My Opinion about the ‘Ancient Astronaut’ Theory: 1

In the previous post, I wrote about my thoughts on why tv shows about “ancient astronauts” are still popular and what that says about the popular mood in the west. The main point I was trying to make is that belief in “ancient astronauts” is the secular version of belief in existence of traditional gods and other mystical/ mythical beings in a previous era. But what about the central question.. you know.. is the “ancient astronaut” theory correct or even feasible?

My short answer is: Yes, but with certain caveats.

The longer version is a bit more complicated and will not make people on either side of the issue happy. But then again, I do not write this blog to make people happy. I simply give you my opinion about issues- whether it is about how to use escorts, the nature of “civilization” and human beings or some recent controversial event. Also unlike many others (especially credentialed morons) I explore a number of alternate possibilities in a systematic manner- even if I do not care about them.

Let us start by trying to answer the first major question: Do extraterrestrial species capable on interstellar travel exist?

The answer to the first major question starts with estimating the likelihood of life (of any kind) on planets other than earth- either in our galaxy or in neighboring galaxies. If you regard life as a series of complex chemical process which can arise under some set of environmental conditions and with a certain probability, then our galaxy (and the rest of the universe) is full of planets which harbor life in some form or the other- even if it is largely in the form of single-celled organisms.

I am not, therefore, claiming that the universe is full of planets hosting life forms with self-awareness and the ability to travel between star systems. Having said that, it is very likely that given enough time, a small minority of planets harboring life (in any form) will go on to host more complex multi-cellular and differentiated forms such as those seen in fossil record of earth.

To make a long story short- if you believe that life is a chemical process based in probability, given sufficient time a small (but not insignificant) number of planets will eventually host intelligent and self-aware species. If we take this idea to its logical conclusion, it is almost certain that there have been multiple independent instances of self-aware species attaining levels of technology which make it possible for them to travel between stars.

Provided they do not subsequently destroy themselves through war, ego or greed- such species could end up becoming very long-lived. It also goes without saying that extraterrestrial species capable of interstellar travel would also have the technology to be basically immortal- for all practical purposes. In other words, extraterrestrial species capable on interstellar travel are an inevitable consequence of life being a chemical process whose creation and evolution are governed by chance and probability.

But would such extraterrestrial species want to visit earth and chill with human beings or somehow influence our evolution?

This particular question has two parts. Firstly, would they explore or visit earth or other planets in the first place? Secondly, would they take a special interest in human beings to the point of deliberately interacting with them or influencing their evolution?

It goes without saying that any species which has developed the capability for interstellar travel will use it to explore their stellar neighborhood. Over time, such species will end up exploring a larger and larger volume of their (and our) galaxy. It is almost inevitable, given sufficient time, that one or more spacefaring species will come across the solar system and discover earth.

Now, this could have occurred 2 billion years ago or it could happen tomorrow morning. My point is that, the discovery of earth by such spacefaring extraterrestrial species is also almost inevitable. Also, my hunch is that such a discovery is far more likely to occur via indirect means (space probes) than direct ones (actual visits).

But would they want to intentionally interact with human beings or influence their evolution or technological development?

Well.. let me ask you a counter question. Would you try to communicate with termites in some termite hill you came across when you were on vacation in some exotic part of the world? Sure, you might take a few photos of the mound and perhaps even briefly study a very small percentage of its inhabitants. But at the end of the day, you simply wont’t care about some species on the other side of your world that poses no challenge or possibility for genuine interaction with yourself.

Similarly, it is very unlikely that extraterrestrial species capable of interstellar travel would demonstrate serious interest in human beings unless we reach a technological level where worthwhile and genuine interaction is possible. This is not to say that there would be no interaction whatsoever. However it is very likely that such interaction would be sporadic and somewhat accidental rather than sustained and methodical.

In other words, accounts of extraterrestrial contact which fit the sporadic and accidental contact pattern are far more credible than those which recall extended contact between extraterrestrials and human beings. So the Sumerian myth of Adapa is much more likely to be based on an actual instance of such contact than extraterrestrial being involved in building of Giza pyramid complex. The description of Vimanas in ancient Hindu and Buddhist texts are pretty close to what one might expect for spacecraft capable of landing on, and taking off, from planets such as earth.

It is also worthwhile to note that instances of non-natural objects flying in a controlled manner in the sky have been reported since the 2nd millenium BC. More than a few of these accounts contain details that are just too peculiar to be explained as natural phenomena or hallucinations. Moreover, these accounts document sporadic and very brief contact with appear to be probes capable of flying in the atmosphere.

To summarize, I think that extraterrestrial species capable of travelling between star systems are almost inevitable. Furthermore, if such species exist (very likely) they are almost certainly aware of the existence of earth and have likely visited it in some manner on more than one occasion. It also likely that some instances of such brief visits or encounters have been documented, albeit in a distorted form, within the mythological narratives of multiple tribes or nations. I am however very skeptical of accounts which suggest extraterrestrials making extended or systemic contact with humans.

What do you think? Comments?

This entry was posted in Critical Thinking, Musings, Philosophy sans Sophistry, Reason, Secular Religions, Skepticism, Technology and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to My Opinion about the ‘Ancient Astronaut’ Theory: 1

  1. hoipolloi says:

    May be we were the outer space ancient astronauts. The interstellar probes to the solar system came in with some unicellular organisms in suspended animation and spread on earth’s hospitable type territory and slowly evolved into us. We can not do any experiment to prove or disprove this speculation.

    Something like this?

  2. joesantus says:

    “Heh, you celestial teens are sissies compared to what we were doing while joy-riding around at your age! One galactic year, my bros and me pranked those primitives on that backwater planet they call Earth — you shoulda seen the grafitti we carved all over that planet with the phasers on your great-granddad’s old four-door ‘Interstellar’…those dumb-assed primitives are still pondering over all the trash we tossed out th’ viewportals!”

    Any species with that level of technology and longevity would behave rather differently from the average ‘murican.

    • joesantus says:

      “Any species with that level of technology and longevity would behave rather differently from the average ‘murican.”…hopefully… LOL, but then again, isn’t that what we shake our heads about when we humans consider ourselves with our level of tech and relative longevity?

  3. Libertarians are subhumans says:

    I doubt aliens ever came into contact with our species,if aliens came into contact with humans why didn’t they harvest the resources,flora and fauna of our planet?
    Yeah probably a spacefaring species has no need for something like that,but no matter how advanced,i don’t see any living species moving past greed,or “rational choice”.

    Why would they even care? Also, any species with significant residual greed would destroy itself before becoming successful at travelling between stellar systems.

  4. Yusef says:

    “But at the end of the day, you simply won’t care about some species [e.g. termites] on the other side of your world that poses no challenge or possibility for genuine interaction with yourself.”

    Well, I personally am not terribly interested in termites but there are these scientists known as entomologists who are, and some have spent years studying such critters and I think the time has been well spent. I’m glad they used their talents that way and believe they’ve enriched our understanding and enjoyment of the world by doing so. Thus, I could imagine extra-terrestrial “scientists” with such motivation taking interest in every life form of planet earth, not just the human form. (Also, I would assume if there was intervention, it would be highly sophisticated and would take all earthly life forms into consideration, while to tamper with humans only would be to act hazardously– to meddle, to be idiotic, assuming scientific interest was their purpose.)

    As to whether these scientists would want to interact as well as study us…I think they might. I have often observed a human desire to “get to know” and genuinely harmonize and communicate with other species. This so far mainly leads to either silliness or something close to cruelty, but I could imagine some superior intellect actually developing a means to this end involving neither negative outcome.

  5. Pingback: My Opinion about the ‘Ancient Astronaut’ Theory: 2 | Playing the Devil's Advocate

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