Search for intelligent life in the universe:
(SETI) "Search for Extra-Terrestrial
Intelligence" unsuccessful to date.
Religious aspects of intelligent life
on other planets.
The Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA)
radio astronomy observatory in New Mexico.
Why have SETI programs not been able to detect radio waves from intelligent life on other planets -- one theory:
Analysis of ancient fossils on Earth have shown that the first elementary forms of life appeared here "only" a few hundred million years after the Earth's surface coalesced. That is on the order of four billion years ago. Many scientists feel that at least a small percentage of the 70 billion trillion stars in the universe should have one or more planets in their solar systems' habitable-zones which have been similarly conducive to the formation of life, and remain so today. These scientists would expect natural selection would cause this primitive life to evolve there into multi-cellular organisms, and eventually into one or more forms of intelligent life as it did on Earth.
We could expect that:
- These species would spread across their planet, and form different societies and empires.
- Originally, each would live in a pre-scientific culture without knowledge of astronomy, physics, and other sciences.
- They would probably independently develop many different religious beliefs in order to explain the existence of their world and the rest of the universe.
- Their faiths would note the presense of the Sun, stars, planets, mountains, oceans, animals, birds, etc. They would recognize that creation of these objects and living creatures by other humans would be impossible. They would probably conclude that they were created by various deities: Goddesses and/or Gods.
- The vast majority of these religions -- perhaps all of them -- would worship one or more deities who did not exist in reality, but had been merely been invented by the various cultures on the planet. That is, the cultures would invent their deities, even though they probably would believe the opposite: that their personal deities had created them.
- Since their religions would develop separately, their beliefs would differ from those of their neighboring cultures.
- Further, with the passage of time, these multiple religions would each subdivide into many different denominations, sects, and traditions.
- Each faith group would teach different beliefs. Religious conflicts would be inevitable.
At some time, which might be called "T1," the societies would develop radio, and start broadcasting radio signals. Some radio signals would radiate into space, and might be detectable elsewhere in the universe. For humans on Earth, the first broadcasting station went online about 1910 CE in California. The group that maintains this web site is located in Kingston, Ontario Canada which is also the location of CFRC, at Queen's University. They started broadcasting in 1922. Broadcasting became widespread by the year 1920 CE. One might select the year 1915 as the Earth's date for "T1."
Subsequently, these societies' scientific knowledge would increase to the point where they could develop nuclear weapons of mass destruction. Because of animosity and intolerance -- both inter-religious and intra-religious -- a faith-based, nuclear World War would become possible, and perhaps be probable. This might well resulting in the destruction of all intelligent life on their planet, and cause a complete cessation of all radio signals. The year in which all intelligent life was destroyed could be called "T2." For Earth, T2 might occur circa 2070, unless there is a sudden outbreak of religious tolerance and an acceptance of religious coexistence in our near future. The interval between T1 and T2 might be about a century and a half on Earth.
If the interval were a similar amount on another planet, then radio signals from the planet would only be transmitted for an infinitesimal fraction of the total history of the species of intelligent life. Similarly, the interval of time that the intelligent species on another planet had developed scientific knowledge so that they could detect signals from the first planet would be an infinitesimal fraction of the lifetime of their species. The chances that the development of intelligent life on two planets would be synchronized so closely that one species could detect the other is extremely small. Thus, when species on different planets may have developed the technology to seek out radio transmissions on other planets, there might be none to detect.
An additional problem: attaining meaningful communication between planets:
Suppose that an intelligent species who lived on a planet in the solar system of star HD 164595 detected some of the first radio broadcasts from Earth. Since that planet is about 95 light years from our solar system, they would not have heard the signal until about the year 2010, by our calendar. If they elected to send a signal of their own immediately back to Earth, it would not arrive here until early in our 22nd century, when there might not be anyone alive to receive it. If they elected to send a spaceship to visit us, they would have to accelerate their ship, reach a cruising velocity, and later decelerate before reaching Earth. Since they would not be able to move faster than the speed of light at any part of the trip, they would not land here until well after the year 2010. Such are the problems involved in species on different planets communicating with and visiting each other.
Summary of problems with the detection of intelligent life on other planets, and inter-planet communication:
Both would be difficult because:
- The age of stars vary greatly throughout the universe.
- Planets would coalesce at different times.
- The most primitive forms of life would appear at different times relative to when their planet coalesced.
- The time taken for primitive life to evolve into Intelligent life would differ greatly among planets.
- The time taken for an intelligent species of life to develop radio transmission on other planets would also differ
Thus is would be very unlikely that a given planet's T1/T2 interval would synchronize with another planet's interval when its scientists were listening for radio transmissions. Thus, at any given time, and location in the universe, radio signals from other intelligent species might be very rare or even non-existent. That may be the reason why our SETI programs have so far failed to detect life on other planets.
On another topic, HD 164595 is about 95 light years from Earth. Thus, radio waves from Earth that first originated in 1915 would have arrived at HD 164595 a few years ago. So, even if an intelligent society was there monitoring Earth for radio signals, their search would probably be have been unsuccessful until recently.
If one were to assume that the signal that the Russian scientists thought they had received from the solar system of HD 164595 was real, then the technical capabilities of life forms on the far planet would be far advanced from our own. The power of their transmitter(s) would be much greater than humans could build.
The past experience on Earth when a superior culture meets a less advanced culture, is that the former exterminates, enslaves, or at least exploits the latter. So we have much to fear from a superior species detecting our presence and deciding to visit us. Fortunately, even if the folks at HD 164595 have sensed our presence by now, it would take them centuries to send spacecraft to Earth. By that time, our world's T2 may have passed and the most intelligent form of life still present to greet them on arrival might be cockroaches.
Religious aspects of intelligent species elsewhere in the universe:
Christianity has traditionally taught that Eve and Adam committed a very serious sin by disobeying God and eating the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. The phrase "Good and Evil" in the original Hebrew is what is referred to as a "merism." Douglas Stuart, writing for the Biblical Training explains that a merism is:
"... an expression of totality by the mention of polarity. You mention some opposites and it implies everything in between. For example, the west and the east are used as merisms.
"... humans have enormous knowledge of how to do bad things as well as how to do good things. ... we now have more knowledge than we can morally handle." 10
- Heaven and hell, if I ascend to heaven there you are, if I go to Sheol there you are. Does that mean that God is only at the two extremes? No, he is everywhere; that is the point.
- Near and far are used as merisms. “Peace to the far and peace to the near,” says the Lord. In other words peace to everybody.
- More examples of merisms— “going out and coming in” is a fairly common merism. “The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in,” meaning the Lord will take care of everything in your life. ..."
Christianity has also traditionally taught the concept of original sin: that after Eve and Adam disobeyed God, their sin was subsequently passed on to their children, who later passed it on to their children. This continued with each successive generation to the present time -- totalling over 100 billion humans. Now, many thousands of years later, the entire population of Earth is being held responsible and punished for the sin of the human race's original parents. This concept of passing sin and punishment from one or more guilty person(s) to others who are innocent is called scapegoating. Most moral systems on earth reject that concept because it is viewed as violating natural justice. However, such transfer of is seen in many biblical passages, from Genesis to Revelation.
Since so many theologians believe that the sin of the original couple has spread over thousands of years to the almost 8 billion humans on earth today, a question naturally arises as to whether Eve and Adam's sin would also spread to other species of intelligent life on other planets. That is, would Eve and Adam's sin have infected the entire universe?
Giordano Bruno (1548-1600) was a Dominican friar, mathematician, poet, and cosmologist. He speculated, correctly, that stars are distant suns like ours, that they may be surrounded by planets as in our solar system, and that these planets might possibly have intelligent species present. 11 Unfortunately, his beliefs ran counter to Roman Catholic teaching at the time. He was thrown into a dungeon for eight years of torture, and then burned at the stake. His statue is seen at the Piazza Campo dei Fiori in Rome on the spot where he was executed. Adjacent to the statue is a bookstore called "Fahrenheit 51," which is the title of Ray Bradbury's novel, first published in 1953, which discusses freedom of thought.
An article in the Catholic Review quotes Jesuit Father Jose Funes, director of the Vatican Observatory and the Vatican's chief astronomer on this topic. The article states:
"Father Funes cited the Gospel parable of the shepherd who left his flock of 99 sheep in order to search for the one that was lost.
'We who belong to the human race could really be that lost sheep, the sinners who need a pastor,' he said.
'God became man in Jesus in order to save us. So if there are also other intelligent beings, it’s not a given that they need redemption. They might have remained [continuously] in full friendship with their creator,' he said.
Father Funes went on to say that Christ’s incarnation and sacrifice was a unique and unrepeatable event. But he said he was sure that, if needed, God’s mercy would be offered to aliens, as it was to humans." 12
Related essays on this web site that you might find interesting:
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- Seth Borenstein, "Greenland finding could be oldest fossil on Earth," Toronto Star, 2016-SEP-01
- Allen P. Nutman, et al., "Rapid emergence of life shown by discovery of 3,700-million-year-old microbial structures," Nature journal, at: http://www.nature.com/
- "How do we know how many galaxies are in our universe?," Physics.org, undated, at: http://www.physics.org/"
- Mike Wall, "Nearly Every Star Hosts at Least One Alien Planet," Space.com, 2014-MAR-04, at: http://www.space.com/
- "Planets around other stars," NASA, 2016-APR-15, at: http://science.nasa.gov/
- Jessica Culler, Ed., "NASA's Kepler Discovers First Earth-Size Planet In The 'Habitable Zone' of Another Star," NASA, 2015-JUL-23, at: http://www.nasa.gov/
- Michele Johnson, Ed., "Sizes of Kepler Planet Candidates" NASA, 2015-JAN-06, at: http://www.nasa.gov/
- "Seth Borenstein, "Astronomers: We Could Find Earth-Like Planets Soon, US News, 2010-JAN-07, at: http://www.usnews.com/
- James Griffiths, "Hear me now? 'Strong signal' from sun-like star sparks alien speculation'," CNN, 2016-AUG-30, at: http://www.cnn.com/
- Douglas Stuart, "What is the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil?," Biblical Training, 2012-APR-03, at: https://www.biblicaltraining.org/
- Giordano Bruno's Heresy: Infinite Galaxies Infinite Live, The Daily, 2007-JUN-18, at: http://www.dailygalaxy.com/
- "If aliens exist, they may be a different life form that does not need Christ's redemption, the Vatican's chief astronomer said," Catholic Review, 2008-MAY-04, at: http://catholicreview.org/
- Image © Demerzel21 | Dreamstime.com - Very Large Array - New Mexico
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Copyright © 2016 & 2017 by Ontario Consultants on
Original posting: 2016-SEP-05
Latest update : 2017-FEB-23
Author: B.A. Robinson
Copyright © 2016 & 2017 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2016-SEP-06
Latest update : 2017-FEB-23
Author: B.A. Robinson