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NASA says Hello Universe

NASA, the NY Times and most intelligent human beings apparently believe that it is possible to communicate across space – i.e., to detect signals that can be distinguished from natural causes and “noise”, which give evidence of other intelligent beings! e.g., Beatles songs vs quasar pulses and lightning pulses.

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NASA Says, ‘Hello, Universe. Meet the Beatles.’

. . . NASA will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of its first space mission — the launch of the Explorer 1 satellite — by using the system of huge antennas that usually listen for inbound signals from space to send one outbound instead: the Beatles’ song “Across the Universe,” which as it happens was mostly recorded exactly 40 years earlier, on Feb. 4, 1968. . . .

NASA doesn’t often send outgoing mail this way; the last high-profile American broadcast meant specifically for extraterrestrial ears was also the first, dispatched by Professor Frank Drake of Cornell University in 1974 during the dedication of the upgraded Arecibo radiotelescope in Puerto Rico. (No reply, at least so far.) But Seth Shostak of the SETI Institute, which has been looking for signs of life beyond Earth since 1984, noted in an e-mail message to our colleague Dennis Overbye today that other groups in Ukraine and Canada have been sending signals in recent years.

Of course, vast amounts of electromagnetic signals flood out from the Earth every day as a side effect of ordinary human-to-human activity, from TV and radio broadcasts, radar stations, satellite uplinks and other sources, and the leading wave of that stuff has an eight-decade head start.

“Proof of our existence is already out there,” Dr. Shostak noted, “that’s simply a fact.”

NASA to Beam Beatles’ ‘Across the Universe’ Into Space

For the first time ever, NASA will beam a song — The Beatles’ “Across the Universe” — directly into deep space at 7 p.m. EST on Feb. 4. . . .

“Amazing! Well done, NASA!” McCartney said in a message to the space agency. “Send my love to the aliens. All the best, Paul.”

Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono, characterized the song’s transmission as a significant event.

“I see that this is the beginning of the new age in which we will communicate with billions of planets across the universe,” she said.

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The SETI Institutet apparently strongly objects to any hint that Intelligent Design is scientific.

SETI tries to distance itself from ID

“If the ID folks aren’t allowed to claim intelligent design when pointing to DNA, how can we hope to claim intelligent design on the basis of a complex radio signal? . . . We’re not looking for intricately coded messages, mathematical series, or even the aliens’ version of “I Love Lucy.” . . . An endless, sinusoidal signal – adead simple tone – is not complex; it’s artificial.”

Yet SETI’s Dr. Shostak has proclaimed:“Proof of our existence is already out there, that’s simply a fact.” (referring to the “vast amounts of electromagnetic signals flood out from the Earth every day”)

Does that now make ID’s Explanatory Filter (that distinguishes specified complex signals from necessity and noise) “a fact”?

Or will the SETI Institute now argue that any detection of NASA’ broadcast of the Beatles, will not be scientific evidence of intelligent agents because it is “not complex”?

I wonder when NASA will formally acknowledge that it can distinguish signals from intelligent beings from background noise.
Or will some advocate that the Beatles songs cannot be distinguished from “noise”?
(Does that mean that the Beatles were intelligent?)

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8 Responses to NASA says Hello Universe

  1. As a Christian, I can only give a Christian perspective on humanity’s obsession with ET. Mankind is comparable to a woman who abandoned her first love and is desperately looking for a new lover. We’re lonely and we’re reaching out for love, across the universe. Sadly, we’re searching in all the wrong places.

  2. I thought the explanatory filter had some trouble with false positives and false negatives or have those issues been fixed?

  3. ellazimm
    Please search for posts on “Explanatory Filter” at UD

    The explanatory filter never claimed to be exhaustive. Thus I do not believe “false negatives” is an issue.

    Do you have any examples of or reports of alleged “false positives”.

  4. With the discovery of other solar systems, the ET question may finally be settled in the very near future. Although scientists have as yet detected no earth-like planets, this is the next logical discovery. If these type planets are found, I think it raises many profound questions; namely, what kind of life will they harbor (if any)? “Only” plants and animals, or *intelligent* beings like ourselves? If it is the former, maybe that implies God designed the universe for us to explore and colonize (as someone else has suggested). On the other hand, if an intelliegnt ET is found, how does that fit into our Christian worldview ?

  5. Even the great historical preachers such as Charles Spurgeon and CHarles Finney believed in life elsewhere.

    Why this ever became an issue to Christians is soley due to materialist sci-fi inferences and poor theology.

    From Spurgeon:
    “It may also be, but I do not know, and so I cannot tell you, that we are, in future dispensations, to fill unto other worlds much the same office as angels fill to ours. Jesus has made us kings and priests — and we are in training for our thrones. What if in this congregation I am learning to proclaim my Master’s Glory to myriads of worlds! Possibly the preacher who is faithful here may yet be made to tell forth His Lord’s Glory to constellations at a later time. What if one might stand upon a central star and preach Christ to worlds on worlds instead of preaching Him to these two galleries and to this area! Why not?” – Sermon #1960

    “We cannot tell but that in the boundless regions of space, there are worlds inhabited by beings infinitely superior to us—” – sermon #151

    “He had created worlds, I know not how many, but in them all He found no rival. Per-haps all the stars we see are worlds full of inhabitants who worship the infinite Creator—” sermon #1786

    “I have such a conviction of the power of Christ’s death that if it were revealed to me that on the Cross He redeemed not only one world, but as many fallen worlds as there are stars, I could well believe it!” – sermon #2224

    From Finney:
    “That the work of Atonement was the most interesting and impressive exhibition of God that ever was made in this world and probably in the universe.”
    “Now, as it can never be expected, that the Atonement will be repeated, it is for ever settled, that rebellion in any other world than this, can have no hope of impunity.”
    “We have reason to believe, that Christ, by his Atonement, is not only the Savior of this world, but the Savior of the universe in an important sense”
    “This world is to be turned back to its allegiance to God, and the blessed Atonement of Christ has so unbosomed God before the universe, as, no doubt, not only to save other worlds from going into rebellion,” — Skeleton Lecture of Theology – The Atonement.

    Rather astounding coming from theologians before the sci-fi age of ETs everywhere on our screens and booksheleves.

    Let’s face it, we know spit about our own world let alone the vast universe of worlds of far greater or far lesser intelligence than our own that may or may not be “out there”.

    And to quote from Calvin and Hobbes:
    “Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us.”
    —Bill Watterson

    And finally :
    “Sometimes I think we’re alone. Sometimes I think we’re not. In either case, the thought is staggering.”
    —Buckminster Fuller

  6. Borne,

    Great quotes. Here are several more I’m familiar with (paraphrased). You may have heard of a present day minister named Bob Larson. A few years ago he was a guest on an AM talk show called called “The Edge of Reality”. Larson’s statement about the existence of ET was something akin to “absolutley not”. When the host asked why, he responded that God would have told us about something so important, and that it lessened man’s place in the universe. Any contact with an ET would be merely a demonic deception. C. S. Lewis also didn’t rule out ET, but due to the distances involved, thought God has imposed a sort of “divine quarantine”. Another Christian apologist, the late Walter Martin didn’t rule out the possibilty, but that we had nothing to fear if they in fact exist; “Our Lord is Lord over all”. As for myself, Fuller’s statement best expresses my view.

  7. If there is anyone of which I am certain, it is that Christianity (and all the other major religions) will have little difficultly in adapting to new information regarding the presence (or confirmed absence) of ET life, intelligent or otherwise.

    Even if some ETs visited our planet armed with detailed recordings of our past history for the last 10,000 years showing that the supernatural events in the various holy books never happened, most people will simply find a way to accommodate the information and will carry on believing.

  8. “Well, it’s because the credibility of the evidence is not predicated on its complexity. If SETI were to announce that we’re not alone because it had detected a signal, it would be on the basis of artificiality. An endless, sinusoidal signal – adead simple tone – is not complex; it’s artificial. Such a tone just doesn’t seem to be generated by natural astrophysical processes. In addition, and unlike other radio emissions produced by the cosmos, such a signal is devoid of the appendages and inefficiencies nature always seems to add – for example, DNA’s junk and redundancy.”

    Complex versus artificial? What is the difference? Could it be artificial and not complex? Or would that be considered “noise”?

    Me thinks these SETI guys are playing with words.

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