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Could advanced technology enable ‘extraterrestrials’ to travel vast distances?
Answering an enquirer
Daniel P. wrote (letter lightly edited):
I note that one of the creationist (fundamentalist) objections to the idea of extraterrestrials visiting us is that the distances are so great, it would be near impossible to travel from one star system to the next. So the argument goes. (‘Aliens’ could be coming from within our own solar system, from hidden civilizations underground, from Mars, from Niburu. I don’t ‘believe’ this, but to point out the possibilities that get round objections to space travel across vast distances.)
There are several ways around this argument, firstly it assumes that our current understanding of physics and space travel is definitive—that our own technological limitations would apply to aliens who are hypothetically far more technologically advanced than us.
This would be like someone 200 years ago saying it’s impossible to travel through the sky or to travel to the moon. It may have seemed impossible by the understanding of those days, but we advanced and moved past those limitations.
So assuming some alien species is only 200 years ahead of us in their understanding of physics and technology, then they would be able to achieve things we would now consider impossible, just as our own ancestors would have said that so much was impossible, things we can do these days that we now take for granted like beaming images around the world and launching satellites.
For all we know, aliens could have warp drive or hyper drive or wormhole technology, they wouldn’t be using fuel propelled rockets like we do. They could also use generational ships, or cryogenics, or some other method for getting around the problem of distance between stars that we haven’t thought of.
Either way, to impose our own technological and scientific limitations on who are hypothetically more advanced than us, is surely poor logic. It implies our current understanding of physics and space travel is at an end and there is nothing more to learn. We ourselves could find ways around these problems in years to come, some way to bend space and time or freeze passengers or have force shields to protect from space dust.
What sounds like science fiction in one generation becomes science fact in another generation. This kind of perspective taking undermines the argument that it’s impossible to travel from one star to the next because of distance, or danger of space dust, or energy needed, etc.; people used to argue the same way about so many things in the past that we now take for granted. New understandings of physics are coming so fast these days it’s hard to even keep up.
There are many convincing reports of ‘aliens’ visiting us. I don’t accept them blindly, nor would I reject the possibility outright by some a priori argument. Declaring something is impossible by current understanding—therefore it can’t be happening, then rejecting the evidence that it is happening, is not good reasoning.
PS: The question of whether aliens are really demons in disguise is a separate issue from objections to space travel. But each argument needs to be addressed on its own merit (or lack of). It could just as easily be argued that some reports of alien visitations are humans in disguise. If ‘aliens’ are lying about their real nature and origin, it should be remembered that the most expert liars on the planet are human beings.
CMI responded (edited and augmented):
Thank you for your letter.
Your response to the self-evident statement that the distances are too vast unless the limitations of light speed are somehow overcome is both well known to us, and common.
There is however a basic but profound difference between smartphones being unthinkable 200 years ago, and faster-than-light-travel being unthinkable today. That is, that with the former there was no suggestion at the time that one would have to find a way to breach a fundamental barrier of experimental physics. Do you see what is meant? Another way of putting it is that one was based on what we didn’t know, whereas the current argument about light-speed is more based on what we do know (about relativity, e.g.).
Of course, one can always point out that we don’t know what we don’t know but may yet discover. However, this is a bare, unfalsifiable speculation that encourages people to simply ignore the relevant experimental science to this scientific matter. In other words, while it is true that we may develop unknown or advanced technologies in the future, your position is ultimately an appeal to unknowns to overturn what we do know. It is what we do know about physics that makes the idea impossible. For example, are you aware of the massive problems of acceleration and deceleration factors that would be needed to overcome to assure the safety of any occupants? These factors are true operational, experimental science.
One could apply the same approach to argue that anything at all one cares to postulate might one day be possible, even logical contradictions. For example, the notion of time travel by humans back to the past, by that argument, could be shown to be virtually ‘inevitable’. That is because one could theoretically project the ‘march of technology’ thought experiment millions of years into the future. But the logical paradox of someone going back to accidentally run over their grandfather so as to prevent themselves being born would remain.
Putting aside various counter-arguments based on speculative notions of ‘parallel universes with parallel outcomes’ (another way of unfalsifiably permitting anything fantasised to be possible), the key argument against human time travel being possible one day is ‘Where are all the hordes of tourists visiting us from the future?’
That brings the famous ‘Fermi paradox’ to mind: “Where are they all?” i.e., where are all the extraterrestrials from advanced civilizations? Why are they not communicating openly with our civilization (or seeking to conquer us as per the movie Independence Day)? Why are they instead confining themselves to behaving like deceptive ‘things that go bump in the night’, with their only communication being making statements that show an obsession with contradicting biblical themes, and with prodding and degrading people and their sexuality?
We can’t help wondering if you have actually read CMI’s Alien Intrusion: UFOs and the evolution connection (AI)? It has a whole chapter called ‘The science of fiction’ dedicated to the very notions you raise. Despite what we would say is the force of the light-speed-travel-time argument, with the only counter being highly speculative, AI does not rely on it to demonstrate overwhelmingly what many secular UFO researchers have also concluded; that these are not extraterrestrials but some sort of spiritual beings. And since the book’s first publication, its conclusions are now not just a Christian interpretation. As the more recent movie version, Alien Intrusion: Unmasking a Deception showed, this is now the most popular view of secular investigators also, simply because the evidence of sightings and encounters demands it. For example, out of the many thousands of UFOs sightings, not a single one has ever been observed entering our atmosphere from outside it. When they appear, they seem to flit in and out of our reality or dimension. This is known as the Interdimensional Hypothesis. Of course, your current or preferred worldview may depend on the AI book’s arguments being wrong, but we hope you will read it and if you do or have, please let us know what you think thereafter.
Thank you again for writing.
PS: We should have also commented on your suggestion of ‘Nibiru’ as at least a possible place ‘aliens’ could (hypothetically) be coming from. You may be aware, but just in case: This concept has expanded on the internet from an imaginary doomsday fantasy of a collision with an alleged ‘12th planet’ or ‘Planet X’, or ‘Nibiru’. This didn’t happen when it was supposed to, earlier this century, because Nibiru is an imaginary object. The aforementioned book deals extensively with claims about Nibiru and we also have an article here: Will Nibiru collide with Earth?
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