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While scientists are obliged to assess benefits and risks that relate to their research, the political responsibility for decisions arising following the detection of extra-terrestrial life cannot and should not rest with them. Any such decision will require a broad societal dialogue and a proper political mandate. If extra-terrestrial life happens to be detected, a coordinated response that takes into account all the related sensitivities should already be in place. In 1989, the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) approved a SETI post-detection protocol , which was developed by one of its committees. Despite the fact that it has subsequently been endorsed by the International Institute of Space Law (IISL), the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) of the International Council for Science (ICSU), the International Astronomical Union (IAU) and the International Union of Radio Science (URSI), the procedures laid out in that document are not legally enforcible. If it remains a voluntary code of practice, it will probably be ignored in the event to which it should apply. Will a suitable process based on expert advice from proper and responsible scientists arise at all, or will interests of power and opportunism more probably set the scene (cf. )? A lack of coordination can be avoided by creating an overarching framework in a truly global effort governed by an international politically legitimated body. The United Nations fora constitute a ready-made mechanism for coordination. Member States of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) will need to place ‘supra-Earth affairs’ on the agenda in order to take it further to the General Assembly, with the goal of establishing structures similar to those created for dealing with threats arising from potentially impacting near-Earth objects .
Advanced extra-terrestrial life might be inconceivable to us in its complexity, just as human life is to amoebae.
The year 2010 marks the 50th anniversary of the first search for radio signals originating from other civilizations, a remarkably optimistic endeavor in 1960, particularly bearing in mind that up to now all SETI experiments have provided a negative result. One, however, has to realize that these have probed only our neighborhood, up to about 200 light-years distant, whereas the centre of the Milky Way is 25000 light-years away from us. And even if there is no other intelligent life in the Milky Way, it could still be hosted in another of the remaining hundreds of billions of other galaxies.
Frequently, things are only seen in the proper context if observed from a far enough distance. The image of Earth taken by Voyager 1 from as near as about 40 AU, i.e. still within the outer regions of the Solar System, which depicts just a ‘pale blue dot’, proves insightful. As Carl Sagan  (p. 9) worded it: ‘Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light.’
What will be the moral character of the alien intelligences we meet? Friendly? Beneficent? Honest? Deceitful? Aggressive? Hostile? Will our extra-terrestrial neighbours be subject to sin? Will they have fallen, so to speak? Or, might the aliens have escaped the scourges that plague us here on Earth? I suggest that we begin our speculation using two diametrically opposed scenarios, both based on existing assumptions. I label one the celestial saviour model and the other the alien enemy model. According to the first model, an alleged extra-terrestrial civilization on an extrasolar planet came into existence earlier than we did on Earth. ETI have evolved longer than we have. They have progressed further. They have progressed not only in science and technology, but also in morality and medical care. Being more advanced than we in every respect, ETI come to Earth from our heavens to bring us advanced science, peace on Earth, a long life and prosperity. This model anticipates a secular form of salvation
At the opposite end of the spectrum, we find the alien enemy model. This model is more characteristic of science fiction novels and movies, especially in the era immediately after the Second World War. The Orson Wells War of the Worlds plot has been repeated in numerous versions over the last 80 years; and perhaps it provides the paradigm for the alien enemy scenario. Accordingly, an extra-terrestrial civilization looks like an enemy nation out to conquer Earth. We Earthlings, then, must find a hero who can muster terrestrial resources to defend our planet and preserve our way of life. In War of the Worlds, the hero is a virus that makes the space aliens sick. In other cases, such as the movie Independence Day, it is terrestrial military action that brings down the enemy in the skies. What may be significant here is that the alien enemy model dominates fiction, whereas the celestial saviour model is much more familiar to UFO believers and to scientific researchers.
Third, I forecast that theologians will conclude that intelligent alien beings would most probably be included in God’s gracious plan for redemption. George Coyne SJ, former director of the Vatican Observatory, presses this point forcibly. ‘How could he be God and leave extra-terrestrials in their sin? After all he was good to us. Why should he not be good to them? God chose a very specific way to redeem human beings. He sent his only Son, Jesus, to them and Jesus gave up his life so that human beings would be saved from their sin. Did God do this for extra-terrestrials?… There is deeply embedded in Christian theology… the notion of the universality of God’s redemption and even the notion that all creation, even the inanimate, participates in some way in his redemption’ (, p. 187). This is genuine redemption, not the pseudo-redemption of the secular celestial saviour.
Originally posted by antibren
Is it that ATS members dont enjoy to read???
I would hate to say the content is too smart for most members??