A perky woman was interviewing a scientist on NPR tonight about finding goldilocks-planets: not too hot, not too cold. "Our planet isn't going to last forever. We'll need to find places that our descendents can live when that happens. Is that what scientists are thinking when they look for livable planets?" I didn't stick around to find out who she, or he, was.
The scientist politely deflected this.
It is this sort of vacuity, even among clever people, that causes me to again say "Tell me again why you think the foolishness of Young Earth Creationists is a problem. Isn't this worse?"
First, the time frame. Does she think we are going to be heading out for these distant places anytime soon? Mars, maybe. But both suspended animation or life-sustaining rocket colonies that last for thousands of years are uh, not on the drawing board at the moment.I suppose if the singularity occurs in 2039 and our technology improves superfast then all bets are off as to what we could accomplish.
But then all bets are off as to what human beings, intelligent machines, and hybrids or assisted-intelligence creatures will be like as well. Which leads to the second point: if we don't know what these creatures are like, why are we rooting for them to spread about the universe? It's one of those things that the folks who like the idea just feel is obvious. That life-forms vaguely related to us should be able to go on indefinitely seems not only permissible - that I could see - but an obvious positive, something to be encouraged, the ground of heroes.
I can understand someone wanting to be one of those travelers and explorers. Adventure, novelty, being part of something larger than oneself - all quite comprehensible. Or just wanting to get away from other humans because they are unutterably stupid, or doomed, or boring - that I can also see. But what's in it for everyone else? Why are we thinking of paying for it, hoping for it, rhapsodizing about it? The feeling that life has gone on, has persevered, has triumphed, because an unrepresentative and unpredictable set of flawed humans might wake up and live in some distant place...seems to not even rise to the level of a religious aspiration, but a merely aesthetic one.