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SETI—religion or science?


Artist’s rendition by Isaac Gary, courtesy, released under the GFDL Allen Array
The Allen array will increase SETI’s capacity to search for extraterrestrial life. It is named after Paul Allen, the co-founder of Microsoft. He is just one of many prominent industry and media leaders who have contributed millions of dollars to SETI’s programs.

Supporters of SETI—the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence—have reacted strongly against George Basalla, professor emeritus of history at the University of Delaware, who says in his book Civilized Life in the Universe (Oxford University Press, 2006) that SETI is more of a faith than a science.1

Basalla highlights SETI’s failure to make ‘contact’ despite over 40 years of trying and says its continuing efforts in the absence of any evidence indicate that SETI relies more on ‘religious zeal’ than anything else.

In response, SETI Institute’s David Darling argues that the quest for ET is ‘true to the methodology and spirit of science.’ In an article at he writes: ‘It isn’t an unreasonable hypothesis that if intelligence has come about on one planet [Earth] that it may also have arisen elsewhere, especially given the vast number of stars in this and other galaxies.’

What he’s talking about, of course, is evolution—i.e. if life evolved here, why not elsewhere? Darling refers to the debate going on at SETI about ‘how often primitive life, such as bacteria, serves as the precursor of complex, multicellular life, and, ultimately advanced intelligence.’ He adds: ‘Forecasting how intelligence will evolve is a hazardous business.’

As we have pointed out many times, evolution is a religion, as leading anticreationist philosophers also admit. And surely it takes more faith to believe that the staggering complexity of living things could have evolved even just once than to accept that life must have had a Designer, just as the Bible says.

Gary Bates, CMI’s resident UFOlogist and author of Alien Intrusion: UFOs and the Evolution Connection, adds, ‘For SETI the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Due to preconceived evolutionary beliefs, in faith, they believe that it will just be a matter of time before we make contact.’

People caught up in the SETI ‘religion’, and its false hope in a fantasy, need to hear of the sure hope we have in Christ, our Creator and Saviour (Colossians 1:15–20, Titus 2:13, Hebrews 1:3, 6:19).

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References and notes

  1. Darling, D., Of Faith and Facts: Is SETI a Religion?,, 8 June 2006.

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