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Why We Can't Phone the Aliens

on October 27, 2007
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Naples (Florida) Daily News: “Ben Bova: Hello? Why Isn’t Anybody Answering? Science fiction author Ben Bova offers a few explanations for why our search for extraterrestrial life (which is growing more robust with time) has turned up nothing so far.

Commenting in the Naples Daily News, Bova aims to answer a rather puzzling question: if we have been watching and listening for extraterrestrial life for so long—and, since the 1950s, using powerful telescopes to help the search—why is it that we’ve found nothing? “No little green men. No intelligent signals,” writes Bova, who then asks, “Are we alone in the universe?”

But Bova is not out to convince anyone that we’re alone. Rather, Bova proceeds to present a number of explanations for why aliens are so shy. Many of the facts Bova includes are often mentioned when discussing ET life and remind us that there are many, many, many stars out there, all spread over incomprehensibly large distances. The implication, of course, is that we simply haven’t cast our net far enough.

Older stars and stars near lethal radiation sources could not give rise to advanced life, Bova writes.

Bova then points out that according to the big bang model, intelligent life would have to “arise” (through magical abiogenesis) on planets circling younger stars, which would have started their life cycles with heavier elements, such as oxygen, carbon, potassium, and iron. “The atoms of our bodies,” says Bova, “were manufactured inside ancient stars, now long dead.” Older stars and stars near lethal radiation sources could not give rise to advanced life, Bova writes.

Even given these constraints, though, there are “millions of stars like the sun, young enough to contain the elements necessary for life and far enough away from the galaxy’s radiation-drenched core to allow life to flourish.” What about them? Bova asks. He proposes four answers:

  • There aren’t any other intelligent civilizations (due to extinction cycles).
  • Intelligence is “not as inevitable as we assume.”
  • There are intelligent species out there who don’t use radio communication (either they are behind us technologically, or ahead of us).
  • Intelligent beings are “waiting for us to grow up and stop killing each other before they say hello.”

Bova’s internal logic is flawless. But his presupposition—that abiogenesis is responsible for life on earth—is essentially blinding him to other possibilities, such as that life was created only on earth—and nowhere else. In fact, Bova’s answers to why we haven’t found ET life are a sign that the evidence—in this case, the lack of ET life—is trumped by the dogma—that abiogenesis would allow life to spring up throughout the universe.

Of course, evolutionists protest that we just don’t yet have the investigative resources to conduct an exhaustive search for extraterrestrial life. That’s true, but the search can always be pushed farther and farther away as the technology allows. But as we’ve often said, some people will go to great lengths to search for the least bit of intelligence on faraway planets—without giving the slightest thought to the intelligence that was required to design life on earth. And once again, it is evolutionary dogma that accounts for the blinders.


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