The Search for Extra-Solar Living Planets (SESLP)
Finding an extraterrestrial civilizations would tell us we are not alone in the Galaxy. It would show us that intelligent life can survive the many threats it faces it, that complexity is not a liability, and that the universe not devoted solely the habitation of single-celled organisms. It would give us an idea of how we might evolve in the future. It might give us clues as to how we might survive internal threats the could destroy our own planet and our civilization with it.
One way we search for other civilizations is to seek other living planets beyond the solar system. With limited resources this must be a patient process. But we have made a promising start. With ground-based and space-based telescopes we have begun to survey the population of extra-solar planets, planets circling other stars than our own. In the 1,903 planets found so far, we find a great profusion of different types of planets and are beginning to grasp the complexity of planet evolution. Our goal is to find a living planet like the Earth, where water provides life and a renewable source of oxygen allows evolution of complex life. [More . . .]
In its initial mission the NASA Kepler spacecraft has detected 1,030 planets in its initial scan of 156,000 stars in a small region of the Cygnus and Lyra constellations in the Milky Way galaxy. Within its data there are 3,704 planet candidates waiting confirmation. Most are around stars between 500 and 3,000 light years from the sun. As there are over 200 billion stars in our galaxy, this initial scan of a small region suggests that the galaxy may contain at least 50 billion planets. Of these, millions may be in the narrow zone around their star where life can exist. (Photo courtesy NASA Kepler Mission/ Carter Roberts)
The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI)
The rate at which planets are being discovered indicates that they are very common in our Milky Way galaxy. We now speculate that our own may contain perhaps 50 billion planets. On some of these there may be civilizations that have advanced well beyond our own stage of development, perhaps within 1,000 light years of the sun, or even closer. This realization has led to a surge in interest in detecting the presence of such civilizations under an effort that comes under the general name of SETI (the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence). The main technique in the search examination of radio waves and light from outer space for signs of intelligent communications. [More . . .]
The Search for Inter-Stellar Travel Systems (SISTS)
As an intelligent, self-conscious life form evolving during the last 3.8 billion years humans have the potential to colonize the solar system and perhaps move on to the stars, to make actual contact with other galactic civilizations. Interest in the grand drama of the universe is rising, particularly among the young facing a new abundance of knowledge. They have been born into an information age that gives them unprecedented access to the newest findings in space exploration. But human beings have never remained passive receivers of information. They have always turned to active exploration of new frontiers. Today the focus is on human spaceflight to nearby parts of the solar system. But this can lead to technology for travel to planets of other stars within our teeming galaxy. [More . . .]
The Search for Extraterrestrial Religion (SETR)
SETI is led by scientists and engineers who talk as if the information in extraterrestrial communications will be the sort of thing seen in intelligence tests, or perhaps some all-embracing scientific theory. However, on Earth many transmissions are broadcast by religious groups, and religion is both a defining feature of individual civilizations and a source of violent, internecine conflict that destabilizes life on the planet. We should therefore consider the likelihood that SETI may encounter an advanced civilization's religion in its communications. To be prepared for this, we should investigate the form of religion such a civilization might have. We can do this by reviewing how religion might evolve in the only type of civilization civilization we are likely to detect -- one that is stable for millions of years. [More . . .]
The Search for a Extraterrestrial Science (SETS)
The early persecution of scientists by religion on Earth may have not occurred in other planetary civilizations. A cooperative evolution of science and religion could have led to scientific exploration of dimensions that on our own planet have been solely the prerogative of theologians. Eternity is such a dimension. As a result, extraterrestrial science may be significantly different to ours. It may have a theory of creation of the universe that sees spacetime emerging from eternity, followed by entry of formless energy into spacetime to gain form. This is an alternative scenario to the Big Bang. And it can lead to dimensional units used in interstellar communication that differ from ours, causing confusion in interpreting SETI messages. We may find that without eternity you don't have a theory of everything. [..More]
SETI-SETR.org is a nonprofit organization dedicated to investigating the possible role of science and religion in communications from advanced extraterrestrial civilizations.