Sign In Forgot Password
High HolidaysBecome a Member

Rabbi Bulka's Weekly Question

If an intelligent life form with free will were found elsewhere in the universe, how would that affect your faith group? Would it change your theology?

The most immediate impact is that we would try to sign them up as members!

I guess my first curiosity would be to find out if these life forms, with their free will, set up houses of prayer, and if so, what religion they embrace.

Kidding aside, the existence of other life forms would be an exciting reality were it to unfold. If we contemplated this from a big picture perspective, it would certainly enhance our appreciation of God as the Creator of more than just one world.

We have thankfully outgrown the notion of many gods, each representing a different nation or ethnic group. We correctly perceive God as being Lord of the entire universe. The bigger the universe, the greater the glory of God.

A word about changing theology. If you mean by that, changing one's fundamental belief in God, that testifies to quite a shaky faith. If you mean that the theology had previously affirmed that there is no life other than here on Earth, one would have to wonder why such a notion ever became a basic component of whatever faith affirmation.

We have had issues of this genre before, though of a somewhat modified nature. When the first persons landed on the moon, there were those who were troubled by this, thinking that the power to reach such far away places made us into the new gods, who could do anything. God was no longer necessary because humans had taken over.

True religionists were not cowed by this. They understood the achievement, but simultaneously appreciated that these human achievements derived from the godly capacities that God bequeathed to us.

There was no real problem on the moon, and there would be no real problem on any other planet. Once you truly believe, that belief is unconditional, meaning that no conditions present in the real world can contradict that belief.

Originally published in the Ottawa Citizen on  May 24, 2008

Tue, September 22 2020 4 Tishrei 5781