I mentioned in my last post that I hurt a friend's feelings recently. It was in our small group fellowship that meets on Sunday nights, and somehow we got to talking about extraterrestrial life.
When I commented that I was almost sure there was lots of intelligent life in the universe, he was completely floored and said that if that was true, he'd lose his faith. His reasoning was that humanity is God's special creation, made in His image, and if we're not alone then we're not special and we might as well throw out the bible.
I did not have a good poker face. My friend saw that I thought his stance was ridiculous, and it crushed him. It was not one of my better moments.
So as a heart/spirit issue, I blew it! All that blogging I do about having an open mind, and respecting the opinions of others, and then I openly show condescencion to the feelings of a brother. Shame on me.
But besides the heart issue, a few of you were curious about my intellectual approach, and why I would be so sure that there is other intelligent life out there. Let me start by confessing my bias.
I grew up as a total science fiction nerd. Books, movies, short stories... I devoured them all and regularly read tales of alien species. I loved it, so in a way I really really want ETs to be real. Which of course has no bearing on whether or not they actually exist.
So biases aside, my logic is very simple -- the universe is so unbelievably massive that the odds are overwhelmingly in favor of there being other intelligent life. Not just one or two civilizations, but millions.
In the 1960s the "Drake equation" was formulated in an attempt to calculate the # of alien civilizations that might exist just in our Milky Way galaxy. They included multiple factors (chance of a sun having a planet like Earth, the chance of that planet having life, the chance of that life becoming sentient, etc...) and put the probabilities really low, like 1% and under for each factor. The final calculation came out to over 10,000 intelligent civilizations just in our galaxy.
And our galaxy is barely a blip in the universe. There are billions of other galaxies out there. If our sun was a grain of sand, then all the grains of sand on all the beaches of our planet might equate to how many stars are in the universe. Think about that one for a moment until it gets too big to fathom.
See this previous post for another illustration on how huge our universe is.
I actually think the Drake equation is a bunch of bunk as a final calculation, because we just have no clue what those probabilities are. And when you completely guess at eight different factors, then multiply those guesses together... you get crap. Statistically speaking.
But even if you set the probabilities at .000000001% for each number, there are still many intelligent species all over the universe. Unfortunately it's so big out there, we'll almost surely never meet any of them.
Perhaps first we should continue the search for proof that we have intelligent life on this planet! That gets more difficult every time I watch television. :)