General Question

seVen's avatar

Atheists: do you believe in existence of aliens[extraterrestrials]?

Asked by seVen (3458 points ) November 26th, 2008
Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

35 Answers

PupnTaco's avatar

In all likelihood, there are millions of other lifeforms elsewhere in the universe. Note I include algae as a lifeform.

Now if you’re asking if I think little green men have come here… no, I don’t believe that.

AstroChuck's avatar

Yes. I think it’s kind of arrogant to think we are all there is in this universe. However, I don’t believe they’ve been visiting Earth.

laureth's avatar

Do I believe that the chances of life out there somewhere are pretty great, what with it being a big, bountiful universe of which we’ve seen only the tiniest fraction? Yeah, probably.

Do I believe in “greys,” LGMs, or that aliens walk among us? Nope.

I bet you’re wondering how my “faith” that extraterrestrial life probably exists jibes with my disbelief in a supreme being, aren’t you? Let’s just say that I see one as being vastly more likely than the other. One is based in the reality that I can see and reason out, even if it is currently conjecture. It’s a conjecture that is based on a more reasoned, researched premise than the myths that people used to explain the world back when we didn’t know so much.

If, in the future, we know exponentially more than we do now (a great probability!), then I will yield to that knowledge. As of now, it’s as acceptable to believe in the possibility of life on other planets as it was to believe in God back when the forces of nature seemed mysterious and an epileptic seizure could be taken as proof of the touch of demons or deity.

seVen's avatar

Haven’t you contradicted your claim that there is no God than. Is not God an Alien? By every definition of the word, God is an alien, i.e., He is not of this earth. For an atheist to profess believe in alien life, while simultaneously denying the existence of God, isn’t it utter hypocrisy and foolishness?!

laureth's avatar

All Gods might be aliens, but not all aliens need be God.

Furthermore, if I were to believe in a deity, it’s unlikely to be JHVH, and more likely to be something more earth based, meaning that “God” would not be an alien at all.

seVen's avatar

No person can honestly claim to be an atheist. To do so is to deny the existence of alien life, and who can honestly say that they’ve explored the entire universe? Can any human know what exists in all the galaxies of the universe?

laureth's avatar

OK folks. Troll post. Nothing to see here, move along. :)

syz's avatar

Wow, seVen, that’s makes absolutely no sense.

richardhenry's avatar

God –noun
the one Supreme Being, the creator and ruler of the universe.

Alien –noun
a creature from outer space.

Where do these even begin to overlap?

AstroChuck's avatar

I thought this might be an agenda question. I was right.

tinyfaery's avatar

Does seven ask any other kinds of questions?

Well now I understand the ressurection. Beam me up daddy.

damien's avatar

Are you going off this kind of logic, seVen?

“God does not believe in atheists, therefore atheists do not exist”

dynamicduo's avatar

The odds of life happening elsewhere in the universe are very high due to the sheer size of the universe. Some small portion of that will be sentient life such as us. Some tiny portion of that sentient life will manage to build a faster-than-light spaceship and start finding other sentient species. Whether this has already occurred, or will occur in the future, or both, is something we don’t know yet and won’t know until we can start interacting with other species and build a history of the known universe from many points of view. There is more than enough evidence to support human evolution on this planet independent of some creator. For you to somehow start equating believing in other sentient life with them being our god, well that’s just nonsensical religious fanatic talk plain and simple. I’m sad we can’t have a fair and balanced debate about this, but I doubt you ever really wanted one. I’d take great offense at your ridiculous claims, but I’ve learned how to deal with people like you and it your comments don’t bother me anymore. One of my regrets is I won’t live long enough to meet other species in the universe. I always wanted to see how religion developed for other lifeforms.

richardhenry's avatar

Okay, to seriously talk about the “are we alone in the universe” question.

Nearly everywhere you look on Earth, there’s life. Deep deep deep underground, there is microscopic life that has adapted and thrives in conditions that would be lethal to us.

Earth seems so perfectly made to support life, but that is a total illusion. We are the ones who are in fact tuned by evolution, as is the other life on and under the surface of the earth.

Let’s assume that for there to be advanced life; advanced enough to be sending signals into space, their situation must be quite like ours: a star with a similar size and mass to our sun, a planet that has a reasonably stable atmosphere and a core that is hot enough for convection to happen to generate a magnetic field to protect them from the deadly solar wind… etc etc…

Life developed on this planet over billions of years, they found out about technology, and then they thought what the hell, let’s travel to another star or send out signals for people to see if they’re out there. How likely is this to happen?

The Drake equation, yeah!

This equation helps us make an estimate about the number of civilisations in the galaxy capable of sending signals into space.

LETS GO!

Our galaxy has ~200 billion stars in it. About 10% of these stars have a similar feature list to our star; the sun. 10% of 200 billion is 20 billion.

How many of these stars will have planets? Well, recently we’ve been able to study these stars close enough to determine that a hell of a lot of them do.

How likely is it that these planets are like Earth? Even if we assign a far lower than reality number to this, say 1%, then there are still millions of stars out there with planets like ours.

For the next steps in the equation, we basically have to guess how many planets have life, how many have life capable of technology…

The number of other planets in our galaxy that have intelligent life is anywhere between MILLIONS and zero.

Maybe we really are alone in the galaxy, and the many trillions of light years don’t harbor anything intelligent outside of the twenty or so thousand cubic miles that is the Earth and it’s atmosphere.

There’s another thing to think about though, too. Life took billions of years to evolve on this planet, and only in the last few have we developed technology that could potentially communicate with an alien species. How long are we going to be around with this level of technology? Few thousand years? Maybe a million (that’s definitely a stretch).

It’s quite possible that all advanced life is eventually killed off by some sort of natural disaster, or simply gets to the point where it kills itself. Nuclear weapons, anyone?

SO?

When we look at the probability of there not only being other life in our local area of the universe, but life being at the same or similar stage of evolution to us, suddenly the probability of us ever speaking or seeing aliens drops to within a hairline of zero.

Conclusion: There probably has been life exactly like us an uncountable amount of times before, and there will be again, all over our local bit of the universe and beyond. Is it there right now? Local enough for us to speak to? Probably not.

I fucking loved this subject as a kid, and still read quite a lot about it today. Don’t think I’m a genius though, I was flicking through books and blog posts all the time while writing this to remember the things I wanted to bring up.

To go back to my first point about life tuning itself to it’s surroundings, you must also consider that there will be some life elsewhere in the universe that thrives in conditions completely unlike ours. Maybe a horrendously high or low temperature, or a completely acidic atmosphere. It’s hard for us to know. There are some microorganisms that are unaffected by most forms of radiation. It’s quite possible that there is life thriving around some red giant. Who knows.

THE END AND I’M GOING TO BED

dynamicduo's avatar

* applauds *

tinyfaery's avatar

And is it all happening at once?

richardhenry's avatar

What do you mean? Is that in response to my answer?

tinyfaery's avatar

“Conclusion: There probably has been life exactly like us an uncountable amount of times before, and there will be again, all over our local bit of the universe and beyond. Is it there right now? Local enough for us to speak to? Probably not.”

What is time when we are speaking about light years and an infinite universe? Is it possible that as I type another person on another earth is doing the exact thing, at the exact same moment that I am? This kind of thinking confuses me.

richardhenry's avatar

We’re talking about the time that we’ve had technology capable of transmitting far into outer space; which is only the last few years. How long are we going to be around, a few thousand? Maybe more?

That’s about 0.000001% of the age of the universe.

It’s not just the chances of aliens being nearby enough for us to notice them, but for them to be here right now, and not two thousand years earlier* only to be wiped out by an asteroid, or by blowing themselves up in conflicts.

*More likely a million or two

richardhenry's avatar

The other thing you have to bear in mind that the light from a star 2000 light years away takes 2000 years to reach us. Radio transmissions would take even longer. Even if there is life right next door (which looking at the drake equation plus the age of the universe there probably isn’t), it might only be starting to transmit signals now, which would arrive in 2000 years.* If life was on a star a million light years away, which is more likely than right under our nose… you get the point.

* Which means that if SETI ever did pick anything up, the conversation is going to be mostly monologue.

tinyfaery's avatar

…“it might only be starting to transmit signals now, which would arrive in 2000 years.”

According to our perception of time, could these transmissions be from the from the past or the future?

syz's avatar

That’s a great answer, richardhenry, and makes anything that I would like to say completely redundant.

richardhenry's avatar

No no, this is nothing to do with distorting time. This is normal, straight up physics. Let me explain.

Let’s say that a planet around this star 2,000 light years away (~10,000,000,000,000,000* miles) manages to develop an amazing catapult, which will send a tennis ball with a message on it in our direction.

This amazing catapult will launch the tennis ball at a BLAZINGLY fast 671 million miles per hour, and it won’t stop or slow down until it reaches us.

If they launched the tennis ball right now, it would take 2,000 years to reach us at that speed, in the same way it takes an hour for a car traveling at 20 miles per hour to travel 20 miles.

The reason I’m inventing this tennis ball story is…
Light travels at 671 million miles per hour.

If someone turned on a super bright torch 10 quadrillion miles away, and then turned it off again, it would be 2,000 years before we see the flash from their planet.

Got it? :)

Okay, actually going to bed now. I can’t believe I have to be up tomorrow. Heh. Oh, and incase you hadn’t guessed from this example, a “light year” is how far a photon of light will travel in one year. We could give distances to things very far away in miles, but when it’s such a big distance it’s a pain adding ten to the power ofs or truncating them or whatever.

*quadrillion

Sasha40's avatar

haha I could never understand the seeing back in time thing, thanks!

augustlan's avatar

@Richardhenry: I think you very well may be a genius! Your tennis ball explanation was fantastic, and made me understand this in a way I never really did before.

In answer to the original question, like the majority of answerers I think it’s highly likely that life exists elsewhere in the universe. In no way does alien life form = god(s).

IBERnineD's avatar

I think it is very egotistical to believe that there is no other life form in this entire galaxy…so I believe in aliens!

AstroChuck's avatar

I know there are aliens. My father-in-law has some working on his farm. I’ve seen them.

delirium's avatar

someone needs to post some Carl Sagan.

laureth's avatar

@richardhenry: You say, “light from a star 2000 light years away takes 2000 years to reach us. Radio transmissions would take even longer”

But… but… radio waves travel at the speed of light!

richardhenry's avatar

My bad! GA for you. Radio waves are tennis balls too.

richardhenry's avatar

Also I think I just figured out what seVen’s link between God and aliens is. If we’re willing to believe that little green men live somewhere up in the aether, then we might aswell believe in God, too.

That’s an interesting idea you’ve got there. The problem is that we have a much better understanding of space, evolution and the galaxy (the local bit anyway) than we do of “the one Supreme Being, creator and ruler of the universe.”

We don’t have faith in aliens, we make a reasoned guess based on our understanding to say “okay, probably not the first planet ever on which intelligent life has evolved.” God requires you to blindly believe, and that’s not something I’m inclined to do. I respect that you can, but it’s not for me.

Hobbes's avatar

As Monty Python so eloquently put it:

Our galaxy itself contains a hundred-billion stars
It’s a hundred thousand lightyears side to side.
It bulges in the middle, sixteen-thousand lightyears thick,
But out by us it’s just three-thousand lightyears wide.
We’re thirty thousand lightyears from Galactic central point,
we go round every two-hundred-million years.
And our Galaxy is only one of millions of billions in this amazing and expanding
Universe

AstroChuck's avatar

All true except for the “millions of billions.” It’s more like a couple hundred billion.

Okay. You can have my liver.

Hobbes's avatar

Well, rhyming apparently takes precedence over scientific accuracy within Monty Python songs. For shame. =]

trailsillustrated's avatar

yes!! IdoIdoIdo believe in aliens

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