Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Must there be life on other worlds?

The SETI (search for extraterrestrial life) folks have decided that they're going about the search for alien life in the wrong way. They've been listening to distant star systems for steady radio signals which would theoretically would indicate intelligence. Yet a newer view is that intelligent life would sent out short, powerful bursts of radio energy based on the idea that other smart fellows would be sending out those rather than the steady, lower powered energies we've been looking for. It's really quite interesting. The sad thing is that it will almost certainly lead to nothing.

I will go on the record as saying that I don't believe that there is other intelligent life, indeed that there is not any life at all, elsewhere in the galaxy. That is not etched in stone, for if the universe is huge and expanding as we're told then other life is admittedly not out of the question. Still, that old saw, that with the sprawling and expanding nature of the universe there must be intelligent life besides our own, isn't really that impressive of an argument. Space and time do not necessarily mean that other life forms can or must have developed.

For starters, our immediate experience is that nothing else is there. We've found no hard and fast evidence of life in the local planets and solar systems; it would be more logical to assume that the more worlds without life, the less likely that there are in fact others with it. Further, why is it so outlandish to think that maybe, just maybe, we were touched by the Divine for a very singular purpose? Perhaps, only perhaps, we will allow, the rest of creation is there simply for our marvel, to appreciate the immensity of the Supreme Being? And there is certainly no law of physics which states there must be life elsewhere.

Yet if there is, it isn't as though such a discovery would alter what should be our proper view of things. If there are intelligent aliens, they would have been created by the same God. They would face the same issues which we do: seeing to their needs, their daily bread, and considering their responsibilities to their fellow creatures and to whomever else they may find. In short, SETI is interesting as an academic device. But would any discoveries it may make be, shall we say (we do so love puns), Earth shattering?

Of course not. So keep looking, if that's you life's work, and I will readily concede my error if proved wrong. But don't make it too much of a mission. There's an awful lot here on our world which could be as rewarding. Indeed, if you want to get to know others, there's plenty of them around here for your entertainment.

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