The summer issue (2012) of the Journal of Scientific Exploration (JSE) has several interesting articles, one of which is “Revisiting the Alexander UFO Religious Crisis Survey (AUFORCS): Is There Really a Crisis?” written by Jeff Levin. Jeff Levin is associated with the Institute for Studies of Religion, Baylor University, Waco, Texas. The JSE article reviews the AUFORCS survey and results.
The analysis includes the purpose of the survey, the AUFORCS survey method, breakdown of participants and response rate. Part I includes the eleven survey questions from the Victoria Alexander UFO Religious Crisis Survey. I conclude the article with my own observations about the survey, methods used, the eleven survey questions, and the overall statistical value of the Alexander UFO Religious Crisis Survey.
The Peters ETI Religious Crisis Survey of 2008 is reviewed. The focal question stated in the background section of the survey in (Section 1.1) reads, “Would either the Christian religion or selected non-Christian religions confront a crisis or even collapse when confronted with confirmation that extraterrestrial intelligent life exists?” The authors propose that the Peters survey disconfirms the hypothesis.
The survey methods are described by who their respondents are and how the surveys were distributed. There are a number of statistical problems with the Peters ETI Religious Crisis Survey and a number of them are discussed. The final results are presented with my comments about the lack of detail about the survey distribution, response rate, standard deviation, confidence intervals, z and p values, and bias in the survey.
The ten survey questions are posted and mention is made that the email version of the survey was different than the paper surveys. I discuss how the use of italics in some of the survey questions is biased and my conclusions about the Peters survey.
The UFOs & Extraterrestrial Life: Americans’ Beliefs and Personal Experiences: The Roper Poll, Prepared for the SCI FI Channel, Sept 2002 is presented. As a result of the Roper Poll’s lack of computational data to verify their results, I am disinclined to believe the report and provide more detail why I come to this conclusion.
The Reactions to Receipt of a Message from Extraterrestrial Intelligence: A Cross-Cultural Empirical Study was written by D. A. Vakoch and Y. S. Lee. The study was presented at the SETI: Interdisciplinary Aspects Review Meeting, 48th International Astronautical Congress in Turin, Italy in 1997.
Purpose of the survey: If the earth ever received a message from extraterrestrial intelligence, what would be the societal impact?
In my view, this survey was the best conducted survey I had reviewed. I was impressed with the quality of detail provided. The methods, statistics and results were solid and gave me hope that there was someone doing some solid work about the religious view on extraterrestrial life.
Another paper, published in the Journal of UFO Studies in 1980, addressed the testing of two hypotheses:
1) Many denominations have not yet taken a position on the issue of whether there is extraterrestrial life.
2) Christian religious fundamentalism is inversely related to belief in extraterrestrial life.
It boils down to the willingness to believe in extraterrestrial life. This is based on the fact that extraterrestrial life is not a scientific fact. Survey methods and results are presented.
The final part of the article provides concluding thoughts on all five surveys from the first three parts of the series, Part I – Part III.
Part IV starts with the search for ETI from a historical perspective. Highlights are given from the thoughts and ideas of historical figures who were interested in the subject. Historical highlights starting with the early years from 1277 to the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries are briefly presented. The nineteenth and twentieth centuries features William Whewell, who published Of the Plurality of Worlds: An Essay, and Alfred Russell Wallace’s Man’s Place in the Universe. The twentieth century finishes with the 1952 Vatican pronouncement, and a short mention of Percival Lowell, Orson Welles, and the Drake Equation.
The second section discusses the hypothesis that religion could be a survival strategy for communities. The views of Jonathan Haidt are reviewed and a story was presented from a telecast during the 2012 Summer Olympics, regarding how Winston Churchill reached out to America for Britain’s World War II war effort.
As with previous posts in this series, history has shown us that people have been debating the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence for many centuries. There is a rich depth of history on this topic and there are many fascinating papers and books on the subject. There are numerous viewpoints on the relationship between ETI and religion. As with many controversial topics, the viewpoint of ETI seems to resolve itself into two camps: those who feel that ETI is not inconsistent with religion, and those who say it is. These viewpoints come from laymen, scientists, theologians, ufologists, and everyone in between.
What struck me personally in reading papers on this topic is not only the black and white perspective on this issue but the human perception of how we, as humanity, project our religious viewpoints onto an extraterrestrial intelligence. Has ET sinned? How is ET redeemed? How does ET relate to humanity’s position in the universe? Does humanity have a “position” in the universe? Even more than that, does humanity have a special or ultimate position in the universe? I was disturbed at reading the absolute perspective of the religious viewpoint being projected onto an extraterrestrial intelligence. Who are we to dictate our religious views onto an alien intelligence? What makes our way the only way?
Part V continues with viewpoints from Douglas Vakoch’s research, Joesph L. Spradley, Marie George, Brenda Denzler, David Wilkinson, and Paul Davis. The multiple Incarnation issue is presented with different viewpoints. The next section introduces the question of ET as spiritual Beings, life on Mars, and Frank Drake and SETI, followed by the conclusion of what constitutes a religion.
Part VI focuses on the fundamentalist religious views of ETI. Who can forget the statement by Pat Robertson, the founder and chairman of the Christian Coalition, advocating stoning for those who believe in the existence of space aliens and UFOs?
Some abductees have found that their experiences have reinforced their religious faith. Other abductees ascribe their experiences to demonic activity. You get the entire spectrum of belief between these extremes. Brenda Denzler writes about these contradictions in “Ufology, God-Talk and Theology”. Several different perspectives by abductees are presented. Quotes from Billy Graham, who is an American Christian evangelist, are featured.
Dr. David Clarke wrote a paper titled “Flying Saucers From Hell” and this paper contains a wealth of information about how demonology has played a very influential and largely overlooked role in the development of ufology both in the United States and Britain.
Gordon Creighton was the best-known demonologist in the UK and he was also the editor for Flying Saucer Review. Paul Inglesby, also known as “Father Paul” or the Reverend Eric Inglesby, was a UFO theorist who had many contacts with both the church and the British establishment.
The CE4 Research Group’s alienresistance.org is discussed. This website has “testimonies” from people who have claimed to stop alien abduction by using the power in the name and authority of Jesus Christ. There are statements of faith, articles, and position statements on alien abduction. I do not have a favorable view regarding the statements this group makes about alien abduction.
The church metaphors in both versions of the War of the Worlds movies are compared. The conclusion of part VI presents my personal views about ET, demons, and angels.