SETI logically proves advanced intersteller civilizations

And they did this by not not getting anything except a on off WOW signal that may be a anomaly.

This is the argument I have heard and trying to boil it down:

1 - SETI has not found intersteller communications looking at the EM spectrum.

2- The earth/solar system/sun is not unique, but common and made of common material. Since life happened here, we have to take that life happened elsewhere as well.

2a - If we invoke God in this, there is no reason for a god to create life on one planet as god is usually taken as a being of life, so then the universe is already life abundant and it would be not logical for god not to create life everywhere, but back to the basics.

3 - Evolution will eventually tend towards intelligent beings due to the advantage of using resources as tools.

4 - Using 2+3 we get that there are many intelligent extraterrestrial beings.

5 Our Solar System is a newcomer to the galactic party, so plenty of time for more advanced civilizations to have evolved.

6 4+5 is there are many advanced beings in all states of their ‘technological evolution’

7 Electromagnetic communications is sufficient for planetary communications but not practical for interstellar communications.

8 Since we established that advanced extraterrestrial beings exist and are prevalent in the galaxy we must assume they are not using EM methods of communication, and have found something better, but the only reason for doing so is the need (technological evolutionary pressure) for interstellar communications, therefor interstellar civilizations are a reality and common.

Yes I skipped a few steps, particularly between 7-8, but that’s the basic gist of it.

You might be interested in the Drake Equation, which sounds like what you’re describing here.

Well… Humans are at the stage of their technical evolution where they are communicating with EM and are broadcasting it.

It does seem odd that God would make the entire universe only to place life on a single planet billions of years after creating the universe.

He was busy in the meantime creating Hell for people who ask questions like that.

I do think the odds are good that there’s intelligent life out there but I think the source of your list is jumping to some wrong conclusions.

Maybe. Technologically advanced life took more than 4.5 billion years to develop on Earth. There’s no way to know if we’re typical, faster than average, or slower than average on developing intelligence, but regardless I think it will take a long time no matter where it happens. So far we have no idea how many planets will remain habitable for that length of time. It’s possible that planets like Earth that can support life long enough to develop intelligence are rare so your conclusion on 4 is not certain.

We’re not as new as proponents of your list think. The early universe was incapable of forming life. We had to wait for a few generations of stars to live and die to seed the universe with heavy elements. Then galaxies had to evolve to the point where they developed relatively quiet zones where planets aren’t bombarded by radiation and can develop life, and on those planets where life evolved you still have to wait for intelligence. It’s possible that we’re among the earliest of intelligent species in our galaxy.

Maybe, but maybe not too. We simply don’t know enough yet to make this kind of assertion.

Electromagnetic Radiation very quickly disperses as it leaves our solar system. Within a very short distance the EM we’re sending into space is indistinguishable from the background radiation. We could be looking at any number of planets beaming out TV signals, but if they’re more than about 6 light years away my understanding is that we wouldn’t detect them.

This also neglects the fact that not all intelligent species will develop radio, and radio may only be used for a brief period of time during a species technological advancement.

The list is interesting in making a person think about life and technology on other planets, but can’t be used to make any inferences about other species technology based on us not picking up any real signals from space.

Another thing is that we really don’t know how the jump from amino acids to one-celled life was made, so we don’t know how improbable it is.

There’s also the chance that many alien civilization died out before they were ever advanced enough to communicate with other worlds. Since the eruption of Mt. Toba in what’s now Indonesia almost 74k years ago almost wiped out humanity, it’s easy to see where intelligent life could easily be snuffed out before we could detect it.

There’s a balancing act here too. A planet needs to be stressful enough to drive evolution, but not so stressful that it causes mass extinction. The fact that we’ve had multiple mass extinctions on Earth just illustrates that these windows where life can evolve to intelligence have natural boundaries.

Which leads me to what I consider to be the major fallacy in the argument in the OP - they seem to think that intelligent species is nearly a sure thing. I agree that life may be very common in our Galaxy, but I’d bet that intelligent life is rare to very rare.

Perhaps it’s presumptuous of us foolish mortals to suppose that the various gods of human religions (particularly the Abrahamic God, as commonly imagined) is a Universal God of the whole Universe.

It may be, instead, that all the gods had a big pow-wow (or a big battle royale), the result of which was a partitioning of the Universe into various spheres of influence, with each surviving god being awarded some piece of the Universe to play with. So the Abrahamic God may only have His Creative Powers in our own local region of the Universe.

I think that scenario is at least as plausible as the more typical humanly religious theories (in particular the Judeo-Christian theory) of things.

If so, there’s no reason to assume that the other gods’ performed a Creation in their assigned territories* that in any resembles the Creation that we are familiar with – nor to assume that they saw fit to perform any Creation at all. Nor should we assume that all the gods have similar godly powers to begin with.

So our OP makes a leap of faith in assuming that Creation exists in other distant parts of the Universe – in particular, that Creation exists in any form that we would recognize as being Lifelike.

  • ETA: When discussing regions of the Universe, we need a better word than the Terran-constrained word “territories”, but that’s the vocabulary I have to work with. Any suggestions?

Okay, let’s get this straight: is there or is there not an intergalactic kegger? I gotta buy Solo cups.

I don’t think there is much, or maybe any, evidence that this is true at all. Sure, humans developed intelligence and it has gave us a definite advantage over other competing species and allowed us to spread into every ecological niche in a very short amount of time, but it is unclear whether this will be advantageous in the long term. Hell, I could even argue that evolution did a better job with horseshoe crabs, a species that has been successful and basically unchanged for 450 million years, than it has done with us.

You can always drink out of pitchers, vases, etc. You can even kegstand but what will you do without ice?

You lost me at #2. The universe might be really, really big but we have no idea what the odds are for life occurring and we’ve had no evidence for it off of Earth (unless we put it there in the theoretical case of bacteria on satellites or something). On the other hand, we haven’t looked very far either.

I’m not advocating for or against extraterrestrial life, I just think the “But it’s really big” argument is very lazy thinking.

You had me at #1; lost me at #2: non-sequitur.

Imagine the delay in communication.

Now I’m asking myself why I am willing to grant #2, but not sure about #3.

I can see where you were going with this, but it’s not an inevitable endpoint - only a possible outcome.

Tools are an advantage - to the extent that many quite unintelligent creatures use them - some fish use rocks as anvils for cracking open mollusc shells, for example - even some insects use tools.

I don’t know why it would make any difference if it was advantageous in the long term - evolution doesn’t work that way. If tool use allows a species to fill all kinds of niches, and then wipes itself out before developing interstellar communication, then it is no different than if it never developed tool use at all. Tool use/intelligence is a necessary but not sufficient condition for interstellar communication, IOW.

I don’t see how a species can communicate with another planet without tool use, though.

FWIW I think we are unlikely to wipe ourselves out as a species. Suppose WWIII breaks out tomorrow and kills a billion people and wipes out the US and Europe and China and Japan. It would be a horrific tragedy - and in five hundred years, the Aussies and Africans would be tuning up the radio telescopes and removing the “Technical Difficulties - Please Stand By” display from our SETI transmission channels.


My point exactly.

Invoking god in that doesn’t really make sense to me. Life seems to just be a collection of self sustaining chemical reactions, I don’t see why god would care (if god existed) whether life existed on 1% of planets or on 0.000000000001% of planets.

As for your point 3, my understanding is that intelligence tends to evolve in social animals since social animals need to strategize and outsmart each other socially. Dolphins (another social animal) may be quite intelligent too, but it doesn’t matter. You also aside from intelligence need the ability to make tools. A water based lifeform with fins can’t make tools. A land based life form with mobility and opposable thumbs can.

But on top of that, you need a planet with natural resources. Our planet has a lot of metals, fossil fuels, etc we have used to create technology. Not every planet would have those. Without easily accessible metal and fossil fuels our technological evolution would be much slower, if it happens at all.

Not only that, but just because you have an intelligent species that can make/use tools, and that lives on a planet with natural resources doesn’t mean they will become tool makers. Humans weren’t really good at making tools until 250 years ago with the industrial revolution. Our species has existed for 200,000 years. So through our species existence we have been making meaningful tools for about 0.1% of our history.

Either way, of the 3.8 billion years of life on earth, tool making intelligent life that has decided to make meaningful tools has only existed for 200-300 years.

Subspace beacons. Make it so.