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Melissa and I had a discussion this weekend on a topic rarely discussed.

God vs. Aliens

 Not kidding. Here's the basic argument from my side...

Four things:
1) The universe is so vast it's practically infinite from our puny perspective,
2) Our concept of reality doesn't even really take into account things like Dark Matter and the fact that relative weakness of gravity suggests that it's occurring on another plane and we're seeing it's shadow... thus, it could be even MORE vast,
3) We've discovered that life endures in seemingly impossible regions (like the bacteria living underground within the earth's crust near magma),
4) And even Bonobos have figured out how to use tools.

Given those four things, I think it's quite possible that we're not the only life in the universe and if there is life out there it is also quite possible that it's worked out how to use tools. As such, the possibility of alien visitation, while remote, isn't implausible.

Meanwhile, I think it's highly implausible that there is some bearded dude judging you, giving you a private cloud when you die, and being able to do anything but refusing to show his face in modern times (yeah yeah, burning bush... that happened thousands of years ago. Also... is a brush fire at a time when people were generally illiterate and lacked any way to record it the best he could do? Seriously, it looks kinda weak from where I stand.) 

Generally the fall back position for theists (though not raised by Melissa) is "Well, if there is no god, where did everything come from?"  The irony of that argument is that it assumes that a god has always existed and requires no explanation for where HE came from.  Yet, for some reason the concept of a universe without beginning is too difficult to imagine. 

Basically, I'm more likely to be abducted by aliens than to find myself face to face with a god in this or any other lives.

I won't paraphrase Melissa's argument because I don't want to get it wrong.  But there you go, that was our Sunday afternoon discussion.

Date: 2009-04-06 08:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Next time you guys can debate why the common intersection point for both God (in the form of "____ is shaped like the Virgin Mary/Jesus") and Aliens (as in, abductions) is the American trailer park.

Once you've settled that hash, figure out which side tornados fall on (as they ALWAYS hit trailer parks).

Date: 2009-04-07 03:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
That is a rather interesting convergence.

Date: 2009-04-07 09:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
ah, thank you, you beat me to it.

Date: 2009-04-06 09:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
i'm all about this stuff lately.

don't forget that time could be cyclical (especially if we're gonna thing of it as a dimension) and also even if "god did it" is going to be your reason for the creation of the universe, you don't get to give that god any kind of specific characteristics without a reason or proof or a way of tying that being to a being in contact with us.

as far as other life, what about the drake equation?

Date: 2009-04-07 04:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I've always liked the Drake equation. It takes into account the likelihood of life, but also the likelihood that very few species would make it past the nuclear age. Good stuff. :)

Date: 2009-04-06 10:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm largely in the same boat. I doubt we've been visited by aliens, but I'm almost certain their is other life in the universe and almost AS certain that we'll never see a wink of it in our lifetimes.

Also, remember, there likely is no Before the Big Bang. The meaning and concept of time breaks down as much as that of space the closer you get to the Big Bang. At least, so far as our current understanding.

To echo cockandswan above (though I wrote it before reading responses)
Regardless, every time someone replaces "I don't know" with "God Did It" is an act of intellectual cowardice and laziness. There is always more to learn and more to know. "God Did It" is a non-reason. It answers nothing. It is evidence of nothing. It offers no predictions, no explanations, and worse, no new questions.

I would much prefer someone who is aware of what they do not know than someone who offers unassailable divinity as reason for anything.

Date: 2009-04-07 12:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
i wouldn't go so far as to use words like "cowardice" and "laziness" in most cases. they DO believe in their answer.

Date: 2009-04-07 04:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I think it's really a matter of degrees. I had a big response written but LJ ate it and I'm about to be late for work, but I think that the reasons why they believe it are what is important. As, if not more, important as what they believe.

Date: 2009-04-07 04:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Re: Big Bang and time. What about the concept that we're in a constant cycle of contraction and expansion, and thus there is no "before" because there's also no "after." It just is. Thoughts?

Date: 2009-04-07 04:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
As possible as anything else and as much evidence as anything else. We have basically no information of what is "outside" of our universe (in space, or time) if that even has any real meaning.

One thought in the line of reasoning that it is entirely cyclic is that the universe is just one side of the coin, at the end of this cycle we get a big crunch and another big bang where in some manner matter and energy are reversed, a negative-universe. Purely speculation and wishful thinking as the others with no evidence, but a fun thought experiment.

On the other hand, it's possible that our universe might simply expand forever. Continue expanding until everything is stretched so far apart that the temperature across all of space is an infinitesimally small fraction above absolute zero. While that might not tell us much about the beginning, it is certainly a lackluster "end".

Date: 2009-04-06 10:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
re alien visitation: highly unlikely. While I believe that it's a virtual certainty that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe, the distances involved are so vast that it's a virtual certainty we'd never encounter them.

Date: 2009-04-07 04:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yeah, the universe really does make for some inconvenient commutes.

Date: 2009-04-07 05:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
So did the ocean, once.

Date: 2009-04-06 10:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Here is an awesome blog that might appeal to both of you given your weekend's argument:

He found me through a comparative religion interest on my profile, and I've only just gotten around to having the time to read his interesting posts. The most recent post is particularly germane to your conversation!

Date: 2009-04-06 11:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Maybe it's a bearded monkey who doesn't care what you do.

(I'm atheist myself, but I love the idea anyway.)


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