“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.

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.

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:

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The hand ✋Manus Dexter Palmar

So, we’re transmitting voice or data by radio to an UAP. They respond. What now?

Before we can have a meaningful communication with ETI (by radio), we need to agree on some form of handshake protocol. This is not just a friendly formality.

Communication, either analogue or digital, is dialogic. Dialogic processes refer to words uttered by a speaker and interpreted by a listener. We must make sure that the speaker is understood by the listener and that the listener can respond. It takes two to tango.

A handshake protocol can agree on the speed and language cypher to be used.

Language is seen as a cypher for thought, different groups of individuals employing unique sounds.

Language sets people apart, it seperates people into nations and regions. This gives them identity.

Digital V90 handshake

Computers or civilized states on common ground have developed handshake protocols for meeting strangers.

An example of a digital handshake are the modem sounds from dial up internet of the 1990’s. What we hear is the V90 handshake protocol of TCP-IP, the internet protocol.

In the movie end sequence in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”, when the 5 note sequence is played and the mothership responds, we hear a demonstration of a tone-frequency handshake protocol that’s played by a musician.

Star Trek “First Contact”: ETI communication is initiated by handshake.

In the example from the Star Trek movie “First Contact”, a human literally shakes the hand of a Vulcan before communication is initiated. This is a dialogic handshake.

Not every human is comfortable shaking hands because of fear of viruses. Especially alien ones.

What kind of handshake protocol we’ll be using when we make First Contact with ETI we don’t know precisely.

But when it comes to the transmission of data then it will be a digital handshake. Therefore it’s pointless to expect to hear a single word from ET without ACK.


ACK! SYN? Mars Attacks movie poster

Known as the “SYN, SYN-ACK, ACK handshake,” computer A transmits a SYNchronize packet to computer B, which sends back a SYNchronize-ACKnowledge packet to A. Computer A then transmits an ACKnowledge packet to B, and the connection is established.

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People watching the sky
A group of people looks up toward the sky.

The CONTACT INITIATIVE looks for answers about the nature of UAPs/UFOs by trying to make radio contact with them. We need volunteers, outreach workers and programmers to develop an open source app.

My name is Erich Habich-Traut and I’m 57 years old. I’m the initiator of the ‘Contact Initiative’ (CI).

I’ve coordinated a multinational science project 2001 – 2015 with my website “Our Planet Earth From Space”, which tracked Earth Changes: http://opefs.com.

I’ve been a volunteer for Bigelow Aerospace from 2006 ~ 2012, providing real-time tracking of their prototype space habitats Genesis I & II via NORAD (https://web.archive.org/web/20120504010218/http://bigelowaerospace.com/genesis-1-tracking.php).

I’m writing to you as the initiator of the ‘Contact Initiative’ (CI). It’s primary goal is to make radio contact with ETI.

The difference between the Contact Initiative and classical SETI is that UAPs are included in its search for techno signatures.

The Contact Initiative wants to gather high quality evidence about the phenomenon. It also wants to inform and enthuse the public about the possibility of contact

The engine of this Contact Initiative is a smartphone app that records GPS coordinates of UFOs after a user alert. Users can also take snapshots or video of the UFO with their smartphone. But that is not the primary goal. When the smartphone is used to photograph the UFO, its gravity sensors record the elevation and the compass records its azimuth.

The UFO alert is sent to an astronomical database, NORAD database and air traffic databases to identify known flying objects. Secret military projects are excluded via NORAD TLEs.

The remaining objects qualify as prospective UAP. They will be investigated by forwarding their GPS coordinates to close-by search partners using the same Contact app. All this happens near real-time.

The search partners are selected by their proximity to the sighting and their capability/qualifications.

Search partners can be HAM radio operators, videographers, gigapixel camera operators, Unistellar telescope operators and (passive) radar operators. Passive radar is a subset of radio HAM enthusiasts.

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. Those 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.


MUFON #111680, UK, 1995

My own motivation to get this “Contact Initiative” off the ground are my own UAP sightings from Ireland in 1986 and 1995 in the UK.

The 1995 UAP I managed to photograph twice on 35mm film, making it possible for me to finally triangulate it’s approximate size, distance and speed in May 2020, when I found the lost and forgotten negative film from 1995.

According to a Gallup poll over 40% of the American public believes in UFOs.  Now, after the release of the Pentagon ODNI UAP report in July 2021 the climate seems right to get to the bottom of this and ask the question for real and to get a real answer: Are we Alone?

After this introduction, could I please interest you in reading the proposal outline and flowchart of the “Contact Initiative”?

Keywords: Contact Initiative, GPS tracking, smartphone app, crowd sourced, automated alert system, distributed, public and specialized observers, passive radar operators, proactive HAM radio operators, gigapixel camera operators, CETI, METI, SETI, commercial funding, NFT, alien marketplace

Thank you for your time,

yours sincerely,

Erich Habich-Traut



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