Terrestrial & Extraterrestrial Intelligence
Terrestrial & Extraterrestrial Intelligence
Have species possessing thought on other planets gone through the same planetary crisis that humankind is now going through? If so, are they aware of our plight, and can they help?
Most cosmologists now maintain that in even one galaxy, much less a universe, the idea that humans are the only intelligent (or potentially intelligent) species is mathematically inconceivable. However unless, as ‘ufologists’ believe, the US and other governments are keeping it secret (an even more improbable possibility), there has not been verifiable contact. Placing the question of extraterrestrial intelligence within the context of the human crisis, there may be reasons why.
Presuming there are species on other planets who have made the transition from increasing fragmentation to essentially harmonious relationship with their planets and the universe, they would likely be unimaginably more advanced than us scientifically and technologically, as well as spiritually. Humans would need to make a breakthrough to be eligible for the club.
As I outlined in a recent column (“Omega Point? No, Pi Point!), I propose that the planetary crisis presently coming to a head on our little speck in space is not unique. Rather, the evolution of ‘higher thought’ follows a set of identifiable laws that pertain to all species in whom conscious thought evolves.
The basic principle is that wherever conscious thought develops the creatures possessing it tend to fragment their planets and themselves in direct proportion to their increase in scientific and technological knowledge.
Science and technology are, in this view, neither the problem, nor the solution. The issue is how scientific and technological knowledge are used. Obviously, that is a function of the degree of collective intelligence or unintelligence of a given species.
In other words, the wise or stupid use of scientific and technological advances depends on a completely different aspect of intelligence than that which gives rise to science and technology.
Therefore science can never answer the question of how to use science. (Neither, by the way, can religions, especially in an age of rapidly eroding and dangerously competing moral codes, but that’s a subject for another column.)
What is the remedy? Division, fragmentation, and conflict grow in direct proportion to scientific and technological knowledge until and unless there is sufficient insight within a sufficient number of people into the nature and movement of thought.
Obviously such an explosion of insight could occur at any time in the history of a creature like 'man.' But it is also in the nature of ‘higher thought’ that psychological transformation and revolution are put off until the fragmentation generated by thought threatens ecological viability and economic sustainability. Humanoids don’t change unless they have to.
So the awakening of insight in a growing minority of individuals is not a function of knowledge; rather, it illuminates how to use knowledge. In this light, the New Age appeal to ‘ancient wisdom’ is just as futile as returning to prior religious belief systems. The way ahead is not through knowledge of any kind (and beliefs are a kind of knowledge), but through the development of the latent capacity in humans for direct perception and instantaneous understanding.
From a spiritual perspective, genuinely intelligent beings could be aware of humankind, but they would probably adhere to a rule of non-interference. After all, freedom and self-determination mean that our fate is in our own hands. We alone have to resolve the dilemma which evolution, greatly augmented by humankind’s self-centered activity, have conferred on us.
If this hypothesis is true, it could only be scientifically verified after the revolution in consciousness that changes our basic course occurs. Presumably we would then learn about or contact other genuinely intelligent species, and they would confirm the basic pattern throughout the universe.
Even though I don’t believe scientific knowledge can save humankind, I do uphold the scientific principle of testability. That means a hypothesis can also be proved wrong. But how can this ‘theory of human nature’ be shown to be false?
Two ways I can think of. First, if in the next few decades, humans managed to make the transition to a more or less harmonious planetary civilization without a revolution in consciousness. Second, if in next few decades, we were able to make contact with or learn about other technological species that did not pass through an implacable spiritual crisis.
Given how crazy and unstable the world is becoming, I’m not betting on those outcomes. Basic intelligence indicates that the diligently working to transform oneself in the context of igniting a revolution in human consciousness is the way to proceed.
- Martin LeFevre is a contemplative, and non-academic religious and political philosopher. He has been publishing in North America, Latin America, Africa, and Europe (and now New Zealand) for 20 years. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. The author welcomes comments.