SETI would like to know. NASA would like to know. Now that thousands of planets have been discovered orbiting distant stars, scientists and engineers are working to launch bigger and better telescopes to sense evidence of life on some of these worlds.
What is intelligent life? The most perfect example of an Earth-like planet is Earth itself. Does intelligent life exist there?
Here on Earth, the most intelligent species is assumed to be homo sapiens - human beings.
Throughout history, humans have been busy killing other humans because they have a different religious faith.
Today, they abuse and kill people because they're female.
Because they're a different race.
Or a different nationality.
Because they want to seize control of precious resources.
They kill each other in order to sell addictive poisons to other human beings.
In the modern world, they lie to each other day and night, to make money.
They break the law and hurt people every chance they get to make money.
Greed and self-interest rule most areas of human civilization.
Humans wildly promote myriad forms of superstition.
They abhor the truth and are drawn to escapist nonsense.
Humans are willfully polluting the oceans, threatening the food chain.
They're destroying huge areas of forests that used to pump oxygen into the atmosphere, thinking there will be no negative consequence.
They're polluting the air we breathe.
They're pushing animal and plant species into extinction.
They're altering the climate without remorse.
Human beings are slowly but relentlessly rendering the only home they'll ever have - planet Earth - unfit for human life.
They dream of being a multi-world species in case they ruin the precious world they already have, when there are no such worlds to go to - and if there were, no way to get there.
So I have to ask, is this what we mean by intelligent life?
Were the dinosaurs an example of intelligent life? Is this the kind of intelligence we hope to find on distant worlds? Millions of years before there were human beings, dinosaurs dominated the planet. The only reason mammals, and eventually humans, were able to evolve and exist today is because of a freak accident. 65 million years ago a mile-wide asteroid crashed into the Earth and wiped out all the dinosaurs along with 75% of all plant and animal species. If this asteroid had missed, perhaps the dinosaurs would still reign today, and humans wouldn't have evolved.
I wouldn't be writing this post on my blog.
Intelligent human beings have been on the planet for only about 100,000 years - a blink of an eye in Earth history. Science as we know it has existed only about 500 years. We could easily render Earth unfit for human life, and that would be the end of that brief story.
If this is what is meant by intelligent life, then maybe it doesn't mean much to find it elsewhere in our galaxy. Or if it does exist, then maybe intelligent life isn't such a wonderful thing. Maybe intelligence as humans think of it is like a sinister virus.
So if the question is, "Are we alone?" Maybe the honest, realistic answer is, "What difference does it make?" Or "Who cares?"
What are we going to do? Commit shocking amounts of the world's resources to build a starship that will take thousands of years to travel unimaginable distances to find out?
If the surviving generations of these space explorers were ever able to return to Earth to deliver the answer, likely they would find a ruined planet with no human beings living on it.
"Are we alone in the universe?" It's the wrong question.
Post by Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D., Copyright 2014. Building Personal Strength .