Recently I asked, “Why is believing in space aliens “science” but believing in Bigfoot is “non-science” or “anti-science,” with the same level of demonstration? One likely reason is that believing in space aliens is an outcome of methodological naturalism, but believing in Bigfoot is not.
That said, one advantage the space alien has over Bigfoot is this: It would be much harder to scour the universe and demonstrate (to a reasonable person’s satisfaction) that the space alien does not exist than to scour the planet and demonstrate the same for Bigfoot.
But we haven’t scoured either yet. So the advantage has not yet been made real. In any event, it is a negative advantage, not a positive one. One likely solution is that neither entity exists.
More significant, levels of evidence hardly explain the strong attachment to ET evident in popular science media.
Fact is, they wouldn’t want the question settled one way or the other. They only want it settled one way. A way that supports what they now believe: We are not unusual and key evidence is that we are not even alone. The need for ET parallels the program to try to “prove” that chimpanzees think like humans. Note that in both cases, lack of serious evidence is not an obstacle to belief.
Why this state of affairs? For one thing, the questions that arise if we continue to wait for ET are much less taxing than the ones that arise if we stop waiting. Where could he possibly be hiding? is less taxing than “Why might we be (for all practical purposes*) alone?”
* It amounts to being alone if ET does exist but we will never know of each other’s existence.
The curious thing is that being alone, taken by itself, does not necessarily imply theism. Or even deism. That question must be argued separately. Being alone does, however, imply philosophy. That is, it means taking reality seriously. The monolith is not going to land and change everything. From that prospect, many today shrink.
As it happens, under the sure guidance of methodological naturalism, we went from exploring a comprehensible but troubling cosmos to gaping in amazement before an incomprehensible multiverse. But it is unlikely we can do much about it without retracing our steps to where we first got lost. – O’Leary for News