Alien Engineering: Is It Intelligent Design?
The SETI Institute finished airing a 2-part series on the History Channel called Alien Engineering (it will be rebroadcast on Feb. 18). The series, featuring SETI Institute scientists Seth Shostak and Frank Drake, asks the following questions:
Prepare for an exercise in imagination. Suppose that an alien spacecraft crashed in the desert and we humans recovered it. What could we learn from its engineers? Using data gleaned from years of UFO sightings, we recreate a typical ship using cutting—edge animation, discover why aliens choose the craft shapes they do, learn how they overcome the effects of Earth’s atmosphere, defy gravity, cancel inertia, and travel faster than the speed of light! Our experts—reverse engineers—show us what’s “under the hood” of alien craft….
With the help of leading physicists, astronomers, and engineers, we’ll decipher UFO technology: inertia cancellers, antigravity devices, wormhole excavators, teletransporters, antimatter reactors and laser weapons.
And, maybe in the process, discover the secrets of the universe… through “Alien Engineering.” (Emphasis added in all quotes.)
If this exercise in imagination belongs on the History Channel, it is history that hasn’t been written yet. But it does lead to an interesting follow-up question that the producers (Workaholic Productions) may not have imagined. If an alien found human engineering on Mars (e.g., the Mars Exploration Rovers), or on Titan (the Huygens Probe), or on Eros (the NEAR spacecraft) or on the moon, would they be able to reverse-engineer these and learn about us? Would they be able to detect products of intelligence and deduce that these objects had not evolved from the surrounding materials by chance?
SETI devotees hate it when we use their logic against them. Seth & Frank are poles apart from intelligent design people, but how can they escape from this trap they have set for themselves? They are claiming that we could reverse-engineer products we have never seen, produced by minds we have never known, and are not sure even exist. They are absolutely certain that if alien craft landed on Earth, we would recognize them as designed. We would be able to discern much about the designers, and we sure would not assume that starstuff had assembled craft by chance that could travel faster than the speed of light or defy gravity. The organization of the parts for function would not only convince us that they were products of intelligence (remember the I in SETI), but would astound us and arouse admiration of the designers, even if we knew nothing about them. So why is William Paley a has-been in philosophy of science today? Sounds like the SETI Institute should hire his modern counterparts, like Michael Behe.