First Contact: Friend or Foe? Greeting Extra-Terrestrials For The First Time
It seems there has been a lot made recently on the subject of space and the search for extra-terrestrial life. It has recently been announced that the United Nations will be appointing a Space Ambassador to act as first contact should aliens visit the earth. We have also been hearing a lot about the new arrays of radio telescopes now being employed that are capable of searching more of the universe for signs of intelligent life then ever before. They have predicted that within the next 25 years we will have absolute proof of that life and can forever put to rest the age old question of whether or not we are alone in the universe, finally solving one of the greatest mysteries to plague mankind. It appears that more and more lately legitimate organizations such as The National Science Academy and scientists in general are discussing this possibility. In fact, in January of this year representatives from NASA, the European Space Agency and the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs, meeting at The Royal Society, marked the 5th anniversary of the Search for Extra-terrestrial Intelligence(SETI) Programme. With news now of the appointment of an ambassador to make first contact with that life, it seems even more likely that this event can occur in our own lifetimes. NASA claims that with the recent discovery of hundreds of planets orbiting around other stars, it makes sense to appoint someone who can organize humanities response to visiting aliens. The real question however, is why now? The discovery of other planets is not new. We have known that the universe contained many other planets, some no doubt like our own, for a long time now. In fact, with all the space talk of late, I can't help but feel our leaders may know more then they have been letting on. Have they already found proof of extraterrestrial life? Have they already made first contact with that life as many have claimed for decades? Is all this because our leaders are trying to slowly prepare us for what they know to be inevitable? Is that why NASA stopped all live video and audio feeds from their space missions?
Just this past year for example, NASA launched it's newest space telescope, the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE). Scientists at the space agency are reportedly elated that the $320m (£195m) sky-mapping spacecraft has for the first time identified thousands of previously unseen space objects including stars, asteroids, dust clouds, comets and even a new galaxy. From a recent news article about the discoveries we were told that " ..while NASA has released a picture a week of its myriad finds, the full celestial catalogue of what's out there will not be released to the public until next year after the team has had time to process the images and flag false alarms." What false alarms? What are they afraid we might see in these pictures of the sky that we could possibly find alarming? Now I don't know if aliens have actually visited us before or not but I do believe that with all the probes and satellites we have launched, with all the manned space missions to the moon and to the space station and with all of the amazing, breathtaking photo's taken from telescopes like Hubble and now the WISE, they must be aware of more then they have released to the general public or there would be no need for all this secrecy. Again, I'm not suggesting a conspiracy in which our governments have been communicating with and covering up a relationship with aliens as some believe but I do think they may know a little more then they have been saying.
The point is that unless you believe that we are the only intelligent life in the whole universe, which I do not, it is inevitable that one day we will make first contact. The tone or manner of that first exchange, whether they are welcomed as friends or foe will no doubt have a great impact, not only on our relationship to them and perhaps how we are perceived by other alien species but also on our world in general. The question is, can we afford to welcome them with open arms and if not, can we afford to make new enemies? Are we prepared to go to war with a species that is obviously much more advanced then us? Hopefully for our sake there is a middle ground somewhere in which to begin this relationship but I believe much will depend on those first few exchanges. Some are convinced that any contact will mean the demise of our civilization as we know it and our willing to put it all on the line to prevent that from happening while others no doubt will view these visitors as our salvation, as the return of the Messiah, believing the knowledge and technologies they possess will be of great benefit to us. I believe there is some validity to both of these extreme views. What do you think?
Stephen Hawking's supposition that alien contact would be disastrous, that most likely they would come as conquerors, colonizing our planet for it's vast resources, is a theory we've all heard before. As much as I am an admirer of Hawkings, I find this theory ridiculous. Considering the size of the universe and the sheer number of habitable planets we are slowly learning are out there, I believe it's highly unlikely they would need to travel all this way to battle an inhabited planet to find a new home.
The fact that any alien visitor able to reach us must be a far older and therefore more advanced civilization can mean one of two things. Either they would be so advanced that they would not even recognize us as an intelligent life form and therefore would have no compunction taking our planet and treating us no more significantly then we would an ant colony on the land we were building a house on or by the very fact that they have survived their own technological adolescence and have learned to survive and overcome their own destructive tendencies, would therefore mean that they were a civilized race who no longer resorts to violence. Perhaps even capable of understanding where we are in our own evolutionary timeline and therefore able to show us how to survive our own technical advancement and our divide and conquer mentality. I suppose this would be dependant on just how much more advanced they are then we. To a civilization even 100 years more technologically advanced, we would seem no more capable or intelligent then Australopithecus seems to us, just learning to bang two stones together in a primitive attempt at making tools.
Still there is always the Columbus argument. That any encounter with a more advanced civilization or culture would inevitably lead to the destruction of our own whether intentional or not. That we need only look at our own history, as when Columbus discovered the new world, to see that by the very nature of contact, the less advanced of the two can be brought to the brink of extinction however unintentional. New diseases could be introduced or new technologies little understood could have disastrous consequences. Perhaps even a little hero worship would completely and irrevocably alter and destroy our civilization and culture as we know it. Perhaps, and then again, perhaps not. Once again, any species as advanced would have most likely had a similar past and therefore would be aware of the consequences of first contact and may even take precautions to avoid any negative consequences. It may also be that recieving new knowledge and technologies might just be our saving grace and these inevitable changes may help us more then hurt us even if we lose some of our own culture in the process. I mean, whether or not we allow our own customs and traditions to be changed would be up to us but imagine new cures to our diseases, being shown new technologies to help us eliminate pollution, poverty, hunger, war, etc. or perhaps even more importantly, the technology to prevent our own extinction from meteors or comets or even provide us with the knowledge and technology to help remove our population so we can colonize newer planets before this planets inevitable demise.
If aliens have been watching our society for millennia like many believe, or at the very least since that most famous crash at Roswell in 1947, would it make sense that they would wait until we had advanced to the point of having air travel, nuclear capabilities, instant communication abilities, even space travel.. albeit limited, before attempting to take over? I think not. If that were the case why not intervene before? It would have been far easier to conquer our planet even 50 years ago then it would be now. Of course a sufficiently advanced species may not view our limited technology as any sort of threat whatsoever but still, why watch us, learn about us all these years just to destroy us? Now I don't know if any of this is true but it seems to me by the sheer number of reports by both civilian and professionals that there is something going on here. If even half of 1% of all UFO reports over the years were true, this would mean that they are here and have been here, learning about us for a very long time. Perhaps giving us a chance to get used to the idea so as to avoid panic and mass hysteria. Whatever their reasons might be and our own governments reasons for covering up any knowledge of them being here, it would then stand to reason that they are not hostile although I know that there would be many who disagree with that conclusion. There are those out there who believe our governments have been willingly or forcibly coerced into making a deal with these visitors, giving them permission to abduct citizens for their medical studies as long as they were brought back and had no memory of these abductions in exchange for technology.
There is also a percentage of the population who subscribe to the belief that these extra terrestrials are actually spiritual beings, that biblical references to flaming chariots and the like were actually sightings of UFOs that predate our era by thousands of years. Citing scripture in which Satan is said to be the "prince of the power of the air," they believie these alien/demons are Lord of and reside in, the heaven that is the sky of our earth and our atmosphere. Contrarily, there are also those who believe that we were created by these aliens and that they have been educating us throughout the ages by messengers, also known as prophets, with whom they had made contact. A group known as the Raelians is a perfect example of this and outline their beliefs on their website, rael.org. An excerpt from the message posted on the Raelian website states,
"... Thousands of years ago, scientists from another planet came to Earth and created all forms of life, including human beings, whom they created in their own image. References to these scientists and their work can be found in the ancient texts of many cultures. Due to their highly advanced technology, they were considered as gods by our primitive ancestors and often referred to as 'Elohim' which in ancient Hebrew meant 'Those who came from the sky'. "
They believe they were given this final mission ".. spreading that last message on Earth and preparing an embassy to welcome the return of our creators."
In fact surprisingly, there are many who believe that the events found in the Torah, the Christian Bible and even the Koran are all a result of alien interference. That we were created by them, that our prophets, angels and demons are all aliens, that when the Old Testament speaks about God sending a pillar of fire to go before the Israelites to lead them out of the desert for example, it was actually a light from a UFO that was leading them. When Ezekiel describes seeing a flaming chariot, he was actually describing a UFO..Jesus' resurrection, a result of being transported back to a spaceship and the Christian Rapture..you bet..aliens returning and calling us all back to the mothership.
Alright, some of this may seem absurd but it doesn't change the fact that we have been actively searching for life on other planets for decades now so it only stands to reason that one day we will actually find it, one day we will be confronted with the fact that we are not alone in the universe. I personally think that would be a wonderful thing though I know there are many who would disagree with me. Still, the question is an interesting one to think about. If extra-terrestrials were to suddenly land on earth tomorrow, what should our response be? What would be yours?
As an aside, I just want to say that for some reason whenever the subject of finding life on other planets comes up, people always claim that this would be disastrous for religions, that it would destroy faith, etc. even citing this as a reason why governments would try to keep it a secret. As a Christian I think this is nonsense. Why would it destroy faith to know that there is other life out there? If you believe, as I do, that God created the universe and everything in it, why would it be so hard to believe that He created life on other planets in this vast universe? There is absolutely nothing contradictory to my faith in finding alien life. Not since the dark ages have we believed that we were the center of the universe, that the sun and moon revolved around us. In fact, I don't see how anyone can realistically look at our infinite, immeasurable universe with it's billions and billions of galaxies, containing billions and billions of stars being orbited by billions and billions of planets and not believe there is other intelligent life out there. If that turned out to be the case it would, at least in my mind, be far more incredulous then finding proof of extra terrestrial life.
Since writing this, I have read that the news reports about the UN appointing a space Ambassador in the event of first contact was incorrect. At this point, it is still not clear whether this is true or not but I'm sure we'll hear more about this in the coming months. In better news though, it appears that scientists have found what they believe to be a planet that is more like earth then any they have ever found before and it is relatively close to us.
This planet is in the "habitable zone", meaning it is at the correct distance from it's own star so that it could have liquid water and is not too large or too small for the proper surface, gravity and atmosphere. In fact, scientists are now saying that they believe there is a 100% chance that this planet holds alien life. Of course that doesn't necessarily mean intelligent life but nonetheless, life is life. I think this is very exciting and will post a link to the news article for those interested.
- Alien life certain to exist on Earth-like planet, scientists say - Telegraph
The chances of alien life existing on a newly-discovered Earth-like planet are 100 per cent, an astronomer has claimed.
- UN \'to appoint space ambassador to greet alien visitors\' - Telegraph
A space ambassador could be appointed by the United Nations to act as the first point of contact for aliens trying to communicate with Earth.
- UN denies ambassador for aliens
- Found: An Earthlike Planet at Last - TIME
Says one excited scientist:
- Intelligent : Design - Message from the Designers
The Message from the Intelligent Designers. Free e-book download.