Religious people are pondering the significance to their faith of potentially discovering extraterrestrial life. Which religions will be troubled by such a discovery? What happens to the concept of original sin? Did the death of Jesus also save the Klingons, or do they need their own savior? I think we can sum up the whole issue with one comment from the article.
That’s a serious theological problem.
Do you know how important theological problems are? Not important at all.
There was no original sin — Adam and Eve are metaphors, they didn’t actually exist. Jesus was an executed rabble-rouser (or metaphorical legend himself) with book after book after book of rationalizations and legend-building written after the fact. Both concepts will mean nothing to extraterrestrial life, except maybe as bizarre and peculiar myths held by the Earthlings, because they are not factual events or concepts.
If and when we find extraterrestrial life (as single-celled organisms beneath the ice of Europa, or alga-like patterns of biological growth on a distant planet, or in the form of signals from an alien intelligence), nobody should give a good goddamn what an ignorant rabble of priests think about it, much less how they interpret it and reconcile it to their books of superstitions. I won’t be looking up the latest papal declaration on Catholic dogma about it, except to piss on it.
I’ll want to know about alien biochemistry. Do they use the same metabolites, similar enzymes, similar pathways? What’s the structure of their genomes? What light do the similarities and differences shed on the origins of life? Do they use a similar genetic code? The same canonical 20 amino acids? Do they even use nucleotides and proteins? (I kind of expect they will, and be very surprised if they don’t). Do they have multicellular forms? What are their principles of development? (I expect big differences — just plants and animals on earth differ greatly).
There will be good questions and bad questions to ask. I can tell already that the theologians will be in charge of asking the stupid, negligible questions.