Don’t talk to aliens, warns Stephen Hawking

Astrophysicist says extraterrestrials likely exist, but could be dangerous

THE aliens are out there and Earth had better watch out, at least according to Stephen Hawking. He has suggested that extraterrestrials are almost certain to exist — but that instead of seeking them out, humanity should be doing all it that can to avoid any contact.

The suggestions come in a new documentary series in which Hawking, one of the world’s leading scientists, will set out his latest thinking on some of the universe’s greatest mysteries.

Alien life, he will suggest, is almost certain to exist in many other parts of the universe: not just in planets, but perhaps in the centre of stars or even floating in interplanetary space.

Hawking’s logic on aliens is, for him, unusually simple. The universe, he points out, has 100 billion galaxies, each containing hundreds of millions of stars. In such a big place, Earth is unlikely to be the only planet where life has evolved.

“To my mathematical brain, the numbers alone make thinking about aliens perfectly rational,” he said. “The real challenge is to work out what aliens might actually be like.”

The answer, he suggests, is that most of it will be the equivalent of microbes or simple animals — the sort of life that has dominated Earth for most of its history.

One scene in his documentary for the Discovery Channel shows herds of two-legged herbivores browsing on an alien cliff-face where they are picked off by flying, yellow lizard-like predators. Another shows glowing fluorescent aquatic animals forming vast shoals in the oceans thought to underlie the thick ice coating Europa, one of the moons of Jupiter.

Such scenes are speculative, but Hawking uses them to lead on to a serious point: that a few life forms could be intelligent and pose a threat. Hawking believes that contact with such a species could be devastating for humanity.

He suggests that aliens might simply raid Earth for its resources and then move on: “We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn’t want to meet. I imagine they might exist in massive ships, having used up all the resources from their home planet. Such advanced aliens would perhaps become nomads, looking to conquer and colonise whatever planets they can reach.”

He concludes that trying to make contact with alien races is “a little too risky”. He said: “If aliens ever visit us, I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn’t turn out very well for the Native Americans.”

The completion of the documentary marks a triumph for Hawking, now 68, who is paralysed by motor neurone disease and has very limited powers of communication. The project took him and his producers three years, during which he insisted on rewriting large chunks of the script and checking the filming.

John Smithson, executive producer for Discovery, said: “He wanted to make a programme that was entertaining for a general audience as well as scientific and that’s a tough job, given the complexity of the ideas involved.”

Hawking has suggested the possibility of alien life before but his views have been clarified by a series of scientific breakthroughs, such as the discovery, since 1995, of more than 450 planets orbiting distant stars, showing that planets are a common phenomenon.

So far, all the new planets found have been far larger than Earth, but only because the telescopes used to detect them are not sensitive enough to detect Earth-sized bodies at such distances.

Another breakthrough is the discovery that life on Earth has proven able to colonise its most extreme environments. If life can survive and evolve there, scientists reason, then perhaps nowhere is out of bounds.

Hawking’s belief in aliens places him in good scientific company. In his recent Wonders of the Solar System BBC series, Professor Brian Cox backed the idea, too, suggesting Mars, Europa and Titan, a moon of Saturn, as likely places to look.

Similarly, Lord Rees, the astronomer royal, warned in a lecture earlier this year that aliens might prove to be beyond human understanding.

“I suspect there could be life and intelligence out there in forms we can’t conceive,” he said. “Just as a chimpanzee can’t understand quantum theory, it could be there are aspects of reality that are beyond the capacity of our brains.”

Stephen Hawking’s Universe begins on the Discovery Channel on Sunday May 9 at 9pm

Jonathan Leake : Sunday Times, 25 April 2010

Charlie Rose – Stephen Hawking
Despite being almost completely paralyzed by ALS, Hawking remains one of the world’s foremost theoretical physicists and has contributed greatly to our understanding of the universe.

A conversation with Dr. Stephen Hawking & Lucy Hawking. They discuss their book George’s Secret Key to the Universe, an adventure story about two children who find a sort of computer portal through which they can slip into the solar system and beyond.

The Real Jesus: Myth #5 (7 & 8 of 10)

Myth #5: The Gospels contradict one another and contain fiction
Jennings: “Scholars don’t take everything that they read in the New Testament literally because there are four different and sometimes contradictory versions of Jesus’ life.” [08:30]

Yes, there are differences in the Gospel accounts. Let’s begin with the first obvious difference that seems to concern Jennings so much — the story of Jesus birth. First, there are different genealogies of Jesus. The Jews knew that the Messiah was to come from the house of Judah and specifically must be a descendant of David. Up to this point, Matthew and Luke agree with one another.

There could be several reasons why Matthew and Luke contain different genealogical accounts. The church historian Eusebius, writing in the early fourth century, records that separate genealogies appear for the following reason. Jesus had both a biological mother, Mary, and a legal (but not biological) father, Joseph. Matthew records Jesus’ genealogy by “law” through his adoptive father, Joseph, and Luke records the genealogy of “nature” through his biological mother, Mary. According to Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History, Julius Africanus, a third century church father, explained this alleged contradiction in his Letter to Aristides (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, book I, chapter 7).

[CONTRAST JENNINGS’ FOLLOWING CLAIMS WITH COMMENTS BY APOLOGIST J.P. HOLDING]

Jennings: “The Gospels give different versions of what happened on the day that Jesus was baptized … ” [48:40]

Jennings: “Historians differ about what happened a the Last Supper. Some people think His whole speech about the Body and Blood was added by the Gospel writers.” [1:37:10]

Jennings: “The Jewish leaders take Jesus to Pilate and pressure him before he will pass the sentence. Many historians don’t believe it.” [1:44:40]

Jennings: “Jesus is not an heroic figure at all until He gets into the hands of all the people who are going to write and embellish him.” [1:46:50]

The Real Jesus: Myth #6 (8 of 10)

Myth #6:. The miracles of the New Testament were invented by the Gospel writers.
Jennings: “Most scholars think these stories were invented by the Gospel writers as advertisements for Christianity in its early years.” [1:10:00]

Jennings: “Did Jesus really heal people?” [1:11:20]

[INTERVIEWS WITH APOLOGIST J.P. HOLDING: “Did Jesus heal people?” Refer to Mat. 11:2-6]

And when John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples and said to Him, “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: “The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me” (Mat. 11:2-6 NKJ).

Note that Jesus is declaring himself to be the Messiah, the Son of God, by showing John the Baptist that specific prophecy is being fulfilled. Hundreds of years before, Isaiah wrote of the Messiah:

Then the eyes of the blind will be opened, and the ears of the deaf will be unstopped. Then the lame will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb will shout for joy. For waters will break forth in the wilderness and streams in the Arabah (Isaiah 35:5-6).

The Real Jesus (DVD) Myth #3 (5 & 6 of 10)

Myth #3: There was no virgin birth and
Jesus was not born in Bethlehem
By Jay Rogers

Jennings: “We cannot tell you whether or not Jesus is the Son of God, that is a matter of faith. But if you have difficulty with the idea that the Virgin Mary could get pregnant without a man involved, there are a number of ways to explain why in Luke it is written that way.” [24:50]

Jennings: “Some scholars think that Jesus was illegitimate and that the story was a cover-up.” [26:28]

That Jesus was born of a virgin is confirmed by both Matthew and Luke. In his Gospel, Matthew writes that this miracle was a fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14:

“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.”

The name Immanuel in Hebrew means literally “God-With-Us.” In other words, God himself was to be incarnate in human form. And the miraculous sign would be that He would be born of a virgin.

Now some have said that the word “virgin” in Hebrew can simply mean a maiden or an unmarried woman. The problem with this speculation is the context of Isaiah’s prophecy. A “sign” in the Hebrew language is simply another way of translating the word “miracle.” And the exclamation “Behold!” means to look with wonder. Both Isaiah and the Gospel writers meant to say that the Messiah would be born of a virgin and the witnesses would look in wonder at the event.

Peter Jennings is right about one thing. There is no physical evidence other than the scripture left to us today to determine the miracle of the Incarnation. But not only is the virgin birth called into question, but also the place and circumstances of Jesus’ birth also prophesied in scripture.

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”

When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. So they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet:

‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
Are not the least among the rulers of Judah;
For out of you shall come a Ruler
Who will shepherd My people Israel.'”

— Matthew 2:1-6

According to prophecy given hundreds of years before Jesus was born, not only would He be born of a virgin, but He would also be born in the city of David, his forefather, in Bethlehem. Of course, Peter Jennings disagrees.

Jennings: “Luke writes that Joseph and Mary came here to Bethlehem from Nazareth because the Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus had ordered a world wide taxation. Now there is no record outside the Gospels that the Emperor Caesar Augustus ordered such a tax. Roman tax records do show that a man is to be taxed where he lives and where he works and Joseph lived and worked in Nazareth. Tax records also show they didn’t count women. And so why would Joseph have brought Mary on this very difficult journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem through the desert especially when she was very pregnant?”[10:33-11:06]

But let’s look at what the Gospel of Luke actually says: And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered (Luke 2:1-6).

Some translations have the word “taxed” for the Greek word apographé, a word that comes from the Greek verb meaning to enroll or to register. What Luke actually wrote is not that Joseph came to Bethlehem “to be taxed,” but that he came “to register” in a census. In the ancient world, a census was often used to assess the amount of able-bodied males eligible for military service.

The Real Jesus: Myth #4 (6 of 10)
Myth #4: Jesus did not claim to be God


The idea that Jesus did not claim to be God is often put in a more subtle way.

Jennings: “The word Messiah did not mean the Son of God. It simply meant ‘the anointed one.'” [34:52]

[INTERVIEWS WITH PANEL OF EXPERTS: “Did Jesus claim to be God?”]

The idea that the Jewish Messiah is God himself is not something that first century Christians made up. The divinity of the Messiah is something we find throughout the Old Testament.

[INTERVIEWS WITH PANEL: “Is the Old Testament Messiah divine?”]

The great Reformed scholar Benjamin Warfield wrote:

“It is quite clear, at the outset, that the writers of the New Testament and Christ Himself understood the Old Testament to recognize and to teach that the Messiah was to be of divine nature. For example, they without hesitation support their own assertions of the Deity of Christ by appeals to Old Testament passages in which they find the Deity of the Messiah afore-proclaimed.” (Dr. Benjamin B. Warfield, The Divine Messiah In The Old Testament)

As an example of this, let’s look at Psalm 110, which happens to be the most quoted Old Testament passage by New Testament writers.

“The Lord said to My Lord, sit at my right hand, till I make your enemies your footstool.” — Psalm 110:1

Jesus himself brought this prophecy into focus when He confronted the skeptics of his day.

While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, saying, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?”

They said to Him, “The Son of David.”

He said to them, “How then does David in the Spirit call Him “Lord,’ saying:
“The LORD said to my Lord,
“Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool”‘?

If David then calls Him “Lord,’ how is He his Son?” And no one was able to answer Him a word, nor from that day on did anyone dare question Him anymore. (Matthew 22:41-46)

Let’s look at Psalm 110 carefully: God addresses the Son as God. He tells us that the Lord Jesus sits upon God’s own throne. We have to ask: Who except God could sit upon God’s throne? Jesus sits on God’s throne because He always was and always will remain God in every sense of the word.

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