Stephen Hawking On Hostile Aliens

Last week I wrote an article on Stephen Hawking and his call for wealth redistribution. This week I’m focusing on an article by Live Science, asking if Hawking was right about hostile aliens.

Back in 2010, Stephen Hawking had said “If aliens ever visit us, I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn’t turn out very well for the Native Americans.” He fears that an alien civilization would send an invading force bent on conquest: “Such advanced aliens would perhaps become nomads, looking to conquer and colonize whatever planets they can reach.” But why would they do such a thing? He says, “it makes sense for them to exploit each new planet for material to build more spaceships so they could move on. Who knows what the limits would be?”

So Live Science came out with an article for Columbus Day, examining these fears posed by Hawking, and the likelihood of this becoming reality.

Firstly, I reject the existence of extraterrestrial life, so I don’t think those fears are substantiated. The belief in aliens enters the realm of pseudoscience, but since many well-known scientists believe in alien life, I think it’s worth exploring. I also love science fiction, so I’ll entertain the notion for the sake of interest.

I do like the fact that they provided a disclaimer, acknowledging that the existence of intelligent life is open to debate. With that in mind, Hawking assumes that the conditions necessary for the spontaneous generation of life on other planets does indeed exist, and he also assumes organisms can evolve into different kinds of organisms. Therefore, based on these assumptions, will such alien life eventually threaten humans, or could they evolve to become both “smart and nice”?

The article’s author, Stephanie Pappas, considers some of the hurdles aliens would have to overcome if they wished to visit earth. She explains how expensive it is for an organism to evolve a large brain and possess intelligence. Large brains are inefficient and require a tremendous amount of calories to grow and function. Another hurdle is competition; if the evolving alien is forced to compete through the use of aggression in order to survive and reproduce, then such traits would likely continue to be a driving force once that organism expands its territory beyond its own planet.

Pappas considers other factors that might allow for a peaceful alien race, such as the ability to cooperate through the formation of alliances. And if that alien race evolves morality, says anthropologist Mark Flinn, then there’s hope that we’d be able to negotiate a “mutually beneficial outcome.” What a relief! Flinn continues, marveling at our ability to overcome our flaws, saying, “We can, in effect, rise above the design, potentially. If we understand what our brains are designed to do, we are going to be way more capable of rising above those tendencies that we have.”

That means there’s still hope for a peaceful contact. Further, even if an intelligent alien civilization doesn’t have the capacity to cooperate, Pappas postulates, then we might pose a greater threat to them than they do to us. Well that’s disturbing.

Of course this article is completely hypothetical and makes for great science fiction, but it also allows us to explore our own human history. The author considers our human nature, including a wide-range of characteristics that have shaped our history for both good and evil… traits ranging from pacifism, peace, morality and caring to clever, smart, social and intelligent, and to aggression, murder and survival. And who knows which or how many of these traits would be exhibited in our imaginary alien visitors? I think it stands to reason that our first alien visitors will be anything but predictable.

I find it unlikely that alien visitors would be one dimensional bad-guys bent on annihilation. If that were the case, the invading force would likely send drones, missiles, cyborgs or such to cripple us before sending ground troops to finish us off. Our military capabilities would be destroyed long before we ever set eyes on an alien.

I suspect that their behavior towards us would likely be determined by their commander. Will their representative primarily send them to conquer, explore, observe, trade, or form an alliance? That would all depend on factors unknown to us, such as whether or not they’ve destroyed their own planet, or if another, more aggressive alien species is threatening them and they needed our help; or maybe they’re simply searching for inhabited planets for their own scientific curiosity. Could they be interested in trade and commerce? Or maybe they wish to spread their religious beliefs. It’s possible they might need our planet’s resources for themselves. If space travel is commonplace for them, then maybe we could encounter some space pirates or slave traders. One leader may desire a peaceful coexistence, while another may have motives that aren’t in our best interest. It’s a toss-up, but I don’t think the odds of encountering friendly aliens are very likely.

Nonetheless, I think the most important takeaway is that we’ll probably never know the answer to these questions. And that’s because aliens likely do not exist- which is a very good thing.

So why do I so easily dismiss the existence of alien life? Mainly for two reasons: first, I don’t believe the scientific evidence supports the existence of aliens. And second, I don’t believe there’s any Biblical evidence to support their existence.

Life doesn’t form spontaneously by natural means- that’s one scientific law that has never been violated. Life only comes from life. Scientists have postulated- by faith- conditions that would allow for the development of life from simple proteins, but all experimental and observational evidence has refuted such claims. Therefore, the only reasonable and logical conclusion is that we were created by God, just as the Bible says.

Naturally, if life cannot form spontaneously via abiogenesis, then we have nothing to worry about; there would be no intelligent aliens to fear, and that also means we wouldn’t have to worry about us being a threat to them. We can go about our daily lives without the fear of being rounded up like a herd of cattle or worse. Such fears are only necessary if we let our imaginations run wild like Stephen Hawking. But if we appeal to reason and God’s Word, then we have nothing to fear.

Psalm 19:1: The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

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