TED Conversations

Jacky Tang


This conversation is closed.

Alien invasions signal the next step in the evolution of religion and religious principles beyond convention

I have been reading Robert Wright's "The Evolution of God" and a lot of primitive reasoning that lead to the emergence of religious thought stems from explaining the inexplicable phenomena relevant to the times. Tribal shamans and their people believed that natural phenomena like the sun, clouds, wind and water, for example, were great powers that bear the fate of their people with their behaviour. Many of these themes continued onwards into monotheism with God being the modulator of the living standards of the people. The only major difference was a shift towards abstraction of the perception of God's powers as well as an increase in focus on abstract principles like morality.

Religion from this point of history onwards is very recent when perceived within the larger historical context of cultural evolution and development. The current uses of religion still focus on these abstract principles though they are gradually losing power and along with it, persuasion, mainly due to their lack of credible reasoning. It was once acceptable to believe that the sun was a god. And it is currently acceptable to believe a god governs human morality. But at some point it seems that the greater explanatory power of modern academics will eventually trump this form of reasoning.

This is where the aliens come in. There is a growing trend in pop culture of alien invasion. Same can be said of vampires and zombies. But with aliens in particular we are beginning to witness a shift in scale. No longer are we confined to the religious boundaries of nations or even continents, but entire worlds are at stake. There is emergent thinking of humanity as a unified world against external forces, forces that we consider possible though we have no direct evidence for their existence. The realm of science fiction is based on possibility and natural phenomena as well as abstract principles like life and its extension beyond humanity. Maybe within sci-fi lies the next gods.


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    May 4 2011: god's principles of morality cant be dis proven and i do not see why it should. i do not tell people to renounce their belief will change much. some religions teach acceptance of other religions, the objective we be to reach those that don't somehow.
    i am stumped on how.
    • thumb
      May 7 2011: I agree that religious tolerance should be increased. At the same time I also believe that religion is a means of obtaining knowledge, a means that isn't always sufficient. Over time it's importance is being eroded by other means and maybe one day other modern 'religions' or schools of thought might be more appropriate. Maybe we can disprove god's principles one day.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.