A popular question today is where do we find intelligent life and how did it originate? We can divide intelligent life into two parts: (1) intelligent life on earth and (2) intelligent life anywhere else in our universe. For part one, we begin with the presupposition that, for earthlings, humans are the most intelligent species that we are aware of – we’ll come back to that later in this post. Regarding part two, extraterrestrial intelligent life, this has been the subject of both fiction writers and scientific conjecture since I was a boy, avidly devouring everything on it in the public library.
Extraterrestrial intelligent life is perhaps less controversial, so let’s deal with that first. According to Stephen Hawking, it’s all about statistics. In the second of his recently aired, six “Genius” documentaries on PBS , titled “Are We Alone”, he makes the statistical case for humanoid like intelligent life, based on the size of our universe. Given the immense number of galaxies of stars, there should be many earth-like planets (right gravity, proximity to its sun, atmosphere, water, etc.) that could sustain our type of life.
We have been listening for signals from such intelligent civilizations since the radio telescope at Arecibo, Puerto Rico, was built in the early 1960’s – it’s quite an impressive sight, in person.
Herein lies the first problem with a reliance on statistics. If we’ve only become relatively intelligent since the Renaissance, i.e. over the last few hundred years, and our universe is 10-20 billion years old, then intelligent civilizations only thousands of years old, statistically speaking, should have contacted us since Arecibo’s construction – that hasn’t happened.
The second problem, statistically speaking, is that for an “event” to occur, like E.T. phoning us, it (E.T.) has to exist. Let’s use the example of flipping a coin – after a few flips, we have all “heads” – after a dozen flips, still all heads, so we examine the coin. It has heads on both sides – so, after many flips, the probability of “tails” is not 0.5, but zero, because tails doesn’t exist. So, regardless of the number of “earth-like” planets in our universe, the probability of finding earth-like intelligent life may not be either small, possible, or probable – it could be zero! Let’s look at our own origin for some additional insight.
Consider your life on earth – your worldview is beginning to matter. One of the implicit assumptions in the statistical argument for E.T., in the above paragraph, is that macro (Darwinian) evolution was the basis for our origin – as some have put it, we came “…up from the goo !” So, analogously, this could happen on one of those many, “earth-like” planets in our universe. However, if your worldview incorporates the divine origin of our species, stamped with the Creator’s imprimatur, then from the “goo”, only more, perhaps gooier “goo”, comes. Said another way, when the first taxonomists divided biological organisms on earth into two kingdoms, animals and plants, instead of three, they erred – they missed the most unique kingdom – the human kingdom – not a species of animals, but an intelligent life form made in the image of the Creator of our universe and everything in it.
Briefly, there are some major technical problems with our origins being based on macroevolution. In the acronym, F.A.C.E., in the book, “The FACE that Demonstrates the Farce of Evolution”, by Hank Hanegraaff, you can read, in more detail about four of these issues. As one of many writers with following viewpoint, Hanegraaff states that the self assembly of a protein (not life) from simple, primordial molecules, under favorable , earth-like reaction conditions, is impossible – it would take 10E+260 years – that is a 1 followed by 260 zeros, years. This number dwarfs the cosmological count of anything !
In other words, this probability for the self assembly of a protein is essentially zero, even if the estimate of the reaction time is grossly errant. This is not a surprising result when you consider that this self assembly of a protein conflicts with the second law of thermodynamics. George Wald, in “The Origin of Life”, discounts the logic of macroevolution, yet he is one of its strongest proponents, by faith, as he cannot accept the alternative of a divine Creator. Darwin himself said that if the human cell wasn’t the irreducible representation of life, his “theory” was not valid. Today, we know it is a marvelous machine, producing the building blocks of ourselves.
From another tack, the teleological argument for the existence of a divine creator, would say, for example, that the partially evolved eye has no purpose or function – thus, it must have originated, completely functional, from an intelligent designer with a purpose for that organ (sight). The blood clotting mechanism is another strong, teleological argument for God’s existence, and thus our existence, which obviates the evolution of any distant, biological precursor to ourselves. In a very complex, biological process, blood clots in wounds, stopping bleeding, then scars form in the place of scabs, etc. Any animal species, particularly primal, with a partially evolved blood clotting mechanism, would bleed to death before it could have evolved.
Finally, what is the origin of intelligence, of wisdom, of knowledge, of morality? Are they produced by evolution? Jason Lisle, in “The Ultimate Proof of Creation”, makes the point that, ultimately, they have to come to us from an intelligent cause (the mind of the Creator). How do we understand the information (data) in our universe, without them? Moreover, in trying to use logical, rational arguments against existence of the Creator (the God of the Bible), and all that issues from a Biblical worldview, one is in fact, using His very attributes, i.e. the Laws of Logic, to argue against His existence (creativity). Are we just animals, who behave without morality all too often, or are we something else with the opportunity to have eternal significance? You bet “your worldview matters” !