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The Silence is Maddening – or, Where is Everybody?

Being a techno-nerd, I frequent sites like Engadget and Gizmodo. So, imagine my surprise when I spied this recent headline from Gizmodo: “The Possibility of Alien Life Is Now (Almost) Impossible to Deny.” Hmmm… Zat’s so? Now just what sort of evidence would lead to such a compelling conclusion? Seems it boils down pretty much to one thing: probability.

Because “our galaxy contains a minimum of 100 billion planets…This means that the chances of life and habitable planets in our galaxy alone is overwhelmingly high. So high that it’s impossible to deny that it’s out there.” (emphasis mine).

The author continues, “Couple this number with the latest calculations that have extended the goldilocks zone, the area where life could happen around stars. And then add the fact that life happens spontaneously, even under the most extreme conditions, and the idea of a Milky Way thriving with life is impossible to deny.” Did you catch that – the part about “the fact” that “life happens spontaneously, even under the most extreme conditions.”? Seems this author has been spending WAY too much time in the Orgasmatron of wishful thinkng. He just accepts it as an apriori that life happens spontaneously. Hey, why didn’t I think of that?

Now I think I’d be as excited as the next kid on the block if we found real, honest-to-God sentient life outside our planet. Some of my favorite movies include ET, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, 2001, A Space Odyssey and Star Trek. But, then maybe, as Stephen Hawking said, we wouldn’t be very happy with our new found friends because they would probably kill us without batting an eye (or whatever it is that they see with).

Truth is, not all scientists are gaga about ET. Enrico Fermi famously asked in a 1950 conversation with fellow scientists, “Where is everybody?” His thoughts have become known as Fermi’s Paradox: the apparent contradiction between high estimates of the probability of the existence of extraterrestrial civilizations and the lack of evidence for, or contact with, such civilizations.

Paul Davies, world-renowned theoretical physicist, cosmologist and astrobiologist, says plainly, “Despite this sea change in thinking, there is still not a shred of evidence for any life beyond Earth, intelligent or otherwise. Instead of the hoped-for clamour of interstellar messages, there is only an eerie silence.” Davies considers the best thinking on this subject in his 2010 book: “The Eerie Silence: Renewing Our Search for Alien Intelligence.” It is a balanced look at the scientific evidence, in contrast to the ET-lust that we see from many today.

Then we have John Gribbin, astronomer and science writer, whose new book, “Alone in the Universe: Why Our Planet Is Unique” comes to the same, boring conclusion as Davies. He sums up his 205 page analysis: “On a planet like the earth, life may only get one shot at technology – we have exhausted the easily accessible supplies of raw materials, so if we destroy ourselves the next intelligent species, if there is one, won’t have the necessary raw materials to get started. There are no second chances. And that is the last piece of evidence that completes the resolution of the Fermi paradox. They are not here, because they do not exist. The reasons why we are here form a chain so improbable that the chance of any other technological civilization existing in the Milky Way Galaxy at the present time is vanishingly small. We are alone, and we had better get used to the idea.”

And so again we have science divided on yet another crucial matter. Why the great rush to find ET? I can’t really explain it. But what bothers me is this: Why am I considered unintelligent because I believe in God – the Ultimate ET, when certain scientists look for a demigod? Their search is just not big enough.

Come to think of it, I actually do, for God’s sake (pardon the pun), believe in extra-terrestrial life – because as a Christian I believe that an eternal, omnipotent and loving being exists – and we call Him God. I seem to remember when I was younger seeing a book in a used book store with the title, “The Visited Planet.” (Can’t find it now – but if you run across it, please email me, will you?) The truth is, our planet has been visited by “aliens”, most notably one Jesus Christ. And we have a record of these visits, the Bible. Why not look into what we have here and now as earnestly as we expect to find something extra – out there? Chew on that one for a while.

See links below to books and articles referenced:

Alien Life: …Impossible to Deny

Davies Skeptical of ET

John Gribbin: Alone in the Universe