Some 70 years ago physicist Enrico Fermi looked up at the stars and wondered where everyone was at. With billions of galaxies, each with billions of stars, it seemed inconceivable to him that ours would be the only planet to evolve life. So where was everyone?
His query is now called Fermi’s Paradox, and on March 18 a group of about 60 scientists met in Paris to share their latest theories as to why we haven’t heard from any of our galactic neighbors. Live Science’s Mindy Weisberger shared some of their creative ideas:
- The “zoo hypothesis” – Earth is like a galactic animal reserve where aliens are leaving us alone to be observed in our natural habitat.
- We’ve been quarantined – aliens know about us, but don’t like us.
- Aliens are trapped by their superplanets’ intense gravity and they can’t come out to meet us.
- Aliens have come and gone, dying off before we had a chance to connect with them.
Three days after the Paris conference Cosmos dug deeper into Fermi’s Paradox with an even more vexing question: where are all the “von Newmann probes”?
Von Newmann probe
What’s a von Newmann probe, you ask? Well, back in the 1960s, mathematician John von Newmann argued that a sufficiently advanced civilization would be able to build a space probe that could mine raw materials on other planets and use those to make replicas of itself. These replicas would, in turn, build other copies. And as the process repeated, the number and spread of these self-replicating “von Newmann probes” would expand exponentially until, as Cosmos’ Lauren Fuge put it, “in a relatively short space of time – perhaps as little as 10 million years – the galaxy would be teeming with these exploratory machines.”
But there are no hordes, teeming or otherwise. So, again, where is everyone?
The Cosmos article offered, as a possible explanation, astrophysicist Duncan Forgan’s “predator-prey hypothesis,” soon to be published in an upcoming issue of the International Journal of Astrobiology. Forgan argues that “self-replication could result in encoding errors” and that maybe some of these coding errors could lead to some of these probes taking a predatory turn. If they did, then perhaps the reason we don’t see these teeming hordes is because the predatory probes are hunting down and destroying the other probes.
While these various hypotheses make for incredibly creative speculation, they all share one thing in common: there are no facts to back them up. In fact, the only “evidence” for any of these theories is that aliens haven’t contacted us.
So why did scientists bother meeting to swap what amounts to untestable, unverifiable, just-so stories? Why did Live Science and other media outlets bother covering the Paris event? And why did Cosmos think Forgan’s theory worth sharing?
They covered them because these stories – to the undiscerning – seem to offer an explanation to Fermi’s Paradox and the problem it presents to evolutionary theory. But they’re just stories. And what does it say about the theory if its defenders are willing to hype stories that the public will mistake for scientific, factual, or evidence-based?
If luck can do it, why not the best and brightest?
Here’s a different sort of hypothesis to consider: what if ET just isn’t out there? What if life, instead of being easy to come by, only happens via miraculous means? And God only did so here on Earth?
It’s worth noting that there is nothing in the Bible that speaks against the possibility of life being on other planets. It would be hard to reconcile intelligent life with the Bible – here on Earth all Mankind fell through Adam, and Jesus became Man to save us, so how could intelligent aliens have any part of that? But there wouldn’t seem a biblical problem with microscopic or even animal life existing elsewhere in the universe.
But while the Bible allows for life on other planets, evolution would seem to demand it – if life can just happen, then someone else should be out there. It’s only when life is miraculous that it becomes understandable that it might be rare.
Now here’s a question for our evolutionary friends: if we suppose that dumb, unplanned, undirected luck can create life, why can’t the world’s most brilliant minds, using available blueprints (from living creatures), and working with quadrillions-of-calculations-per-second supercomputers, in laboratories staffed with every device and chemical they could possibly want, manage to make even a single living cell? If living things can come about by chance, why hasn’t anyone created them on purpose?
Looking at evolutionists’ still-lifeless labs we can’t help but ask again: where is everyone?
In 2013 cartoonist Zach Weinersmith crafted a cartoon and gave the talk below on his “Infantapaulting Hypothesis” in which he theorized that the reasons babies are so aerodynamic is because they used to be catapulted into neighboring villages, to increase their chances of finding a mate among a more genetically diverse population. He was satirizing the tendency among evolutionists to indulge in “just-so stories” – to indulge in creative hypotheses that might fit the available evidence but which are not testable. If a fellow who still believes in Darwin’s theory can be this brilliant, insightful, and hilarious in exposing evolutionary flaws, can creationists take this further and be even funnier?