God vs. ET
Consider the following logic:
- There is no direct evidence of extraterrestrial life
- It is, however, probable based on our empirical understanding of life and the number of planets suitable to host life, that extraterrestrial life exists somewhere in the universe
- It is thus reasonable to assume extraterrestrial life does exist
∴ If it is reasonable to assume extraterrestrial life exists, then it is reasonable to assume a creator of the universe exists ('God')
What are the problems with this reasoning?
- Premise 1 is correct. We have zero evidence -not a shred- that extraterrestrial life exists.
- Premise 2 is correct. Given our empirical and theoretical understanding of the size and variability of the cosmos, it is statistically more likely than not that at least one extraterrestrial life form exists in the universe.
- Premise 3 is correct. Given the probability, it is reasonable to assume extraterrestrial life exists. This is not a fact, it is a reasonable speculation.
The conclusion, however, is a non-sequitur. The conclusion does not follow from the premises. At the very end, the argument leaps to a logical equivalence of God and extraterrestrial life in terms of existence. That is, it hijacks the assertions for extraterrestrial life and -at the last moment- substitutes in 'God'.
To see the flaw, let's look at the premises with 'God' (sentient creator of the universe) properly used instead of extraterrestrial life.
- There is no direct evidence of a sentient creator of the universe
- It is, however, probable based on our empirical understanding of life and the number of planets suitable to host life, that sentient creator of the universe exists somewhere in the universe
- It is thus reasonable to assume a sentient creator of the universe does exist
- Premise 1 is correct. We have zero evidence -not a shred- that a sentient creator of the universe exists
- Premise 2 blows up. The empirical factors for determining the likelihood of extraterrestrial life have nothing to do with the likelihood of a sentient creator of the universe.
- Premise 3 is false because premise 2 is false.
Substituting God for extraterrestrial life equates the most supreme possible entity - the creator of the universe - with a single life form. Extraterrestrial life could exist as a lowly single-cell organism in a minor planet in a distant galaxy. That is all it takes for the extraterrestrial logic to work. Not so with God.
So in simple terms: The likelihood that extraterrestrial life in even the most primitive form exists says nothing about the likelihood that God exists. One can reasonably assume that extraterrestrial life exists (this is not fact, it is simply an educated guess) and commit resources to explore the cosmos looking for evidence to support this hypothesis. The God hypothesis, however, is profoundly different and needs its own argument and supporting empirical data.
Hijacking the extraterrestrial argument is absurd on its face.