In the News: “NASA Telescope Confirms Alien Planet…”

I stumbled across this story while browsing the Internet yesterday.  It’s a story about how NASA’s Kepler craft has discovered a planet that could potentially host life as we know it, meaning the temperature is right and it could have water and oxygen and such.

My initial reaction: AWESOME!

Then I thought more about it and I started to wonder, while trying to think of a topic for Monday’s post, about what such a discovery could mean for modern Paganism.  I realized that I don’t know whether any tradition within Paganism accounts for alien life at all.  What would alien life mean for our modern traditions?  How would our religions and spiritualities account for such a possibility and, if it actually comes to pass, how would they account for the fact of alien lifeforms?

What I mean by this is, does anything in Paganism account for anything not of this earth?  Some Abrahamic adherents would say that alien life can’t exist, while others say it could potentially be out there, but what would that mean in terms of God?  Does it mean our gods created those other lifeforms on worlds similar to Earth, or would we say that because those lifeforms aren’t from Earth our gods have nothing to do with them?

Such a topic raises more questions than answers, but I think it’s one that can really make a person think and question assumptions and work to find those answers (or possible answers).

I think alien life would be welcomed overall by most Pagans, if such life were to be found.  I don’t think a discovery like that would cause a religious crisis for most of Paganism the way it might for others that are more rigid.  As for how such lifeforms would fit into the mythologies most of us are so intimate with, I think it would work in well to simply say that while our gods here on Earth mean this to us, there is nothing to say that the same divine energy couldn’t be found on another planet and mean something similar to another lifeform.  The divine energy of the gods that many Pagans recognize isn’t necessarily confined to one planet–that would be like saying the sun’s light only reaches one planet.  The light of the Divine can reach beyond our planet, and probably does.  After all, what created the universe in the first place?  What would have initially created the alternate lifeforms?

Again, more questions than answers… but it can be fun to think about and puzzle over!


One response to “In the News: “NASA Telescope Confirms Alien Planet…”

  1. Hello Sita,

    I share your excitement with recent astronomical discoveries. I also share your interest in Hindu deities. Have done some study and some writing about the goddess Kali, who is identified with goddess Sita in a Sanskrit text called the Adbhuta Ramayana (which is not the same as the well-known Ramayana).

    I’m fascinated by Saturn’s moon Titan, with its liquid lakes, its carbon-based chemistry, and the indications that complex substances are not only forming in the atmosphere, but are also breaking down again, i.e. decomposing. Perhaps (no-one knows) they being decomposed by microbial life… In any case, it reminds me of India’s vision of the dance of Shiva/Kali.

    Who knows what will be found next or when or where? It may not be life as we know it. In any case, I doubt that evolution on other worlds will take a course similar enough to here to produce humanoids… Yet it does seem clear, anyway, that there is a lot more out there than just cratered rock…

    As more information comes in, it may not mean a crisis exactly, but it will raise questions for every world-view, religious or secular.

    It makes sense that those who honor the Earth will welcome news about other Earth-like worlds. It makes sense that those who honor Nature will welcome discoveries about what Nature is doing on other planets.

    Traditional visions of gods and goddesses may remain important, may even gain new importance; but perhaps we will start to think of them in less anthropomorphic ways?

    May the Goddess bless your path
    Colin Robinson

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