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Could advanced technology enable ‘extraterrestrials’ to travel vast distances?

Answering an enquirer

Published: 4 July 2020 (GMT+10)

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?

Readers’ comments

B. M.
To Gary Bates:
What are your thoughts on the recent disclosure of UFO footage from the U.S. Navy that has been in the news recently? It seems that this questioner may have had those videos in mind. (Personally I don’t subscribe to the notion that these videos are showing extraterrestrial technology)
Gary Bates
For many years the US authorities have neither confirmed or denied the existence of UFOs (now called Unidentified Aerial Phenomena/UAPs), while at the same time intently researching them via 3 major projects over the years. Please read Alien Intrusion: UFOs and the evolution connection for more on this. So, the admission that military pilots have been observing them, and the release of footage, most certainly does mark a change of direction. It is my view that we are being prepared for an admission or announcement of some description. Does it have end times applications? Who knows? However, you might be interested in my article Prepare ye the way; the aliens are coming where I foreshadowed exactly what is starting to occur.
Norman W.
I know the concepts discussed are fraught with Atheistic antagonists who would argue, simply because it needs to be argued to disprove God, against all you have mentioned. It is like the idea of time travel. I have often considered the absurdity of time travel in that, even if one were able to travel, instantaneously, even if it were only seconds into the past, the earth, sun, and galaxy would have traveled so far in those seconds that appearing in that past would put one in the midst of deep space. Does one actually think that traveling through time would automatically cause one to travel equally through space to end up where one was at that past point? I don't know if that is a valid thought or whether I am just blowing smoke.
John F.
Apart from the impossibility of there being Aliens, there are two fundamental problems with the idea that Aliens are visiting the Earth. 1. Any society with the technology advanced enough to easily traverse the enormous distances of space. Also would have technology so advance that we would not be able to detect them. So reports of craft that defied ourcknowledge of science would simply not be seen. Apart from this problem, why should Aliens spend so much time hanging around us? We would appear to them to be like the Pacific islanders in WwII when confronted with the American Navy and air force and we would be as much use as they were. 2 problem, if the Alien technology was only slightly more advanced then ours, we would see them coming, we would see there spaceships where ever they were parked in the solar system. Basic fact, one cannot hide in space. So the aliens are either here and we cannot detect them or because we cannot see them they are not here.

As I started, there are No Aliens in space.
Joel L.
I would be curious to know the author’s views regarding research into the ‘Mach effect’. If this effect (and its corresponding proposal for the reality underlying the physics of our universe) should prove to be real, it would open up some interesting possibilities to say the least—including by some extrapolations the possibility of faster than light travel.

Also would it not be reasonable that God might allow us a means to exercise our stewardship over all of creation—especially if there should in fact be non ‘sapient’ life on other worlds?
Jonathan Sarfati
What James Woodward calls the ‘Mach Effect’, or rather at least three different Mach effects, is still hypothetical. It has been disputed on theoretical grounds, such as violation of conservation of energy (Revised Theory of Transient Mass Fluctuations, 2001). Even apart from that, suppose a Mach-Effect drive could accelerate gently to c/3 (10⁸ m/s). It would still face the problem that colliding even with tiny dust grains would produce massive explosions, while colliding with pebble-sized objects would be like a nuclear bomb. And a spacecraft at such speeds could not turn without producing fatal g-forces.

There is a connection of this with wormholes. But according to Matt Visser, a theoretical physicist at my almer mater, Victoria University of Wellington (New Zealand):

“For a wormhole about 1 meter across, big enough to fit a person, you’d need a Jupiter’s worth of negative mass converted into negative energy – think E = mc² – to hold the throat open and hope it remains stable. That’s an incredible amount.”

Nobel laureate Kip Thorne, scientific adviser for the 2014 movie Interstellar, proposed a different type of wormhole. But this would require 10⁸ solar masses so that we were not torn apart by tidal forces.

Grahame G.
I understand why some don't grasp the importance of UFOs etc to Creation. But I'm glad CMI understand how important this is to address and especially your work, Gary, in producing Alien Intrusion.

And it's great to see this issue continuing to be addressed. The devil is attacking the truth in every way he can, and this is a major one that is very closely connected to the truth of Creation, and therefore the Gospel.

Keep up the great work!
Dr. John C.
It is impossible for aliens to visit us no matter how advanced they are. This is with the exception of those that reside within our own galaxy and maybe even universe. The reason is that our galaxy is much younger than those others we know about. To traverse galaxies they would traverse time and instantly be much younger. By design this isn’t possible.
Gary Bates
It's a non starter, I'm afraid. The concept of ET/aliens damages the Gospel's big picture. Please read the associated links in the article, particularly this one, which is CMI's position on this issue. Did God Create Life on Other Planets?
Murk P.
Fascinating - love how you guys engage anything within the scope of your calling. Which in part is to teach the church - the global church - through the tool of the internet (The teachers can be in Australia and the believers everywhere benefit). Speaking of which God is bigger than universe God is all powerful and directs His creation God is therefore aware of what is going on in one part of the universe at the same time as what is going on in another part of the universe - let’s say this is 1000 lightyear of distance His thoughts are not limited by C God is spirit. Seems to me spirit does not live under physical laws. We are made of matter thus are always under physical laws. We can utilize different laws to negate the effects of other ones. (Gravity swapped for arodynamics whe. We jump on a plane). But we always operate under the laws He established. The God man - Christ our saviour seemed to be able to not be subject to physical laws though blood ran through His veins. He showed up inside of a locked room and on another occasion was not concerned about the ratio of His density to that of water. I wonder if these physical limits will be shed when we get our new bodies. I think that maybe the physical limits are there because of our sinful state and His plan on when and how history unfolds. Once God caused people to speak different languages since they were of one mind and one language - nothing would restrain their plans which they imagined. To slow them down for now we have one language that is universally accepted as the business language and the internet to speed the transmission. Any way I kind of think new bodies will operate in such a way to not be limited by C.
Gary Bates
Murk, could you please use some punctuation when submitting comments? It does take us time to make a comment ready for publication and to reduce potential embarrassment for commenters. Line breaks don't constitute as periods, for example. I mention this because if it is too much work for us, then your comment might not be published. Thanks. With regard to your comment. I would say that God most definitely does not live under physical laws. Genesis 1:1 "In the beginning God..." He was there before the universe He created so surely He is not bound by those physical laws. Read Miracles and Science for a good understanding of how God can add to those scientific laws though.
The writer argues that any limited distant travel view is wrong because such "assumes that our current understanding of physics and space travel is definitive." The writer is actually admitting that with fantasy, everything is possible. Your response is based mostly on science, but I like the logic argument also. Where are the massive numbers of real visitors from other worlds? With billions of years of advanced technology, why have none ever made it here?
Gary Bates
While it is true that there might be some aspects of physics we don't understand, but when it comes to gravity, physics, linear motion, speed, velocity, acceleration etc., our understanding is definitive. Such laws explain the motion of the planets, g-forces and so on. Without them the universe would fly apart, for example. By these same laws, we understand that the speeds required for interstellar travel by organic lifeforms makes it impossible. Anything else (like explaining it via 'unknown' physics) is actually an appeal to the unknown and that is fantasy. Please read G-forces and the space travel problem and you'll see how impossible it all is.
Patricio N.
Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. God bless you. Let me tell you that you do a great job! I learn more about physics with you than at school hahaha. And I like that, I like to learn complex things. I have a question regarding the title of the post in question. Rather, it is a somewhat speculative question, do you believe (or the author of the post) that technology in the future as many speculate, will make us know the entire universe, all existence, explain everything, etc ...? as if technology and science one day became "omnipotent". Now, I think I would need it if they help me with something, it is a question that few people ask, but which is useful in my opinion: what is science? And what are its scope and limits?
Gary Bates
Well, we don't know what we don't know so it is an impossible question to answer today.
Terry D P.
Re: “There are many convincing reports of ‘aliens’ visiting us.” There is one particularly convincing report of an ‘alien’ visiting earth from outer space. «/ WHEN ALL THINGS began, the Word already was. The Word dwelt with God, and what God was, the Word was. The Word, then, was with God at the beginning, and through him all things came to be; no single thing was created without him. All that came to be was alive with his life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines on in the dark, and the darkness has never mastered it. — Jn:1:1-5 /» There you have it, an “alien” aka God seeding all life on earth, viz. “transpermia”. So, why do atheists discount (i.e. not recognise) the Word as the one obvious creator of all life on earth. «/ He [the Word of God] was in the world; but the world, though it owed its being to him, did not recognise him. He entered his own realm, and his own would not receive him. But to all who did receive him, to those who have yielded him their allegiance, he gave the right to become children of God, not born of any human stock, or by the fleshly desire of a human father, but the offspring of God himself. So the Word became flesh; he came to dwell among us, and we saw his glory, such glory as befits the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth. —Jn:1:10-14 /»

The godless atheists/evolutionists are so near, yet so far, off perceiving the Truth about the genesis of life and the universe.
Gary Bates
Terry, in the common vernacular an alien means a being from within our universe. And they are the type of aliens the article is talking about. I would not put God in the category of being an alien in any sense of the word and He did not come from outer space. "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together (Col. 1:15-17)." Also Isaiah 46:9, "for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me."

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