Astrobiologists and Ufologists are not typically seen together at the same BBQs. Why? Each argues that the other is not attending to the evidence. NASA’s Astrobiological Roadmap asks three research questions: What is the origin of life? Is there a second genesis of life? How will life expand from Earth to elsewhere? SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Life Institute) is listening for radio signals emitted from extra-solar civilizations. This is hard-nosed science. Yet, ufologists also believe they are employing scientific methods such as scrupulous investigation of sightings, hypnotic regression, statistical analysis, and such. Ufologists revere science. Why, then, is there tension if not outright hostility between the fields?
Ted Peters is the author of UFOs—God’s Chariots?, first published in 1977. Its penetrating cultural analysis of the UFO phenomenon remains definitive. He teaches systematic theology at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary and the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. He co-edits the journal, Theology and Science, at the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences. He has recently served as consultant to NASA and SETI on astro-ethics. He is the author of GOD—The World’s Future (Fortress, rev. ed. 2000); Science, Theology and Ethics (Ashgate 2003); and co-author of A Theological and Scientific Commentary on Darwin’s Origin of Species (Abingdon 2009). The Peters ETI Religious Crisis Survey can be found at Counterbalance on the web: http://www.counterbalance.org/etsurv/index-frame.html.
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