Why do I keep writing about aliens ? I seriously do not usually think of ETs this much, but it seems to be a consistent theme on this blog. Weird. Am I creating a bizarre niche as “that Christian blog who talks about alien contact even though they don’t believe it will happen?” That’s probably too narrow to gain much readership…
Anyway, there was a fascinating article about SETI by Chris Wilson on Slate . In it, he discusses the Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI), funding, and problems with trying to find alien lifeforms.
I have said in the past – and as Wilson illustrates well – the probability of us ever finding evidence of another advanced civilization is exceedingly low. The Drake Equation alone makes such a possibility highly unlikely. But as the author points out, you also have the synchronization issues.
For example, say that a planet exists 522 light-years away. Improbably, they rise to a dominant, technological civilization and are putting out electromagnetic signals which are disguishable as such by us, for a period of four centuries during their history before dying off due to disease. We discover that their planet exists and, starting in 2012, we watch this planet for 2 consecutive years.
So here we have exactly the kind of situation we are looking for. But even so, since we look at this planet for a mere two years (AD 2012-2014), we will only be able to see signals if they were sent between AD 1490-1492, Earth time. So their four centuries of dominance out of their entire history had to overlap precisely this two year span. If their signals died out in 1489, we would miss them; if they only rose to dominance in 1493, we would miss them.
Do you begin to see the odds against it? It is not enough that habitable planets exist. These planets must create life. This life must become multicellular. Then it must develop intelligence. Then they must grow technologically advanced. Then they must want to communicate electronically. Then they must communicate over long distances, with signals beaming out of the atmosphere. And all of that must happen at precisely the right time in our history for these signals to hit Earth precisely at the moment when we are pointing a radio telescope toward that particular planet.
Recall that we humans have only even been able to look for these signals for 1% of 1% of 1% of the history of our planet!
Look at it another way. Even if all of the above happens, the odds of these signals reaching Earth during a period where we even have the capability of being lucky enough to receive the signals is one chance in 88 million! Then on top of that, we have to be looking at exactly the right place of the sky when it happens. It is absurd.
Wilson describes the problem well, when he says, “Earth’s arrival…did not occur at some divine moment”.
Ah, and there’s the catch, isn’t it?
Because he’s right--from an evolutionary perspective. As an evolutionist, you cannot truly see SETI as anything other than a colossal waste of money. The odds of another civilization evolving close enough to us to send signals, and that civilization wanting to and being able to send signals that we can comprehend, and doing so at precisely the right time for those signals to reach us, are laughably small; just the communication piece alone is 1 chance in 88 million. The odds of all parts of that statement happening are simply impossible. It’s absurd to the extreme.
But to the creationist, on the other hand…things are much more plausible. Because for the creationist, the randomness of evolution and the age and size of the universe—which completely destroy the potential for interstellar communication for the nonbeliever—are no longer hurdles.
You see, the Christian actually believes that our earth was , in fact, built in a precisely chosen “divine moment”. We believe that each individual is placed at his location and place in history for a reason—perhaps even one person who was put in a particular place because he would have the desire to turn the telescopes to a particular broadcasting planet at just the right time. It can't happen with randomness; it could theoretically happen if God designs it that way. We believe that God has already created multiple races of intelligent life-forms (several types of angels, as well as human beings). We believe that God is a creator who easily could have scattered life across the universe. And there is nothing implausible about saying that such a God could stagger the start times of these alien races in such a way that a signal could pass from one to the other and be received.
To the evolutionist, every dime spent on SETI is a waste. (I happen to agree with them on that point, at least.) But while I can’t understand how an evolutionist could think we might ever communicate with ETs, I can see how a Christian would think so. Perhaps, like in Lewis’ Space Trilogy, we are the only planet who “fell” and thus we are quarantined from aliens to keep from corrupting them, and one day will be allowed to meet. Perhaps, like in Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles, aliens are everywhere, fell from grace just like us, and Jesus goes incarnate to each of them, dying and being resurrected time after time to redeem the masses.
As an engineer, I find the idea of getting a signal from ETs laughable.
As a Christian, it falls within the realm of possibility.
How ironic is it, then, that almost everyone who seeks extraterrestrial life is atheistic and evolutionary? Many even feel if they find evidence of life elsewhere, that somehow argues against religion and creationism, and in favor of evolution. It most certainly does not!
As I have said before, and will say again – the minute we hear from ET, we will have received the best evidence since the Resurrection of a divine, personal Creator.