Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Atheist theology, 101.


How to Measure the Power of Alien Civilizations Using the Kardashev Scale

I must admit that I enjoy reading this stuff-- SETI and all that. I love science fiction.

But it's fiction, not science. There is no evidence whatsoever for the existence of alien life. We have no reason whatsoever to suppose that it exists-- we haven't detected it, we don't know how life arose on earth, we have no idea what form life would take elsewhere, etc.

What's amazing is the patina of science that "astrobiologists" and SETI researchers have painted over this storytelling.

Speculation about alien civilizations is atheist eschatology-- salvation, heaven and hell. We will be saved or destroyed by advanced civilizations from other galaxies. We already have the atheist creation myth-- Darwinism-- as well as a theology of original sin and atonement-- environmentalism.

Speculation about alien civilizations is a religion. It differs from other religions (Christianity, Judaism, Islam) in that there is abundant evidence for the truth of various aspects of the monotheistic religions.

There isn't a shred of evidence for alien civilizations. Nothing. Speculation about it is fiction at best, paganism in the scientific age.




75 comments:

  1. Well, with 100 billion galaxies, each with 100 billion stars, in the visible Universe, it's a reasonable assumption that there will be life elsewhere in the Universe.

    SETI is almost certainly doomed to failure. It relies on a human-like civilization using radio technology (which in the case of humans will be for only a century or two, before everything is sent by cable) and an un-human-like civilization, which sends targetted radio messages instead of just listening.

    Unless we have missed something revolutionary in physics, it's extremely unlikely that ETI will arrive on Earth due to general relativity making near light velocity travel extremely expensive in energy terms.

    Environmentalism isn't analogous to 'original sin' since environmental damage is occurring now.

    There's no adequate evidence for god(s). Why would God create a Universe 13.82 billion years ago, containing at least 10^22 stars in the visible portion, creating the solar system with the Earth 4.54 billion years ago, creating life on Earth 3.8 billion years ago, putting humans on Earth 200,000 years ago, and just over 2,000 years ago sending Himself as His Son to be crucified to atone for Original Sin in the Garden of Eden. Which didn't happen anyway.

    And in the meantime, ignoring a considerable portion of the 100 billion humans who have ever lived, who preceded the arrival of Jesus or who lived in remote regions.

    Incoherent mythology.

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  2. Other worlds were once a speculation, too. The Church frowned upon such speculations (as Giordano Bruno found). These days we have solid evidence of planets orbiting other stars, many of which are just like our sun. And if the sun is just one star among many, there is no reason to suspect that it is unique.

    Whether there are other civilizations out there and whether life is abundant in the Universe remains to be seen. I don't care all that much one way or the other, so I am not sure why Doc thinks alien civilizations are an atheist thing. I am sure many sci fi fans are Christian.

    Hoo

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    Replies
    1. I'm a sci fi fan.

      But I know it's fiction.

      There is no scientific basis for positing the existence of extra-terrestrial life.

      Reasons:

      1) We have no actual evidence for it.
      2) We do not know how life arose on earth-- we don't even have any credible putative mechanism, so we have no basis for making an informed estimate of its likelihood elsewhere.

      Therefore, speculation about extraterrestrial life is not science.

      It's science fiction, which I enjoy.

      Compare the evidence for extraterrestrial life with the evidence for Marian apparitions. The evidence for Marian apparitions is massive-- enormous numbers of witnesses, physical evidence (the Tilma), etc.

      Whether one accepts Marian apparitions as real is not the point. The point is the difference between the atheist standards of evidence in the two claims.

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    2. Oh, I fully agree that speculations about alien life aren't science. I am just not sure why you rail against them and ascribe them to atheism. What happened to "the Church does not take a position on it?"

      Hoo

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    3. Either the Universe is fine-tuned for the existence of life, in which case life should be everywhere. Or the Universe isn't fine-tuned for life and it exists, against all possibilities, only on Earth.

      In which case, you can't use the fine-tuning of the Universe as evidence for the existence of God, while at the same time dismissing the possibility of life existing elsewhere.

      Absence of evidence doesn't mean evidence of absence.

      We do know that life exists in extremely inhospitable locations - including within crustal rocks to a depth of several kilometres - so it's reasonable to assert that life does arise reasonably easily.

      I don't know whether life exists elsewhere in the Universe. We may never know. We might be able to gain indirect evidence of life on an extrasolar planet if we are able to detect both oxygen and methane in its atmosphere, if the methods used are refined (there was a paper in last week's 'Science' reporting analysis of the atmosphere of an extrasolar planet - albeit one with a mass 5 to 10 times that of Jupiter).

      Marian aparitions aren't convincing, because we know how easily mass hysteria occurs.

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    4. "Absence of evidence doesn't mean evidence of absence."

      It is when we're speaking about God, unicorns, Bigfoot, or Elvis Presley.

      "We may never know. We might be able to gain indirect evidence of life on an extrasolar planet if we are able to detect both oxygen and methane in its atmosphere..."

      Oxygen and methane aren't life.

      TRISH

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    5. Trish,

      But it's indirect evidence of life, as I wrote. Oxygen on its own isn't evidence of life (ultraviolet light can split water molecules). Methane on its own isn't evidence of life (otherwise Titan is riddled with life). But both together is indirect evidence of life, because unless both are being produced simultaneously, then one or both will disappear. And life can produce both to replenish them.

      Indirect evidence. Not definite. But probably the only way we have to detect life on extrasolar planets.

      Absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence. But as Victor Stenger notes; absence of evidence for phenomena for which there should be evidence is evidence of absence. There's no evidence of unicorns. Or yetis (although the Tibetan macaque at a distance is very yeti-like). Or God. Therefore, they don't exist.

      Delete
    6. You believe in unicorns and talking snakes, don't you Hoo?

      Ben

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  3. "Well, with 100 billion galaxies, each with 100 billion stars, in the visible Universe, it's a reasonable assumption that there will be life elsewhere in the Universe."

    I agree. And yet that doesn't change the fact that there's no evidence to support it. Do you see how you sometimes use intuitive reasoning to come to a conclusion in the absence of evidence? Now, do you think that extraterrestrial life is like unicorns and anyone who believes in it is stupid?

    "Why would God create a Universe 13.82 billion years ago, containing at least 10^22 stars in the visible portion, creating the solar system with the Earth 4.54 billion years ago, creating life on Earth 3.8 billion years ago, putting humans on Earth 200,000 years ago, and just over 2,000 years ago sending Himself as His Son to be crucified to atone for Original Sin in the Garden of Eden?"

    This is a common thread I've seen in atheist arguments. God must not exist because he does things that the atheist doesn't understand, or does thing that the atheist finds abhorrent. God can't exist unless He does things Bachfiend's way. That doesn't follow.

    Why is there a scientific discipline called astrobiology? We have no evidence that it exists.

    TRISH

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    Replies
    1. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyMarch 27, 2013 at 7:28 AM

      "Why is there a scientific discipline called astrobiology?"

      That's easy Trish. There is a discipline called astrobiology because there are billions of dollars of other people's money to spend. Astrobiology is only one of several "scientific" disciplines whose disappearance from the planet at midnight tonight would go entirely unnoticed by everyone except by department chairs. The contribution of these group masturbation projects to the general body of knowledge, society, and/or the culture is precisely zero.

      Delete
    2. There is no scientific discipline called astrobiology. There are a few astronomers who like to refer to themselves as astrobiologists, including one in my department. It's hard to take that seriously, though.

      Admiral, could you somehow verify your assertion that billions of public dollars are spent on astrobiology? I think you are way off in your estimate.

      Hoo

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    3. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyMarch 27, 2013 at 7:40 AM

      Had I asserted that, I might be interested in your challenge.

      Delete
    4. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyMarch 27, 2013 at 8:03 AM

      "There is no scientific discipline called astrobiology."

      Penn State apparently didn't get the memo: Penn State Astrobiology Research Center.

      Delete
    5. There is no such discipline, except that guy in your department practices it?

      Well, I'm no scientist, but it does have a Wikipedia page.

      "This interdisciplinary field encompasses the search for habitable environments in our Solar System and habitable planets outside our Solar System, the search for evidence of prebiotic chemistry, laboratory and field research into the origins and early evolution of life on Earth, and studies of the potential for life to adapt to challenges on Earth and in outer space."

      Okay, so it's interdisciplinary, not a discipline.

      The point is, there is no evidence for life outside of earth, yet we still have people who study it. Sounds like religion to me. Maybe that guy in your department should be hounded from his job and blacklisted.

      Hoo, what department are you in?

      TRISH

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    6. Admiral, you judge the book by its cover. May I suggest delving into the contents? Read the description of expertise of the people at this center. They are not "astrobiologists." They are geochemists, biologists, and astrophysicists. It's not like "astrobiology" is their day job.

      Hoo

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    7. That's because it's an interdisciplinary field. Their disciplines together form something which apparently Pennn State calls astrobiology.

      Then again, this is Penn State, the same people who whitewashed Michael Mann and Jerry Sandusky.

      TRISH

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    8. TRISH,

      My own university has an astrobiology something or other. It boils down to occasional talks on subjects spanning from biology to planet chemistry and such. The people who participate have no grants in astrobiology. It's just a fashionable label.

      Hoo

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    9. Maybe you should inform them that it's not an actual science because it studies something not known to exist.

      Ben

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    10. Ben, they study that which exists. Look at the publications listed by the Penn center. It's biology, geochemistry, and such.

      Hoo

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    11. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyMarch 27, 2013 at 8:23 AM

      Hoo, I judge the center by its name. Your argument is with Penn State, not me. You won't get any disagreement from me on the vacuity of astrobiology.

      Delete
    12. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyMarch 27, 2013 at 8:34 AM

      "Ben, they study that which exists."

      Now there's a profound insight.

      Delete
    13. Adm.: "I judge the center by its name."

      That makes you superficial, doesn't it?

      Hoo

      Delete
    14. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyMarch 27, 2013 at 9:04 AM

      Are you suggesting the Pennsylvania State University is not to be taken at face value about what they claim to study in their research centers? That's not very flattering to the University.

      But I guess you're right. One just shouldn't trust contemporary academics.

      Delete
    15. Name dropping does not impress me, admiral. Particularly when the name is Penn State.

      Hoo

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    16. So they call it astrobiology but it isn't actually astrobiology? I've been reading this thread, and you (Hoo) are grasping at straws. You say that there is no such field as astrobiology but then you concede that you have a colleague who claims to be an astrobiologist, there are astrobiology seminars at your university, and there is an astrobiology center at Penn State. Your explanation for the astrobiology center at Penn State is that they study things that exist, rather than things that might exist but we haven't seen yet: space (astro) life (biology).

      Maybe you should just admit that astrobiology is like having a field dedicated the the study of God.

      Ben

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    17. You crack me up, Ben. "Astrobiologists" at Penn (as well as at my U) do not, in fact, study life on other planets. They study the chemistry of the Earth's crust, infer the chemical composition of other planets in the solar system and beyond, the life of microbes in extreme environments on Earth etc.

      Maybe one day they will get to study alien life, but today the aren't doing that. They have a new label for themselves, but this label does not all of a sudden transform what they do.

      Hoo

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    18. "Astrobiologists" at Penn (as well as at my U) do not, in fact, study life on other planets.

      Of course. They can't study something that they've never been able to locate.

      They study the chemistry of the Earth's crust, infer the chemical composition of other planets in the solar system and beyond, the life of microbes in extreme environments on Earth etc.

      So they aren't actually astrobiologists but chemists, geologist, and terrabiologists who gaze in wonderment at the stars? I think the idea is that they're searching for life outside our own planet, which is fine. I would surmise that life does exist outside of our own planet just because of the sheer size of the universe. But I'm not the hard-headed realist skeptic who demands proof of everything. Those are scientific types. And here we have an example of scientific types who study terrestrial life in hopes of learning something about extraterrestrial life, which is a commodity still not in evidence.

      Is it possible that the supposedly scientific skepticism about God applies only to God, and not to other things?

      Ben

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    19. I want to start a new scientific discipline called Sasquatchology. Not having any actual Sasquatches around won't deter me. I'll study similar primates to see what they can teach us about Sasquatches. I'll also study ecosystems and climates that might be conducive to the Sasquatch population. I'd like a grant too, and a nice corner office.

      The Torch

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    20. Ben,

      I am not sure what "scientific skepticism about God" means. Science makes no pronouncements on the existence of God. It cannot study the supernatural. It can, of course, verify claims like a global flood, but the existence of God is above its pay grade.

      Hoo

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    21. Science makes no pronouncements on the existence of God. It cannot study the supernatural.

      Tell that to your militant atheist friends. Rewind to the cantankerous debate we were having about the Sam Harris video, and tell me again what you just said.

      Would any university sponsor a department that specialized in looking for evidence of the existence of something for which there is no evidence of existing?

      Torch: I like your Sasquatch comparison. It's very adept.

      Ben

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    22. Ben,

      I am not sure what exactly you mean. Could you link to the "cantankerous debate" about Sam Harris?

      Hoo

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    23. This cantankerous debate


      The rabbi in this segment is saying essentially that belief in God is a metaphysical rather than physical belief, and thus science has nothing to say about it. Sam Harris laughed that one off, comparing belief in God to believing that Elvis is still alive, proving that he doesn't understand the elementary difference between physical and metaphysical. Elvis being alive is dumb, but those who advocate it believe that he is physically still among us.

      Bachfiend stated The rationale for atheism is that there's no evidence for the actual existence of god(s).

      Do you agree with Bachfiend?

      There's also no evidence for the existence of life outside the planet earth. Why then do we have astrobiology seminars and departments?

      I'm with the Torch. I want in on some that sasquatchology research budget. Let me be the chair, all right?

      Ben

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    24. Ben, you have no idea what you are talking about! There are no departments of astrobiology at universities. A department is a brick-and-mortar entity that requires capital investment. A non-existent branch of science cannot support one.

      There are some loose affiliations like Penn's center. It has no physical location and is merely an umbrella listing of a bunch of people from various departments.

      Hoo

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    25. Ben,

      Well, there's no evidence for a God. Not for one who is omnipotent, omniprescient and omnibenevolent, who cares deeply about the fate of humans and listens to and sometimes answers prayers.

      Such a God never existed in the Bible, and He's disappearing ever since to the point of invisibility today. As if He never existed in the first place.

      Life elsewhere in the Universe is, in comparison, a much more reasonable proposition. One that we are unlikely to settle. There could be a flourishing civilization in the Andromeda Galaxy which has sent us a powerful radio message today. And we won't hear it for another 2 million years.

      Big Foot could conceivably exist and could conceivably be an interesting object of study. If there was the slightest evidence that Big Foots actually existed.

      Delete
  4. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyMarch 27, 2013 at 7:37 AM

    Personally, I would like to see a much greater effort spent in planetary exploration. If "life on other planets" is a motivator for that, fine. My reasons are more mundane and threefold:
    (1) mining opportunities,
    (2) vacation spots,
    (3) and a testbed for lunatic global warmenist terraforming "solutions".

    With regard to (3), when some warmenist oik proposes injecting billions of tons of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere or "fertilizing" the oceans with iron, we could say "Hey! Let's do that to somebody else's planet first. See how it plays out. OK?"

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    1. Georgie,

      1. Not economical. It costs $20,000 to put a kilogram into low Earth orbit. To bring it back to Earth costs a similar amount. You can double that if you want to go to the Moon. Going to the other planets would be exorbitant. There could be gold bars scattered all over the surface of Mars, and it wouldn't be worth going there, if that was the only reason.

      2. Ditto. Would you pay $10 million dollars to holiday on the Moon? Minimum?

      3. Geoengineering, if it's necessary because of runaway global warming, can only be tried on a planet with oceans and an atmosphere. Like the Earth. Clive Hamilton has recently published a book discussing the topic; 'Earth Masters: Playing God with the Climate'. Recommended.

      Delete
    2. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyMarch 27, 2013 at 8:27 AM

      backfield, you've been walking around upside-down in the sun too long.

      Delete
    3. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyMarch 27, 2013 at 8:36 AM

      But thanks for the cost estimates.

      Delete
    4. Georgie,

      And you've got delusions of grandeur, with your self-awarded military rank.

      It would only take the injection of 5 million tonnes of sulphur into the upper atmosphere per year to reduce solar input by 2%. About what would be necessary. Which is about a tenth of the sulphur emissions per year from burning fossil fuels.

      It's odd that you're worried about millions of tonnes of sulphur, but absolutely blasé about the 30 BILLION tonnes of CO2 per year from the burning of fossil fuels.

      Delete
    5. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyMarch 27, 2013 at 8:59 AM

      "Blasé" doesn't even begin to capture it.

      Delete
    6. Georgie,

      How about 'absolutely blasé about it', as I actually wrote? 'Absolutely' is the superlative of superlatives. There's no degree of nonconcern greater than this. Do you have problems with reading comprehension?

      Delete
    7. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyMarch 27, 2013 at 9:28 AM

      No. It's far, far worse than absolute unconcern.

      I LIKE carbon dioxide. And as a resident of the of the North Temperate Zone, I won't be satisfied until there are palm trees growing in my front yard.

      Delete
    8. Adm.

      Hear, hear!
      C02 is useful stuff.

      Delete
    9. Duh, crusader. Water is also useful. However, consuming too much water can be hazardous to your health.

      Hoo

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    10. Georgie,

      I assume you're being deliberately provocative and that you're a Stage 1 AGW denialist, who thinks that greenhouse gases have nothing to do with climate.

      Otherwise, if you really think that AGW is true and will allow you to grow palm trees in the north of North America, then you're a callous bastard who doesn't give a stuff about the fate of the much larger number of humans living in equatorial regions who won't enjoy warming.

      So which is it?

      Delete
    11. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyMarch 27, 2013 at 5:58 PM

      I think you're a callous bastard who doesn't give a stuff about what we shivering northerners want.

      Delete
    12. Georgie,

      Thank you. You've answered my question. You are a callous bastard who doesn't give a stuff about what the sweltering equatorial population wants. You have heard about warm clothing, haven't you? Dressing according to the conditions is actually a good idea. It's actually a sign of intelligence. I apologies for ascribing that quality to you.

      Delete
  5. This is a reversal of position.
    The 19th century naturalists scoffed at the idea of a fine tuned universe. They still do. Only now they attempt to push the whole 'if there is aliens, your religion is wrong' trope. It is a total reversal of position (in the 70-80's) that no one seems to notice. A 'fast one'.
    Creationists, on the other hand have ALWAYS believed in intelligences other than man. All sorts of them are described in the Bible and the holy books of other faiths.

    'Aliens' or no, it makes not a single iota of difference in the creationist theology. God created the COSMOS, not just Brooklyn, Mount Royal, or Hyde Park - the whole COSMOS.

    Finding alien life would be analogous to finding a new kind of mammal in Antarctica.
    Interesting, but far from some sort of doom for the Creator.

    On the other hand, if Spock, the little green men from Mars, or even a crab guy from Proxima Centauri show up, there will be some very serious questions for the evolutionary crowd to answer about form and function, especially if/when the aliens want to talk THEOLOGY.

    All that said, while I am totally convinced there have been intelligences other than human present on this world from our beginnings (at least). I just don't jump on the materialist band wagon and ASSUME that they have traversed the expanses of the Universe to come here and play at being blood thirsty gods, or in more modern times to arrive in the night to lonely places, whisper things about 'the coming age', lie about where they came from, and torture people.

    It get's further away as history progresses - from 'the clouds', to 'lands over the sea', to Venus, to distant star systems - but always just out of sight. I don't think aliens would need to 'channel' through people and appear at circles in the woods.
    For centuries we had names for these mysteries, and now we have a new materialist one: Alien.

    It's funny, but I was also inspired to write on the subject just the other day. Did you read my post Mike?
    I referenced your blog in it actually.

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    1. crus:

      I missed your post-- an excellent post.

      Great minds think alike!

      Delete
    2. 'Great minds think alike!'.

      And idiots think even more alike, particularly when they don't notice that they disagree.

      CrusadeRex; I'd noted that the physicist Paul Davies (winner of the Templeton Prize in, I think, 1995, which is awarded to a scientist who says something nice about religion) has written that he thinks that discovery of an ETI would be fatal to Christianity.

      I continued 'I doubt it' because Christian apologetics is infinitely adaptable, going from a basic 3 level cosmology (heaven above, hell below the earth) to the current infinite Universe.

      An ETI wouldn't be a problem for Christianity. I seem to remember a science fiction story about a Christian space missionary who kept arriving on alien planets just after Jesus had 'saved' the natives and left...

      In the extremely unlikely event that an ETI arrives on Earth (and given General Relativity it's extremely unlikely), I wouldn't be surprised if they want to talk religion. Religion does serve an evolutionary function after all. It helps social cohesion when human groups became larger than bands, because it provides extra pairs of eyes to detect miscreants even if the extra eyes are fictional.

      I'd be extremely interested what sort of religion they invented.

      Delete
    3. 'd be extremely interested what sort of religion they invented.

      Me too. What if they have 10 arms and legs? Their Jesus would have been nailed to a wheel with 10 spokes or something.

      Reminds me of a joke by Douglas Adams about an alien species with 36 arms. They were the only known species to have invented deodorant before the wheel.

      Delete
    4. Mike,

      Cheers.
      I thought you might get a charge out of it.
      Obviously the 'science' on this subject is largely absent or (in some cases) deliberately obscured.
      I agree we are seeing a new age religion form here, also.
      But the part that grabs me is the total reversal of their position based on this 'faith' in the very same probabilities they DENY.

      Bach illustrates the inconsistency perfectly (if unintentionally) when he notes: "Either the Universe is fine-tuned for the existence of life, in which case life should [should read could] be everywhere. Or the Universe isn't fine-tuned for life and it exists, against all possibilities, only on Earth."
      If this is the case, if this dichotomy is what we face: Then atheistic evolutionism cannot withstand Mr Spock, Zeta Reticulans, or silicon jellyfish from Deneb.
      Theism could clearly handle either 'choice'.
      Maybe they are trying to falsify their own religion without even knowing it?

      Come on ET, if you're out there PICK UP THE PHONE (or at least comment on this blog) so we can watch these guy's wiggle into a new paradigm (again).
      We'll even invite you over for Christmas Dinner!

      Delete
    5. Okay (garbled) Crusader,
      (Garbled) in a few weeks.
      I really enjoyed that Dave Berlinski you folks sent me. The guy is spot on. Atheists are such (garbled) holes.
      I'll bring the (garbled), which is like your wine.
      But can I stay the night, as drinking and (garbled) is so totally illegal these days!

      ET, AKA EBE

      Delete
    6. Bach.

      "And idiots think even more alike, particularly when they don't notice that they disagree."
      Ad hominem. Bach's favourite tactic. His first degree is in playground politics, you see. What is the proper response, one is left wondering.
      Oh! I know:
      'Poo-poo head!'


      "CrusadeRex; I'd noted [...] "
      Read your response the first time, Bach. Your concessions were wonderfully eloquent.
      You were correct then.
      You begin to waffle into silliness now.

      "I continued 'I doubt it' because Christian apologetics is infinitely adaptable, going from a basic 3 level cosmology (heaven above, hell below the earth) to the current infinite Universe."
      Cosmology = Christian apologia? Okay then.

      "An ETI wouldn't be a problem for Christianity. "
      Agree. No problem at all. We (theists in general) have been recording interactions with intelligences beyond our own since Creation. Nothing new there.
      One mortal voice from another land (across the heavens)? No big deal at all.

      "In the extremely unlikely event that an ETI arrives on Earth[...]I wouldn't be surprised if they want to talk religion."
      Better send them a memo that that have to do so while not on US government property, or they may offend the Atheist. Seriously though, what makes you immediately suspect a visiting intelligence has to come DIRECTLY or even originally from another planet? Why are you stuck in that box? Materialism?

      "Religion does serve an evolutionary function after all. "
      Back asswards, my antipodal amigo. Boggs is right. Too much time upside down. The shit is running the wrong way.


      "I'd be extremely interested what sort of religion they invented."
      And they would be FASCINATED in yours, I am sure.


      Troy,

      My favourite line from Adams was the one about the Heavy Metal band icon who was dead 'for a few years' to avoid taxes. Second would be the line at the very beginning about the warning to demolish Dent's home. Something about a disused room with 'beware the leopard' on the door.

      The new version of the HHG was pathetic.
      If you haven't seen it - don't waste your time.
      Better off with the old TV series. Much more true to form.
      Loved that stuff in Jr high. Not so much as an adult.


      Delete
    7. "Religion does serve an evolutionary function after all."

      So does that mean that atheists are less evolved?

      The Torch

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    8. CrusadeRex,

      You have asserted that there was non-human intelligence on Earth before humans, and you don't have the slightest evidence for it. That's idiotic. You also asserted that 19th century naturalists scoffed at the idea of a fine tuned Universe. That's also idiotic. The fine tuning 'problem' was a 20th century one.

      My point was that if you believe that the Universe is fine tuned for life as evidence for the existence of God, then you can't simultaneously exclude the possibility that there is life elsewhere. Not necessarily intelligent life.

      I'm agnostic on the questions. I don't know whether the Universe is perfectly fine tuned for life; it could be so-so tuned for life, and we're the single unique exception. I don't know whether there's life elsewhere, not anywhere definitely, but I do have an opinion. I don't expect to know the answer.

      You're getting facetious in your old age. If ET arrived in America, she'd be quite entitled to discuss religion on federal property, provided she's not accepting federal funding for doing so. The First Amendment doesn't apply to non-Americans anyway.

      Delete
    9. The Torch,

      'So does that mean that atheists are less evolved?'

      No, but it does prove that theists have problems in reading comprehension, in not being able to understand more than one sentence at a time, and ignoring the explanatory sentences immediately following.

      I wrote that as one sentence so that you might understand it.

      Delete
    10. bach,

      "You have asserted that there was non-human intelligence on Earth before humans,"
      Yes. Not just 'on Earth' and yes.

      "[...]and you don't have the slightest evidence for it."
      Maybe I do, maybe I don't.

      re naturalism: It is a 20th century TERM, Bach.
      The universe and the laws that govern it have apparently been about for a while. The questions that have become the forefront of physics have been the subject of philosophical inquiry for centuries.
      The physics has almost caught up with the philosophy in 'fine tuning'.
      You really do have difficulty with time, don't you?Never mind.

      re the memo to the 'alien' landing in the states:
      Children banned from prayer at a football games etc are not federally funded.
      You then go on to contradict yourself by asserting that 'she' would not be guaranteed charter rights are only valid for US citizens. All this in response to a joke, for goodness sake. If 'she' was a diplomat, she would be extended the courtesy of being allowed to talk about whatever 'she' wanted, I am sure. That is, of course, some scientistic assholes did not get to 'her' first and vivisect her for 'science'.


      Again: What makes you immediately suspect a visiting intelligence has to come DIRECTLY or even originally from another planet?


      Delete
    11. CrusadeRex,

      There's nothing stopping a student praying before a football match, on public school grounds. She's just not allowed to use federally funded facilities to do so, which include loud speaker equipment paid from public funds.

      This is to protect followers of other religions, as well as atheists.

      If you have evidence for non-human intelligence, then what is it?

      This thread is about astrobiology. So where would an ETI (extraterrestrial intelligence) come from, except from a place external to the Earth?

      Fine tuning is a 20th century question. Not a 19th century one. The brute existence of the Universe, any universe, is a question since time immemorial, agreed, but the question until recently has been what sort of universe we have, rather than why this Universe has the physical constants, many of which were unknown unknowns until the 20th century, it does have. The weak and strong nuclear forces were unknown in the 19th century.

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    12. Bach,

      "There's nothing stopping a student praying before a football match..."
      The American media is full of this kind of thing, Bach. You know that as well as I. Why defend intolerance?

      "This is to protect followers of other religions, as well as atheists."
      Funny how they complain about the atheists too, eh?

      "Fine tuning is a 20th century question. "
      It's terminology, Bach. Physics is just beginning to uncover the mathematical models for what philosophers have been describing for ages. Nit pick all you want, but posterity is on my side on this issue.

      "Not a 19th century one. "
      Conceded. It is much, much older than that.

      "The brute existence of the Universe, any universe..."
      Exactly. And which other universe do you have ANY evidence for? ANY MATERIAL evidence, Bach. That is, after all what YOU demand.

      "If you have evidence for non-human intelligence, then what is it?"
      Beyond the obvious? Well, I should probably state the obvious for you. To name a few 'evidence(s)': Animals, intelligent coding within life forms, fine tuning (ie existence), and... (drum roll) adaptive evolution.

      Have a safe and happy Easter down there, Bach.

      A safe and happy Easter to all.















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    13. Bach,

      Apologies, missed your response.

      "This thread is about astrobiology. So where would an ETI (extraterrestrial intelligence) come from, except from a place external to the Earth?"

      Actually the thread is about the new age mythology of atheism.
      The leaps of faith made within the field of Astrobiology is an example.

      Anyway, to your question:

      Think hard now! Try not to focus on 'idiots' thing and just give this old bayonet the benefit of the doubt for a second here. Just pretend I am not the caricature you paint of me, and that I may actually have a some sort of reason for stating what I have.
      Look across the table, instead of down your nose.
      Consider: Where else could an intelligence originate from OTHER than another planet?
      The answer is all around you.

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    14. CrusadeRex,

      Yes, but extraterrestrial intelligence must arise from elsewhere, not from the Earth. That's involved in the definition of 'extraterrestrial'.

      I agree that there's intelligence on Earth. And it arose naturally on Earth. And that there are intelligences on Earth that aren't human. Elephants for example can solve problems using tools; for examples reaching a desired branch in a tree just out of trunk reach by moving a box under the branch so it can put its front legs on it in order to grasp the branch. Or move planks from different locations to form a pile high enough to reach the same goal.

      I just think that intelligence naturally evolved (it wasn't willed into existence) as a useful tool in problem solving and aiding survival.

      I won't comment on your other points. You need to go back to my comment and reread it. Fine tuning of the Universe only became a problem when we knew what sort of Universe, including the physical forces involved. And that's a 20th century question.

      Until the 20th century, the debate was about what sort of universe we had. Newton thought that the universe was spatially infinite, because he thought that a finite universe would necessarily collapse on its centre (he thought an infinite universe doesn't have a centre). He also thought that planetary orbits were inherently unstable and it was one of God's jobs to give the planets a nudge from time to time. Divinely imposed fine tuning. Laplace proved him wrong in 1802.

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    15. I should add that human-level intelligence is considerably different to non-human intelligence. Quantitatively and qualitatively. Although, when we are testing for intelligence in other species, we have to beware of limitations in the other species' physical abilities. It would be unfair to test an elephant's ability to use tools if we concentrate on tusk held ones, which block the elephant's sense of smell, olfaction being more important for an elephant than vision.

      Whenever we talk about ETI, we are talking about human level or superior intelligence, because we have no hope of detecting anything less. We might have a chance of detecting life on extrasolar planets, but life isn't necessarily intelligent

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    16. Well, seeing as you're too important to frame your comments within a dialogue and do not seem remotely capable of understanding my points, I wont bother responding to your ideas either.
      What's the point? You see it your way.
      I'll see it mine.
      You are no danger to me or the reality I inhabit.
      Far from it.


      Have a great weekend and enjoy your time with the family.

      Delete
  6. Egnor,

    I know this is a silly question, but do you have any evidence that a greater percentage of atheists speculate about alien civilizations than the rest of the population?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. @Lying:

      It is a silly question. Obviously atheists are more prone to believe this stuff. Carl Sagan, Fred Hoyle, Richard Dawkins et al. "Billions and billions..."

      It's well documented that atheists are more prone to believe crazy stuff than orthodox Christians http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122178219865054585.html

      If you believe that everything came from nothing and life magically crawled out of the mud, you'll believe in space aliens. There's no science to support any of it, but why should that stop you now?

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    2. Obviously atheists are more prone to believe this stuff. Carl Sagan, Fred Hoyle, Richard Dawkins et al. "Billions and billions..."

      First - Sagan never actually said "billions and billions". He did say billions though, but he was referring to the number of stars. Do you have a reason to believe that there are not billions of stars? If not, I'm not sure what that snippet was supposed to illuminate.

      Second - None of the men you cited claimed there was evidence for alien life. Sagan once quoted the Drake Equation, but he made certain to state that everything that went into the equation was a guess, and the result speculation. Ask almost any actual scientist, if you ever happen to actually meet one, and they will probably tell you that SETI isn't science, there isn't a falsification element. They will probably say that it is interesting though.

      But that would require talking to and listening to an actual scientist, which you appear to have never actually done.

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    3. Egnor,

      "Obviously atheists are more prone to believe this stuff. [link]"

      The link you provided didn't say anything aliens or extraterrestrials, and the "What Americans Really Believe" work from Baylor University it cites does not backup Ms. Hemmingway's claims about atheists. The study lumped atheists in together with those who hold no religious affiliation into a "None" Category. Two thirds of those in the "None" category express belief in God and one third of them pray often. The data may say something about people of who are more or less religious, but not atheists.

      http://www.baylor.edu/mediacommunications/news.php?action=story&story=52815

      Regardless, concerning belief in extraterrestrials, 59.8% those in the "None" category (remember, two thirds of them believe in God) believe that extraterrestrials probably or absolutely exist. Amongst Protestants that number drops to 40.7%. Most Catholics believe in extraterrestrials though, coming in at 51.3%.

      http://www.thearda.com/quickstats/qs_61_p.asp

      I have yet to find data that atheists (specifically atheists, not the non-religious) are more likely to believe in alien civilizations than the rest of the population. Perhaps there is a better breakdown of the Baylor data online somewhere. If you find such data, post it here please.

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    4. @anon:

      Of course SETI is science, moron. If you got a repeating signal of prime numbers, or Andromedan I Love Lucy reruns, you got ETI.

      The discernment of intelligent design in nature is obviously science, and that's what SETI is.

      You deny SETI because you are one of the atheist fundies who is marginally intelligent enough to understand that SETI is ID.

      @Lying:

      Atheists are obviously over-represented in the "little green men" believers. The fact that you struggle to deny the obvious is evidence for its obviousness, which is amusing.

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    5. LOL! Doc thinks astrobiology is crap but SETI is good science. That's a tad inconsistent.

      Hoo

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    6. The search for ET life is valid science.

      The study of ET life (astrobiology) is faith.

      Astrobiology becomes science when SETI finds it, not before.

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    7. To use the Torch's delightful example, the search for Sasquatch is science. Maybe you find him, maybe not. Science.

      Sasquatch biology is not science, until you find him.

      You can't have "biology" of something for which you have no evidence of existence. No Unicorn biology, no Sasquatch biology, no Astrobiology.

      Are you sure you're a scientist, Hoo?

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    8. Michael,

      No. Astrobiology doesn't become 'science' only when SETI finds it. SETI is searching for a specific type of extraterrestrial life. Human-like civilizations using radio waves for communication. SETI is almost certainly doomed to failure.

      Astrobiology is concerned with any type of extraterrestrial life, including (and particularly) bacteria-like life, since on Earth bacteria have (and still do) dominate life on Earth.

      There are possible ways of testing for the existence of extraterrestrial life, including the one I mentioned earlier; using spectroscopy to determine the composition of the atmosphere of extrasolar planets once the method is refined. If a planet has both oxygen and methane then it's a possible indication that there's Earth-like life.

      Another way would be to go and physically look. Mars might be a possibility, if we manage to solve the considerable problems of long term human survival in space (otherwise we are forced to use the clumsier method of thinking up a specific hypothesis of what Martian life might look like and devising a robot vehicle to investigate just that one single hypothesis; humans are infinitely adaptable whereas robots are rigid).

      Or perhaps Europa, with the suggestion that there are moon-wide oceans under the ice sheet. But getting to Jupiter is an even bigger problem.

      Astrobiology is science. It has potential methods of looking for its target, and the methods can be increased, expanded and refined, and are just an extension of standard science methods. SETI isn't science. It doesn't have any endpoints telling us to stop wasting time and money. It's just endless listening and hope.

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    9. "Atheists are obviously over-represented in the "little green men" believers. The fact that you struggle to deny the obvious is evidence for its obviousness, which is amusing."

      If it is so obvious, then the supporting data should easy to produce.

      The supporting data is not easy to produce.

      Therefore, it is not obvious (Modus tollens)

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    10. Egnor: "Astrobiology becomes science when SETI finds it, not before."

      That's pretty stupid, doc. You assume that life is intelligent. That ain't necessarily so.

      Hoo

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