Today, we’re going to do something different. Instead of posting a weird poem or story, I’m simply going to be answering a couple of questions provided by Fandango. They are:
“Are we alone in this vast and expanding universe? Do you believe that intelligent, alien life exists? Defend your answer.”
As you can probably tell from my posts I’m no scientist, philosopher, nor have I ever had an “extraterrestrial experience.” So, I’m probably incredibly under-qualified to answer this. So, here we go.
“Are we alone in this vast and expanding universe?” Well, no one really knows, of course, but if the universe is vast and expanding, then surely there has to be some form of life elsewhere, beyond our solar system. So, statistically, it’s very likely. However, the second question is a bit trickier:
“Do you believe that intelligent, alien life exists?” This goes back to the point I just made, which is that, statistically, it’s very likely that there is life beyond what is known; it’s also likely that at least some of that life might be “intelligent.” However, such lifeforms might be trillions of miles from us, and it make take millennia for contact to be made.
But, the fact that we ask such questions is interesting, and the ways that we answer them are revealing.
Brian Cox is an English physicist and well-known television personality who once tried to answer a similar question to the ones above, which is, “if intelligent alien life exists, how come we haven’t had contact yet?” His answer:
“It may be that the growth of science and engineering inevitably outstrips the development of political expertise, leading to disaster…”
Basically, the reason we haven’t heard from alien civilizations is because they have destroyed themselves, and that we could be, according to Cox, “approaching that position.” This makes sense. Human life, despite all of its technological and cultural progress, remains self-destructive. And maybe life, as it becomes more intelligent and complex, inevitably leads to its own censor.
But, isn’t it possible that we haven’t seen aliens yet not because they self-destructed, but because space travel is extremely difficult and resource-heavy? Perhaps, there are some civilizations that have managed to crack the code, but we are simply in too far a quadrant for them to reach. Or, alien lifeforms are already here, but merely exist on a different plane from us. It is possible that extraterrestrial life could be non-corporeal, non-carbon based. Perhaps, we simply could not perceive them, and they cannot perceive us; two universes, maybe even more, in overlap.
But Cox isn’t the only physicist to opine on this. Stephen Hawking once speculated on the nature of intelligent alien lifeforms and what the scenario might be if we ever crossed paths:
“Meeting an advanced civilization could be like Native Americans encountering Columbus. That didn’t turn out so well.”
If extraterrestrials are advanced enough to traverse whole galaxies, it could be akin to Europe colonizing distant lands. This also makes sense. Humans, once we became advanced enough, used those advancements to oppress and use each other. Progress, like a parasite, feeding itself to growth.
But, due to the near-infinite variables granted by a vast and expanding universe, isn’t it also possible that aliens may not even know the concept of slavery or property? Perhaps, such things could be so distant and, well, “alien” to them that they could barely comprehend it? Maybe, if aliens ever meet us, we may not even register a second look. We could be merely a worm writhing in the mud and aliens, a child who may give us a gander for a minute, but has more important things to do.
So, you’ve probably noticed the thing that girds their speculations. Brian Cox and Stephen Hawking are far more intelligent and accomplished than I; however, while their answers make sense, they are also based in the assumption that all intelligent life is/would be like us–human. They are reading the unknown through a human lens, projecting upon the universe thousands of years of human progress and suffering. But this shows that the only universe we know so far is the one caged in our skulls.
Though I might be being too harsh on Brian Cox and Stephen Hawking. They may have been using the question of alien life to reflect on/warn of ourselves. They knew that there is simply not enough evidence yet to answer the question of intelligent life without speculation. So, they tried offering something practical. Something that we can use in the meantime so that we might actually be around when alien life ever decides to show. Though, this could speculation as well.
You know, I just realized that I didn’t really answer that second question myself. “Do you believe that intelligent, alien life exists?” Well, yes…I guess so. Again, I’m no expert, on anything really. So I don’t know there is intelligent life (then again, who does?) but I do believe that there is, out there; it’s just hard for me to speculate on its nature. Despite one of my counter argument against Cox, I doubt that intelligent life would come in a non-corporeal form, but…it’s always possible that at least some entities might be. After all, while there is much we know of the universe, there is a lot that we likely don’t. As advanced as we are, I sometimes feel like we’re just getting started. 100,000 years from now, historians may lump the current Internet Age with the Hunter and Gatherers in terms of advancement/progress. As far as we’ve come, we’re still animals clinging to our humble speck, with our eyes occasionally gazing upward at slightly more distant specks, and dreaming.