“The Implications of the discovery of extra-terrestrial life for religion.” Royal Society presentation and article

Ted F. Peters 2011, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A | Summary by Erich Habich-Traut for the Contact Project, 2021

Three crosses on a hill at sunset. Free Church of Scotland, Reverend Sandy Sutherland, used with permission

The implications of the discovery of extra-terrestrial life for religion. Theologian Ted Peters wrote about the future of religion. He asked the following questions:

(i) Will confirmation of extra-terrestrial intelligence (ETI) cause terrestrial religion to collapse?

A few years ago, Ted Peters decided to put conventional wisdom to a test. Along with his Berkeley research assistant, Julie Louise Froehlig, he devised a survey: the Peters ETI Religious Crisis Survey:

Would the discovery of an extraterrestrial civilization cause a crisis in religious beliefs? Peters surveyed evangelical, protestant, catholic and orthodox Christians, and also Mormons, Jews, Buddhists and Atheists:

‘No’ is the answer based upon a summary of the ‘Peters ETI Religious Crisis Survey’. The discovery of an extraterrestrial civilization would not cause a crisis in religious beliefs.

When we turn away from one’s own personal beliefs and ask respondents to forecast what will happen to the world’s religions, including beliefs other than one’s own, something startling was revealed:

What the survey question above shows is the conventional wisdom of non-religious persons. They make a prediction about what will happen to religious persons: Atheists believe that religions will face a crisis.

Contrary, the Peters survey shows evidence that religious believers themselves do not fear that contact with ETI will undercut their beliefs or precipitate a religious crisis.

Then the paper examines four specific challenges to traditional doctrinal belief likely to be raised at the detection of ETI:

(ii) What is the scope of God’s creation?
This entire universe can be viewed as the product of God’s creative power and loving grace.

(iii) What will be the moral character of the alien intelligences we meet?
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?

(iv) Is one earthly incarnation in Jesus Christ enough for the entire cosmos, or should we expect multiple incarnations on multiple planets?
What theologians agree on is that the incarnation we have witnessed within our own planetary history is that of the divine Logos, the divine mind through which everything in physical reality has come into being. They presume continuity between this incarnation and whatever exists despite its distance from us. 

(v) Will contact with more advanced ETI diminish human dignity?
Suppose we Earthlings begin to recognize that we are outclassed by our superior space neighbours.  Might we lose our dignity?

“Hand Of God”, NASA

The existence of a more advanced extrasolar civilization does not preclude our being an object of divine concern. Contact with alien intelligence will not disenfranchise us from being created in God’s image.

The belief that God has revealed himself in a supreme way, frees one to look for that which is of God outside that particular revelation. Christians should expect to learn new things about God from an encounter with aliens.

Conclusion
Despite the conventional wisdom, it is not reasonable to forecast that any of Earth’s major religious traditions will confront a crisis let alone a collapse should we confirm an encounter with extra-terrestrial intelligence.

Ted Peters believes that contact with extra-terrestrial intelligence will expand the existing religious vision that all of creation—including the 13.7 billion year history of the universe replete with all of God’s creatures—is the gift of a loving and gracious God.


Reference:
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society: https://www.academia.edu/14721074/_The_Implications_of_the_discovery_of_extra_terrestrial_life_for_religion_Royal_Society_presentation_and_article

Ted Peters biography:
http://mttaborslc.org/ted-peters

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Why I am coming forward now

During April 2020 I had a lot of time on my hands. It was the first Corona lockdown in Germany. I decided to sort through old 35 mm negatives in an old drawer in our basement. The drawer serves as a storage box.

As I was pulling the film strips through the scanner, I came across negatives from England, where I had lived in 1995. Between those negatives were two frames of particular interest.

Ilford XP2 35 mm film, 1995

Ilford XP2 film frames 7 and 8 showed an UAP. I was not prepared to find these pictures. I had completely forgotten this UFO sighting for 25 years. The only other two people who knew about it were my girlfriend and her father who were with me when the sighting took place.

The blurry camera images are not as good as what I saw with my own eyes that night in 1995. I got two exposures of the same object driving in a straight line at 70 mph on the motorway. That made it possible to actually triangulate distance, speed and size of the object:

Triangulation of distance to UAP, frames 7 & 8

It has been suggested that what I saw was an advertising blimp parked near the motorway. I don’t think so, because it had no advertising or any markings on it. Also, the object became 25% smaller as we drove towards it for approx. 15 seconds at 70 mph.

To get smaller the blimp would have to have traveled faster than 70 mph. But a blimp top speed is only 55 mph.

UAP?

That leaves me with the question: what did I see?

This is the reason I am stepping forward, now.
I know how to answer this type of question, once and for all.


—–

The Mission of ‘The Contact Initiative’:
to investigate UAPs/UFOs using real-time tracking, radio, video, gigapixel images and passive radar, so that this type of question can be answered without doubts.

The engine of this initiative will be an app designed to coordinate real-time reporting, alerting, documenting and contacting efforts.

The goal of the ‘Contact Initiative’ is to gather high quality evidence and, if possible, find out if UAP react to radio transmissions.

What do you think of the Contact Initiative? Join the discussion on https://reddit.com/r/contactproject or friend me on Facebook.

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9. DESCRIPTION OF THE “CONTACT APP”

Realtime data feed about in progress UAP sightings

Creation of Adam / Earth Rise
Michelangelo / NASA

With the app named “UFO Alert!” (or “Contact Project App”) the Contact Initiative wants to engage with others who also think that they aren’t alone in the universe.

That includes not just our neighbors on planet Earth, should they exist. By that I mean neighbors on other planets.

We, the Contact Initiative, believe that there is a non-zero chance that UFOs/UAPs have an extraterrestrial origin. In other words and more precisely: we believe that UAP may be of extraterrestrial origin.

But we can’t be 100% certain.

In the past we may have seen something unexplained in the sky and wondered what it was… We never found out about it because no one told us and we didn’t have the tool to tell us.

We are the casual UFO/UAP witness.
We are 46 million people in the USA alone.
We wanna know what’s going on!

The UFO Alert! app

An tool to identify the identifiable and investigate the unknown.

click image to enlarge

Currently the flowchart of the app is not hewn in stone. No godly instructions were received on a mountain to create this.

This is a project in the brainstorming stage. To make it a reality compromises may have to be made.

That is possible because the app has a modular design. The app is composed of modules. Each module is desirable, but not essential to create the app.

For instance. the “Identified Flying Object Databanks” can be left out. They can be added at a later stage, or never. Omitting them would make the app programming much easier and faster.

How much can be realized at the first try?

That depends on
a) funding or
b) the selfless support from the open source community.

UFO Alert! is an open source UFO/UAP real time reporting tool. Every user who downloads the app is a “Search partner”. Users CAN register to use the app. During the registration users CAN enter their profession, such as pilots, air traffic controllers, military personnel, and age and hobbies.

Search partners can be anyone with a smartphone, radio operators, videographers, gigapixel camera operators, Unistellar telescope operators and (passive) radar operators, which are a subset of radio HAM enthusiasts and people that are close enough to have visual or audible contact with an UAP/UFO.

UAPs are a very transitory phenomenon. Often a sighting lasts less than a minute. Speed is of the essence to reacquire the target. Because it is in the reacquisition phase that the “UFO Alert!” app gathers most of its data.

The Contact Project

The “UFO ALERT!” app has two modes of operation: ALERT and CONTACT.

App users that report a sighting shall be called Alerters.

HAM radio and other operators that are sent the coordinates of the UFO shall be called Contacters.

What happens when an UFO is spotted?
The user who sees the object/phenomenon presses the “UFO sighting in progress” or “Alert!” button of the CONTACT app:


The app immediately uploads the timestamp and GPS coordinates of the sighting:


The user can also try to take snapshots or video of the UFO sighting with their smartphone. This provides real time additional data: the smartphone’s gravity sensors record the elevation and its magnetic compass records the azimuth:


The data are then sent to an “Identified Flying Object server”.
Here GPS and time data are parsed (and available elevation and azimuth). An astronomical real-time database, the NORAD database and air traffic databases are used to identify known flying objects near the UAP location, such as planets, planes and satellites. (To categorically exclude ship traffic, such as may have been filmed in Kumburgaz, Turkey, in 2007-2009, a marine AIS database should be included). Secret military projects are excluded via NORAD TLEs:


If the object is not identified,
it becomes a “prospective UAP” (PUAP):

GPS coordinates and other data of prospective UFOs/UAPs are forwarded as an ALERT to close-by Contacters using the same Contact app, to be investigated in more detail:

Contacters are selected based on their vicinity to the GPS coordinates of the sighting and their hardware/qualifications/experience. The contacters may be HAM radio operators and others (search partners with CB / HD camera / HD video / telescope / radar):

Should the same PUAP be reported multiple times at different locations a trajectory can be computed and search partners will be notified in advance of a possible PUAP arrival.

Users that spot the PUAP can fill out a standard UFO sighting questionnaire and/or supply more detailed reports that will be attached to the alert.

The presence of a not identified flying object has now been broadcast to users of the CONTACT app in the vicinity of the sighting via multiple routes (SMS, EMAIL, POP-UP APP NOTIFICATION).

Alerted by this notification:

HAM RADIO OPERATORS will be listening for incoming broadcasts from the sighting using multiband radio frequency scanners. Should the sighting be a remote controlled drone it would now be identified via the unique drone radio frequency signature.

If the PUAP is a viable UFO and not a drone → then HAM operators will attempt to make contact using a variety of radio bands. A pre-recorded message or data burst transmission may be broadcast towards the UFO.

TELESCOPE AND CAMERA OPERATORS
Other search partners may try to use the information to get radar or visual confirmation via HD cameras or automatic telescopes (for instance UNISTELLAR / VAONIS STELLINA). 

(PASSIVE) RADAR OPERATORS
A special field of amateur HAM radio is the analysis of passive radar data, often to observe meteor tracks. Sometimes unexplained tracks are recorded, showing flight maneuvers of objects at right angles. In case of these anomalous sightings an ALERT can be triggered with the aim of visual confirmation and radio contact.

VISUAL OBSERVERS
Any search partner who can verify the sighting by eye sight using the CONTACT APP provides real time data to the sighting in progress.

The CONTACT INITIATIVE effort may be coordinated via the members of SETI Institute / SETI LEAGUE / MUFON /  HAM and other organized networks.

All who download the app can make UFO reports.
A sighting by a single person is less convincing than an event that many witnesses report from a distance to each other.

An AI algorithm will analyze live reports coming in in real time to determine if multiple witnesses are reporting on the same thing. This takes into account the position and possible flightpath of an object.
 

To motivate the public to take part in this search,
prizes can be given for successful detections of UAPs, staggered by evidence weight:

less important:
1. confirmed UAP pictures, 2. video, 3. radar images,

more important:
4. reception of radio emissions,  5. verifiable conversation with ETI (CETI), 6. physical alien artifact, 7. actual landing of UAP with ETI.

Alternative to cash prizes, credits may be given, they could be collectible non-fungible tokens (NFT’s), whose value is based on their desirability.

The whole endeavor (and prize money) will be funded by private enterprise through the “Alien Marketplace” advertising space. This marketplace is accessed through the Contact app. To filter out fakes and false identifications AI algorithms and volunteers evaluate the results. The volunteers may be paid cash or NFT tokens that can be traded on the Alien Marketplace.

The Contact App flowchart as PDF: download here,
and as JPG: download here.

What do you think of the Contact Initiative? Join the discussion on https://reddit.com/r/contactproject or friend me on Facebook.

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8. CHANCES OF ENCOUNTERING UFOs/UAPs

Reconstruction by author, MUFON #82139, Ireland, 1986

Based on personal experience the author of “The Contact Initiative” estimates the chance to spot an UFO/UAP in any one day to be approx. 1:10.000.

UAP photographs on 35mm negative film, frame 7 of 2. MUFON #111680, UK, 1995,
The UAP was grayish without markings as seen here. Photograph by author.

You may have a chance to take pictures or video of an UFO once every 50 years, as I did in 1995.

More impartial data than personal experience about the frequency of sightings comes from surveys. There are not a lot of surveys on the subject of UFO/UAP. More surveys should be carried out.

But there is one:

STUDY ON PUBLIC UAP SIGHTINGS
One available survey comes from Century Fox Home Entertainment. They did a poll for a promotional campaign of the Ridley Scott movie “Phoenix Forgotten“.

Reconstruction of “Phoenix Lights” by eye witness Tim Ley, USA TODAY, 1997

The “Phoenix Forgotten” plot was inspired by the “Phoenix Lights” UFO phenomenon from 1997. (Ref.: 1, Ref.: 2)

Over 1700 Americans were asked if they had ever seen an UFO:
16.74% responded positively (Ref.: 3).

If that percentage is any guideline, then we can say that 16.74% of 258.3 million adults (Ref.: 4), about 43 million Americans, had a UFO sighting.

MISIDENTIFICATION OF UFOs
 According to author Leslie Kean, “roughly 90 to 95 percent of UFO sightings can be explained”. (Ref.: 5)

The chief investigator of CUFOS in 1979, astronomer Allan Hendry, concluded from 1307 cases that 91.4% had a clear and simple prosaic explanation. 8.6% were classed as “UFOs” and 1.5% of those cases had no possible plausible explanation. (Ref.: 6)

This leaves us with 645,000 unexplained sightings from 43 million. This covers a time-span of 38.4 years, it being the median age of the US population (Ref.: 7).

If there are 645,000 completely unexplained UAP sightings in 38.4 years, we get 16,796 (sixteen thousand seven hundred ninety six) sightings per year. That’s 46 UAP cases without possible plausible explanation daily in the USA.

I believe this to be a fairly high number.

The Contact Initiative doesn’t want to wait around to get results. To maximize the chances of spotting UAP/UFO a large number of volunteer UFO/UAP spotters are needed.

And the method of spotting and forwarding a report of a sighting must be as simple as taking a photo or video.

The “CONTACT APP” (name may be changed) will be designed for this purpose, to be as simple as possible. But it will be the most powerful civilian use flying object identification program on the market.

One of its appeals will be that it provides near instantaneous identification of objects and phenomena commonly mistaken as UFOs: celestial objects, meteors, planes, blimps, military training exercises, satellites. The app gives feedback to the UFO spotter if what he/she saw is a known phenomenon.

The app records with high accuracy the position and time of the sightings and the number of users who see the same thing.

POSSIBLE UAP/UFO YIELD PER MILLION APP DOWNLOADS
If the Contact app is downloaded one million times (corrected), then the chances are that we will see 65 UAP cases without possible plausible explanation in a year.

That amounts to a bit more than one really, really, puzzling UFO case per week. This should be enough to engage and keep the attention of the public. Because, what good would be an UFO app that doesn’t spot UFOs?

PEACE OF MIND
On the other hand, incorrect identifications of common or explicable phenomena as UFOs should become less with the Contact App. This way the great majority of witnesses would feel less stress.

EDUCATIONAL VALUE
A large number of participants serves to raise the awareness of the possibility of Extraterrestrial Contact. What does it mean to be a part of a greater community of diverse intelligences in the Cosmos?

GOAL OF THE CONTACT INITIATIVE (CONTACT PROJECT)
The goal is to prepare for and meet a technological superior non-human species. That we’re not the most advanced technological species in the Universe is logical:

THE SAGAN
The Universe is billions and billions of years old. In it there are billions and billions of habitable planets. Modern human technology only exists since a few hundred years and we left the stone age just about 5000 years ago.

The development of life and intelligence is most likely not a one-time miracle confined to an infinitesimal speck of the Cosmos, the Earth.

BENEFITS OF FRIENDS
The potential benefits of contact to an advanced intelligent extraterrestrial species are incalculable to the future and destiny of the human race.

It may be that we don’t have much in common with each other except curiosity. But that alone would be a driving force of human determination and progress, geared at finding out more about the other.

DON’T BE AN OSTRICH
Should it turn out that UAP/UFOs are otherworldly emissaries of non-friendly intent, then it would also be important to find out. It could be fatal to stick our collective heads into the sand.

ULTIMA R̶A̶T̶I̶O̶ RADIO
These are the reasons why the Contact Initiative proposes to contact “UFO sightings in progress” by radio waves.

References:
1.: Kurt Russell claims he saw — and reported  — the ‘Phoenix Lights’,
https://eu.azcentral.com/story/news/local/phoenix/2017/06/14/kurt-russell-claims-reported-phoenix-lights-ufos/394749001/

2.: Ex Arizona Governor saw a UFO during the 1997 Phoenix Lights, https://en.wikinews.org/wiki/Former_Arizona_Governor_says_he_saw_a_UFO_during_the_1997_Phoenix_Lights

3.: New survey shows nearly half of Americans believe in aliens,
https://www.huffpost.com/entry/new-survey-shows-nearly-half-of-americans-believe-in_b_59824c11e4b03d0624b0abe4

4.: U.S. Adult Population
https://www.census.gov/library/stories/2021/08/united-states-adult-population-grew-faster-than-nations-total-population-from-2010-to-2020.html

5.: UFOs, UAPs and CRAPs
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/ufos-uaps-and-craps/

6.: Identification studies of UFOs
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Identification_studies_of_UFOs

7.: US MEDIAN AGE
https://www.census.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2020/65-older-population-grows.html

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2. IS ALIEN CONTACT A GOOD IDEA?

Definition
contact /ˈkɒntakt:
1. the state of physical touching.
2. the action of communicating or meeting.

By definition, merely receiving an extraterrestrial transmission does not fulfill the criterion of “Contact”.
Doug Vakoch, President of METI

It was in 2015 that scientists Douglas Vakoch, David Grinspoon, David Brin, Seth Shostak and others discussed this issue at the American Association for the Advancement Of Science (AAAS): is it a good idea to transmit messages to possible intelligent extraterrestrials in the Cosmos?

Within a week of this discussion a statement was signed and released, together with 24 other SETI experts, declaring that a “worldwide scientific, political and humanitarian discussion must occur before any message is sent”.

Illustration of an AAAS conference

Read: (STATEMENT REGARDING MESSAGING TO EXTRATERRESTRIAL INTELLIGENCE (METI)

When the statement was signed, SETI by radio telescopes was humanity’s best hope to contact Aliens.

A then 68 year old phenomenon titled by the public as “UFOs” was known about at the time of this statement in 2015. But UFOs were not considered to be connected in any shape or form to Extraterrestrial Intelligence. Neither were “UAPs”.

Even though there is no proof of it, some people have always believed that UFOs/UAPs are somehow connected to extraterrestrial intelligence. Those people were not necessarily represented at the AAAS conference in 2015, but they express their beliefs at other venues.

Roswell Parade

Are UFOs connected to Aliens?
The Contact Initiative wants to find this out by trying to make radio contact with UAPs. To do this we’ll develop an open source app which is now on Github https://github.com/contactproject.

We, the Contact Project & Initiative, hope that the Contact app will be downloaded by many millions of people worldwide.

Once deployed, every one million app users will contribute to about 1 sighting per week that has absolutely no reasonable explanation. This estimate is based on the Allan Hendry study and a US UAP sighting survey.

We believe we have better chances of finding extraterrestrials or their technosignatures by targeting UFOs/UAPs than by targeting distant stars.

It doesn’t compute to intercept or attempt interstellar Alien communications with light-speed radio waves. At this stage in technological development, even we have a better outlook of building faster-than-light spaceships (Dr. Erik Lentz), than to generate impossible faster-than-light radio waves.

Why should Extraterrestrials be any different? It makes more sense to search for superluminal objects (UFOs) that can travel interstellar distances in days, rather than to listen for relatively snail-paced radio beams, taking years to cover the same distance.

Radio waves can only carry information.
Objects on the other hand can carry more than information, such as passengers, but… objects can also carry much more information.


For instance, to physically store the information of all books ever written on Earth (Ref. 1) it requires the volume of 10 stacked 3.5 inch HD drives (175 terabytes of data (Ref. 2), HD capacity in 2021 (Ref. 3)).

Illustration of information density for all the World's books in 2021 on 3.5 inch HD storage devices.

In other words, in 2021 the knowledge from all books ever written on Earth fits inside a cube measuring 15 cm each side, weighing 6.7 kg (Ref. 4). To download the same amount of data by radio through space, considering our current data transmission capabilities between Mars and Earth (Ref. 5), it would take about 7.4 years (Ref. 6) of continuous transmission.


The Contact Project is about the reception and transmission of signals,
as well as the possibility of physical contact. The gold standard for evidence is physical evidence. In a matter of such importance and possible consequence to human civilization as the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence, nothing else may be sufficient to prove it.


References:
1: How many books in the world
2: How much storage each book
3: Seagate IronWolf Pro 18 TB HD
4: HD size
5: Current maximum bandwidth between Mars and Earth?
6: Broadband download time and speed calculator






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1. THE CONTACT INITIATIVE

Left: Kenneth Arnold with UFO sighting in June 24, 1947
Right: first official UFO/UAP footage from the USG, 2021

A Proposal To Contact UFOs/UAPs by Radio
Keywords: crowdsourced, open source, automated alert system, distributed, public and specialized observers, smartphone app, passive radar operators, proactive HAM radio operators, gigapixel camera operators, megapixel telescope operators, CETI, METI, SETI

Erich Habich-Traut, http://contactproject.org
27. October 2021

1. INTRODUCTION
2. IS ALIEN CONTACT A GOOD IDEA?
3. A BIT OF UFO HISTORY
4. WHAT IS A UFO?
5. HOW TO OVERCOME THE ‘LIGHT BARRIER’
6. HUMAN PROGRESS
7. WHY UFOs/UAPs?
8. CHANCES OF CONTACTING UFOs/UAPs
9. DESCRIPTION OF THE “CONTACT PROJECT APP”10. FUNDING: THE ALIEN MARKETPLACE

1. INTRODUCTION
After more than 70 years the US Government recently confirmed the existence of UAPs/UFOs. There is a possibility that some of these objects or phenomena are not of earthly origin. To find out where they are from we want to try and talk to them by radio,

The Contact Initiative (CI) believes that UAPs/UFO’s are under the control of some form of intelligence and non-hostile.

SETI has been trying for decades to find signals of alien radio communications by pointing radio telescopes often at random at nearby stars in the hope that they may harbour intelligent life.

SETI faces three difficulties:
1. It has to find a planet that is populated by intelligent life
2. The alien life must be using radio waves to communicate
3. Any alien signals detected will be decades or centuries old and will take twice that time for a reply.  (If we receive a message from ET in 25 light years distance, and we respond with a message immediately, then it will take 25 years to send signals to ET and another 25 years before we can hear a response. Hence, a human lifetime of 75 years will have passed.)

Point three shows the difficulty of trying to use radio waves for interstellar communications. Very often the participants of such a communication die of old age before they have even exchanged first welcomes..

In the movie “Contact” Carl Sagan tried to circumvent this inconvenience by speculating that ET could send instructions for a wormhole transporter that doesn’t rely on slow radio waves.

Even in the idealized world of the Hollywood movie “Contact” this approach didn’t prove the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence to all sceptics, because the resulting exchange between human and ETI left no convincing physical evidence.

The premise of SETI, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, is that we are not alone in the universe and that Alien life somewhere has developed radio technology just like us.

We expect the Aliens to be friendly or at least impartial to our existence. That is by no means a certainty, looking at the example of our own species.

The Contact Initiative (CI) has as its goal to implement “active SETI”, or ‘CETI’ as it is known (communication with extraterrestrial intelligence).

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