My 8-year old son has a weekly tutor for his religious instruction, to help in areas where I am inadequate at best and ignorant at worst . On this particular day they were looking at a book on the table open to the question, "Do aliens exist?" The tutor proceeded to tell my son his opinion:
- If aliens existed, surely God would have told us in His books (e.g. Qur'an, Bible)?
- Instead of spending money trying to find extraterrestrials and fund space exploration, shouldn't the money be spent to feed poor, starving children here on Earth?
Hmmmm, this is why I hang around during the sessions, but I needn't have worried, my son held his own. He blithely told his tutor that scientists have discovered what they think may be water in rocks on Mars, and if it is water, it may support life. Indeed. I was very proud of him but I still felt the need to let him know my opinion:
- Noone knows God's will. Who knows if God would have "told" us? There is no "surely" about it
- God gave us an intellect and free will. We developed the technology for space exploration and we choose to use it.
It was important to me to help my son think through the tutor's statements, for example, the assumption that if money currently used for space exploration became available, it would automatically be used to fund something like feeding poor, starving children. There is no such guarantee. Besides, space exploration may in itself yield benefits here through new materials and technology.