Friday, December 5, 2014

Extraterrestrial Contact: Nurtured Life on Earth

If contact with an extraterrestrial civilization occurs someday, there will be an immediate question: has the extraterrestrial civilization been in contact with humans previously? This question wouldn’t just come from those who claim alien abduction or envision some vast alien conspiracy. It’s a basic question with huge implications. There is one particular category that might be important to explore now: has life on Earth been nurtured by alien intervention?

Nurturing life on Earth could come in many forms. In the most dramatic, writers have suggested that ancient earth societies had interaction with aliens and even benefited from that interaction. Many of these theories have been debunked as historians have learned how the pyramids were built or the Nazca lines in Peru possibly created. But nurturing life on Earth doesn’t have to mean such drastic interaction. Life itself is widely accepted to be a rare creation, due to the formidable obstacles faced in the formation of life. Asteroid strikes and atmospheric imbalances are just a couple of the events that could render most of life on a planet extinct. Intelligent life, due to its complexity, would likely be at high risk for extinction from naturally occurring events. And, of course, atmospheric imbalances could also be a byproduct of technological development, as is becoming an issue here on Earth.
But what about less dramatic intervention? Humans face a risk from the effects of coronal mass ejection.  Highly energetic particle bombarding the Earth could cause a massive disruption to the electrical system and even health risks for humans. But highly energized electrons are streaming towards the Earth on a regular basis.

Scientists recently announced in the journal Nature that they have discovered a force field of sorts about 7,200 miles above the Earth that stop most of these energized electrons from reaching Earth. This is part of the overall study of the Van Allen Belts, two radiation belts that surround the Earth. NASA has probes that have been studying the belts. They hope to use them to further analyze this “puzzling phenomenon” as it is described by the co-author of the study, Daniel Baker from CU-Boulder. This is a Huffington Post article describing the results.

None of these folks are suggesting that the phenomenon is something that was intentionally created. But it does provide an opportunity to raise the question: what if life on Earth has been nurtured? Perhaps there are many aspects of our planet that were engineered to better suit the development of life? If so, what does that mean for us? If we find out that aliens have been helping us along, does that mean we are beholden to them? Are they our Gods? That probably seems an offensive thought to most of us. And if it was true that we had help along the way, do we ask for more help? Do we sit back and ask to be spoon-fed alien science?

The human race has struggled for thousands of years. Struggle is part of our way of being. We need to keep struggling to survive. And doing so will make us more technologically advanced and, hopefully, wiser in our human relations. Taking away the struggle, even with some simple technological assistance from an extraterrestrial civilization, could be detrimental. If we do find out that we have had help along the way, I think we would want to make sure that we are not get spoon-fed anything involving technology or culture. Learning from aliens about their culture and other aspects of the universe would be an exciting and welcome benefit of First Contact. We would need to make sure we placed controls over the information shared, so that we continue to struggle in our science and development, without outside help.
Okay, let’s take a deep breath again. The Van Allen Belts electron shield is probably just a natural phenomenon that we don’t understand yet. Scientists will put in the hard work and analyze data and help us come to a new understanding about our world.

But I go back to my original point- we will have legitimate questions to ask a visiting extraterrestrial civilization in the wake of First Contact. And if it ever does occur no question will be too outlandish. The alien abduction folks will have just as much a right to an answer as anyone else. Until we know the truth, anything is possible. There will be many questions to ask in the wake of First Contact. Perhaps most disturbingly, at least at first, humans would be unable to verify what aliens tell us about their history with the planet Earth. Do we trust their answers? That’s why it doesn’t hurt to consider these general issues now. A little forethought could be a valuable thing if First Contact ever does occur someday.

Join the conversation on the Alien First Contact Facebook page.

No comments: