Making Contact with the SETI Standard

Giant radio telescopes search for extraterrestrial life.

I recently re-watched Contact with Jodie Foster (just to be clear, I wasn’t watching the flick with Jodie; she was in it). In this adaptation of the novel by Carl Sagan, Foster plays Eleanor Arroway, a scientist inspired by a life long dream to discover “what’s out there.”

Her career in science eventually leads to her involvement with the SETI program (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence), which is summarized in the following manner: “The general approach of SETI projects is to survey the sky to detect the existence of transmissions from a civilization on a distant planet – an approach widely endorsed by the scientific community as hard science”

This surveying is done in an attempt to detect any discernable pattern in the radio signals found in space. The ultimate hope and goal is to find something that so contrasts with randomness that it might be reasonably attributed to an intelligent cause – the cause in this case most likely being an alien civilization.

That’s the broad, general idea anyway, and it seems reasonable enough to me. Looking for a clear, identifiable pattern as a way of identifying the existence, if not the precise identity of, an intelligent agent responsible for the creation of the pattern in question seems to be quite a reasonable approach.

So off SETI goes, sweeping the skies for discernable patterns that might, when found, ideally be attached to an alien civilization.

In Contact, Ms. Arroway makes the following observations about God while she is pursuing the aliens she is so certain are “out there”:

“So what’s more likely? That an all-powerful, mysterious God created the universe, and decided not to give any proof of his existence? Or, that He simply doesn’t exist at all, and that we created Him, so that we wouldn’t have to feel so small and alone?”

One would assume that an honest, truth-seeking, critically thinking scientist of Ms. Arroway’s [albeit fictional] stature would at least be slightly inclined to apply the same tests used to detect potential alien civilizations to a search for the potential designer of other things as well, like, say…maybe the cosmos itself.

Yet she misses this.

Completely.

Why?

What makes the awe-inspiring complexity we now see at the microbiological level so invisible to these sorts of “scientists”?

What causes the intricacies of DNA to evade detection by so-called seekers of truth? Why would a particular pattern in space point to an extra-terrestrial civilization as at least a likely source of its design yet the majestically detailed patterns we see at every level throughout all of creation are dismissed as if they were simply…not…there…

Why?

Because of where they lead, that’s why.

Carl Sagan and his Eleanor puppet simply will not follow evidence when it leads them to a place that makes them uncomfortable.

Sagan feeds Arroway her, “So what’s more likely? That an all-powerful, mysterious God created the Universe, and decided not to give any proof of his existence?” lines even as he has her sweeping the skies for patterns infinitely more simple than those we have in hand for DNA and scores of microbiological systems, all without the slightest indication that he’s even noticed the absurd contradiction and hypocrisy involved in this rather rank display of intellectual laziness and double-talk.

The only major difference between Arroway’s sought after signal and the patterns we can actually observe at the microscopic level is that the pattern in space that Arroway finds in Contact is entirely fictional, while the observable, tangible intricacies found in DNA and microbiological systems are very much a part of the real world.

So where is the real proof? Where is the evidence for a designer to be found today, right now?

What have you done with this evidence? Will you apply the SETI standard and follow it wherever it leads?

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8 COMMENTS

  1. anybody going to introduce the fantastic fluke theory air light water gravity day night food tides atmospheric pressure elements metals etc etc ok that,s the touch paper li i will dash off and sit on the fence

  2. So we should do is just look up at the stars and say "That stuff seems hard to understand, lets just say God put it all there are stop asking questions"?

  3. I really enjoyed the book before seeing the movie (with Jodie Foster). I liked the twist at the end where she finally understands that one can have faith in something that can't be fully explained or understood.

    It's been a number of years since I read the book or watched the movie. I can't remember much of either other than the usual…I like the book much better.

    • Yessiree, books do indeed tend to be much better than their filmed version for a variety of reasons, though I would offer the following exception to this general rule:

      Kubrick's take on The Shining was even better than the very well written Stephen King book, in my opinion. Whaddaya think o' that?

  4. The issue is that there is a difference between the appearance of intelligence and actual intelligence.

    The perfect example is the pulsar. When first detected, pulsars seemed like a definite message. A repetitive signal from a single source, over and over again, making a perfect pattern. But upon further review, it became clear that pulsars were natural phenomena.

    That, sadly, is the problem with many people. They only look at things superficially. Once you go deeper, you can see that what you think was caused by intelligence really is just a complicated natural process.

  5. 19Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.

    20For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

    21Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

    22Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,

    Romans 1:19-22

  6. Very well done Scott!!! Here are a few other things to ponder… Take a look at the structure of the human eye, a cell and it's functions, and the way a fetus evolves in the womb… These things don't just spontainiously become what they are. They aren't a fluke.. There is too much detail for these thing to just "become" on their own. They are precisely created with their own fuctions. God is evident in these things and it boggles my mind how so many can not see this.

  7. really interesting article , although i am an atheist there has always been one nagging doubt in my atheist mind, if there was a god he could never reveal to humanity his existence as this would probably mean the end for humanity as there would be no point in doing anything with the certain knowledge of the after life, anyway just had to get it off my mind after reading your article with a sort of similar thread

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