Just thought I’d recommend a video on YouTube. It’s an Associated Press news story a 59 year old West Virginia woman named Val Thomas. She was home alone when a heart attack suddenly struck. By the time her son arrived, She was almost dead. He immediately called the paramedics.
Once at the hospital, the doctors, in an attempt to preserve her brain and nerves, put her on a machine to cool her body temperature. In the process, her heart stopped two more times. The doctor informed the family her chances of survival were very low … only 10 percent. The family prayed.
Finally, the family agreed to pull the plug. Her brainwaves flat-lined, the family decided it was time to let Val go in peace and meet her savior: Jesus Christ. It took some time to arrange for organ donation paperwork, so, to preserve the organs, Val was left on the ventilator for nearly 17 hours.
So, as the doctors prepared for organ harvest, the nurses removed the ventilator tube. Suddenly, Val Thomas awoke, scaring the nurse half to death. Seems Mrs. Thomas wasn’t quite ready to die. The nurse apologised to her, and Val simply said, “… that’s okay, honey … ”
Both her and her kids attribute this miracle to Jesus Christ their savior. It’s quite a site to see.
In my first post, I reviewed an educational video featuring, Dr. Seth Shostak, a published and well respected astronomer. As a member of SETI (the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence), he gave his honest opinion as to why we haven’t yet heard from our galactic neighbors. In his lecture, he detailed how SETI can be more effective and efficient in targeting planets that may harbor intelligent life. He believes that, given the most conservative odds, we will make contact with extraterrestrial intelligence within the next “few dozen years”.
However, world renown theoretical physicist Michio Kaku offers some differing opinions in his video on Aliens and Physics. Although he agrees in some respects with Dr. Shostak, Dr. Kaku has a broader vision of technology and a less anthropocentric view of the universe. So he may either agree for different reasons or, in one case, side against Dr. Shostak and with the beliefs of a rival faction at SETI.
First, he agrees that SETI is going about the search in an ineffective way. He also agrees that an alien race would have no reason to see us as anything special. In addition, Dr. Kaku definitely concurs that robotic exploration is the most effective means to discover the galaxy.
That said, he doesn’t believe we’ll make contact soon nor does he side with Dr. Shostak on the methods of interstellar communication we’re likely to encounter. This leads him into a talk about how a type III civilization might communicate and explore the galaxy.
Dr. Kaku begins the video by confronting the anthropocentric view of interstellar communication. He asks why we’re monitoring only hydrogen based frequencies? Is it merely because that’s the easiest place for us to look with our present technology? Dr. Kaku posits that a type III or even a type II civilization might communicate in a very different way. Perhaps they use lasers or other methods that can travel faster than light; afterall, if you can’t communicate faster than light, interstellar conversations would take lifetimes. Would we continue to use slower-than-light communication if we lived in different solar systems thousands of light years apart?
In addition to that, Dr. Kaku, taking a slightly anthropocentric stance himself, asks about how a possible extraterrestrial message itself might be “encoded”. Dr. Shostak agrees that we would probably never decode any communication we received, however, Dr. Kaku sides with the faction of SETI that asks if we even have the technology to detect it. Why wouldn’t an extraterrestrial civilization encrypt their data in the same way we do? Even in a galactic civilization, privacy is probably still valued.
On top of that, perhaps this type II or III civilization sends information in small bits or packets. To ensure accurate communication, perhaps they use redundant channels to compensate for the massive interference found in space. We do it on the internet and that’s a just a small interplanetary network. So, imagine a message spread across several frequencies, broken into data packets and encrypted. Where would we begin to detect, collect, and decode that kind of communication? Dr. Kaku speculates that we could be in the midst of a huge intergalactic conversation and never know it.
Our problem, says Dr. Kaku, is that we see what is pragmatic at our technology level and assume that an extraterrestrial civilization should share those ideas; only if they’re at our level. He believes, rather, in looking at what works at all technology levels (i.e. encrypting data, redundant packet based communication). It is his contention that we may not even have the technology to detect the communication; Is it light-based, electromagnetic, some form of subspace frequency, multidimensional? Until we can think outside-the-box, he contends, we will never hear what is really going on out there.
Extra Terrestrial Visitation
I should note that Dr. Kaku agrees, atleast tacitly, that by the time we detect another civilizations standard electromagnetic communications, they may be either destroyed or have died out naturally. It is his contention that moving from a type zero civilization (us) to a type I civilization is the most dangerous time for any beings. They have the power to destroy themselves and their planet. The question he asks is: will they choose to cooperate rather than implode? Will they unite or divide into power hungry factions with ever more powerful weapons? One, he believes, will lead to a type I civilization. The other to eventual destruction.
He compares the types of civilizations to movies and television programs. For example, Buck Rogers lived on an earth under control with limited space travel. This is a type I civilization (despite Glen A Larson’s outright theft of props and ideas from BSG and Star Trek). A type II civilization is interstellar, having established colonies and regular contact with any possible neighboring beings. The “United Federation of Planets” of Star Trek represents a conglomeration of type II civilizations. A type III civilization is intergalactic, having established itself across galaxies with communication and control technology beyond our comprehension. The popular “Galactic Empire” of the Star Wars series is a good example of this level of technology.
Comparisons aside, although Dr. Shostak believes that mechanical life will eventually rule (Terminator, BSG and The Matrix aside), Dr. Kaku does not agree. He doesn’t think the problem of space travel will necessitaite such a drastic move on the part of intellgent life. That said, he still doesn’t believe in “little green men.” He agrees that the use of self-propagating machines for exploration is the best way to go; the pillars seen in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey are an example of this type of technology.That said, life will find a way to travel great distances without having to sleep for hundreds of years at a time.
Adding to that, Dr. Kaku wonders about our arrogance. Are we really that interesting? Would a type III civilizaiton really take time out of ther intergalactic schedule to stop by and visit us? More likely they’d either ignore us outright or, in the spirit of the Star Gate series, arrogantly ask us to call back once we’ve grown up as a civilization. And even if they did decide to visit, in the spirit of the Star Trek series, they’d most likely keep out of sight. And even if they did decide to empart some technology to us, if we could fathom what to do with it, we’d only use it to destroy ourselves anyways. According to Dr. Kaku, we are a young and arrogant race of beings just beginning to see our place in the universe.
A Biblical Perspective
Now that I’ve reviewed both SETI perspectives on extraterrestrial contact and visitation, let me give you a Biblical perspective. The first question that comes to mind is: Did God create aliens? That’s a great question. To answer it correctly, we must also ask ourselves some other questions. Is it possible for life to exist elsewhere in the universe? If so, are we a special planet in to cosmos or just one of many life bearing worlds? What about supposed UFO’s and alien visitation / abductions? These are all excellent questions that deserve answers.
Okay, from a strictly biblical point of view, the Bible makes no mention of physical life apart from our planet. There isn’t even a hint of it. In terms of physical life, it talks about all the life on earth we are familiar with (mammals, birds, reptiles, etc). It also mentions spiritual life, including angels and demons. I should also mention that it touches on the mysterious Nephilim (giants) in the book of Genesis chapter 6.
My own opinion comes from the great minds of Answers In Genesis and Guy Malone of Alien Resistance. Their opinion seems to lean more in a spiritual direction. It’s not that we’re being visited by aliens from some different world, as both Dr. Shostak and Dr. Kaku seem to agree upon, rather we are experiencing either an inter-dimensional or spiritual presence. Dr. Kaku was actually quite open to the concept of inter-dimensional life, however he never fleshed it out. Life that lives in a dimension or dimensions other than our own didn’t seem a topic of great interest.
In the views of AIG and Alien Resistance, the alien visitations are actually demonic experiences intended to distract us from the truth of the Bible. They’re here to create a belief system more compatible with New Age than with Christianity. Indeed, if coast-to-coast is any indication, it looks like that mission has been accomplished.
Why do we believe the aliens are not normal, corporeal beings? There are three very simple reasons: Alien likenesses tend to evolve in-line with popular Hollywood depictions, alien abduction experiences tend to lack any physical evidence, and the number of alien species seems to be growing. Each of these areas seems to support the notion that the alien experience is being “staged” in accordance with our own beliefs.
If we think aliens should look a certain way, that is how they appear. In the 1940’s to 1960’s, aliens were reported as mysterious lights leading to greek god-like characters in togas. After the release of Close Encounters, the face of the aliens changed to, amazingly, resemble the characters depicted in that movie. That said, sometimes people unfamiliar with the look of these popular “aliens” encounter them. This lends credence to the idea that there is an intelligence behind the phenomena (as opposed to it being chalked up to mere delusion).
Of course, there is never any conclusive physical evidence of a visitation. There is plenty of psychological evidence, but never any real “wow, this is from an alien” evidence. Once again, this lends credence to the non-physical nature of the visitations.
Lastly, it has been shown that envoking the name of Jesus does have a profound effect on supposed “alien” life, driving them away at frightening speed. This is especially true during abduction experiences. Would a true alien be afraid of that name. Only demons fear that name … and tremble. Jesus said to resist the devil and he will flee, and I believe this is what’s happening.
Of course, I’ve only touched on the subject, and there is alot more to read. I just wanted to give you a flavor of the debate from a secular end. If you are really interested in learning more about the spiritual nature of alien visitations from a Biblical point of view, the Ph.D.’s and experts out there are meeting this summer in Roswell. Or visit AlienResistance.org and read on.
Is there life out there? Are we alone in the billions upon billions of stars that make up our universe? Many have attempted to answer these question, or, more accurately, many have guessed.
While speaking at a Google TechTalk in 2007, Dr. Seth Shostak, a SETI astronomer in California, attempted to answer a one-off question, “When will we discover the extraterrestrials?” In the process, he offered some well founded insights into the both the nature of interstellar / intergalactic communication and travel over the vast distances of space. The rather mundane, yet thought provoking, insights came as he spoke on the problems involved with interstellar contact. The three questions posed (although not spoken outright) were:
Why haven’t we heard from extraterrestrials?
Are extraterrestrials visiting us?
What are our expectations if extraterrestrials did contact us?
Each of these 3 will be covered in sequence. I’ll give you the gist of the argument(s) made by the astronomer and offer my own perspective as well.
Why haven’t we heard from extraterrestrials?
According to the video, there are two schools of thought on this at SETI. The first believes that we have / are being contacted. However, our limited abilities prevent us from finding their signal. The second school believes that it hasn’t happened yet because we have no idea either what to look for or where to look for it. If you believe in extraterrestrial life, then both schools could be correct, but from their point of view the latter is by far the most likely.
Looking at the second argument, that we’re simply not capable of finding and listening to the right places, it becomes apparent why this answer seems so much more plausible: There is alot of ground to cover in outer space. In the video, it is stated clearly that there is a single obvious and glaring problem with communicating in space: the universe is extremely big; there are billions upon billions of stars and probably even more planets. Where do we start?
We’ve only studied 700 or so stars (although we’ve “looked” closely at several thousand). It would take us eons to really “listen” to every one we see in the night’s sky. Even taking into account Moore’s law (technological information grows at a predictably increasing rate), it just isn’t possible.
On top of that, how would an alien astronomer know where to look for us? Dr. Shostak gave a few plausible scenarios. The aliens could wait for a galactic event like a Supernova to occur. If they assume others are also looking, they could send a transmission away from the event. Other civilizations watching would hopefully see the message and respond. Alternatively, if we assume other civilizations can only see planets when eclipsing their parent star (as we often do), we should expect transmissions to be more likely along the solar plane. Both scenarios assume, though, that if there is any extraterrestrial intelligence, they reason the same way we do.
Also consider that our transmissions have only reached 50 to 60 light years out. There’s very little in that range. So if there is life out there, I completely understand why we haven’t heard from them. The odds are not in favor of communication.
Aren’t we glad this isn’t taxpayer funded?
There are other theories outside of SETI addressed in the video. One popular theory says that aliens have made contact, but refuse to “reveal” themselves because of some social issue we haven’t addressed or some spiritual level we haven’t reached. The speaker got a good laugh out of this one. He couldn’t imagine why, after traveling millions of light years, these aliens would suddenly be so concerned with our internal socio-political dramas. He compared it to an ant researcher stopping his research once he discovered that the ants went to war; it’s nonsense.
Are extraterrestrials visiting us?
According to the Dr. Shostak there are numerous problems with extraterrestrial visitation. He begins by confronting the Hollywood nonsense and then moves on to more practical reasons why our entire conception of alien visitation is probably wrong. As humans, we tend to see things only in terms of … well .. we only see things in a human way. In Hollywood, he states, the “good” aliens all look like children, while the “bad” aliens look like all manner of grotesque figures. That’s just Hollywood, however, making something that is “bad” or “good” look the part.
As if that isn’t bad enough, since Close Encounters came out,we’ve tended to anthropomorphize the aliens; they look like an imagined evolutionary (and often spiritual) leap forward for ourselves. What are the real odds of this being the case of a race born on a world just as random as our own? Dr. Shostak was of the opinion that we’re more likely to be confronted by machine-based life (androids) than by flesh and blood aliens. Machines are more efficient (in terms of power consumption) and have longer life spans (to allow intergalactic travel). It just makes more sense.
The popular “gray” alien has serious flaws. Our brain, as big as it is, eats up 30% of our energy or so. It also necessitates a big neck to hold up and a large heart and lungs to keep it supplied. The body of the popular alien stereotype would be incapable of keeping its head completely under control nevertheless supplying its large brain with enough energy to operate. It may look cool on film and in images, but traveling through the galaxy is not for the weak.
Of course, speaking practically, traveling the millions of light years required for interstellar, nevermind intergalactic, travel requires a transport system at this point still merely a speculation. The most popular in our culture is the “Alcubierre Drive“, more commonly known as the “warp drive” on Star Trek. In theory this is possible … if you can get some theoretical exotic matter moving faster than light with a controlled release of hypothetical tachyon particles. Unfortunately, the power requirements are a bit restrictive. To get a small spacecraft across the galaxy would require all of the atoms in the known universe. Scientists are not expecting this mode of travel to be feasible anytime in the foreseeable future.
Before I leave this topic, there is one more theory I’d like to mention. Although not brought up in the video, AlienResistance.org offers an alternative view. Guy Malone, the founder of Alien Resistance and the organizer of the Roswell UFO Festival, believes alien experiences to be either secret government (black) projects or “spiritual” encounters rather than extraterrestrial in origin. Many other Christians (and non-Christians surprisingly) also follow this line of thinking, including: Michael S. Heiser (who lives up here in Washington) and Gary Bates, author of Alien Intrusion. Guy Malone as his wife, “Paradox” Brown Malone, have both written extensively on the subject and formed a number of Nephilim-based theories. Although some are skeptical, they’re definitely work a look. If you’re interested in reading more on the subject, try this primer from Alien Resistance.
What are our expectations if extraterrestrials did contact us?
Towards the end of the video, Dr. Shostak goes into hypotheticals, honestly asking what we should expect to see (or hear) from an alien civilization attempting to make contact. In short, he has a few theories, but has serious doubts as to whether we’d even decipher an alien message. Let’s suppose an alien astronomer sent a message via radio waves. It would never reach us (think millions of years) and when it did, it would be so weak we’d never pick it up. The solution: send a message using light instead; it’s much cheaper to send and more likely to be seen in space. So, let’s assume we did get a transmission.
Now we have this encoded sequence of … well … gibberish. We have no means to decipher what the aliens are trying to say. Is it “Hello” or is it a list of prime numbers? How they think and what they find important are beyond our ability to know. In short, it would be cool and consume endless man-hours, but probably get us nowhere.
Okay, so there’s my rendition of the points made in Dr. Shostak’s talk. I’ll take a look at a theoretical physicists perspective next week. Until then, I welcome your comments and feedback.
It’s been quite an adventure. After taking on several responsibilities for the Institute website, I’ve found just how difficult it is to finish what I started. So, here is what’s in the works:
1) 90% of the material from the old site is now on this site.
2) I’m about a 1/4 way through transferring The Atheist Delusion into audio format. We’ll make this available in the store once we’re done.
3) The process of recording hundreds of hours of taped sermons (the new Sermon on the Mount series), is going … and going … and going.
4) The store is up and working, and we plan to offer more items in it as soon as they become available.
Personally, I’ve recently gotten entwined in a debate with some proponents of the “Jesus Myth” theory. At first, I had a very hard time taking them seriously. After some study … well … it’s even harder to take them seriously now.
In short, the “Jesus Myth” proponents claim that there was no Jesus of Nazereth. No such person ever existed. Rather, they tell this tale:
1) In the middle of the Greeks’ philosophical peak, wisdom (sophia) is personified in the concept of the “Logos” (the word). Some stories even give an incarnation of wisdom in the far distant past or in the future.
2) Syncretic Jews later attempt to blend Jewish and Greek traditions and philosophy. In the process, a Jewish personification of the “Logos” is created: the living “Word of God”
3) Paul combines the “Logos” with the “Messiah” and creates the Jesus character.
4) By the end of the 1st century, stories, acts, and even sayings are attributed to this character and so the Jesus of history is born.
This view first reared its ugly head during the French Enlightenment around 1790, popped up again in the 19th century, and finally gained some traction around 1900 in the writings of Bruno Bauer.
Their main source of scholarship is, of course, the author of The Jesus Puzzle, Earl Doherty, an accepted scholar of Ancient History and Classical Languages. His paper, and later book, attempted to popularize the “Jesus Myth” theory in the circles of New Testament critics. This attempt has obviously failed in light of the sheer mountain of credible evidence against it.
That said, other authors and scholars have come to join him, most notably former Baptist minister and editor of The Journal of Higher Criticism, Dr. Robert Price. I was also surprised that some proponents of the Gnostic gospels had gotten on board. What a motley crew this had made.
Doherty, who advocates for the most radical form of the “Jesus Myth” theory, cites his inspiration as the works of George A. Wells. George Wells, unfortunately, was forced to back away from his most radical views when the evidence overwhelmed him in 1999. He now proposes a historical Jesus to whom the Jewish and pagan myths were ascribed. It should be noted that, after his change of heart in 1999, Wells rejected the claims made in Doherty’s 1997 book that a historical Jesus never existed.
Anyways, the twisting of scripture required to make this theory work is quite incredible (TruthSurge on Youtube has a series that’s sure to get you going). If anyone could give me a hand with this debate, it would be greatly appreciated.
Until my next post, may the mercies of God keep you and your families safe.