SETI Thursday: Of Faith and Facts -- Is SETI a Religion?
A rather fascinating article by David Darling of The SETI Institute, via Space.com, reports that:
Is SETI—the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence—a religion? This is one of the topics that Jill Tarter, Director of the Center for SETI Research at the SETI Institute, and I discussed on "Are We Alone?", the SETI Institute's weekly radio program on Wednesday May 17.More here.
The discussion by Jill and I was in response to a claim made by George Basalla (professor emeritus of history at the University of Delaware) in his book Civilized Life in the Universe (Oxford University Press: 2006) that SETI is more of a faith-based enterprise than a genuine science. He points to SETI's failure to make "contact" after more than forty years of trying and its continuing efforts in the absence of any positive evidence as a sign that it relies more on a kind of religious zeal than anything else. (Incidentally, Basalla was invited to appear on the show but declined.)
Needless to say, Jill Tarter is less than impressed by this argument, as indeed am I.