What SETI Guru Wants to Know
Seth Shostak, a SETI advocate, has two key questions for aliens.
A frequent spokesperson for the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI), Shostak was recently invited to be a science consultant for Hollywood’s latest cosmic battle epic, Battleship. His interview for Space.com ended with the following: what would he ask the aliens?
First, Shostak clarified whether the question meant getting an answer back or not. Assuming it could be a two-way conversation, he did not care so much to learn about alien science or technology. Instead, surprisingly, he would ask something very different. He said,
But if it ever got to a point where you could get into a conversation and ask questions, my two have always been: do you have music and do you have religion?
I wouldn’t ask about physics because we could eventually figure that out, but those two questions are things only they would know.
As for whether aliens would be friendly or hostile, Shostak shrugged and said it’s basically too late to worry, because our messages are already out there.
Yes, they have both music and religion. Angels serve the living God and sing for joy in His presence.
Shostak would never ask such things if he did not realize deep in his soul that music and religion make no sense in a Darwinian universe. Somebody send him Handel’s Messiah for contemplation as he ponders the conundrum of whether aliens would send signals by intelligent design or not (12/03/2005).