The sci-fi classic, The Day the Earth Stood Still, was released in A.D. 1951. Michael Rennie starred as Klaatu, an extra-terrestrial who comes to Earth, and gets shot and killed by some earthly idiots. His invulnerable robot Gort attempts to even the score by destroying scores of tanks, aircraft and US soldiers. Gort eventually takes Klaatu’s body into the space ship and flies off to their distant home planet.
After Klaatu and Gort leave, the nations and armies of the world (which had previously been fighting endlessly among themselves), unite to prepare for another possible attack by Gort et al.
The point to the story is that the proven existence of extra-terrestrials could cause an enormous change in mankind’s system of values.
Similarly, what kind of change in mankind’s current system of values might be expected if evidence accumulated that extra-terrestrials did not exist?
To know that there are other intelligent civilizations on alien planets would push our system of values in one direction.
Similarly, to know that there are not other intelligent civilizations on distant alien planets would just as surely push our values in the opposite direction.
• It’s hard to say how many sci-fi movies I’ve seen over the years that were based on one scientist’s discovery of radio communication emanating from an alien planet. Six? Eight? That story line reappears every to five to ten years.
The prevalence of those story-lines is based on the mathematics of outer-space. Math indicates that there are trillions and trillions of inhabitable planets in the universe. If just 0.1% of those trillions supported life, we should have millions of planets with civilizations sufficiently advanced to at least generate radio waves. We should be able to detect some of those radio waves. Advanced civilizations on alien planets within 100 light-years of earth should be able to detect our radio waves.
We’ve been sending radio signals into space for decades and getting no reply. For decades, we’ve searched for evidence of radio waves/messages emanating from alien civilizations and (except in our sci-fi movies) found nothing.
• Which brings us to the “Fermi Paradox”: Where are all the aliens?
Statistically, there should be millions of advanced civilizations. But we haven’t found radio evidence of even one.
One very strange implication: Contrary to our statistical expectations, we might be the only “advanced” civilization in our galaxy or even the universe. As advanced species go, we might be alone.
That’s not my observation. Scientists are beginning to consider that possibility.
• If we are alone, what’s that say about the “Big Bang Theory”?
Is it statistically probable that the “Big Bang” generated trillions of inhabitable planets, but advanced life evolved on only one of them? If the universe has only one advanced civilization, wouldn’t that tend to discredit the “Big Bang” theory?
If the Theory of Evolution is valid, shouldn’t life, even advanced life, have “evolved” on millions of other planets? If the universe has only one advanced civilization, wouldn’t that tend to discredit the Theory of Evolution?
So far, we’ve seen no indisputable evidence of advanced life on distant planets.
• OK—what’s that imply about Creationism—the belief that God created the universe and planted man on a single planet in a remote galaxy?
It certainly seems strange that God would’ve created an entire universe to serve as a mere backdrop for the only species—mankind—that was made in His image. Think of all the energy “wasted” on creating trillions of inhabitable worlds if only one–ours–was ever destined to be inhabited.
It doesn’t make sense . . . unless God’s power is so enormous that creating the observable universe was no more difficult for God than assembling a quad-copter might be for you or me.
In any case, if scientists’ paradoxical failure to find radio evidence of advanced alien life continues, it will cause enormous changes over the next decade or two in how we view the Earth, ourselves, the Big Bang Theory, the Theory of Evolution and God, Himself.
If scientists don’t start finding evidence of advanced extra-terrestrials, the Big Bang and Evolution theories may be discredited and even abandoned. Who knows? The world might even start to view Creationism as plausible, rational, and even true.