A Majority of Atheists Believe in Extraterrestrial Life
According to a survey conducted by David Weintraub, an astronomer at Vanderbilt University, a majority of atheists believe in extraterrestrial life, while the number of "believers" are significantly diminished among the religious population. He reported in his new book, Religions and Extraterrestrial Life, that 55% of atheists believe in aliens, while only 44% of Muslims, 37% of Jews, 36% of Hindus, and 32% of Christians professed the same beliefs.
This news isn't entirely surprising; many religions' doctrines explicitly contradict the notion of extraterrestrial life, but atheists would not feel the same external pressure to discount the idea. It is particularly fitting that the lowest number of believers coincides with the Christian population, as the Christian religion has historically been especially insistent that humans are the "special" race of beings chosen by God and created in His image. Weintraub wrote, "Most evangelical and fundamentalist Christian leaders argue quite forcefully that the Bible makes clear that extraterrestrial life does not exist. From this perspective, the only living, God-worshipping beings in the entire universe are humans, created by God, who live on Earth." He cited Southern Baptist evangelist Billy Graham as a notable exception, as he was vocal about his beliefs that "there are intelligent beings like us far away in space who worship God."
Weintraub asserted that the tenets of Islam are similarly incompatible with the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence: "Islam, like other faiths, has fundamentalist and conservative traditions. All Muslims, however, likely would agree that the prophetically revealed religion of Islam is a set of practices designed only for humans on earth."
Weintraub concluded that Asian religions, such as Hinduism, would most easily accept and assimilate the existence of extraterrestrial life, as their doctrines explicitly leave room for aliens. Some Hindu leaders, for example, believe that aliens may be reincarnated as humans and vice versa. He also concludes that Judaism would be affected minimally, if at all, by the discovery of extraterrestrial life, as there is little in Jewish writings that either support or contradict the notion.
Watch our interview with a Methodist pastor in Roswell for some interesting views on religion and UFOs (spoiler alert, he doesn't believe that they exist):