***NOTE: Some of my posts are serious rebuttals to serious arguments given for the existence of a god. This is not one of those posts.
In my view, there are four very important questions that fall upon the shoulders of science to answer. Those questions are:
- How did everything that exists get to where it is today?
- What will probably happen to everything that exists in the future?
- Are we alone in the universe?
- Does the universe have a creator?
In some ways, questions 3 & 4 are similar but the answers to those questions, based on the currently available evidence, would be very different. We have good reasons to entertain the possibility that an alien civilization may exist somewhere in the universe.
We have found that life can survive and even flourish under harsh conditions. Life forms called extremophiles have been found in the coldest and hottest places on Earth. Some have even been found to survive on vessels that have traveled through space. Animals and plants are composed of four of the five most abundant elements in the universe, so we know the ingredients for life are not difficult to find. We know that any self-replicating molecule that makes slight errors in its replication process will undergo the process of evolution by natural selection and we know that human beings are very successful animals because of our intelligence, so we can imagine intelligence developing independently on some distant planet the way, for instance, the eye has developed independently forty times here on Earth because of its utility. Finally, we know that stars and planets are abundant in the universe—one could estimate upwards of 160,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars altogether, so there are LOTS of potential chances for life to get started and develop.
We have no such reasons to entertain the possibility that a creator may exist. Any being sufficiently intelligent to create a universe would require an explanation for its own existence and no such explanation has ever been postulated for the existence of a creator that is credible. Furthermore, there is no mark of design in our universe, and no argument for the existence of a creator has ever been formed which does not rely upon a fallacy or a false premise.
However, there is one key similarity between the two questions: We can have an intelligent discussion about the possibility of the existence of both an alien civilization and a creator, a conversation informed by all available evidence. But anyone who claims to be in constant, personal, telepathic communication with either thing should be immediately removed from that conversation.
Think about it. We do discuss the possibility of alien life at the highest levels of science. NASA employes ‘astrobiologists’—individuals who study what alien life might be like, despite having no alien life to study. The Keplar Space Telescope surveys planets in distant solar systems, hoping to find one that may be “Earth-like” and home to other life forms. A robot is being built by a private company that may one day be sent to the icy Jovian moon, Europa, on an “ice-fishing” mission into the liquid oceans that exist miles beneath its surface, hoping to find something swimming around down there.
However, there are many people in our society for whom these endeavors are a waste of time. They will tell you that they already know the answer to the question of whether or not aliens exist—yes! How do they know? Why, because they are communicating with those aliens of course! But it is a telepathic communication, so only the select few individuals who the aliens choose to communicate with are able to hear what the aliens want. Some of those individuals don’t want to communicate with the aliens, so they construct hats out of tin foil to protect their thoughts. Every once in a while, someone will come along and claim to actually be an alien, just in human form.
All of these people are immediately discounted from the conversation about the existence of alien life for obvious reasons.
However, we seem to allow the same class of people to enter into conversations about the existence of a creator. Most apologists and theologians will freely and willingly admit to being in constant, personal, telepathic communication with the creator. They are actually proud of this fact. They tell you exactly what that creator wants you to do, who he does and does not want you to sleep with and what days of the week he wants you to eat fish instead of meat. We put these people in charge of large congregations of eager followers, who also want to be able to engage in telepathic communication with the creator. We even put these people on television, on news shows, and let them discuss matters of morality and public policy. In recent memory, we have elected at least one of these people to the office of the Presidency! And the extra-crazy person who claims actually be the creator in human form? Well, instead of locking him up and throwing away the key, the way we do with people who claim to be aliens in human form, people all over the world now worship that guy, thousands of years after his death!
Why the dissonance? I honestly cannot figure it out. Yes, let’s have a conversation about the possibility of alien life. Yes, let’s have a conversation about the possibility of a creator. Let’s hear all the arguments for both and let’s hear all the counter-arguments. But we should also make a rule of immediately excluding anyone who claims to be in direct, personal, telepathic conversation with either an alien civilization or the creator of the universe from that conversation.