By Charles Foster
It’s stated that 2022 goes to be a bumper 12 months for UFO revelations. Secret archives are going to be opened and the skies are going to be probed as by no means earlier than for indicators of extraterrestrial life.
This afternoon we may be introduced with irrefutable proof not simply of life past the Earth, however of intelligences comparable in energy and subtlety to our personal. What then? Wouldn’t it change our view of ourselves and the universe we inhabit? If that’s the case, how? Wouldn’t it change our behaviour? If that’s the case how?
A lot would rely, little doubt, on what we knew or supposed concerning the nature and intentions of the alien intelligences. In the event that they appeared hostile, intent on colonising Planet Earth and enslaving us, our reactions can be pretty predictable. However what if the experiences merely disclosed the existence of different intelligences, along with the truth that these intelligences knew about and have been concerned with us?
Many would really feel aid that we weren’t alone. The night time sky would appear a much less scarily empty place, and our place, balanced on this ball of spinning rock, much less precarious. Many can be glad, too, that the duties related to being the only real possessors of intelligence within the universe may now be shared with others. Some can be anxious that, true to our current type, we’d search to kill and exploit the aliens: to farm them, eat them, steal and patent their secrets and techniques, destroy their innocence, educate them the morality of the free market, and set them to work in sweat outlets.
Others would see the aliens, nonetheless benign, as a menace to human supremacy. Many people like to think about themselves as the perfect that the universe has birthed. They’re those who, in their very own ontological insecurity, are likely to deny the consciousness and the ethical significance of non-human animals, as a result of (they assume) to credit score any non-human with any human attribute is to decrease humankind (by which they actually imply themselves). These, I think about, would tackle their insecurities by attempting to grow to be alien-farmers.
Within the sphere of faith the revelation of alien intelligence shouldn’t have a lot of an impact. It ought to merely full the Copernican Revolution. C. S. Lewis, in his Area Triology, dealt squarely and convincingly with the suggestion that Christianity can be challenged by extraterrestrial life.1 Different religions, tending to be much less anthropocentric than Christianity, have all the time been much less troubled by the thought that there may be theologically important organisms with our bodies that don’t seem like the physique of Jesus.
And but, after all, the Copernican Revolution, although it might need triumphed in cosmology, has not triumphed in (notably fundamentalist Christian) psychology. There are some would-be alien-ranchers who would attempt to take care of their theological queasiness at sharing the world with clever non-humans by declaring that as long as they have been capable of management the aliens, outer area was merely a suburb of the Earth, and the Earth continued to be, actually, the centre of the universe. This may create a theological and psychological mandate for subduing the aliens.
Some, after all, would merely be fascinated. What kind of anatomy and physiology do the aliens have? And, maybe most intriguing of all, what kind of being have they got? We are likely to assume that our type of being (embodied, sensual, machines plus souls or, in our extra desolate moments, simply superior computer systems) is the one possible kind of being. It isn’t essentially so. The spiritual literature is filled with accounts of other forms. And wouldn’t we anticipate that radically completely different ontologies would possibly imply radically completely different epistemologies too? The universe would possibly change into a way more attention-grabbing place than we suspect.
Most of us, although, will learn with curiosity the article asserting the proof of alien life, and can then get on with making the children’ tea, writing the long-overdue paper, ringing up a good friend, or worrying concerning the plight of earthly refugees. I’m under no circumstances positive that these aren’t the perfect responses.
Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Energy.