Famed physicist Stephen Hawking recently made headlines by explaining that even though extraterrestrial intelligence very likely exists in the universe, we probably don’t want to meet aliens any time soon. “If aliens ever visit us,” Hawking said, “I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn’t turn out very well for the Native Americans.”
I agree completely. In fact, I’ve been considering writing an article on this subject for quite some time, but thought it would be construed as “too pessimistic” by many readers. But now that Hawking has opened the door on this topic, here’s my take on it.
The most successful societies are the conquerors
Sad as it may seem, peaceful societies never accomplish much in the way of spreading their culture, expanding their reach or populating new lands (or planets). All the really peaceful cultures on planet Earth — Tibetan Buddhists, Amazonian tribes, Native American Indians, Indigenous Australians — were unilaterally wiped out by far more aggressive and violent cultures.
The Earth today is dominated by those religions and cultures that were expansionary and aggressive in their ways. Aggressive populations always tend to destroy peaceful populations, taking over their lands and resources, eventually ruling their people.
In looking at the universe, it’s not difficult to realize that peaceful, docile planetary populations are extremely unlikely to ever visit other planets. They’re not looking to expand and they’re quite content with where they are. So happy aliens, so to speak, are almost certainly not the kind of aliens we are likely to see zipping around the universe and arriving at our doorstep.
Angry, war-like aliens, on the other hand, are always looking to expand and conquer. They are the ones who will “succeed” in the universe because they will constantly expand their reach, take over other planets, and exploit more resources to drive their war machines.
These are the aliens we are far more likely to meet. That’s Stephen Hawking’s point, too.
What happens when alien conquerors discover Earth?
If you believe there are intelligent extraterrestrials zipping around the universe at faster-than-light travel, then you quickly realize it won’t take long before they discover Earth — a luscious planet filled with water, one of the most precious resources in the known universe. Earth also contains various precious metals, too, that would likely be extremely important for alien technologies.
Just as the U.S. invades other countries to acquire supplies of oil, extraterrestrial aliens may decide to invade planet Earth to take our water, metals or even our DNA. This is not an outlandish thought: It’s actually the most likely context of any meeting with aliens.
We should assume, in other words, that if aliens actually come to visit Earth, they will almost certainly be looking to exploit our planetary resources for their own continued imperialistic expansion because only the expansionary aliens are likely to find us in the first place.
And in such an encounter, it is extremely likely that alien weapons technology would vastly out-perform our own defensive technologies, essentially leaving our planet defenseless. A few Patriot missiles, in other words, won’t stop alien anti-matter blasters or whatever they happen to be firing our way. (Or they could probably just unleash an engineered pandemic to wipe us out without destroying the natural habitat on the planet.)
It’s also extremely likely that these expansionary, imperialistic aliens won’t value human life. Do modern American soldiers value the lives of Iraqi civilians? Did the crew of Christopher Columbus value the lives of Native American Indians? Not at all: The legacy of Columbus that’s not taught in history lessons is that the man was a slaughterer of Native American Indians who engaged in the most heinous crimes against the “savages.” That America actually continues to celebrate the Columbus Day holiday is yet another powerful demonstration of how our culture worships violence, destruction and expansionary imperialism.
Earthlings will likely be considered “savages” by any sufficiently-advanced alien race. We should expect to be treated by them no more compassionately than the way in which we have treated indigenous populations that inhabit our own planet.
What about an enlightened alien race?
It would seem more optimistic, of course, to suppose that some extraterrestrial intelligence might be “enlightened.” They would come to us in peace, the thinking goes, and they would share their technology with us to cure cancer, end all disease, or whatever.
This is some fairly naive thinking, actually. If you look around our own planet, you see that the peaceful “enlightened” societies like the Tibetan Buddhists are routinely overrun (murdered, imprisoned, etc.) by far more aggressive and militaristic societies like the Communist Chinese. If you look at the history of planet earth (or even just the more recent history of North America), enlightened populations haven’t fared very well. Most have been all but eradicated from the face of our planet, in fact, or placed on desolate reservations that were only chosen because they were perceived to have no value in terms of natural resources.
Peace, in other words, doesn’t get you anywhere in the physical universe (although it probably scores you karma points in other ways). Given any collection of neighborhoods, towns, cities, nations or worlds, those who are most militaristic, violent and expansionist are the most likely to end up dominating (and populating) the available living spaces.
Natural selection on the scale of the entire universe, in other words, favors those who destroy others. Because of this unfortunate reality, we should only really expect to meet intelligent extraterrestrials who are looking to destroy us. This isn’t a radical idea… it’s actually the most logical conclusion.
I’m not advocating all this, by the way. It’s just a sad reality of our physical universe. I wish the more enlightened civilizations were more successful, but I don’t see any evidence of that.
Besides, Earthlings aren’t really enlightened yet either. We are still basically an infantile race of arrogant men with silly ideas about medicine, nature, sustainability and technology. As we haven’t yet learned to value the life of plants and animals on our planet, why should we expect some alien race to value our lives?
Has the invasion already begun? (Humor section)
Here’s a radical idea: What if the aliens have already arrived and are working among us to destroy the human population right now in preparation for alien colonization?
This horrifying idea is portrayed quite dramatically in the recent television series “V” which is actually a remake of a series of the same name from the 1980’s in which alien reptilian visitors were taking over Earth by posing as earthlings. See Wikipedia.
In the V series, aliens that look like humans take over key positions in politics, health care and law enforcement, then they methodically enslave the human race.
The reason I mention this is because some writers and public speakers such as David Icke have, for years, claimed that a reptilian race of aliens already lives among us, and that people in key positions of power are actually reptilians. Obama is a reptile, the thinking goes, and so was Bush.
It’s hard to know what to make of such assertions. It would seem that if such lizard people actually existed, somebody would have snapped a photo of one by now, or a video would have appeared on YouTube. Or a lizard skull would have been apparent on a CT scan somewhere along the line.
Unless, of course, you think that the reptilian alien conspiracy goes so deep that key information censors on the internet (Google) are actually reptilian aliens themselves.
Come to think of it, the founders of Google, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, do look a little bit like iguanas (http://scrapetv.com/News/News%20Pages/Techno…), but that’s probably just coincidence.
Or is it?