I am a Dutchman living in the United Kingdom; an alien in a strange land (Exodus 18:3, KJV). However, this article is not about me, nor the UK. This is an extra-terrestrial matter. Harvard tenured (astro)physicist Prof Abraham Loeb has published an article in Scientific American called, “How to Avoid a Cosmic Catastrophe”.1
In it, he describes his proposal to sign an interstellar treaty with other advanced civilizations. The idea of an other-worldly threat is not new: former USA president Ronald Reagan addressing the United Nations said, “I occasionally think how quickly our differences worldwide would vanish if we were facing an alien threat from outside this world.”2
Why would another civilization pose a threat and plan to do us harm? Perhaps we know ourselves only too well and we are inclined to project our qualities (or shortcomings) on others. Can we ascribe any form of morality to an evolved (extra-terrestrial) race? If we evolved—and we are moral beings—then surely the same should apply to further advanced civilizations. Does that make sense though? CMI has written numerous times on the irrationality of matter producing metaphysical concepts, such as morality, consciousness, love, information, etc.
A more pertinent question that should arise beforehand is this: Are we sure that we are not ‘alone’? His postulations are mainly full of appeals to unknowns or hypotheticals. Loeb states the treaty would be “similar to the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, signed first in 1963 by the governments of the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and the United States.”1 On the contrary, signing peace treaties with a civilization that we have not communicated with, much less are at war with, seems rather different. Why not first focus on establishing peace on earth? Or might this be a ploy to achieve just that; if we all have a common enemy, we might get along better ourselves (in line with what president Reagan said)?
The Scientific American article starts with the word ‘imagine’; let that sink in for a moment. We are to imagine “a highly advanced civilization [that] could generate electron collisions at Planck energies within its home planetary system”. Loeb does not request the reader to imagine the Oort cloud—containing “a billion objects bigger than the size of Manhattan island”3—even though not a single observation has been made of this (not very scientific either). Ditto for ‘dark energy’, which is stated as fact. Lastly, we are to thank ‘kind Mother Nature’, as “accelerated cosmic expansion will carry away from us all the risky Planck colliders within distant galaxies”. This implies that ultimately the imagined evil-meaning civilizations (a contradiction in terms) will move away from us together with their threatening technologies. Only ‘local’ aliens would remain in the ‘neighbourhood’. Surely, after alleged millions of years, they would have obliterated us by now if they wanted to (and actually existed).
One should keep in mind that at the root of all this speculation is the belief that a big bang produced a billions-of-years-old universe that must have produced countless worlds and ‘older’, more evolved and technologically advanced civilizations than our own. In short, ET needed evolution. Is there even intelligent, sentient life on other worlds as part of God’s Creation? We don’t think so. See CMI’s position in our article Did God create life on other planets?
It is good to be pro-active and prepared in life, but instead of worrying about alien enemies, people should be prepared for the inevitable arrival of the last enemy—death (1 Corinthians 15:26)—by accepting the gift of everlasting life through Jesus. Now that is a treaty: Christians know that we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1)!
References and notes
- Loeb, A., How to Avoid a Cosmic Catastrophe: An interstellar treaty with other advanced civilizations could stave off death by domain wall, scientificamerican.com, 23 May 2021. Return to text.
- Speech to the United Nations General Assembly, Forty-second session, “Provisional Verbatim Record of the Fourth Meeting”, September 21, 1987. Return to text.
- KTLA 5, Was Earth visited by intelligent life? Astrophysicist Avi Loeb believes it was, youtube.com (19:00), 22 March 2021. Return to text.