Since April 2001, Michael Shermer has written a regular monthly column in Scientific American titled “Skeptic: Viewing the World with a Rational Eye.” The publisher of Skeptic magazine, Shermer earned a Ph.D. in the history of science from Claremont Graduate University in 1991. Notwithstanding the title of his Scientific American column, he is an atheist.
In January 2002, Shermer’s column was called “Shermer’s Last Law.”
In it, he drew upon the famous Third Law propounded by scientist and science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” His own variant concerned the possible discovery of extraterrestrial intelligence or ETI: “Any sufficiently advanced ETI,” he wrote, “is indistinguishable from God.”
And now, in the current (October 2017) issue of Scientific American, Shermer has returned to that essay from nearly sixteen years ago. Under the title “Sky Gods for Skeptics: Is belief in aliens a religious impulse?” he reports on a 2017 article in the journal Motivation and Emotion, “We Are Not Alone,” written by a psychologist at North Dakota State University by the name of Clay Routledge and certain colleagues.
Routledge et al. find an inverse relationship between religiosity and belief in extraterrestrial intelligence. That is, people who report low levels of religious belief but a high desire for meaning in life also tend to report greater belief in ETI, while religious believers (primarily Christians) are less likely to report belief in ETI. (I suspect that Latter-day Saints would show up as statistical outliers in Professor Routledge’s surveys.) Faith in extraterrestrial intelligence seems to serve as a substitute religion for at least some religious skeptics.
I find that fascinating.
But I also began to wonder about the relationship between a super-advanced extraterrestrial intelligence and the Latter-day Saint concept of God. And also to wonder, given the incomprehensibly vast size of the universe (to say nothing of hypothetical multiverses) how skeptics can be certain that a being at least substantially like the God described by Mormonism does not and cannot exist.
Just a thought.
Here’s an article about the announcement, made just a day or two ago, that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has bought the Printer’s Manuscript of the Book of Mormon from the Community of Christ (formerly known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints):
And here’s an interesting article from Book of Mormon Central:
This 4:20-minute video from Brigham Young University, about a project done by BYU engineering students, is absolutely wonderful:
I hope you’ll watch it.
And, while we’re on the subject of BYU, how about this?
Finally, a story from the front lines of the battle to save religious liberty in the United States: