October 22, 2014

Interesting Ideas On Extraterrestrial Life By Evolutionary Biologist Richard Dawkins

Are we alone in the universe? This is an inquiry that the human mind started making when it first became self-aware. Thousands of years flew by and here we are in the thick of the 21st century still scrambling to find definitive answers to the question. As the great Carl Sagan famously said, our home planet is but a pale blue dot in a seemingly never-ending universe. There's gotta be somebody else out there.

So are we alone in the universe? The most rational answer is we don't know. This is of course if you are to provide an answer without the influence of religion. Christianity in particular clings to the concept of creation by a deity as written on the Bible when explaining the origins of man and the universe. As the Christian evangelist Ken Ham once pronounced in a debate with the science educator Bill Nye, intelligent life can only be found on Earth and that the rest of the universe was created by God as proof of his greatness. Obviously, with this position, it follows that Ham and his ilk don't believe in aliens. This is a Christian worldview which is completely different to what you are about to watch.

At least 80% (and this is a conservative figure) of the scientific community believe in the theory of evolution. One of these scientists is Richard Dawkins, a well-known evolutionary biologist and author. In a short video shown at the World-Changing Ideas Summit in New York last October 21, Dawkins explored the idea that there's intelligent life out there and that they may have come to existence in a way that's different from how we on Earth came to be.

The evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. (bbc.com)
One of the main reasons that it's so difficult to the point of impossible to check if there's other life out there is the colossal distance that lies between our planet and other habitable planets outside of our solar system. Dawkins rightfully makes the statement that if we are to ever have contact with extraterrestrial life, it won't be on a direct manner. Our biggest chance is through radio signals from outer space. But then again, these signals would be coming from civilizations that may have already perished or evolved into something else hundreds, thousands, if not millions of years before their signals reached our radars here on Earth. In short, don't raise your expectations too much.

You can watch the video clip on BBC here. For more information on the World-Changing Ideas Summit, go here. They have a ton of really interesting speakers which include Dr. Jeffrey Hoffman, an aerospace engineering professor from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Alexis Ohanian, one of the founders of the social bookmarking/networking site Reddit. Hopefully, they'll be uploading their talks soon for free viewing.

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