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Aliens as missionaries

Discuss philosophical questions regarding theism (and atheism), and discuss religion as it relates to philosophy. This includes any philosophical discussions that happen to be about god, gods, or a 'higher power' or the belief of them. This also generally includes philosophical topics about organized or ritualistic mysticism or about organized, common or ritualistic beliefs in the existence of supernatural phenomenon.
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Re: Aliens as missionaries

Post by Alias » November 25th, 2018, 3:15 am

I'd be quiet.
Those who can induce you to believe absurdities can induce you to commit atrocities. - Voltaire

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Re: Aliens as missionaries

Post by Greta » November 25th, 2018, 6:32 am

ktz wrote:
November 25th, 2018, 2:23 am
... what if the first message we receive from aliens is, "BE QUIET OR THEY WILL HEAR YOU"?
What if the message is from potential invaders wanting to take us down before a protective race can trace us?

More realistically, what exactly, would we be supposed to quieten down? Never mind the SETI messages, our radio footprint has already been travelling in space since the 50s.

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Re: Aliens as missionaries

Post by ktz » November 25th, 2018, 10:29 am

Greta wrote:
November 25th, 2018, 6:32 am
ktz wrote:
November 25th, 2018, 2:23 am
... what if the first message we receive from aliens is, "BE QUIET OR THEY WILL HEAR YOU"?
What if the message is from potential invaders wanting to take us down before a protective race can trace us?

More realistically, what exactly, would we be supposed to quieten down? Never mind the SETI messages, our radio footprint has already been travelling in space since the 50s.
Right, I mean if they heard us then they'll already be on the way, but those encounters are lightyears away -- I'm just saying that I could understand the value of a mindset akin to the Sentinelese so as to attempt, perhaps in a futile manner, to avoid the fate of overly pleasant and hospital cultures like the Aztecs, Incas, Moriori and Native American tribes during their close encounters with the third kind.

Honestly, I'd hope to avoid encountering aliens or even any more major government-funded space exploration at the moment just for the reason that we have enough trouble devoting resources to preventing the extinction of all the animals and aliens that already share a planet with us, not to mention dissuading our respective mango-colored leaders from precipitating our own self-destruction.
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Re: Aliens as missionaries

Post by Belindi » November 25th, 2018, 2:32 pm

ktz,despite that my country UK (among others)got to be an economically developed nation by way of oppressing weaker peoples, can we not aspire to a better moral code?

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Re: Aliens as missionaries

Post by Greta » November 25th, 2018, 5:35 pm

ktz wrote:
November 25th, 2018, 10:29 am
Greta wrote:
November 25th, 2018, 6:32 am

What if the message is from potential invaders wanting to take us down before a protective race can trace us?

More realistically, what exactly, would we be supposed to quieten down? Never mind the SETI messages, our radio footprint has already been travelling in space since the 50s.
Right, I mean if they heard us then they'll already be on the way, but those encounters are lightyears away -- I'm just saying that I could understand the value of a mindset akin to the Sentinelese so as to attempt, perhaps in a futile manner, to avoid the fate of overly pleasant and hospital cultures like the Aztecs, Incas, Moriori and Native American tribes during their close encounters with the third kind.

Honestly, I'd hope to avoid encountering aliens or even any more major government-funded space exploration at the moment just for the reason that we have enough trouble devoting resources to preventing the extinction of all the animals and aliens that already share a planet with us, not to mention dissuading our respective mango-colored leaders from precipitating our own self-destruction.
In truth, I think the situation would be wildly different to those massacres of the past. Look at humans today in space; it's where we are at our most civilised (so far).

Even though we are desperate to know, we avoid going to the most promising place on Mars for fear of contaminating it. I doubt that Cortez & co would have treated the Sentinelese the way modern people have done. By the same token, a civilisation with the time to conquer interstellar space will have the time to civilise.

Even a civilisation looking for a new world to live in would have different ideas about habitability to us, not least because their genetic engineering, cyborgism and maybe even complete digitisation would make them far more robust.

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Re: Aliens as missionaries

Post by Alias » November 25th, 2018, 6:12 pm

Plus... Why would they care what we believe and whether we're "saved"? Human missionaries, even the most insanely zealous, were preaching to their own species. Except that one, and he didn't expect the birds to make confession.
Those who can induce you to believe absurdities can induce you to commit atrocities. - Voltaire

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Re: Aliens as missionaries

Post by Greta » November 26th, 2018, 12:12 am

Alias wrote:
November 25th, 2018, 6:12 pm
Plus... Why would they care what we believe and whether we're "saved"? Human missionaries, even the most insanely zealous, were preaching to their own species. Except that one, and he didn't expect the birds to make confession.
The same reason as any missionaries. As far as they are concerned they are saved through their belief in God, Jesus, Allah etc.

They would not be a good person if they accepted their good fortune (in finding what is effectively a purported life hack) and sharing it to save more souls. They would see it as being selfless. So they tell people that they can be saved by doing whatever the particular creed deems to be most helpful to its own furtherment.

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Re: Aliens as missionaries

Post by Alias » November 26th, 2018, 1:51 am

Greta wrote:
November 26th, 2018, 12:12 am
Why would they care ...
The same reason as any missionaries. As far as they are concerned they are saved through their belief in God, Jesus, Allah etc.
They would not be a good person if they accepted their good fortune (in finding what is effectively a purported life hack) and sharing it to save more souls.
That's just it. Human missionaries never tried to convert dolphins or hyenas or water buffalo, because, as far as they're concerned, those creatures have no souls; they exist for the benefit of the one and only species made in the image of their god. A Christian missionary's job is to bribe/scare/coerce humans away from other religions, to swell the ranks of their own belief-system.
Similarly, any aliens with a god - triangular or bald and blue or whatever - would not credit the denizens of another planet with souls worth saving.
To a god-fearing alien race, we would be just so many wildebeest or dodo birds: amusing to hunt, maybe suitable for domestication.

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Re: Aliens as missionaries

Post by Greta » November 26th, 2018, 3:48 am

Alias wrote:
November 26th, 2018, 1:51 am
Greta wrote:
November 26th, 2018, 12:12 am

The same reason as any missionaries. As far as they are concerned they are saved through their belief in God, Jesus, Allah etc.
They would not be a good person if they accepted their good fortune (in finding what is effectively a purported life hack) and sharing it to save more souls.
That's just it. Human missionaries never tried to convert dolphins or hyenas or water buffalo, because, as far as they're concerned, those creatures have no souls; they exist for the benefit of the one and only species made in the image of their god. A Christian missionary's job is to bribe/scare/coerce humans away from other religions, to swell the ranks of their own belief-system.
Similarly, any aliens with a god - triangular or bald and blue or whatever - would not credit the denizens of another planet with souls worth saving.
To a god-fearing alien race, we would be just so many wildebeest or dodo birds: amusing to hunt, maybe suitable for domestication.
Why do people assume that aliens would behave like the barbarous invaders of previous centuries? We are better than that now. Why wouldn't a species thousands of years ahead of us be less morally advanced than we are? Do you assume that humans are the pinnacle of morality in the universe, more moral than any other intelligent species is likely to be, no matter how advanced technologically?

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Re: Aliens as missionaries

Post by ktz » November 26th, 2018, 4:48 am

Greta wrote:
November 26th, 2018, 3:48 am
Alias wrote:
November 26th, 2018, 1:51 am

That's just it. Human missionaries never tried to convert dolphins or hyenas or water buffalo, because, as far as they're concerned, those creatures have no souls; they exist for the benefit of the one and only species made in the image of their god. A Christian missionary's job is to bribe/scare/coerce humans away from other religions, to swell the ranks of their own belief-system.
Similarly, any aliens with a god - triangular or bald and blue or whatever - would not credit the denizens of another planet with souls worth saving.
To a god-fearing alien race, we would be just so many wildebeest or dodo birds: amusing to hunt, maybe suitable for domestication.
Why do people assume that aliens would behave like the barbarous invaders of previous centuries? We are better than that now. Why wouldn't a species thousands of years ahead of us be less morally advanced than we are? Do you assume that humans are the pinnacle of morality in the universe, more moral than any other intelligent species is likely to be, no matter how advanced technologically?
Well, I definitely am not assuming humans are the pinnacle of morality in the universe, and quite the opposite. Do you assume that your current understanding of "more advanced morality" will be equivalent to the understanding of alien species? We believe in the sanctity of life, for example. But perhaps an alien species would be structured more like a colony of ants, with only the queens being worthy of the sanctity of life, and all workers as expendable variants. Or perhaps they wouldn't view death as a moral harm at all, since in their view, how could an advanced species be lacking the pheromone-based telepathy and information transfer skills that their species has? They may think, "Can't humans just reproduce and create another identical unit if we kill this one, just like we can?" Or perhaps they would treat us like entomologists do when they encounter a new species -- take some samples and dissect them for their academic and taxonomic purposes.

Also, consider another example -- what if the "true understanding" is that the universe is a cell within the body of a higher unit. Light, like ATP, is transferred into the cell through stars and out of the cell through black holes, performing biological work along the way. Humans in some respects behave, like Agent Smith's speech from the original Matrix movie, like a virus or a cancerous cell -- with an emphasis on growth, expansion and reproduction without respect to fitting in with nature or even artificial boundaries. Earth could easily be deemed to be a sick and cancerous element of this universal cell, and thus the immune system of the universe may come by -- what ought we do in this case?

I don't speak with certainty, of course, because who can know the future? It may be that future encounters with alien species will occur along the lines of Star Trek and Star Wars and to assume otherwise may be immoral and/or small-minded. But whether this Hollywood-like understanding ought to be our default view of future encounters with alien species is something that I feel is still not without question.
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Re: Aliens as missionaries

Post by Alias » November 26th, 2018, 12:53 pm

Greta wrote:
November 26th, 2018, 3:48 am
Why do people assume that aliens would behave like the barbarous invaders of previous centuries?
I don't know whether people assume that. Originally, I assumed that any species capable of interstellar travel would be more advanced than we are.
But if you posit that they still worship some original-sin-damning deity who requires them to convince other races of this lunacy, then I can posit that they're just as primitive as we were during the colonization fad.
If they're better than that now, they won't proselytize. If they're missionaries, they're not better.

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Re: Aliens as missionaries

Post by Greta » November 26th, 2018, 4:58 pm

Alias wrote:
November 26th, 2018, 12:53 pm
Greta wrote:
November 26th, 2018, 3:48 am
Why do people assume that aliens would behave like the barbarous invaders of previous centuries?
I don't know whether people assume that. Originally, I assumed that any species capable of interstellar travel would be more advanced than we are.
But if you posit that they still worship some original-sin-damning deity who requires them to convince other races of this lunacy, then I can posit that they're just as primitive as we were during the colonization fad.
If they're better than that now, they won't proselytize. If they're missionaries, they're not better.
They do make that assumption all the time. In fact, that is by far the most common assumption about aliens, that it will turn out like European invaders and displaced indigenous peoples. It's a bit like saying that you'll attack your neighbour's tribe if he doesn't return the lawnmower you lent him three weeks ago.

We do things differently now, as will the aliens, which fortunately will mean they won't be proselytising. If any communication is possible (which is uncertain unless aliens are capable of deciphering and communicating in other languages) then they will certainly try to teach things to us and tidy up our misconceptions.

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Re: Aliens as missionaries

Post by Greta » November 26th, 2018, 5:13 pm

ktz wrote:
November 26th, 2018, 4:48 am
Greta wrote:
November 26th, 2018, 3:48 am

Why do people assume that aliens would behave like the barbarous invaders of previous centuries? We are better than that now. Why wouldn't a species thousands of years ahead of us be less morally advanced than we are? Do you assume that humans are the pinnacle of morality in the universe, more moral than any other intelligent species is likely to be, no matter how advanced technologically?
Well, I definitely am not assuming humans are the pinnacle of morality in the universe, and quite the opposite. Do you assume that your current understanding of "more advanced morality" will be equivalent to the understanding of alien species? We believe in the sanctity of life, for example. But perhaps an alien species would be structured more like a colony of ants, with only the queens being worthy of the sanctity of life, and all workers as expendable variants.
They would not then be an intelligent species, which requires bonding between members to reach our level of cohesion and motivation.

ktz wrote:
November 26th, 2018, 4:48 am
Or perhaps they wouldn't view death as a moral harm at all, since in their view, how could an advanced species be lacking the pheromone-based telepathy and information transfer skills that their species has? They may think, "Can't humans just reproduce and create another identical unit if we kill this one, just like we can?" Or perhaps they would treat us like entomologists do when they encounter a new species -- take some samples and dissect them for their academic and taxonomic purposes.
Nice try again but without the cigar. If the above was the case then the aliens would be stupid, even less intelligent than we are. So then how would they traverse interstellar space? Ultra nerdy ant-people with almost no emotional intelligence?

By the same token, even we relatively simple humans don't assume that a kangaroo with a gammy leg can just hop off to the 'roo doctor. We can tell that they don't have their own doctors in a second, just as aliens would be entirely aware that we don't have pheromone-based telepathy or natural information transfer abilities. They will know we aren't clones, even if they are. The level of awareness needed for sufficient cognition and cooperation to build any kind of space program, let alone an interstellar one, is simply too great for aliens to have such dramatic cognitive shortfalls. Like us, they would have to be all-rounders.

ktz wrote:
November 26th, 2018, 4:48 am
Also, consider another example -- what if the "true understanding" is that the universe is a cell within the body of a higher unit. Light, like ATP, is transferred into the cell through stars and out of the cell through black holes, performing biological work along the way. Humans in some respects behave, like Agent Smith's speech from the original Matrix movie, like a virus or a cancerous cell -- with an emphasis on growth, expansion and reproduction without respect to fitting in with nature or even artificial boundaries. Earth could easily be deemed to be a sick and cancerous element of this universal cell, and thus the immune system of the universe may come by -- what ought we do in this case?
I have long disputed this commonly proposed notion. In short, if viruses and cancers are creating the means by which life can reproduce, then we might be a virus or a cancer. Otherwise we are a change agent.

There's a structure in grubs called imaginal discs. They are bumps under the grub's skin which only come into action when the animal starts to pupate. During metamorphosis the imaginal discs start to liquefy the creature's internal organs. Their immune systems identify the discs as a threat and start attacking but are also liquefied by the released enzymes. In time, the pupa's insides are reduced to the discs and pure goo, and the goop is used as a resource by the imaginal discs in transforming to the adult insect's new internal organs. Thus, the insect moves from a consumptive stage to the reproductive stage.

That's exactly what humans are going - turning the rest of nature into a goop which allows humans to create structures to send Earth biota and geology to other worlds. Cancers and viruses only go as far as to turn life into goop; unlike humans they do not rebuild in ever more sophisticated forms, far more so than what came before.

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Re: Aliens as missionaries

Post by Alias » November 26th, 2018, 7:03 pm

Greta wrote:
November 26th, 2018, 4:58 pm
They do make that assumption all the time. In fact, that is by far the most common assumption about aliens, that it will turn out like European invaders and displaced indigenous peoples. I
Maybe they do. But I didn't.

What I said was: If the alien explorers had a god (which I don't believe is likely) that god would be in their own image.
Earthlings are not made in their god's image; therefore the aliens would not regard us having souls that need saving.
So they probably wouldn't try to convert us.

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Re: Aliens as missionaries

Post by Greta » November 26th, 2018, 7:19 pm

Alias wrote:
November 26th, 2018, 7:03 pm
Greta wrote:
November 26th, 2018, 4:58 pm
They do make that assumption all the time. In fact, that is by far the most common assumption about aliens, that it will turn out like European invaders and displaced indigenous peoples. I
Maybe they do. But I didn't.

What I said was: If the alien explorers had a god (which I don't believe is likely) that god would be in their own image.
Earthlings are not made in their god's image; therefore the aliens would not regard us having souls that need saving.
So they probably wouldn't try to convert us.
And I say they would not be that dumb. People recognised the souls of animals for many thousands of years until the Abrahamic anomaly.

Aliens would probably not significantly embrace superstitions (not even keeping a lucky tentacle on the key chain!). If existent - and that's a big if - they will also almost certainly be either AI, or cyborgs with minimal biological content.

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