The Evolution of Terrestrial and Extraterrestrial Life: A Theological Assessment


Wednesday, November 07 2012 - 12:00 pm, PST
Ted Peters
Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary

The set of assumptions that generates progressive research programs associated with the search for extra-terrestrial life--especially intelligent life--constitute a myth-like picture of reality.

Specifically, the set of assumptions frequently include (1) placing the origin of life within the theory of evolution [Darwinian evolution describes speciation, not the origin of life]; (2) importing the doctrine of progress into biology so that simple organisms are allegedly destined to evolve into intelligent organisms [the dominant view among evolutionary biologists is that no direction or purpose or progress is discernible in evolution]; (3) presuming that an extra-solar planet with a longer evolutionary history is likely to have developed higher intelligence; (4) positing that high intelligence leads to the development of science; and, finally, (5) asserting that advanced science leads to advances in all quarters of life so that highly evolved extraterrestrial intelligences may have achieved prosperity, medical perfection, long life, societal peace, and a benevolent or altruistic ethic.

This worldview exhibits uncanny resemblances to the ancient gnostic-redeemer myth, minus the mysticism. The future may prove that these scientific assumptions have been valid, to be sure; however, in the meantime, pointing out their inherent mythical structure may illuminate the way we terrestrials think.

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