Richard Dawkins and the God-Like Aliens

Now that's a title I've been wanting to write since...oh, at least my teenage years. In an L.A. Times op-ed, biologist (and outspoken atheist) Richard Dawkins comments on a topic I've been wanting to see him discuss for some time: the "advanced-aliens-as-gods meme". His comments come in the wake of him broaching the topic in his interview for the controversial "intelligent design" documentary, Expelled - to his detriment...

Intelligent design "theorists" (a misnomer, for they have no theory) often use the alien scenario to distance themselves from old-style creationists: "For all we know, the designer might be an alien from outer space." This attempt to fend off accusations of unconstitutionally importing religion into science classes is lame and disingenuous. All the leading intelligent design spokesmen are devout, and, when talking to the faithful, they drop the science-fiction fig leaf and expose themselves as the fundamentalist creationists they truly are.

Nevertheless, despite their notorious dishonesty, I sometimes hand an olive branch to these people by pretending to take their "space aliens" political ploy seriously. Unrealistic as the space alien theory is, it constitutes intelligent design's best shot...

Creationists...never miss a trick. When I have raised the science-fiction olive branch to try to argue against them, they have twisted it -- most recently in a movie scheduled to open this week -- in order to proclaim loudly, "Dawkins believes in intelligent design after all." Or "Dawkins believes in little green men in flying saucers." Or "Dawkins is a Raelian." It's called "lying for Jesus," and they are completely shameless.

As is usual, Dawkins's article is a mix of the excellent - such as his clarification of evolution being down to luck ("In fact, natural selection is the very opposite of a chance process") - and the not-so-good. In this latter group, you have disingenuous qualifications such as in the sentence "The distinguished molecular biologists Francis Crick and Leslie Orgel advanced a version of the notion, probably tongue in cheek, called 'Directed Panspermia.'" (surely Dawkins knows that Orgel and Crick were deadly serious at the time, though decades later they may have had reservations in light of newer research on the origins of life on Earth).

Once again, also, the 'God' of Richard Dawkins appears to be some long-bearded dude with a flowing white robe. To be fair, that is also the conception of many of those that he is arguing against, so it is understandable to a point. But more intelligent people do have ideas about a 'God' as being more related to consciousness or energy, rather than some simplistic 'mega-man'. And returning to the 'aliens as gods' argument, it may also be completely wrong to consider their development as being related to our own in any way. To say "they still had to have evolved like us" is a fallacious argument, if such creatures actually did create life and evolution would be arguing from a false premise. Furthermore, contra to Dawkins claims that such creatures would not really be 'gods' because they didn't create the Universe, there is also the 'Universe as a simulation' argument (from people like Nick Bostrom) to consider...which basically does entail a "creator" of some description, however (relatively) 'mundane'.

Anyhow, I'm glad that Richard Dawkins brought the topic up, because I find it fascinating. The commentary above isn't meant as a rebuttal to him, or as support for ID proponents...more just a kicking around of some very interesting ideas. For more reading on the 'aliens as gods' topic, I definitely recommend astrobiologist David Grinspoon's book Lonely Planets, which discusses some possibilities in the later chapters.


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gbv23's picture
Member since:
5 June 2006
Last activity:
4 weeks 6 days

It not so much that ALL life (or evolution) was created by aliens, its just that modern HUMAN life actually comes from off-world.

That was quite a boost in evolution.

There seems to be a variety of opinions as to exactly where the "star-seeds" came from. One recent book even says that we came from Mars of all places (before life died out there) The book is called "your immortal reality"

This guy Robert Shapiro has a great many books about the "explorer race" but as always, bring the salt shaker. I've never read Stichen but he might have some points.

Some of the star-systems reputed to have earth connections are: Sirius, Arcturus, The Pleadies, Andromeda (not the galaxy)

FirstBorn's picture
Member since:
11 March 2008
Last activity:
2 years 25 weeks


"In fact, natural selection is the very opposite of a chance process, and it is the only ultimate explanation we know for complex, improbable things." (Dawkins)

Hmm so the hit and miss way of evolution isnt chance but a strategy which in the end delivers the best goods... Mr Dawkins should look in at the recordindustry, they've been following the hit and miss strategy for decades and look how music has evolved..Indeed mainly outside 'the box', evolution to me is a process of successful freaks leading the way, pressuring the rest to adapt or die out. The question that arises..what makes a successful freak..has chance anything to do with that ? I say yes, very much so.

Cardinal Dawkins get of your high horse you start to look evermore foolish. This week at Percevals news there's an excellent alternative theory to panspermia explored, he might like it though cardinal Hawkins probably won't.

A Man Can Not Begin To Learn That Which He Thinks He Already Knows (Epictetus)