Study: A Belief in Aliens May Be a Religious Impulse

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If you believe in aliens from outer space, it may just be a religious impulse. A recent Scientific American article by Michael Shermer (founder of the Skeptics Society and the publisher of Skeptic magazine) highlights a recent set of studies at North Dakota State University (NDSU) that found “those who report low levels of religious belief but high desire for meaning in life show greater belief in ETIs [Extraterrestrial Intelligence].” Of course, everyone is religious, including atheists and skeptics—they just place their belief in an evolutionary worldview, naturalism, and humanism, instead of in Christ and his Word.

Romans 1 tells us that God has made it evident to all that he is the Creator—that’s why all are without excuse. Everyone knows God exists—which is why people have this yearning to find meaning in life. Sadly, because of our sin nature, many refuse to acknowledge who the true God is—they would rather believe in aliens than believe in the God of the bible.

Aliens = Meaning to Life

In one of the NDSU team’s studies, researchers found that atheists and agnostics “were statistically significantly more likely to report believing in ETIs than those who reported being religious (primarily Christian).” In two further studies, the researchers found a correlation between a “lower presence of meaning and higher search for meaning” and a “greater belief in ETI.”

Shermer reported:

From these studies the authors conclude: “ETI beliefs serve an existential function: the promotion of perceived meaning in life. In this way, we view belief in ETI as serving a function similar to religion without relying on the traditional religious doctrines that some people have deliberately rejected.” By this they mean the supernatural: “accepting ETI beliefs does not require one to believe in supernatural forces or agents that are incompatible with a scientific understanding of the world.” If you don't believe in God but seek deeper meaning outside our world, the thought that we are not alone in the universe “could make humans feel like they are part of a larger and more meaningful cosmic drama,” they observe.

Essentially, what these authors are saying is that atheists (whose religion is ultimately meaningless, purposeless, and hopeless) who are seeking a meaning for their lives may appeal to aliens to fulfill this role. Maybe if there’s something else out there, it will give their lives some meaning.

We can have a personal relationship with our Creator because of his Son, and we can serve and worship him and be with him for eternity.

But there is someone out there—our Creator! Our lives don’t have to be meaningless, purposeless, or hopeless because there is a God who knows us, loves us, and came to die on the Cross for us. We can have a personal relationship with our Creator because of his Son, and we can serve and worship him and be with him for eternity. He has revealed himself to us in his Word, in the person of Jesus Christ, and in how he has made himself evident from the created universe we live in.

No Evidence for God?

Shermer concludes his article with this:

Given that there is no more evidence for aliens than there is for God, believers in either one must take a leap of faith or else suspend judgment until evidence emerges to the contrary. I can conceive of what that might be for ETI but not for God, unless the deity is a sufficiently advanced ETI as to appear divine.

But there is evidence for God all around us in what God has made—indeed there’s so much evidence for God in creation that those who reject him are without excuse (Romans 1:18–20). Shermer and others like him choose to reject this evidence and instead interpret it through the lens of their naturalistic, evolutionary worldview. Yes, they would rather believe in nonexistent aliens for which there is no evidence instead of the God of creation, for which the evidence cries out, “In the beginning God created.”

Instead of appealing to nonexistent aliens for meaning and purpose, I encourage Shermer and other atheists like him, to turn to Jesus Christ and experience the hope and purpose he gives through the gospel.

Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,
Ken

This item was written with the assistance of AiG’s research team.

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