Extra-terrestrial life must exist: why wouldn’t it? Why should life on Earth be so unique? The same process of evolution is occuring throughout the universe; there is no reason to expect it to result in anything less than the diversity we have on Earth.
The arrival on Earth of a "meteorite from Mars" shows how life grows across space. Microbes attach themselves to stellar objects, such as comets and meteorites. These stellar objects are like bloodcells; they carry life around the body of the Universe.
Update 2006: this mechanism of "meteoroidal panspermia" has been partially modelled, with up to 100 deliveries on a remote body from a single impact.
Update 2011: meanwhile, meteorites from Earth may have landed on Mars, Jupiter and more - blasted into space from asteroid impacts (such as that suspected of killing the dinosaurs)
Update 2013: more simulations of meteorites from Earth reaching other bodies in the solar system
Update 2014: "the original seeds... the implications here are that they could have come from the cosmos... comets are the means of transport." (quoting Professor David Southwood, former President of the Royal Astronomical Society, and former Director of Science and Robotic Exploration at the European Space Agency [wiki], who was interviewed by the BBC here, and was speaking with reference to the detection of organic molecules on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko by the Philae spacecraft)
Update 2015: a writeup of work by NASA's Mercury Messenger spacecraft says that around impact sites on Mercury, "the ratios of potassium to thorium were identical to those found in Martian meteorites" - suggesting that Martian meteorites have reached Mercury, the inner-most planet in our solar system.
It does seem improbable that this occurs, but consider the time during which this process has had to occur. Even if it only happens once in a million years, this is still around 15,000 actual occurences, since the birth of the universe. And as life spreads, the probability of it spreading further increases, as there are more potential sources of life to spread from.
Life on Earth is diverse, yet the Earth is only around 4 billion years old - this is but a quarter the age of the Universe. Thus life in the Universe must be more diverse, as it has had more time to evolve.
It must be teeming out there; a rainforest, of universal proportion. Our planet a tree, our continent a branch, ourselves - perhaps a leaf.
Update 2009: (this logic is a rendering of the Drake Equation [wiki])
The problem with this logic, however, is that if extraterrestrial life is so plentiful, it should have been found already; yet, has it not. This problem is known as Fermi's Paradox [wiki] and is not currently resolved.
Given that the universe must be populated with life at all stages of evolution, it seems reasonable to look for evidence of visitation. That is, if we assume life is everywhere, we can wonder - have ETs visited Earth already? What evidence would be left behind?
To find this, first consider the effect upon the social psyche of recurrent visitations over a long period of time. These experiences would be assimilated into contemporary belief systems. But this is in the past - therefore the evidence is now embedded into myth and religion. The core seeds of truth evolved into them. As John Milton put it: "Oft-times relations heertofore accounted fabulous have bin after found to contain in them many foot-steps, and reliques of something true."
Myth and religion are the relics of experiences we could not, at the time, explain. At the time, we did not have the theoretical constructs to explain our experiences in a rational way (eg., we did not have science to explain how).. so we made up a story so we could sleep at night. These are theological constructs - or religion.
So, a quick glance at any text on myth or religion reveals countless references to beings such as leprechauns, gnomes, gremlins, goblins, griffins, trolls, cherubs, ghosts, genies, imps, angels, fairies (complete with their "stardust"), elves, demons, devils, witches, pixies, brownies, nymphs, mermaids and water-sprites, the boogie-man... gods. They are always depicted as elusive, powerful, magical. They are metaphors for ETs.
The same ten seconds will probably also net you a few of their belongings, magical swords, potions, vehicles; hard evidence must still exist. What is all that stuff in the Vatican anyway.
"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." -- Arthur C. Clarke
Update 2009: (this is Clarke's Third Law [wiki])
When the three wise men - the three Kings of Orion - said they followed a star, they were telling us they saw our sun, and checked out the planets. We thought they meant that "comet" we noticed just before they came.. but that was their spaceship, flaming as it entered our atmosphere.
When the grim reaper comes and takes someone -- he's abducting them.
On January 21, 1997 there was a news report of a hot-air balloon crashing in a remote Indian province. The people there, one of whom I saw interviewed (via a translator) said that from the size, shape, colour (silver) and the burner in the middle, he thought it was a "temple". My question on this is: how does that man know to associate a large round silver fiery object, descending from the sky, with religion? Like, does it look like a temple? Do temples normally fly? Has he seen temples that look like that before? That man used "temple" as a metaphor.
My Swedish friends tell me of Yule Tomta (Jul Tomten or Tomta Jubba), or Christmas Gnomes, who, if shown respect by the offering of gifts at Christmastime, will help the Swede in his life and in his work.. while if no gifts are offered at Christmas, the Yule Tomta can get nasty, and hinder the Swede in his life and work. It is strongly recommended to be nice to Yule Tomta.. or else. A marketing friend noted that Coca-Cola popularised the western image of Santa Claus in the mid-20th century. However, the artist employed by Coca-Cola was in fact Swedish; and so it seems that Haddon Sunblom modelled Coke's Santa Claus (the "jolly old elf") on Yule Tomta.
If UFOs are so easy to explain away, why haven’t they been? If UFO theory is so ridiculous, why have we not seen any serious government explanation of events? Why are there so many classified documents? If there is nothing to hide, what is being hidden? According to the documentary The ID4 Invasion, the US military refused to support the movie Independence Day, because the makers refused to remove references to Area 51. This could be considered evidence of concealment; there's plenty of it.
Upon research, I conclude that there are nice ETs and there are nasty ETs. The nice ones say hello and teach us things. The nasty ones exploit us: murder, rape, and pillage, no less. It's easy to tell them apart - are they remembered favourably in myth, or not?
Major world religions, including the Christian, Judaist, Islamic, Hindu, Buddhist, and Hare Krishna faiths, appear incompatible, as there can only be one supreme being. But this incompatibility can be resolved, if that being is the same person. There are many intriguing correlations, including names, beliefs, rituals, events, descriptions, theoretical constructs, and overall thrust.
It is possible that the Gods in each of these religions are each representatives from the same community of ETs known as Parvati. If this is the case, we might want to say hello.
For a quick taste of the thinking behind this conclusion, consider the cheer "Merry Krishnas!" ... does it not sound and look a little similar to the Christian "Merry Christmas!"? Yet does it not also look and sound like the Krishna "Hare Krishna!"? Indeed, the names of the two figures, Christ and Krishna, are similar enough in themselves. Surely these are highly improbable similarities, given these two religions are well separated in both space and time. Yet, similarities they are.. and this is but one of many.
(Here's another: in the Egyptian Book of the Dead there is a reference to the god Ra creating other gods from drops of his blood. The Hindu god Shiva reportedly used a similar technique; he created the Raika people from drops of his sweat.)
From everything I have read, and this is as much as I can speculate, the keys to Parvati are within "manifold names". I don't know what the keys actually unlock - a DNA sequence, a gravitic "hyper" drive, a galactic email address...??? - which would be nice, since the email@example.com seems to be offline ... maybe we can grow a God in our own image, now we have DNA cloning technology too, and put a few E=MC???-type questions to him directly.
Religion may have been a useful way of disseminating wisdom shared by altruistic ETs, however the mechanism appears to have been hijaacked by selfish people with nasty intent - the State may be co-operating with equally evil ETs. However, it must be remembered that this does not mean they are on the same side. Government is a victim also.. all life on Earth is a victim of this exploitation. One can hardly argue with the threat of attack from beings with technology more advanced than ours.. it would make sense to co-operate; we can argue when we're stronger.
Nasty ETs may have arranged a swap of technology for humans. Grotesque as this is, there probably wasn't a choice. The arrangement is probably the most civilised understanding we've shared so far. ETs must have been meddling with humans for millennia - our current capability is probably the most significant threat we have ever posed. The arrangement must be a symptom of concern, on their part.. we are learning.
Nasty ETs are shopping, farming, or grazing for body products, and other natural resources. We do that too.. remember? All life does this - one must kill in order to live. Perhaps we are discovering what it's like to be on the wrong end of a microscope, or a consumption process... we are fighting for our lives.
A note to the protectionists: note how there's no GalactiCop breathing down their necks! The nice ETs do not attempt to prevent the nasty ETs exploiting us. What they do instead is encourage us and let us grow strong enough to defend ourselves.
Survival of the fittest - the evolutionary process of encouragement of environmentally-embracing entities - means at least some of those species in the galactic rainforest are trying to exploit us, right now. Just as we might notice a banana and pick it, the environment has provided a banana - Earth - which those species are eating, and growing from. This is fair play in evolution. It is up to us to evolve defence mechanisms, indeed to embrace these assaults on our collective life and grow from them.
There may be organised efforts to discredit research and individuals working to overcome this exploitation, and otherwise subvert our emancipation. Our governments may find it politically expedient to leave Pandora's Box unopened.
Humans excel at making and using tools; it is a skill apparently unmatched by other terrestrial species. Since the beginning of our history we have invented tools to make our lives easier. Each of these tools brings us closer to escaping this planet and disseminating terrestrial life into the universe.
This seems to be our role; it is the role of all living things to reproduce. Humanity as a species and Earth as a planet are both living organisms, and thus must seek to reproduce in some manner: what better way than to find niches on new planets? It is the destiny of all life to grow... terrestrial life will grow around the universe as surely as a vine grows around a tree. From Gaia's perspective, our species is the tool; we are going to invent an escape vehicle not just for us, but for all Earth life that we take with us. And a few trillion species that will inevitably hitch a ride.
Life has a propensity to grow into new niches; there is instinct to explore. The Phoenicians did it on Earth, and now, the life of Earth will spread into the universe.
The most potent tool we have yet invented in order to facilitate this evolution of terrestrial life is the internet. We now have a global database, a global interactive communications network, a species-wide feedback device which allows us to think as one, yet diversify and think as many. This diversity means that at any given moment, on every issue, people are discussing how they are at, or were at, or are coming to, or where other people are, or will be, or have been. This is a sustainable reasoning engine; it allows any individual to explore any area of interest, contribute to it, and learn from the feedback. With this device, we learn from each other.. we grow from each other's learning. We just put our speaker next to our microphone. Feedback and growth inevitably emanates from such a pairing; we are evolving by the second.
We have harnessed ourselves to reality. We are harnessed because the internet is substantially uncensored - people can react without intervention to what they perceive. This unfettered feedback stimulates learning like never before... and when reality moves, we move too, because we reflect it with our internet - we talk about it, grow with it, build upon it.
These are the hallmarks of a sustainable entity - sensing and adapting to the environment is what everything alive does every second. With the internet, we can build a sustainable future for all humans, and for all life on Earth. This growth is proof of our continuing evolution.
Just as rainforests evolve, so too is our history. Circumstances are compounding. This process of convergence is occurring because time adds complexity; interdependence is growing - systems are evolving to depend upon each other. We, humanity, life on Earth, indeed this entire solar system is maturing.
With this maturity comes a sense of self-awareness; an understanding of our station in life, relative to that of other species in the universe. We are realising we are not alone.
Once everyone understands that not only is life everywhere, but it is also here, we can work together to overcome common difficulties: starting with coming to terms with extraterrestrial visitors. The experience surely would unify people, give "human beings" a context, and help us realise that every person is a human, no matter what their particular marginalisations.
I look forward to peaceful collaboration with extraterrestrials - perhaps in terms of cultural and intellectual interaction and development.