If SETI was successful in finding an alien message, what would happen on Earth? No doubt a message delivered to us by an alien civilization would have tremendous effects on society. It would fundamentally alter our beliefs, values, and how we perceive ourselves in the universe. While most people don't honestly think that we are alone in the universe, there are certainly those who would have trouble waking up tomorrow in that brave new world.
If SETI is successful in its mission of finding other intelligent life in the universe, it would overthrow most of our culture, and society. The Bible would have to be completely re-written, and the word of God himself would have to be looked again. It would be a huge test of our religious faith to have another intelligent species living alongside us in the universe. How would our religious leaders take to knowing that perhaps we weren't the only ones made by God?
If SETI is successful, how would we react to knowing that we are not alone? Would we welcome our new galactic neighbors, or would we cower in fear? Would we try to learn about them, or would we let our fears of the unknown allow us to hate them, or want them gone right away? I have a feeling that we would turn to Hollywood for answers, instead of allowing for the possibility that they just want to explore the universe like we do.
Would the government cover up the findings even if they did find something? Would the pretense of national security override the right of the public to know what we have found. Will the government try to censor what the scientific community is allowed to say about the event should it ever happen? Are they already trying to cover up evidence that we have right now about aliens? In a way, it might be a moot point to consider what would happen, because we may never know.
What would our goals be if we met an alien civilization? Would we pull something similar to Star Trek, and make some sort of alliances with them? Would we be able to live peacefully? What if aliens just want to blow us all to little pieces, and make our lives miserable. Would we even want to find them if that was the case? There are so many questions, and implications to consider if we ever found a alien civilization.
If SETI is successful, and one day they will be, it will change our world forever. Will we panic? Will we openly accept the fact that we are not alone? Will we even know about that day before someone wipes it from the record forever? So much will change if we ever find out that we are not alone. Are we ready for that day?