/dp/0199680205/ref=rdr_ext_tmb David is one of the supervisors for my research project–and, no, I do not receive any remuneration for this recommendation.