Finding an alien species and its effects on religion

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You have absolutely no evidence of intelegent aliens much less aliens writing hamlet. I never claimed that having the correct ingredients and circumstances for life will produce intelligent life. As a matter of fact i happen to be a member of the "Rare Earth" school of thought, life is common, i expect life to be found in our solar system on at least 4 different planets/moons. Intelligent life is another matter altogether. The idea that intelligent life means they write hamlet is just silly severian....

The contention here was life vs god, we have a planet full of life but no evidence of god. this i have to admit does not prove there is no God but it shows we have evidence of life and lots of circumstantial evidence that life might exist on other planets but life does not = intelligence nor does intelligence = hamlet. Now please stop putting words in my mouth severian....

*sigh* You are just making this up as you go along, aren't you? We were discussing intelligent life. You yourself earlier said "In that vein I was thinking of aliens who also worship a god who is personified by their planets moon."If you keep moving the goal-posts...

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No I'm not making this up as we go along, you are not paying attention but lets agree to disagree on this and allow the thread to go back to it's original question...

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• 4 weeks later...

I am often surprised that people who say that they are atheists because there is "no evidence for a God", often believe in the existence of extraterrestrial life.

Good point and you are right! However However in their defence, it is possible to use mathmatics and observation to at least attempt to predict the probability that aliens exist. It's not so easy to do that with "god".

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Good point and you are right! However However in their defence, it is possible to use mathmatics and observation to at least attempt to predict the probability that aliens exist. It's not so easy to do that with "god".

Is it? I have never seen that done. We have been unable to make synthetic life on Earth, so we have only one single abiogenesis event where life came from no-life spontaneously. I don't think we can use one data point to provide a probability.

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so we have only one single abiogenesis event where life came from no-life spontaneously. I don't think we can use one data point to provide a probability.

You should seriously consider catching yourself up on the current research surrounding abiogenesis, otherwise, you may find yourself inadvertently continuing to strawman it when you post about it.

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You should seriously consider catching yourself up on the current research surrounding abiogenesis, otherwise, you may find yourself inadvertently continuing to strawman it when you post about it.

Which bit of my post do you think was in error?

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Which bit of my post do you think was in error?

That would be this bit:

where life came from no-life spontaneously.

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Is it? I have never seen that done. We have been unable to make synthetic life on Earth, so we have only one single abiogenesis event where life came from no-life spontaneously. I don't think we can use one data point to provide a probability.

You might want to have a look at these.

First: The Drake Equation:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drake_equation

There are still a few unknowns in this, but we are startign to get a good handle on some, like how common planets are.

R*: we know this fairly well

fp: we have a good idea of now with all the planet hunting projects going now.

ne: we are starting to be able to put a number to because of the Kepler mission

ft: we can take a good guess at, and if we find life on another planet in our solar system then this will give us a better idea and based on our increaseing understanding of chemistry we are failry sure this is going to be a moderalty high number

fi: well we don't really know as we only have one data point and until we learn of another civilization we can't really pint this one down

fe: again, a complete unknown

L: we can base this off only our civilization, but being a single data point it is still just a guess.

So there are only two factors that are complete unknowns, two more that are uncertain but we have a decent basis for the guess, another two that we have a basic idea of and are getting more accurate data daily and the others we know quite well.

When you put some of the numbesr in it, there should be quite a few civilizations out there at the moment and more that have long since become extinct (iirc: there is a good chance that there is an alien civilization within 100 to 200 light years of us).

So when we say that we believe that there are Aliens out there, it is becuase the chances of them existing are quite high, but it is a chance so we do acnowledge that they might not exist.

As for the second part:

Craig Ventner ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Craig_Venter ) has succeeded in creating an artifical organism in the lab.

Also Dr Jack Szostak (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_W._Szostak) has put forward about (ie repeatable in the lab) explaination of how life could have got started and the environments needed to do so were present on early Earth.

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You might want to have a look at these.

First: The Drake Equation:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drake_equation

There are still a few unknowns in this, but we are startign to get a good handle on some, like how common planets are.

It is $f_l$ that I object to most. It is usually set to 100% even though we have never observed this happening anywhere but on Earth. Is there any scientific evidence which supports the number they use?

With one data point all we can say is that $f_l = 1 \pm 1$.

As for the second part:

Craig Ventner ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Craig_Venter ) has succeeded in creating an artifical organism in the lab.

Also Dr Jack Szostak (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_W._Szostak) has put forward about (ie repeatable in the lab) explaination of how life could have got started and the environments needed to do so were present on early Earth.

Ventner's work was creating an organism with artificial genes - not artificial life.

Can you link to the description of the lab experiments making artificial life that Szostak has carried out? I couldn't find them.

Edited by Severian
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It is $f_l$ that I object to most. It is usually set to 100% even though we have never observed this happening anywhere but on Earth. Is there any scientific evidence which supports the number they use?

With one data point all we can say is that $f_l = 1 \pm 1$.

I don't think I have ever seen it set at 100% because that would mean Mars would have had to have life (in the past) as well as a number of moons as well (Europa, etc). As these have the necesary conditions to support the formation of life (liquid water, organic chemistry and energy sources) then these would have to already have had life detected on them. As we don't know whether Mars ever had life (but we do know that it did have a watery past), and we have not yet made a detailed enough study of the Moons with the potential we can not conclusivly say that it will be at 100%.

At best we could say that life has a 1 in 6 (approximately as there is around half a dozen candidates in our solar system for life to have got started on). But that is one of the more higly optimistic values I have heard.

Ventner's work was creating an organism with artificial genes - not artificial life.

Can you link to the description of the lab experiments making artificial life that Szostak has carried out? I couldn't find them.

Here is an interview with him:

And a link to a PDF copy of the article in Nature: http://genetics.mgh.harvard.edu/szostakweb/publications/Szostak_pdfs/Mansy_et_al_Nature_2008.pdf

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That would be this bit:

where life came from no-life spontaneously.

What's wrong with it?

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The use of the word spontaneous. That strawmans the actual area of study quite profoundly.

It's not like a functioning cell just shit itself into existence one day, which is roughly what Severian is implying. It was a gradual process of slow changes.

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The use of the word spontaneous. That strawmans the actual area of study quite profoundly.

It's not like a functioning cell just shit itself into existence one day, which is roughly what Severian is implying. It was a gradual process of slow changes.

By what authority do you know what I was "implying"?

I have no problem with a slow evolution from complex molecule to "life", but presumably if one has a definition of "life", the molecules will at some point cross that boundary from "non-life" to "life". So life does, in some sense "just shit itself into existence one day", as you so eloquently put it.

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lol

Thats called being super 'argumentative'.

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I have no problem with a slow evolution from complex molecule to "life", but presumably if one has a definition of "life", the molecules will at some point cross that boundary from "non-life" to "life". So life does, in some sense "just shit itself into existence one day", as you so eloquently put it.

Well, that's only a problem for people who do have a definition of life. Personally I think it's a rather arbitrary distinction, and not a binary classification, even though it is usually used as one to signify things going from very alive to very dead.

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lol

Theres no such thing as a 'table'.

just a construction make of wood and nails for the purpose of holding things up off the ground.

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lol

Theres no such thing as a 'table'.

just a construction make of wood and nails for the purpose of holding things up off the ground.

Exactly! While when someone says "table" most people conjure up an image of a flat, rectangular wooden object with 4 legs to hold it up, but tables can also be made of wood, stone, glass, metal, plastic, and can have many shapes and sizes. Some types of tables form exclusively naturally. Sometimes a rock or log is used as a table and can during that time be called a table. Some tables are never used for eating on (pool table), some people don't eat at tables, and some objects similar to tables might instead be called a workbench even though they're not for sitting on and their owners seldom work at them. Some objects make better tables than others. Someone would have to carefully define table before they can conclude that tables cannot arise naturally.

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Whether or not there is a definitive explanation for the event of life from non-life, or an equation describing the probability of life on other planets, have no impact on the implications of an alien species theology and gods on our own.

The point of the topic was to discuss and rout the psychology of our theology and gods and how our theology would react to an aliens theology/gods. assuming of course that we had contact between our species and theirs. also another thought process would be, what would be the effects of religion on the alien species, both from our perspective and theirs.

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Well, that's only a problem for people who do have a definition of life. Personally I think it's a rather arbitrary distinction, and not a binary classification, even though it is usually used as one to signify things going from very alive to very dead.

Don't you think that makes it even harder to ascribe the probability of finding life on another planet? If you don't actually have a working definition of life, how are you going to say life exists?

Incidentally, do you think life exists on planet Earth?

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I am often surprised that people who say that they are atheists because there is "no evidence for a God", often believe in the existence of extraterrestrial life.

Belief in extraterrestrial life doesn't require you to assume an all knowing, all seeing omnipotent being the likes of which has never been seen before and is the creator of everything we know. Extraterrestrials (for me) are far more acceptable because we know we already exist - why can't something similar exist on another planet?

Because we have never seen or known God it is hard for me to imagine that "It" even exists at all given none of it's attributes are seen in nature (spontanious creation of matter for example)

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Don't you think that makes it even harder to ascribe the probability of finding life on another planet? If you don't actually have a working definition of life, how are you going to say life exists?

I think it is entirely down to an almost completely unsubstantiated guess. This goes for those who guess zero probability just as well.

Incidentally, do you think life exists on planet Earth?

Sure, but I don't think it tells us too much about how life in general must look. Also, there could be a different form of life on earth, not based on DNA/RNA, and we very likely not notice, not with our current level of technology. If that seems surprising, just consider that most bacteria we only know about from doing DNA analysis of soil.

If you like I can define Earth's DNA based life: It stores information as DNA from which it generates mRNA, uses ATP/GTP as an internal power source, has ribosomes to make protein, is enclosed in a membrane, and can replicate itself.

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I think it is entirely down to an almost completely unsubstantiated guess. This goes for those who guess zero probability just as well.

OK - I can agree with that.

Sure, but I don't think it tells us too much about how life in general must look. Also, there could be a different form of life on earth, not based on DNA/RNA, and we very likely not notice, not with our current level of technology. If that seems surprising, just consider that most bacteria we only know about from doing DNA analysis of soil.

If you like I can define Earth's DNA based life: It stores information as DNA from which it generates mRNA, uses ATP/GTP as an internal power source, has ribosomes to make protein, is enclosed in a membrane, and can replicate itself.

And that!

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you know, trees and plant "life" should be considered as being life.

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