Is Humanity Ready For 1st Contact? Part 2: Conquistadors

Yesterday I wrote a post ridiculing a study reporting that humanity is not ready to be blessed by an alien visitation because we still perceive reality religiously, instead of ecologically or cosmically.

The author of the study called for a "roadmap" that would ready us for first contact. "Education" is to be the most important factor in drawing the roadmap, "education" being understood to mean the elimination of religion. Once we are areligious, the Alien Gods will descend in a cloud of glory to be with us.

Human Nature

Human beings have been performing mighty feats for a long time. On what basis is the claim made that we need a different consciousness to interact with aliens?

Anyone who thinks the religious among us aren't ready for aliens hasn't read Poul Anderson's The High Crusade. The book is, of course, a farce, but so is the study, so I'm going to use it. In the book some medieval English knights take over an alien spaceship that lands on their sceptered isle. They are able to do this because they are still warlike, and the aliens are not. Interestingly, these unwarlike aliens keep other alien races as slaves, and these other races become allies of the English when they eventually start taking over entire planets. Remember that when secular society starts saying "peace, peace" when there is no peace. Absence of conflict is not peace. Peace is an active, joyful thing.

Anyhoo, the point of this post is to say that the race is not to the godless, nor first contact for the "scientist". I put "scientist" in quotation marks because I'm not using the word to actually mean scientist, but to mean "technician who believes that godlessness is the highest good". The passivity that is built into secular thought will preclude them from space greatness.

Humanity shares many things in common. We are curious. We explore. We create. We build. We steal. We conquer. We rule. We enslave. These are things people do. But different human societies will do more of some things and less of others.

Christians are the humans who are best equipped to make first contact.

Cosmological Orientations

It is natural to our society that it sit back and wait to be blessed by aliens. But that is not natural to all societies. Some peoples and nations actually get up and explore.

Secularism looks inward. It is not driven to explore. It is driven to rule. To organize. To suppress. There is no thirst for glory in secular society. Glory is to it a meaningless concept. Power is what it understands and what its great men crave. Power is built by consolidation and piecemeal conquest. Sure, we may launch the occasional probe, but there's no serious space exploration. Instead we are sitting here waiting to be visited.

The irreligious West is withering on the vine. Everyone else is having babies. And the Chinese who aren't having babies are converting in droves; China will be the largest Christian nation in the world in a few short years. As long as the West is secular, it will maintain its power through organization, bureaucracy, and suppression. The navies it builds will be for the oceans, not the stars. The stars are too speculative a source of power; there are plenty of people to rule on earth.

Eastern paganism is as passive as secularism, since its gods are neither specific nor personal. The Middle Kingdom looked inward for centuries. Yes, I know about Admiral Zheng. Interestingly, it is super-important to the guy who wrote the io9 article that got me started on this rant that the Chinese discover America first. The "Middle Kingdom" is too self-referential to go anywhere; the West is equally self-referential and inward-looking. When a society's greatest perceived good is feeding one's self to get through life, it's not going anywhere.

Nature paganism is little better. There is some incentive to seek out dryads and naiads, but exploration really is too risky a business. Sirens and amazons lay in wait for wandering men. It is better to be near the gods of one's own hills and shrines. By slow conquest we can eventually make Jupiter be Jove and Mercury be Toutatis, but exploration is for suckers.

Having one god with an image like man's, to whom the entire world-cosmos belongs, is what makes for intrepid explorers. In a cosmology like that, man is not bound to his native hills. Nor is he simply trying to get through life. He is going somewhere. His life has a greater destiny beyond itself. A man whose life has trajectory is much more likely to cross an ocean or a star just to see what's on the other side.

The greatest exploring civilization ever is the Christian one. That is because it not only has one God to whom the cosmos belongs, but a God who commanded dominion, and a God who became a man. There is in it a constant drive to find the next valley, and to make a garden of it. Life is worth living, and building things has meaning beyond simply providing for one's self and one's genetic successors. Christians will go to the stars because for them it means something. Because it's there is not enough to get waves of explorers in caravels, much less to move a society from one continent to another.

I'm not saying that Christian expansion has been unremittedly good, although I would obviously argue that it has been a great good indeed, the good of God's plan. Christian expansion and exploration is inevitable as long as there are Christians and a Church. It's in the DNA.

The godless are waiting for aliens to come down to them. In a few centuries they will no longer control the world. Then there will be a golden age of exploration, with explorers, crusaders, conquistadors, and evangelists. Then will follow the the pilgrims and monks and miners and settlers. And somewhere along the way they might run into some aliens. First contact.


  1. How can you blame secularists for the slow advance of space exploration when one of our best tools for space exploration, NASA, is throttled by being given a tiny budget? Who is maintaining such a tiny budget for NASA? Republicans, the party more closely aligned with the religious portions of this country. See their party line votes on recent NASA budgets. Do I even need to bring up the embarrassing members of the House Science Committee ( Alternately, where is St. So-and-So's VLA? Where is the Papal Space Telescope? If Christians are best suited to space exploration, why aren't they DOING it? You accuse secularists of trying to control the world, but I don't see any secularists organizing mission trips to try to convert people.

    I also have to object to your assumptions that the godless among us hold nothing higher than themselves. As there is nothing but one single idea (the lack of belief in gods) that we all hold in common, it is as unfair to paint us all with that one brush of self-deification. I don't know who is telling you that, but you have only to ask a small number of atheists to find out they have different ideas about many things, including various hierarchies.

    I don't know Professer de la Torre's intent with that paper, but I willfully admit that I speculate/assume/jump to the conclusion that he is aiming any disdain he has not at those who have both education and religion, but rather the scientifically illiterate who choose to remain that way because of their religion. Those who spend a great deal of their time using their religion in an attempt to reject perfectly good science (often the very science that brought them the computers and internet on which they advertise their own ignorance). I don't imagine he would have much room to point fingers at the Christians he might find among NASA's very own staff, for certainly there are plenty.

    That aliens would give one slimy glowing turd whether we're ready for their arrival or not is preposterous. Hawking thinks they would wipe us all out anyway, either intentionally or accidentally (a familiar story, no?). Our thoughts about the universe wouldn't matter one bit to them. Would it matter to you if you had traveled I-don't-know-how-many light years at great cost that the inhabitants of your long-sought-after landing spot didn't have an internet yet? Would it matter if they were still walking on four legs or if they were very nearly ready to launch a similar space program of their own to come see us? Of course not.

    And now for some bread of this admittedly open-faced heaping "compliment sandwich". I like you. I like a lot of what you write. I don't like some of it. I feel like that's okay. We have a lot in common (beer, rugby, pipes, South Carolina) and we disagree on other things (Mostly the god stuff, and I'm not all that into poetry. I don't think it's bad, it's just not my cup of tea). But I think if you felt the need to declare, in the first paragraph of the first half of this blog entry, that you were attacking a paper tiger, that you ought not attempt to put so much flesh on that tiger's bones. You made a lot of unfair and unsupported statements about a lot of people, myself included. I'm not so petty as to "unsubscribe" over a slight like this (And then tell you about it before I do it! Oooh, how that must burn! Lol), but I felt it did warrant a response.

    Maybe we're not your target audience, but we're out here.

    Space exploration is for the scientifically literate. There is no need to discount the scientifically literate godless as less capable than the scientifically literate believer.

    Also, sorry I'm not as good a writer as you and my response is a bit rambly.

    1. Tyler,

      Normally I don't respond when comments are this long. At that point I feel people should start their own blog and send a link. But after a quick scan, here are a couple of thoughts.

      I did, however, see your comment about the paper tiger. If only you know how much I shortened that second post! Much more could be said. Mr. de la Torre is a ridiculous and extreme example of what is actually a serious problem.

      As far as discounting the godless, worldview impacts behavior and action. I made the case that without God the exploring spirit is suppressed. Not on an individual basis, but on a societal. I may be wrong. But as far as there being "no need" to do it, well, I disagree.

      Thanks for reading, man.

    2. Thanks for the response. I'll try to keep my comments shorter in the future.


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