Intelligent Earth and ET life?
Nov 26, 2004 Dov, in biologicalEvolution forum.
(1) The preoccupation of some humans with possible existence of off-Earth "intelligent" life and their efforts in search of such "intelligent" life are, in our present state of comprehension of the nature of life, futile and pitiful. Our own base life elements, our genes, many of which we share with many other Earth forms of life, fulfil their sole purpose/role which is survival/proliferation, without human's-like cultural toolings. Their RNA and proteinaceous toolings and chemical communications are for their purposes superior to our toolings for our needs and purposes. Human-culture-like traits are just a chance diversion in the course of Earth life evolution.
Other life forms might have occurred elsewhere in the universe and evolved and developed in other modes with other types of toolings and communications. They may also be devoid of human-culture-like traits/capabilities.
In order to plan and conduct an effectual search for non-Earth life it would be wise and prudent to first comprehend the basic nature of life that may be common to all possible forms of life. And as life must evolve from life, and in view of the characteristics of life and death, life in general is most probably a "bubble of energy system", an energy-storing system initiated and maintained by energy, in a reverse direction of the observed universal thermodynamic drive to a state of ever dissipating order and energy.
(2) A common argument in favor of searching inteligent ET life is that for examining any phenomenom it is beneficial to have several examples of it, especially if the phenomenom is intelligent and we might be able to exchange information with it.
The answer to this argument is that for a scientific examination of a phenomenom it is beneficial, but not necessary, to have several examples, and that a huge number of phenomena were scientifically examined and learned by humans without exchange of information between us and the examined phenomena.
(3) Re the association of investigating the nature of earth life with the search for intelligent ET life the question arises what is it in the humans' corporeal constitution that prompts most of them to have a different approach to the scientific study of life, especially human's, than to the study of anything else? Is it a fear to accept the dismaying realization that humans are, after all, just one of the many life forms on Earth (or in the universe…)?.
Many think that our search for intelligent ET life has much to do with our need to learn more about ourselves and that projects like SETI and exploration of space will prove much more productive than any "theoretical discussions on 'what is life'".
I posit that the possibility and probability of humans ever finding ET "intelligent" life are extremely small. After all also we are a rare enough random occurrence on Earth. Our difficulty to learn about the nature of our life is not an objective difficulty but an inherent human subjective difficulty of approach and of acceptance of findings. Exploring/understanding the nature of life here and by us has been held-up/hindered by human reticence to learn and face the findings and their consequences, and enthusiasm for searching life there yonder while the study of it is very hesitating here is one of the symptoms of this reticence.
A determined resolute objective logical examination of Earth life will prove productive, much much more than searching for clues in the wild wild yonder by means that might or fail to deliver clues who knows when and to whom…
(4) I am not suggesting we should'nt look for ET life. I am positing that there is a near zero chance to find an ET "intelligent" life. Being a rare random mutation on Earth it is staggering to reflect on the course of the tremendous number of random mutation junctions along the stretch between a single archaic gene or even archaic cell and an intelligent human.
And re our reluctance to face the probable findings re the natrure of life, a most essential, and uniquely human, ingrained/inherent need for humans is a high degree of self-esteem. Also the mere existence of human individuals and communities of any size is anchored and established on a foundation of human culture which is neatly a complete creation of humans. Now just imagine how this enormous functioning edifice might be shaken, together with our self-esteem, when we realize the basic nature-of-life facts; we shall be faced with the vital need to re-formulate our culture, to anchor and build our life edifice on new deeply convincing moral/ethical/social criteria…
(5) I find support for my above opinion in the fact that there are no end of biologists, ecologists, zoologists, botanists, biochemists, microbiologists, geneticists, and so on and so forth, all of whom investigating mechanisms and other aspects of living systems but not tackling the basic nature of life.
All forms of Earth life presently known are genetically interrelated. Most scientists (maybe all of them) suggest/accept that it began with individual cell/cells, from origin and in manner not yet known. Very few persons, including myself, postulate that per Pasteur's "life comes from life" cell/cells are evolutionary products preceded by and evolved from archaic RNA genes associations with their predecessors-accessories-entourages. In this scenario the yet unknown is/are the origin and manner of occurrence/genesis of the early gene(s).
Going backwords in time to either the pre-cell life scenario or to the cell-ex-machina life scenario, both well earlier than Pasteur, there most probably occured a "constellation" in which the combination of energy flow/balance plus combined presence of RNA- or pre-RNA type oligomer/polymer with its entourage of associated molecules happened to be in the direction of replication of this archaic gene, thus initiating life.
Thus many questions arise, starting with: is life a unique extremely rare random "energy bubble" phenomenon only on Earth, where so far we have not found life unrelated to us, or also in the universe?
(6) And , again, as posited earlier, it is a most essential, and uniquely human, ingrained/inherent need, to have some degree of self-esteem. This self-esteem leads to "esteem" of other humans so that survival and welfare of human individuals/communities/societies is anchored and established on a foundation of human-esteem-based cultures/civilizations which are neatly complete creations of humans. This enormous functioning world human edifice might be shaken under the impact of such insights re the nature of life and humans might be faced with the vital need to re-formulate the foundation of culture, to anchor and build cooperative life edifice on modified bindings/commitments-justifications of vital moral/ethical/social covictions/commandments…
posted December 21, 2004 , Earth and ET Life, and Intelligence