Intelligent life

You may all think that I’m primarily a crime thriller kinda guy, a lot of the book reviews I post here are for crime, crime thrillers and thrillers. My current work in progress is also a crime thriller. So I clearly fit into a very neat little box created out of stacks of James Patterson releases for the month. But I like a lot of genres, I think most readers do, in fact I’d go as far as to say that all readers read more than one genre unless they are still battling with Where’s Waldo.

Needless to say, despite my current work – and several others in the pipeline – being crime thrillers, I have several outlines for stories in other genres. One of my first big ideas – quite literally, as I have a 50 page synopsis and several instalments plotted – was for a sci-fi story. Think Jack Reacher crossed with Jet Li (Did you know Jet Li is a real life hero?) inspired by Heinlein. Anyway, the main character, Caleb, is the last of his kind and is trying to save humans from themselves, whether that be leading a civil war, or deposing dictators at the various human colonies. Of course there have to be aliens in space.

The problem I’ve always had with aliens in books and movies is that they are too much like us. On Star Trek they could even pass for us, as long as they wore a headband.
But it isn’t just that they look so much like us, why would aliens even think of us as awesome? Would humans be actually interesting to aliens? If aliens are watching our broadcasts you could just about guarantee that they don’t consider any of the life on this planet intelligent.

Alien: So you consider your race intelligent?
Human: Why yes.
Alien: Explain Glenn Beck.
Human: Okay, some of us aren’t as…
Alien: And you dig up stored gases to change your atmosphere so that it wrecks your climate.
Human: But we needed fuel for power. We’ve got solutions to that now.
Alien: One word: Politicians.
Human: Please don’t wipe out our planet!

So in my alien research for my novel/s I finally found inspiration. Who better to inspire me than Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Richard Dawkins?*

See the rest of the discussion between Dawkins and DeGrasse here.

*Yes Carl Sagan would be inspirational too, but he isn’t in the video.

6 thoughts on “Intelligent life

  1. Atheism is simply and exevcsiluly not believing in gods, deities or divinities. Anything beyond that an atheist may say, do or think is not a function of their atheism but of something else. Atheism is not a movement, philosophy or group. When an atheist or anyone else for that matter makes a claim about having or not having special knowledge, that is a function of their gnosticism or agnosticism. The terms are not mutually exclusive. I am an agnostic and an atheist. I am also a strong advocate for both. Neither term implies any sort of level of activism.NdGT may not care about religion to have sufficiently researched the terms he’s using and that is certainly his prerogative. We can’t blame him for that. However, he shouldn’t really be speaking about these terms if he doesn’t fully understand them. He has a celebrity status because of his intellectualism. He should know better than to speak on matters he doesn’t understand.In this video he flat out states he doesn’t want to be called an atheist so he isn’t associated with the more militant types. He doesn’t want to use the term atheist because it causes confusion. Here’s a better idea, how about he uses his position to educate people on the definition of the word atheist. I’m an atheist and let me tell you what that means. I simply don’t have an active believe in any god, deity or divinity and that’s all it means to be an atheist. It doesn’t mean I want to burn down churches and it doesn’t mean I’m going to call you stupid for believing in a deity and it doesn’t mean anything other than that I simply don’t believe in gods, deities or divinities. Simple.


    1. Neil describes himself as agnostic, so I’m pretty sure he is aware of the definitions. Plus he isn’t the only famous atheist or agnostic who has publicly distanced themselves from militant atheism, Michael Shermer has as well. I was under the impression that they don’t want to be perceived as following another dogma, despite the spuriousness of that assertion.


  2. VATICAN CITY, NOV. 10, 2009 ( Both scientists and beeirvels posit that life is a special outcome in a vast and mostly inhospitable universe, and to study this common understanding, the Vatican brought together an interdisciplinary group of scholars to work on and study astrobiology.The conclusions of the five-day work-study were presented today by a Jesuit priest and leading professors from Italy, France and the United States. (not the Pope) Astrobiology is the study of life’s relationship to the rest of the cosmos, one of the professors explained. Its major themes include the origin of life and its precursor materials, the evolution of life on earth, and its future prospects on and off the earth. The Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Vatican Observatory hosted the study days. (not the Pope) Presenting the conclusions today were Jesuit Father Jose9 Funes, director of the Vatican Observatory; Jonathan Lunine, professor at the department of physics in Rome’s Tor Vergata University; Chris Impey, professor at the department of astronomy in the University of Arizona and the Steward Observatory, Tucson; and Athena Coustenis, professor at the Observatoire de Paris-Meudon, in France. (not the Pope)Father Funes explained that the Vatican is involved in astrobiology because, although it is an emerging field and still a developing subject, the questions of life’s origins and of whether life exists elsewhere in the universe are very interesting and deserve serious consideration. These questions offer many philosophical and theological implications. Hub of scholarsLunine said the study days provided a special opportunity since it was interdisciplinary and gave scientists the chance to spend an intensive week understanding how the work in their particular specialty might have an impact on, or be impacted by, that in other areas. Nowhere is this more evident than in the work being done on how life formed on the earth and evolved with the changing environment, he observed. It is becoming clear that Earth’s climate has not been particularly stable over time, and major environmental crises have occurred that are documented in the geologic record. How life has responded to this, and what the implications might be for Earth-like planets around other stars with somewhat different histories, cuts across all the disciplines of astrobiology from astronomy, to planetary and geological sciences, to biology. Self-imageImpey spoke of the possibilities of life outside of Earth. In the past 15 years, technological breakthroughs have led to the discovery of over 400 planets beyond the solar system, he explained, noting that the smallest of these is not much more massive than the Earth. Meanwhile, the Arizona-based professor continued, lab experiments have made progress in tracing the processes by which simple chemical ingredients might have evolved into cells about four billion years ago, and scientists have discovered life in surprisingly diverse, inhospitable environments on the Earth. It is plausibly estimated that there are hundreds of millions of habitable locations in the Milky Way, which is just one of billions of galaxies in the universe. We still only know of one planet with life: our own. But there is a palpable expectation that the universe harbors life and there is hope that the first discovery is only a few years away, the scholar suggested. Impey acknowledged that making contact with an intelligent species in space would have profound implications for our self-image. It is appropriate that a meeting on this frontier topic is hosted by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, he stated. The motivations and methodologies might differ, but both science and religion posit life as a special outcome of a vast and mostly inhospitable universe. There is a rich middle ground for dialogue between the practitioners of astrobiology and those who seek to understand the meaning of our existence in a biological universe. THIS WAS A WORKSHOP FOR SCIENTISTS, NOT AN INFALLIBLY DECLARED ENCYCLICAL


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