dawkins on space gods


Arthur C. Clarke, who died last month, said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” If we could land a jumbo jet beside a medieval village, would we not be worshiped as gods? The technology of interstellar travel, and the scientific knowledge on which it would be based, are as far beyond us as our present-day knowledge surpasses that of Dark Age peasants. Parting the Red Sea — or splitting the moon in two as Muhammad is alleged to have done — would be child’s play to those who command forces powerful enough to propel them from star to star.

But now the question arises: In what sense would the god-like aliens not be gods? Answer: In a very important sense. To deserve the name of God, a being would have to have designed more than just a jumbo jet or even a starship. He would have to have designed the universe. And therein lies a fundamental contradiction. Entities capable of designing anything, whether they be human engineers or interstellar aliens, must be complex — and therefore, statistically improbable. And statistically improbable things don’t just happen spontaneously by chance without an explanation trail. That is what “improbable” means, as creationists never tire of assuring us (they wrongly think Darwinian natural selection is a matter of chance).

more from the LA Times here.