In my post “Teleotheism and the Purpose of Life,” I wrote
There are at least two ways in which the standard scientific worldview is consistent with the possibility of a superbeing. These possibilities are both common themes in hard science fiction. Hard science fiction is science fiction that focuses on things that are genuinely possible given what science we know. One of these hard science fiction themes is reminiscent of traditional Christian theology, while the other is reminiscent of Mormon theology.
Traditional Christian theology, put into a hard science fiction straightjacket, is like the idea that we are all software programs inside a superbeing’s computer. There is no way to know this is not true. If it is true, miracles would just be a special case in the programming. The normal laws of nature could be as simple and regular as they are simply because that was easier than programming more complex laws for the default case.
Mormon theology, put into a hard science fiction straightjacket, is reminiscent of the idea that we are watched over by benevolent aliens from an advanced civilization. Not only is this plausible, it is even possible to argue that it is likely. There are a lot of stars in the Galaxy, but even at a fraction of the speed of light, it would take only a small fraction of the time since the Big Bang to get from one end of the Galaxy to another. If evolution often favors intelligence, why couldn’t intelligent life arise several times in our galaxy? If any intelligent life has arisen before us, chances are it arose many, many millions of years before us, simply because it has been billions of years since the Big Bang. So it is not a big stretch to have aliens from an advanced civilization reach Earth. The big issue would be Fermi’s paradox: “Where are they?” “If they are here, why they are hiding themselves from us?” and whether they are benevolent or not. If they are here, they don’t seem to have destroyed us, which is something.
To me these are important religious questions, but science fiction is not always recognized for the serious theological speculation that it often is.
I found some excellent videos on these speculations, which have some great graphics. The first is about the possibility that we are inside God’s computer. The other three are about the possibility of intelligent aliens.
- Are We Just Simulations? Through the Wormhole: Episode 1
- Are We Alone? Through the Wormhole: Episode 6
- A Solution to the Fermi Paradox
- Alien Planet: Full Documentary
(wikipedia’s definition of the Fermi paradox is: ”The Fermi paradox (or Fermi’s paradox) is the apparent contradiction between high estimates of the probability of the existence of extraterrestrial civilization and humanity’s lack of contact with, or evidence for, such civilizations. ”)