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12thMonkey

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God and Aliens!
« on: January 27, 2014, 12:09:49 pm »
I'm curious to know why apologists don't make more use of the Fermi Paradox in their arguments. 

For those of you who aren't familiar, it basically asks the question, "Where are they?"  The "they" being alien intelligence. 

If life truly arose through purely naturalistic processes, given the immense size and age of the universe, the odds are tremendous that these processes would have been repeated an uncountable number of times all around us.  We're told, after all, it's simply all about time and chance. 

The counters to the Fermi Paradox are underwhelming.  You hear answers that involve catastrophes, lack of motivation to contact, and strange inventions about us existing in some intergalactic zoo.   ???  However, the problem is one of scale.  For instance, recent studies suggest that there may be upwards of 50 billion habitable, earth-like planets in our galaxy alone (http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2013/10/31/1319909110, [url]).  While some of these answers to the question may be correct for some alien life forms, obviously they wouldn't hold true for all of them.  There would still be signals, hints of ancient civilizations, attempts to contact us.  But instead, life that should be ubiquitous is entirely absent. 

Taken seriously, the Fermi Paradox is, I believe, a major wrench in the notion of purely naturalistic development of life.  We can postulate a wide range of possibilities for the origins of life, but our actual observations contradict them.  Those who espouse evolution as the solution to these problems here on earth make intelligent life seem an almost inevitable conclusion given time and chance, but why then doesn't this inevitability extend to the billions and billions of habitable earth-like planets around us?  Or to the non earth-like planets which could also potentially develop life?  Is there something rare about our Earth after all? 

I never hear this argument used at all, and it has always struck me as very powerful.  What are your feelings on this and why do you believe it's not presented more? 

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Trinity

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Re: God and Aliens!
« Reply #1 on: January 27, 2014, 12:14:54 pm »
The aliens killed themselves in a nuclear war.

I am not kidding you, I have heard such explanations quite often for why we still haven't made contact yet.
The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. - Psalm 19:1

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Way

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Re: God and Aliens!
« Reply #2 on: January 27, 2014, 12:15:35 pm »
The Fermi Paradox backfires, because it is a better support for agnosticism than it is for faith or believe in theism. Basically, it puts God and extraterrestrial into one category of unidentified objets.  ;D

http://www.reasonablefaith.org/forums/choose-your-own-topic/what-god-does-an-alien-could-too-6024825.0.html
Reason and emotion are what make us human. But reason without emotion is cruelty, emotion without reason is stupidity.

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Electrofreak

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Re: God and Aliens!
« Reply #3 on: January 27, 2014, 12:16:11 pm »
In the case that in this world, being one of many possible worlds, life may have only began on this planet.  Out of the infinite number of possible planets, within an infinite number of possible worlds,  we may be in the world where life is only on one planet.  What reason have we to assume that life MUST be on other planets just because it is on ours? 

Just because a planet has life, does not posit that others must or should as well.  If we are a product of chance, then it is simply that and also explains why there are not others.

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Trinity

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Re: God and Aliens!
« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2014, 12:17:47 pm »
In the case that in this world, being one of many possible worlds, life may have only began on this planet.  Out of the infinite number of possible planets, within an infinite number of possible worlds,  we may be in the world where life is only on one planet.  What reason have we to assume that life MUST be on other planets just because it is on ours? 

Just because a planet has life, does not posit that others must or should as well.  If we are a product of chance, then it is simply that and also explains why there are not others.

There goes Panspermia out of the window.
The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. - Psalm 19:1

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12thMonkey

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Re: God and Aliens!
« Reply #5 on: January 27, 2014, 12:25:48 pm »
In the case that in this world, being one of many possible worlds, life may have only began on this planet.  Out of the infinite number of possible planets, within an infinite number of possible worlds,  we may be in the world where life is only on one planet.  What reason have we to assume that life MUST be on other planets just because it is on ours? 

Just because a planet has life, does not posit that others must or should as well.  If we are a product of chance, then it is simply that and also explains why there are not others.

Again, it's a problem of scale.  If the evolutionary outcomes that we see on earth are as common as we are told, given the age of the universe and its vast size, why aren't these same circumstances being played out all around us? 

Your response suggests that life is actually not simply the result of chance and time.  And if that's not the case, naturalism becomes much more difficult to explain. 

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12thMonkey

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Re: God and Aliens!
« Reply #6 on: January 27, 2014, 12:28:42 pm »
The aliens killed themselves in a nuclear war.

I am not kidding you, I have heard such explanations quite often for why we still haven't made contact yet.

So have I.  Or they simply don't want to contact us, or they all die off after they reach a certain technological point, or dozens of other explanations that don't fall within any sort of naturalistic evolutionary framework.

If this process is natural and normal, the universe is strangely, frighteningly silent. 

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12thMonkey

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Re: God and Aliens!
« Reply #7 on: January 27, 2014, 12:32:30 pm »
The Fermi Paradox backfires, because it is a better support for agnosticism than it is for faith or believe in theism. Basically, it puts God and extraterrestrial into one category of unidentified objets.  ;D

http://www.reasonablefaith.org/forums/choose-your-own-topic/what-god-does-an-alien-could-too-6024825.0.html

I believe it points to the set of circumstances we have here on Earth as being unique.  If these circumstances are unique, then life is likely not simply the inevitable result of time and chance.  If that is the case, I don't see how that would lead to agnosticism as opposed to theism. 

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JJ_Maxx

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Re: God and Aliens!
« Reply #8 on: January 27, 2014, 12:52:11 pm »
Well, if you could ascertain...

1. The probability of life existing on any given planet

2. The actual number of planets in our Universe

It may give you a better understanding of why there aren't aliens.

My belief is that the more we find out about the fine-tuning of our natural world, the higher the first number gets and the probability of it happening a second time decrease dramatically.
"But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect..." (1 Pet 3:15)

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Questions11

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Re: God and Aliens!
« Reply #9 on: January 27, 2014, 12:53:31 pm »
I find the Fermi paradox a good argument against a galaxy filled with intelligent life (and also future time travel development).  It is also interesting that a former head of SETI thinks it unlikely there are intelligent aliens out there, and his books are worth reading (Paul Davies).

However, the best book in making the evolutionary case that human-like creatures were inevitable given evolutionary laws and the initial set-up of the universe, but that also at the same time the odds against them developing were so astronomical as to make it highly likely that we're the only instance of human-like life in the universe, is Simon Conway-Morris' book: Inevitable Humans in a Lonely Universe.

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12thMonkey

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Re: God and Aliens!
« Reply #10 on: January 27, 2014, 02:27:45 pm »
I find the Fermi paradox a good argument against a galaxy filled with intelligent life (and also future time travel development).  It is also interesting that a former head of SETI thinks it unlikely there are intelligent aliens out there, and his books are worth reading (Paul Davies).

However, the best book in making the evolutionary case that human-like creatures were inevitable given evolutionary laws and the initial set-up of the universe, but that also at the same time the odds against them developing were so astronomical as to make it highly likely that we're the only instance of human-like life in the universe, is Simon Conway-Morris' book: Inevitable Humans in a Lonely Universe.

I haven't read Conway-Morris' book, but now that you recommend it I'll certainly do so. 

I know a little about his positions and the points he makes, and I think it just demonstrates how difficult it is to get from point A to point B using typical naturalist assumptions of how we evolved.  To counter theists, non-theists often use arguments suggesting undirected evolution is a natural, almost inevitable process, but then we run head-first into observational data which suggests just the opposite. 

For instance, here's an article from the man you mentioned, Paul Davies, which I read a couple of months ago.  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/19/opinion/are-we-alone-in-the-universe.html

Quote
Today the pendulum has swung dramatically, and many distinguished scientists claim that life will almost inevitably arise in Earthlike conditions.

When we look at our Earth, and the undirected processes which we presume brought about the conditions for life, and then intelligent life, we get the egotistical notion that we are an easy and obvious result.

But then we look around us, and require a different answer for the unrelenting silence...

Quote
On the other hand, if life arose simply by the accumulation of many specific chemical accidents in one place, it is easy to imagine that only one in, say, a trillion trillion habitable planets would ever host such a dream run. Set against a number that big — and once you decide a series of unlikely accidents is behind the creation of life, you get enormous odds very easily — it is irrelevant whether the Milky Way contains 40 billion habitable planets or just a handful. Forty billion makes hardly a dent in a trillion trillion.

So, which is it?  A series of enormously unlikely accidents or the inevitable result of the unrelenting forces of nature? 



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ArtD

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Re: God and Aliens!
« Reply #11 on: January 27, 2014, 03:07:14 pm »
I saw a picture a few years ago of some primitive tribe somewhere (Brazil?) that had never had outside contact. The picture was taken from a plane or helicopter and shows some women and children and a man aiming a bow and arrow. I don't know if there are any undiscovered human tribes in existence today on the earth, but I suppose there might be.

Compared to the earth, the universe is huge so I'd don't feel Fermi's paradox is very convincing.

Another thought is that aliens might be so advanced that they don't want to bother with us at our present stage of development.
ScienceAsNaturalTheology.org

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Jabberwock

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Re: God and Aliens!
« Reply #12 on: January 27, 2014, 06:11:00 pm »
The aliens killed themselves in a nuclear war.

I am not kidding you, I have heard such explanations quite often for why we still haven't made contact yet.

The fact of the matter is that we did reach capacity to obliterate ourselves before we have invented interstellar travel. We might survive long enough for it to happen, but it is far from certain. To counter the objection that other civilisations might be more peaceful than us, I would say that if they are not conquerors, they would be much less interested in interstellar journeys.

Another problem is the feasibility of space travel itself. We do believe that more efficient means will be invented, but for now the perspectives are bleak. Visiting the three nearest stars with the speed of light (of which we can attain only a small fraction right now) in one ship would take thirty years. Visiting one hundred stars would take enormous effort and resources. And for what? People are curious, but not that curious. Reaching farther stars would require colonization of intermediate systems, perspectives of which are even bleaker...

Finally, life has appeared on Earth relatively fast, so we do have reasons to believe it should be rather common. However, we cannot say the same about intelligent life - this might just be a fluke. We might as well wonder whether any life-friendly planet would produce anteaters - well, theoretically, it might, but it is far from certain.

EDIT: I would have forgotten: Fermi paradox cuts both ways. If getting sentient beings to heaven is such a noble a cause, why the universe is not filled up with the intelligent life to the brim? Why Mars is so barren and devoid of life, when it could be teeming with God-abiding Christians?
« Last Edit: January 27, 2014, 06:13:46 pm by Jabberwock »
First learn to spell "ironic discussion"...

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12thMonkey

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Re: God and Aliens!
« Reply #13 on: January 27, 2014, 06:11:18 pm »
I saw a picture a few years ago of some primitive tribe somewhere (Brazil?) that had never had outside contact. The picture was taken from a plane or helicopter and shows some women and children and a man aiming a bow and arrow. I don't know if there are any undiscovered human tribes in existence today on the earth, but I suppose there might be.

Compared to the earth, the universe is huge so I'd don't feel Fermi's paradox is very convincing.

Another thought is that aliens might be so advanced that they don't want to bother with us at our present stage of development.

The universe is huge and very, very old.  Two reasons that the same mechanisms that brought us Earthly life should also provide for a teeming array of life, or evidence of it, all around our tiny little planet. 

And the objection you raise is perfectly valid, except we're confronted again with the vast scale we're dealing with.  Perhaps a few civilizations don't want to bother with us... but none would?  Every possible civilization feels exactly the same?  And they all methodically hide from us? 

Again, the problem raised by the Fermi Paradox is the sheer numbers involved.  Using purely naturalistic reasoning of how we came to be, there's no explanation for the complete lack of evidence of any intelligence at all. 

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12thMonkey

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Re: God and Aliens!
« Reply #14 on: January 27, 2014, 06:33:23 pm »

Another problem is the feasibility of space travel itself. We do believe that more efficient means will be invented, but for now the perspectives are bleak. Visiting the three nearest stars with the speed of light (of which we can attain only a small fraction right now) in one ship would take thirty years. Visiting one hundred stars would take enormous effort and resources. And for what? People are curious, but not that curious. Reaching farther stars would require colonization of intermediate systems, perspectives of which are even bleaker...

Finally, life has appeared on Earth relatively fast, so we do have reasons to believe it should be rather common. However, we cannot say the same about intelligent life - this might just be a fluke. We might as well wonder whether any life-friendly planet would produce anteaters - well, theoretically, it might, but it is far from certain.

But, as we see here on Earth, life is constantly growing and grasping and expanding into every nook and cranny.  Often places where we never would have imagined life existing we have found it thriving.  So the thought that all possible civilizations do nothing other than sit quietly doesn't fit with how we know these mechanisms work. 

And certainly intelligent life appeared fast on Earth.  This brings us back to the question of how exceptional we are, then.  If we're the result of natural, unexceptional mechanisms that are occurring on vast cosmic scales around us, we should see these mechanisms in play with the same unexceptional results.  And a vast number of these civilizations would be millions and millions of years old, likely expanding relentlessly and developing advanced technologies. 

These processes that rapidly produce intelligent life on Earth but stubbornly refuse to do so given incomprehensibly large opportunities on the cosmic scale are difficult to figure.  That's why so many arguments surrounding the Fermi Paradox resort to answers like, "They don't want to," or "They're hiding" or "All civilizations destroy themselves."