Monday, May 6, 2013

Stephen Hawking and The Alien God

In thinking about Stephen Hawking's ongoing "the multiverse means no need for God" schtick, I found myself the other day reflecting on something else he'd pitched out there a few years back.

Looking out at the great sprawl of intergalactic space, Hawking said that he was convinced there was alien life out there.  He was also a bit concerned at our noisy efforts to make contact.  Why?  Because if life out there was as much a mess as life on earth, the most likely outcome would be that our shouting out into the great deep would just call attention to our stuff.

"Hey aliens," we'd be saying.  "Look at all the complex organics we have!  And we're delicious!  We taste just like t'chiK'nnn!"

And they'd show up, and it'd be like that closing scene in Apocalypto.  It'd be the end of everything.  We'd be outmatched, outgunned, and out-thought.  A universe as vast as ours has surely spawned beings who are dangerously more powerful than humankind.

So his recommendation?  We should lay low.   Be vewy, vewy quiet.

I found this interesting on a couple of levels.

I do wonder, quite frankly, why any spacefaring sentient being would bother making the trip just to take our [stuff.]  Yeah, we're impressed with our planet and all, but what's most interesting about our world is...what?  I mean, the universe is chock-full of hydrogen for fuel, carbon, and metals.  There's not exactly a shortage out there.  It's an impossibly generous cornucopia, our universe is.

The only thing interesting on this little rocky world, frankly, is life.  And possibly sentience, although many days I find myself doubting it.

But I also find it neat that he sees the logical likelihood of alien life in our time and space.  It makes sense, and I agree with him.  We may never know such beings, given the distances involved.  But they are likely there.

Where I diverge is when we step outside of time and space, and suddenly the same mind that can imagine impossibly advanced alien beings can't quite wrap itself around the idea that perhaps in the vastness of all that is lies a Mind that underlies all being.

Maybe if he visualized God with little antennae.  Hmmm.