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Why is the space alien science?

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Riffing off Barry Arrington’s comment in Funny Shaped Rocks and the Design Inference, “It is amusing to watch some scientists insist on design inferences with respect to a relatively simple specification, while others refuse to countenance even the bare possibility of the same inference for a far more complex and intricate specification”:

One thing that has always intrigued me is the way Why THEY Must Be Out There is supposed to be a question in science.

There is no evidence that they are out there.

The usual argument we hear is that it simply isn’t possible that we are alone. Well, excuse me, it is at least possible that we are alone. Each century They never call, They never write makes that a more reasonable idea.

It’s the same as with any other kind of search. If we never find what we are looking for, maybe we are looking for something that doesn’t exist.

Personally, I think the alien is fun. I just don’t think he’s science.

Or if he is, why is a design inference “not” science?

If science is simply the business end of metaphysical naturalism, it would make sense to say that a design inference is not science. No evidence can support a design inference for the universe because such a proposition is—by definition—not true.

Our brains evolved for fitness, not for truth, so the mountains of evidence we see are an illusion generated by natural selection.

Somehow metaphysical naturalism is exempt from this universal acid. Somehow it turns out to be true anyway, for unclear reasons.

A corollary is, any tertiary doctrine that supports it is “science.” The space alien is a tertiary doctrine, meaning that he is one of a wide array of teachings grounded in the now widely accepted idea that humans are just animals and not special.

True, the lack of evidence points in the other direction but our perception of evidence is tainted by the fact that our brains are shaped for fitness not for truth.

Metaphysical naturalism is not thought to be subject to the same limitation. Therefore, despite lack of evidence, it is quite likely that the space alien exists even if no evidence arises.

But who decided that science was to be treated as the business end of metaphysical naturalism anyway?

See also: But surely we can’t conjure an entire advanced civilization?

and

And How do we grapple with the idea that ET might not be out there?

and

What can we hope to learn about animal minds?

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18 Replies to “Why is the space alien science?

  1. 1
    Zachriel says:

    Exoplanets were hypothesized by Giordano Bruno in the 16th century. Since then, the existence of exoplanets has been supported by theories of star and planet formation, and evidence that the process is on-going in nebula. However, the first exoplanets weren’t directly detected until 1992.

  2. 2
    Sebestyen says:

    Exoplanets were hypothesized by Giordano Bruno in the 16th century.

    Actually, that was hypothesized by Nicholas of Cusa a hundred years before Bruno was even born. Bruno just picked it up and used it in his own writings like the plagiarizing kook he was…

    Sebestyen

  3. 3
    Zachriel says:

    Sebestyen: Actually, that was hypothesized by Nicholas of Cusa a hundred years before Bruno was even born.

    Sure. And Aristarchus of Samos had hypothesized a heliocentric system, and that stars were suns, millennia before Bruno and Copernicus. It doesn’t change the point that a hypothesis about the unknown can be proposed and supported by indirect evidence.

  4. 4
    Sebestyen says:

    I just find it funny that Bruno is so frequently mentioned in regards to science…

  5. 5
    earthsinterface says:

    “Why is the space alien science?”

    Well off hand I’d say it’s a materialist attempt to provide their own Extraterrestrial source for origin of life to replace the biblical extraterrestrial version found in Genesis. See, they are open to life coming from an Extraterrestrial provided, provided that source is not the biblical one. Makes perfect sense to me why it is being inserted into science, mostly because this whole subject has never ever been about science. It’s always been about one person’s religious faith-based worldview over another person’s faith-based worldview

  6. 6
    Zachriel says:

    Sebestyen: I just find it funny that Bruno is so frequently mentioned in regards to science…

    Galileo had just turned 26 when Bruno was burned alive for heresy by the same Inquisition that later drew Galileo up on charges of heresy.
    http://www.mindfreedom.org/cam.....statue.jpg

  7. 7
    Sebestyen says:

    Galileo had just turned 26 when Bruno was burned alive for heresy by the same Inquisition that later drew Galileo up on charges of heresy.

    So what? They hardly have anything in common.

    Bruno was a crackpot who constantly pissed off the catholic church with his cockamamy ideas, certainly not a scientist.

    Sebestyen

  8. 8
    Zachriel says:

    Sebestyen: They hardly have anything in common.

    They were both tried by the Roman Inquisition for heresy.

  9. 9
    Sebestyen says:

    They were both tried by the Roman Inquisition for heresy.

    So were hundreds of others and I bet they both also breathed, so what’s your point?

    Sebestyen

  10. 10
    Zachriel says:

    Sebestyen: So were hundreds of others and I bet they both also breathed, so what’s your point?

    Bruno was a scholar who was tried, tortured, and killed because of his heterodox views. This happened in Galileo’s adult lifetime, meaning that Galileo was well-aware of the extent to which the Church would go to enforce orthodoxy.

  11. 11
    Sebestyen says:

    Bruno was a scholar

    Yeah, sure…

    who was tried, tortured, and killed because of his heterodox views.

    Ineed, but these views were that Satan was destined to be saved and redeemed by God, that Jesus wasn’t the son of God, but rather an unusually skilled magician and that Mary wasn’t a virgin. None of those were in any way “scientific” and of course views like that could get you killed at that time especially if you kept pissing off more or less everyone around you like Bruno did.

    This happened in Galileo’s adult lifetime, meaning that Galileo was well-aware of the extent to which the Church would go to enforce orthodoxy.

    Galileo didn’t like that guy and I have no doubt that he agreed or at least didn’t care that the church offed Bruno. After all, the grounds on which Bruno was tried had nothing to do with science so why would Galileo draw any parallels to his work which was actually scientific?

    Besides that, I’m certain that Galileo knew exactly what could happen if you trumpet things like “Jesus isn’t the son of God” without the need for Bruno.

    The only reason why Bruno has received any attention beyond his own lifetime is that he’s practically the only person in history whose story can at least somehow be twisted to fit the “the church killed scientists” myth. Except that he wasn’t a scientist nor was he killed for scientific ideas…

    Sebestyen

  12. 12
    Zachriel says:

    Sebestyen: Ineed, but these views were that Satan was destined to be saved and redeemed by God, that Jesus wasn’t the son of God, but rather an unusually skilled magician and that Mary wasn’t a virgin.

    You can twist it anyway you want, but the Inquisition inquired Bruno about his views on cosmology. From the Vatican archives:

    In one of the last interrogations before the execution of the sentence (maybe in April 1599), the Dominican friar was questioned by the judges of the Holy Office on his cosmogony conception, supported above all in the “La cena delle Ceneri”(Ash-Wednesday Dinner) and in the “De l’infinito universo et mundi”. Even then, he defended his theories as scientifically founded and by no means against the Holy Scriptures … “With regard to the sun, I say that it doesn’t rise or set, nor do we see it rise or set, because, if the earth rotates on his axis, what do we mean by rising and setting”
    https://web.archive.org/web/20100609095413/http://asv.vatican.va/en/doc/1597.htm

    Galileo was brought for questioning to the very same room by the very same cleric as Bruno.

  13. 13
    Sebestyen says:

    You can twist it anyway you want,

    I’m not twisting anything, you’re the one trying to portray that nutjob as a scientist and establish a relevant connection between Galileo and Bruno out of thin air.

    but the Inquisition inquired Bruno about his views on cosmology.

    It doesn’t matter what Bruno was inquired about. He was clearly condemned on non-scientific grounds…

    Sebestyen

  14. 14
    Zachriel says:

    Sebestyen: I’m not twisting anything, you’re the one trying to portray that nutjob as a scientist and establish a relevant connection between Galileo and Bruno out of thin air.

    Galileo was brought before the Inquisition by the same cleric in the same room and inquired about the same topics as Bruno was when Galileo was a young man. It’s hardly a connection out of thin air.

    Sebestyen: He was clearly condemned on non-scientific grounds…

    They were both condemned for heresy.

  15. 15
    computerist says:

    Hey Zachriel,

    Here is a video you may like: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vqQdc0mX1_c

  16. 16
    Zachriel says:

    computerist: Here is a video you may like: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vqQdc0mX1_c

    Is this related to the topic somehow? In any case, we didn’t get very far.

    “I can’t help but notice is that if you are an atheist overwhelmingly you are for big government.”

    While those unaffiliated with religion tend to be socially liberal, according to Pew, their views on the role of government ‘closely mirror the general public’.
    http://www.pewforum.org/2012/1.....cal-views/

    The speaker then conflates conservatism with small government. While many conservatives advocate a smaller role for government in the economic sector, many conservatives advocate for a larger role for government in defining and enforcing social norms.

  17. 17
    Sebestyen says:

    Galileo was brought before the Inquisition by the same cleric in the same room and inquired about the same topics as Bruno was when Galileo was a young man. It’s hardly a connection out of thin air.

    Not if you’re a Giordano Bruno fanboy, apparently.

    They were both condemned for heresy.

    You keep repeating yourself and you’re boring my pants off. Bye bye…

    Sebestyen

  18. 18
    Zachriel says:

    Sebestyen: You keep repeating yourself and you’re boring my pants off.

    Because you keep ignoring the point. There are very close parallels.

    * Same Roman Inquisition
    * Same threat of torture and death
    * Same cleric
    * Same room
    * Same charge of heresy
    * Same questions about the movement of the Earth

    Bruno was burned alive in Galileo’s time, and while you might think him a crank, the Church burned a scholar alive for his beliefs.

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