A short satire of biology from an alien perspective

Once upon a time on a far distant planet there were some alien biologists and on their planet there were writings and legends about an ancient civilization of powerful beings who had come down from the sky and created life there.  But as happens with many stories, some groups of aliens began to change and re-write the story because of the cultural and political importance that origins has in any civilization.  If they knew or admitted to how the powerful beings had made them, then they might have to change how they lived and so on.  So there came to be a wide variety of stories about their origins, depending on what a group of creatures wanted to do and what their own preferences were.  Some tribes came to have a god of gold and riches because that is what they liked while others had a god of fertility or sex because that is what they liked and so on.  Most had many gods and there came to be a very wide proliferation of various types of gods and godesses.   Eventually each tribe developed their own tribal preferences in isolation.  As civilization and knowledge advanced and tribalism receded the creatures eventually realized that there was a wide proliferation of gods and as this happened many came to the conclusion that there were no gods at all.  Many came to the point of believing that there were not any beings who created them in the first place.  Given their history this view was rational to some degree, although it was not true.

Given this process in the minds of many all ancient knowledge about their origins was considered to be myth.  It was all a matter of tribal interests or creature comfort and creature preference as to what legend or myth a creature believed.   So they would say to each other, “That god is good for you, but not for me.” because no one really believed in anything anymore and they didn’t want to argue about it.  By that point most did not believe that there was any higher type of being than their own type of being in general. How could there be, since there were so many different stories about “gods” of all sorts?  But they knew that something must be true about their origins so they began to make some new stories based on studying the planet itself.  Ironically, the  civilization that did away with tribalism and superstitous views of tribal gods in the first place had much to do with philosophical aliens who generally based their philosophy on ancient stories. These were not the legends of gods of gold and wealth, gods of merry making or other things based on tribal interests or creature comforts but instead a story of a singular civilization who came from the sky and created all life and all tribes.  Yet most had lost the perspective that had been foundation of their field and instead concluded that if the gods of gold were obviously tribal superstitions then all stories about the past must be, including the one generally responsible for their civilization. But as they studied, the evidence went against their ideas about life emerging naturally on their planet.  In fact, they began to recognize that all life was based on a complex code that was far beyond their own meager civilization and knowledge.  It was difficult to maintain their stories about the planet but many thought that they should do so anyway because they feared that tribalism and the old tribal gods would emerge again to haunt their world.  This was not the way that progress as they knew it had come about but by this point there were so many alien biologists who believed that all the stories of creative beings were just like superstitions about tribal gods that they had made up some rules about the way that life must be studied.  In fact, any mention of the legends would cause them to say things like:  “That’s not real biology!” or “Horrible things have been done based on legend and in the name of the creative beings!” and “We only allow one type of explanation, our own!”

And so on.  It all had nothing to do with what the truth of things actually was anymore.   Sometimes they even admitted that their explanation had nothing to do with the truth.  It was merely the only type of explanation that they would allow based on a methodology which they mistakenly thought led to progress out of tribalism and superstition.

Yet in the course of their history there came to be a nation in which the stories of those who studied life in this way (i.e. in the name of progress) were taken to be true, not just the only type of explanation allowed due to methodology which could be kept separate from other views or myths about their origins but actually, totally true.   This nation began to fall apart as a civilization.  It became viciously tribalistic and tried to biologically exterminate the group most associated with the old legends and traditions having to do with the origin of life.

Eventually the civilization that created life on the planet returned in their own time and for their own reasons.  The reason that the evidence did not fit the notion that life emerged from the planet itself was because it had not.

Advertisements

6 Responses

  1. Eventually the civilization that created life on the planet returned in their own time and for their own reasons.

    Of course, one of the reasons may be that some of the people on the planet were now ripe for the picking, and where then systematically made into tasty finger sandwiches!

    And I bet not one of the planet dwellers who realized their mythology was wrong thought of that possibility!

  2. Mike said,

    And I bet not one of the planet dwellers who realized their mythology was wrong thought of that possibility!

    This reminds me of the movie, “Independence Day,” where the mindless new-agers are all on top of the building (in California, of course!) welcoming the aliens who are about to blow them to bits! If it had been real life, I suppose we would have lost little Dickie Dawkins! He would have been carrying the sign that said, “Welcome! Let’s Party!”

  3. Eventually the civilization that created life on the planet returned in their own time and for their own reasons. The reason that the evidence did not fit the notion that life emerged from the planet itself was because it had not.

    The metaphysics of the non-metaphysical being (see Hunter’s “Darwin’s God”)! Their chant, “This is not how God would have created ____(fill in the blank), or done this, because _____(fill in the blank!)” Their arguments were, and are, metaphysical, not scientific, so, as you make so clear, they must invent scientific-sounding progress-myths to replace the truth they fear. What is that truth? They’re wrong and they know it, as you point out! Good stuff!!!

  4. Their arguments were, and are, metaphysical, not scientific, so, as you make so clear, they must invent scientific-sounding progress-myths to replace the truth they fear.

    That’s true but I should point out that my arguments against their non-scientific arguments are not scientific either. And it’s not as if they need to be to get at the truth of things, as there are more important things in this world than science.

    Note that it’s hypocritical to make historical arguments about progress combined with philosophical and theological arguments and then claim that others must focus myopically on science alone as if that’s the only issue. The worst example in my opinion is this theological argument: “God wouldn’t make a panda’s thumb this way…” But when people answer theological arguments with theological arguments: “Science and theology are separate magisteria…”

    The same pattern is evident when biologists make arguments about design and engineering based on imaginary events in the past which tend to be answered by engineers acquainted with logistics in the real world. A satire: “This shouldn’t be designed like this.” while creationist or ID engineers reply: “Look at all these things that should be designed just as they are!” to which the reply is often: “You’re not a biologist, so you don’t know what you’re talking about.” I don’t believe in arguments about qualifications and so on but as far as such things go who is really in the better position to make judgments about design anyway, an engineer or a biologist? And who is in a better position to make theological arguments, a theologian or a biologist like Richard Dawkins? Who is in a better position to understand history or the philosophy of science, a philosopher or a biologist? (This fellow John is an example of a pattern of myopic/”scientific” ignorance that is willfully blind to the importance of history, philosophy, etc.)

  5. “God wouldn’t make a panda’s thumb this way…” But when people answer theological arguments with theological arguments: “Science and theology are separate magisteria…”

    Of course, what they really mean is that “I” wouldn’t have designed the panda’s thumb that way. But don’t expect them to present an account of any biological organisms they in fact did “design”, to illustrate their point and superior creative knowledge.

    These are the same type of people who would criticize the painter for inefficiently creating his greens by mixing his blues and yellows, instead of efficiently using the greens out of the tube.

  6. That’s true but I should point out that my arguments against their non-scientific arguments are not scientific either. And it’s not as if they need to be to get at the truth of things, as there are more important things in this world than science.

    Amen!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: