On the one hand, they don’t want to look like cranks, so they make sure to distance themselves from the fiction part of science fiction. They pour cold Dihydrogen Monoxide on reports of UFOs and little green or gray men and the like.
On the other hand, they really, really want there to be aliens out there, somewhere. They have spent countless man hours and dollars, with SETI and telescopes and even satellites that host telescopes, trying to find signs of intelligent life on other planets. They desperately want to find a new Earth out there.
The lack of anything intelligible thus far is not slowing them down. The reason why is a sort of secular faith. At a conference held at NASA Monday, CNN reported, administrator Charles Bolden pronounced it “highly improbable in the limitless vastness of the universe that we humans stand alone.”
MIT planetary prof Sara Seager enthused, “We believe we’re very, very close in terms of technology and science to actually finding the other Earth and our chance to find signs of life on another world.”
Former astronaut John Grunsfeld, who helped to repair the Hubble telescope to look for that planet, put it more succinctly, “Finding Earth’s twin, that’s kind of the holy grail.”
The holy grail!
Sure, the “holy grail” is a metaphor, but metaphors often tell us more than the speakers intend. More.
Indeed. The knights who sought the Holy Grail in the legends that have come down to us did not doubt or wrestle with the question of its existence. They assumed that failure to find it was moral failure.
If Grunsfeld understands what he is saying (possibly not), ET worlds amount to a religious quest where the normal standards of evidence do not apply.
In fact, that’s what I found, and wrote about in The Science Fictions series on cosmology. Here is a handy summary at your fingertips (cosmology) on how the aliens can be made to exist, for all practical purposes, irrespective of evidence.
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