Existence of Aliens

V1per41
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Existence of Aliens

Curious question for everyone.

Do you believe in life on other plants?  If so, why considering there isn't any direct evidence?

 

My fiance asked me this the other day, and I had trouble answering it.  There are countless numbers of planets our there.  I am of the belief that because of the large numbers it's inevitable that there is other life out there.  Is this enough proof? 

"It is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring." - Carl Sagan


Hambydammit
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That question is actually

That question is actually too general.  Here's the series of questions that works for me...

Do I believe in ETs?  No.

Do I think there might be ETs?  Yes.

I don't "believe" in them because there's no direct evidence.  I suspect there might be because even if Drake's Equation is wildly inaccurate, it is likely that there are hundreds of thousands or maybe millions of planets in the universe where life could evolve.  Mathematically, it would be counterintuitive to say that there is zero chance of them existing, so I leave it at accepting the possibility. 

Another way of saying it is that I neither believe nor disbelieve, but I am aware of the fact that there is a pretty good possibility that they exist.

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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Hambydammit
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Ok.  One more thing.  I

Ok.  One more thing.  I suspect that none of us will know the answer to this question in our lifetimes, and it doesn't bother me at all.  For the rest of my life, I'll just respond, "I don't know," when asked if there is life on other planets.

 That's why I said your question was too general.  To ask if I believe misses the point that I don't know, so I can't believe or disbelieve.

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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I'd say "I don't know", too.

I'd say "I don't know", too. But to "Has intelligent extraterrestrial life visited Earth?," I'd reply with a resounding "NO!"

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ShaunPhilly
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Hambydammit wrote: Ok. One

Hambydammit wrote:

Ok. One more thing. I suspect that none of us will know the answer to this question in our lifetimes, and it doesn't bother me at all. For the rest of my life, I'll just respond, "I don't know," when asked if there is life on other planets.

That's why I said your question was too general. To ask if I believe misses the point that I don't know, so I can't believe or disbelieve.

Of course, with this you might want to be careful, HD

 Remember the agnostic fallacy thread where there was this whole argument that agnostics simply don't know, while this does not mean you either believe or you don't

Strictly speaking, you either believe in aliens or you don't.  I don't believe in aliens.  If one shows itself, I'll believe.  I do think, however, that aliens are more probable to exist, so I think that is the reason why we (you and I) is more likely to remain open to them than a God. 

 The difference, of course, being that aliens do not present a problem in principle while a supernatural being does.  They are different kind of epistemological and evidentual questions. 

 Just trying to be consistant.  I don't want Trout reading this and saying something like "see, told you it was possible to not believe or disbelieve!"

Shaun 

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V1per41
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It looks to me like you

It looks to me like you guys are almost having the same issues answering the question that I was.

 

I'm with Matt in that I can answer several questions:

"Do you believe that ETs have visited Earth?"   - No

"Do you believe people have been abducted by aliens?" - No

"Do you believe Alien space ships have visited earth?" - No

 

The tough question is:

"Do you think that there is life on another planet (or moon) somewhere else in the universe?"

I have no direct evidence, but using the Drake equation, even with very very very conservative estimates shows that there is a high probability that they do exist somewhere.

Like ShaunPhilly said, I'm not sure we can take the "I don't know" route as you have to have a belief one way or the other.

I'm really split on this.  Any other help? 

"It is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring." - Carl Sagan


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Shaun, you make a good

Shaun, you make a good point, and I am aware of the potential trap in this question.  As with just about everything else in life, I'm pretty sure that imprecise definitions are the root of the whole problem.

    I maintain that the word "belief" is too strong for this question.  I don't believe that there is a little league baseball team in some small town somewhere within fifty miles of Halifax, but I suspect there might be based on how ubiquitous little league baseball teams are in the west.  Since I don't know the odds, I can't really say, and I wouldn't bet my life savings on it.

If you had a crystal ball, and could definitively answer the question of life on other planets, I wouldn't bet my life savings either way because I simply don't know.  I suspect that the smart money would bet on there being ET life, but this stops short of hard belief. 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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My answer is always that

My answer is always that life reduced to it's most simple concept is merely chemicals that interact together. These chemicals exist throughout the universe, and so life being elsewhere is inevitable.

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ShaunPhilly wrote: The

ShaunPhilly wrote:
The difference, of course, being that aliens do not present a problem in principle while a supernatural being does. They are different kind of epistemological and evidentual questions.

 I think you put it perfectly here, Shaun.  A supreme, supernatural being would have to exist beyond the measurable and observable laws of science.  Aliens are quite a different case.

It is reasonable to expect that within such a vast universe, there would statisticaly be several planets with similar conditions to our own.  If life could begin on our planet, then it would certainly at least have a chance of developing on similar worlds.  From a purely scientific and rational point of view, we can certainly accept that life elsewhere in the universe is indeed possible.

 


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V1per41 wrote: Curious

V1per41 wrote:

Curious question for everyone.

Do you believe in life on other plants? If so, why considering there isn't any direct evidence?

 

My fiance asked me this the other day, and I had trouble answering it. There are countless numbers of planets our there. I am of the belief that because of the large numbers it's inevitable that there is other life out there. Is this enough proof?

I don't believe in life on other planets.  I do believe in the possiblity of life, though. 


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Speaking strictly on the

Speaking strictly on the subject of probability I find it highly unlikely that we're the only self-aware constructs in the entirety of the Universe.  In terms of direct evidence for specific extra-terrestrial life, however, there is no evidence and therefore there is no certainty.  If we were to find them, however, or if they were to find us, I wouldn't be in the least bit surprised by the fact that we are not alone.

 Another interesting thing to ponder that I don't really think is considered by enough people is that we always assume that non-Earthly life would take on an Earthly shape.  Am I the only one who's noticed that things like eyes, ears, mouths, limbs, brains, and even the concept of DNA as we understand them are all concepts restricted by the exact circumstances of the creation of life on Earth?  In addition to being interested in knowing if there are ETs, I'd be equally intruiged by the possibility finding out what they're made of.

"No end justifies the means of lying."
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olivergringold

olivergringold wrote:

Speaking strictly on the subject of probability I find it highly unlikely that we're the only self-aware constructs in the entirety of the Universe.  In terms of direct evidence for specific extra-terrestrial life, however, there is no evidence and therefore there is no certainty.  If we were to find them, however, or if they were to find us, I wouldn't be in the least bit surprised by the fact that we are not alone.

 Another interesting thing to ponder that I don't really think is considered by enough people is that we always assume that non-Earthly life would take on an Earthly shape.  Am I the only one who's noticed that things like eyes, ears, mouths, limbs, brains, and even the concept of DNA as we understand them are all concepts restricted by the exact circumstances of the creation of life on Earth?  In addition to being interested in knowing if there are ETs, I'd be equally intruiged by the possibility finding out what they're made of.

Ever notice how every probability study done on the likelyhood of life on other worlds tends to include the following insane criteria:

Earth-type/size star.

Earth-type/size planet.

Earth-equivalent distance from planet.

And even in some cases, requirements based on pre-existing life in regards to flora?

Despite the fact that we have observed life on this planet not just surviving, but thriving in extremes such as:

Temperatures that fluctuate between 2 C and 80C at random intervals(close enough to volcanic vents to be affected during eruptions, but far enough away to be average ocean temperature at that depth when the vents aren't as active).

Pressures that would crush an average submarine like a tin can.

Temperatures as low as -35 C and as high as 113 C.

Radiation levels 12,000 times the level it would take to kill a human.

 

Just to name a few.

Proud Canadian, Enlightened Atheist, Gaming God.


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Excellent points, guys. I

Excellent points, guys. I think the reason the probability models are always based on Earthly type life forms is because it's the only type of life we can currently confirm to exist. There are certainly an infinite number of possibilities. As many scientists have pointed out... we might not even recognize life if we find it. It might be so radically different from what we consider to be "alive" that we would not even notice it.

There was a show on the Discovery Channel in which they created a fictional mission to an alien world. They completely explained the ecosystem and had real scientists commenting on the life forms encountered. It was all fantasy, of course... but they took a very scientific approach to create the fantasy world. At the very least, it was entertaining and thought-provoking.

I found a link to the DVD at the Discovery Store...

http://shopping.discovery.com/product-58212.html?hp=HPA_Left_AlienPlanet

 


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I watched that when it

I watched that when it aired...as far as I could determine, all life was cell-based, and obeyed constructs similar to those we distinguish as "life" on Earth, including distinctions between plant and animal, which far from being explored thoroughly were merely blurred.

Make no mistake, it was a brilliant show and I loved every second of it...but for those able to read between the lines it also tells a tale of the tremendous limitations of the human imagination independent of external scientific discovery. 

"No end justifies the means of lying."
-Penn Jillette


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I think it's foolish to

I think it's foolish to think otherwise, in regards to the existance of other intelligent life in the universe.  Besides being improbable, it's also astoundingly arrogant in my opinion.