There are so many stars in the universe it would be very strange indeed if there was no life on any other planet but ours, and would that life be dangerous to us?
Professor Stephen Hawking’s fear, that extra-terrestrials would be unfriendly, is really judging more advanced life forms by the not very high ethical standards of the human race. It’s true that on Earth, more powerful creatures will devour (often literally!) weaker ones, or use force to have dominance over them, but is this universal law? Humans often use the term ‘advanced’ in a technological sense, but why not ethically as well? Alien beings could be alien in so many ways, and so advanced we could be left trailing on many levels.
Gentle, Insular Aliens?
It doesn’t mean because mankind hasn’t discovered life on other planets there isn’t life, and intelligent life at that, even in our own Milky Way galaxy. Human beings, also do have the conceited idea that if there was a life more advanced than anything on Earth that they’d have visited us by now. But, as they are intelligent and have seen what man is capable of, wouldn’t that make aliens rather dumb to want to visit?
If a life form more advanced than human beings did come to Earth they may well strip the planet of everything for their own ends, but maybe they would be gentle beings, and would steer clear of us because they want to avoid confrontation. They could be aggressive, but if they could find all that they needed elsewhere, then they’d have no need to visit us. Or their own world could be such a paradise in which they are happy and safe, that they prefer living in an insular way. Their mentality could be very different from that of eternally restless man.
Reaching for the Stars
Human beings are naturally inquisitive, and if aliens want to visit then they may decide to visit whatever we do anyway. But it would seem that it’s in our interests to be friendly – even if we wait for them to make contact first.
What our definition of life is may be just that. Our definition. There may be life on Earth which we don’t regard as life, or that our senses and intelligence can’t define as such.
Mankind will inevitably reach for the stars (unless it destroys itself) in the coming millennia, and probably succeed. It could all end very badly, but man has always taken risks, going right back to dangerous sea voyages of discovery. It is right to seek out new frontiers, and what we find, in deep space, may be something so wonderful it’ll be beyond our full comprehension – and it’ll be peaceful, maybe…