Cosmology Evolution Extraterrestrial life Intelligent Design

Astrophysicist: Evolutionary worldview must answer the question, Where is ET?

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Cover for The Great Silence A new book from astrophysicist Milan M. Ćirković, The Great Silence: Science and Philosophy of Fermi’s Paradox: 

The Great Silence explores the multifaceted problem named after the great Italian physicist Enrico Fermi and his legendary 1950 lunchtime question “Where is everybody?” In many respects, Fermi’s paradox is the richest and the most challenging problem for the entire field of astrobiology and the Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence (SETI) studies.

This book shows how Fermi’s paradox is intricately connected with many fields of learning, technology, arts, and even everyday life. It aims to establish the strongest possible version of the problem, to dispel many related confusions, obfuscations, and prejudices, as well as to offer a novel point of entry to the many solutions proposed in existing literature. Ćirković argues that any evolutionary worldview cannot avoid resolving the Great Silence problem in one guise or another. More.

The key reason that the Great Silence problem cannot be resolved is that the possibility that They are Not Out There is not emotionally tenable. The searchers do not know how to grapple with that possibility and would not know eight hundred years from now. Some problems are not really intellectual, though they are treated as such.

See also: Fixing the unfixable Drake equation (Ethan Siegel)

and

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

12 Replies to “Astrophysicist: Evolutionary worldview must answer the question, Where is ET?

  1. 1
    Seversky says:

    1) How do we know they are not already here?

    2) Is the Great Silence the same as the Great Silence we hear on Earth if we listen for drumbeats as a sign that other people are there? Is a more advanced civilization going to be using a method of communication that takes hundreds of years to get a message from one part of the galaxy to another if there is something better to use?

  2. 2
    polistra says:

    I can’t see why it’s even a problem. Some secularists have substituted ET for God. In that mindset, the absence of GodET may be painful. Without that mindset, it simply doesn’t matter.

    As Sev says, we’re insufficiently imaginative. If the ETs are waveforms, they could BE our minds, or could be using us as robots to accomplish physical tasks that can’t be done by a pure wave.

    Or, per Elon, we could simply be avatars performing huge meaningless battles for the amusement of the pure waves. This makes far more sense than any of our internal “justifications” for perpetual huge battles.

  3. 3
    doubter says:

    I like the Independence Day paranoid conspiracy theory the best.

    We are currently alone, but not because life or intelligent life never evolved elsewhere. There have been multitudes of alien intelligent races out there. But unfortunately they’ve never lasted long because back in the Galaxy’s history there evolved somewhere in the Galaxy a race of extreme xenophobes, who instinctively hated and wanted to destroy all other life, especially other intelligent lifeforms.

    Variations on this could be that they were merely completely amoral, and greedy for resources and/or instinctively driven to spread to and monopolize all life-bearing planets.

    At some point in time these highly intelligent highly xenophobic aliens developed an extremely advanced technology, able to travel between stars, plus extremely advanced weaponry. They have proceeded to destroy all nascent intelligent races wherever they can find them.

    All it would take for this scenario is for just one such alien race to evolve somewhere in the Galaxy at some point in the Galaxy’s history, plus of course the possibility of practical interstellar travel.

    And maybe we’re next.

  4. 4
    Bob O'H says:

    Some secularists have substituted ET for God.

    Oh, so Nietzsche was wrong, and God just went home? 🙂

  5. 5
    Origenes says:

    polistra: .. we’re insufficiently imaginative. ..

    doubter: At some point in time these highly intelligent highly xenophobic aliens developed an extremely advanced technology, able to travel between stars, plus extremely advanced weaponry. They have proceeded to destroy all nascent intelligent races wherever they can find them.

    We are them. After destroying all other life in the universe we became remorseful, destroyed our weaponry & technology, took an amnesia pill and rebooted.
    And here we are wondering why we are alone in the universe … the hypocrisy …

  6. 6
    ET says:

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

    How do we grapple with all of the evidence that says they were here already?

  7. 7
    Believer says:

    The book sounds interesting. If life is everywhere in the Universe and an everyday phenomenon, then Fermi’s question needs some sensible answers – note the word ‘sensible’. Otherwise the idea of complex, intelligent life as a kind of free lunch looks very thin indeed.

  8. 8
    kairosfocus says:

    Just for fun, would Jesus of Nazareth count as an ET? KF

  9. 9
    Nonlin.org says:

    Given the only 1 (ONE!) sample of populated planet, the Drake equation makes no sense. Drake and followers don’t understand statistics.

  10. 10
    Allan Keith says:

    I would think that the odds of us identifying ET, even if they are relatively common in the universe, is extremely low. I don’t see how this affects the validity of evolutionary theory. But I forget, ET claims that there is no evolutionary theory. 🙂

  11. 11
    ET says:

    There isn’t any scientific theory of evolution and that is evidenced by the fact no one can find any. And it isn’t just myself who claims there isn’t any scientific theory of evolution. In his book “Why is a Fly not a Horse?”, geneticist and former editor of a peer-reviewed journal said there wasn’t any scientific theory of evolution. Then he explained why Darwin’s concepts didn’t qualify.

    That said, if Intelligent Design is true I would expect ET’s. And if materialism is true I wouldn’t even expect us to exist.

  12. 12
    ET says:

    The Drake equation has been superseded by the Rare Earth hypothesis and then by the equation in “The Privileged Planet”.

    Rare Earth equation

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