You Could Hardly Ask for Anything More

than the delightful prospect of Mike Flynn holding forth on the problem of Fermi’s Paradox (“If the universe is crowded with alien civilizations, then where is everybody?”).

My own view has been expressed in this space several times. Do I believe in non-human rational beings? Of course. They are called “angels” and some of them have rejected God and become devils. Do I believe in non-human corporeal rational beings? I think they are certainly possible. God under carefully controlled laboratory conditions can do whatever he feels like, including making hrossa, Krenken, Klingons, Vulcans and even, in his inscrutable will to allow suffering, Gungans. But has he? We have no evidence of that and I, personally, do not think we will ever make contact with any other such beings before the Second Coming, if then. I think our dreams of star travel and contact with ET are a modern and debased form of Christians eschatology. They point to something deeply true about us, not about the inevitability of our conquest of the galaxy or our coming alliance with Centauri Prime. We’re never getting off this rock in any meaningful way. It will be interesting to see what happens to our civilization when that really finally sinks in and it must abandon false hope and return to the only real hope: Christ.

  • TC

    My own guess; God is just so exuberantly generous, creative and artistic, not to mention humorous, that He made his universe just for us.
    He could, I suppose have set Adam and Eve down on an infinite plain made of undifferentiated stuff lit by by no apparent source. But it would be ugly and teach His creatures nothing about his true nature.

    • Eric

      Would you want to be the only person in a world you knew everything about?

  • J. H. M. Ortiz

    Sorry, but “non-human corporeal rational beings”, far from being “certainly possible”, are a contradiction in terms, unless such corporeal beings, though intelligent, would lack ability to perceive by sensation. For a human is by classical definition a “rational animal”, and an animal (in the wide yet exact philosophic sense) is a sentient organism. But change “non-human” to “non-terrestrial”, and the abstract possibility is admittedly real.

    • Mark Shea

      I mean, of course, creatures not descended from terrestrial biology.

  • Blog Goliard

    I’m disappointed that you left out the Hooloovoo.

  • http://www.choratech.com Phil in Canada

    I don’t mean to kick a hornet’s nest here, but, I’ve been wondering something. If God did make the universe just for us, and I also think there’s a real good chance He did, then would it follow that there’s a wee grain of truth to the whole “geocentrism” idea? I mean, speaking as a physics layman, what’s moving and what’s standing still is an entirely relative question, right? So if the Earth is the “centre” of the universe, in the teleological rather than the spatial sense, then can’t we as easily say that the earth is still and it’s everything else that’s moving, simply because that’s where the observer happens to have planted his telescope? It seems to me that would capture a certain truth about the dignity of the Earth, as the seat of Man, and, more importantly, the place where the Incarnation happened. I’m not even sure if that’s what the Trads who espouse geocentrism are getting at – I’ve never read any of them.

    • Mark Shea

      Physical centrality in a relativistic universe is nonsense. The center is everywhere, the center is nowhere. The whole discussion is a waste of time. *God* is the center, spiritually speaking. And spiritually speaking is all the matters. The center of the universe is any Tabernacle in the world.

      • http://www.choratech.com Phil in Canada

        Well, Mark, I’m disappointed to see that you, as a half-Canadian, don’t seem to be aware of where the ‘centre of the universe’ really is: Toronto!

        I guess I was just wondering what theological considerations may have been animating the Church authorities when they opposed Galileo. It does seem to me that displacing man from the pinnacle of Creation–or appearing to do so–would get the hackles of the Church’s shepherds up. I’m painfully ignorant about the whole episode.

  • MarylandBill

    My general take in this is as follows. God naturally seeks to create the maximum good. If the greater good is found with more rather than fewer types of physical beings endowed with immortal souls then God will create those types of physical beings (just as he has created more than one type of angel.).

    Now, the Universe is big.. indeed, the Universe is bigger than we can possibly observe or ever reach (short of a radical discovery like FTL travel); at least our observations fit best with cosmological models that indicate it is bigger than we can observe. One has to ask the question why? Perhaps it is so big to enable our intelligent creatures to exist in it while not bumping into us?

    • Ye Olde Statistician

      If the universe were any smaller, it would have expanded into heat death a long time ago.
      If it were any bigger, it would have gone into gravitational collapse a long time ago.
      Only because it is the size it is (“just right”) has the universe lasted long enough to produce stars and planets and people. That is, it is no larger than necessary to account for Us.

      • MarylandBill

        Maybe, maybe not. Yes, if you assume a Universe that looks like ours, formed with a Big Bang/Inflation, then the Universe needs to look a lot like it does for us to have a reasonable chance to exist. But that does not mean it is the only plausible model that would create a Universe that allows beings like us to exist. Heck, I am not even sure that we know enough about the Universe as it is to definitively make the claim you are making. It was only 15 years ago that scientists discovered (contrary to what the vast majority believed) that the expansion of the Universe was accelerating, not slowing down. How many more surprises like that lie out there? Could one of them over turn the claimed need for the Universe to be exactly like this for us to exist?

  • Mark S. (not for Shea)

    All logic aside, I really want a Tauntaun.

  • Space is big, very big

    I’m no Michio Kaku but time travel, faster than light travel, wormhole travel – possible on a chalkboard mathematically but in reality, nonsense. Maybe my great-great-great-great-great grandchildren will beg to differ. Be that as it may, space is BIG. Pretty much all the stars you can see at night with the naked eye are 10-200 light years away, and there are 400 billion more in our galaxy. Chances are, there are ‘aliens’ on any number of planets out of that 400billion, but likely not on the ones “close” to Earth. Hence. Just as one beehive in California has no connection (leaving genetics aside) or knowledge of another beehive in South Africa, here we are on our planet, and out there, somewhere, someone, something, is doing their thing as well. Chances are, we’ll never know.

  • EMS

    “We have no evidence of that”. A few centuries ago, we had no evidence of life in North or South American. Ditto Australia, Hawaii and a whole lot of other places. All that means is that our technology is too primative. I find it incredible that we, even scientists, come up with comments like that, given how little we currently know of this vast and wonderous universe God made. Frankly, I think it’s the height of hubris to think that God created such an incredibly huge universe only for us.

    • Mark Shea

      No. It’s “remaining with the evidence”. As I say, God can do as he pleases.

      • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

        It’s only remaining with the evidence if you’re not following space news carefully. Off planet colonies are better than 50/50 this century. We’re currently assembling the pieces necessary to accomplish this as private ventures.

    • Ye Olde Statistician

      And keep in mind as I said that the universe would have to be as big as it is whether there were one intelligent species or a billion. Size is not an argument. Think how many sperm cells are wasted in order to make a single human. Think how much marble and other waste litters the studio to make a single statue.

      http://thomism.wordpress.com/2009/02/28/3586/

  • Tom R

    I’ve been awaiting, for years, Dawn Eden’s take on Out of the Silent Planet, in the expectation that she will title it “Every Hross Has Its Sorn.”

  • http://pavelspoetry.com Pavel Chichikov

    I think you’re absolutely wrong on this one, Mark. Not only that, but anyone not confined within an intellectual envelope can think of at least one method of sub-luminal travel between star systems within one lifetime. Those who can’t are not even trying.

    But of course, physics for the rest of time is not going to be a mere gloss on the physical science of 20012.


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