Space Messiahs 

There is an odd connection in the news that the state government of New York might soon cease to function, the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster, and the exploding federal deficit with the report that there might be methane based life on one of Saturn's moons, Titan. The connection is the secret hope that Space Messiahs from Titan will somehow save us from all these mounting problems. This despite the fact that actual proof of even the most basic life forms on Titan is extremely tenuous:

New findings have roused a great deal of hoopla over the possibility of life on Saturn's moon Titan, which some news reports have further hyped up as hints of extraterrestrials.

...All this excitement is rooted in analyses of chemical data returned by NASA's Cassini spacecraft. One study suggested that hydrogen was flowing down through Titan's atmosphere and disappearing at the surface. Astrobiologist Chris McKay at NASA's Ames Research Center speculated that this could be a tantalizing hint that hydrogen is getting consumed by life.

"Suggested..." "speculated..." "could be..." "tantalizing hint..." And based on these incredibly weak pegs I guarantee you there is a plethora of folks out there hoping, praying that there are Methane Messiahs on Titan just waiting for the moment to offer us salvation from our many sins, including political, environmental, and budgetary sins.

Think I'm kidding? Then try this experiment. Go up to a friend and say something like the following:

"I just don't think there is any other intelligent life in the universe based on the fact we have been searching for signals in the cosmos for decades with absolutely no results."

I guarantee you will get a much angrier reaction than if you had denied the existence of a Supreme Being. In fact the most famous atheist of them all, Richard Dawkins, is quoted as saying, "Life could conceivably have been seeded on Earth by an alien intelligence from another planet." So despite the fact Dawkins fervently denies the existence of God, the idea of "Space Messiahs" bringing life to our planet is entirely within the realm of possibility according to Mr. Atheist.

Dawkins isn't alone. An ABC poll in 2000 reveals that nearly half of all Americans believe we are not alone in the universe. The eclectic list of famous people who have expressed a belief in space aliens might surprise you. People such as Jimmy Carter, Douglas MacArthur, and Mikhail Gorbachev. Sorry, Gorby. The Space Messiahs did not arrive here in time to prevent your downfall...along with the entire Soviet Union. Russian scientist, Dr. Yuri Labvin, has gone so far as to claim that Alien Messiahs made the ultimate sacrifice by crashing their spacecraft into a meteor that threatened to destroy Earth in 1908. The result was the 15 megaton Tunguska blast which took place high above the planet with damage only to a bunch of trees in the wilds of Siberia.

However, I shouldn't be too harsh on the believers in Space Messianism. You see, I was once a devout believer. It happened at the time I watched "2001: A Space Odyssey." Like most people who saw that groundbreaking movie, I was deeply moved by its basic message: there are alien "messiahs" out there so advanced that we can't even understand them who guide Man to better things. Of course, there were a handful of "kooks" who didn't buy the movie's premise, such as my father, and their reaction enraged me at the time. For months I begged my father to watch "2001" which I glowingly described as more than just a movie but a profound intergalactic revelation. So what was my father's reaction when he finally saw the movie? This was his response:

"Are you an idiot? That was the worst movie I ever saw. Some damn monkey stares at a big black rock, tosses a bone into the air that turns into a space rocket, and the next thing you know people bump into the same stupid rock on the moon. Then a talking computer kills an astronaut and breaks out singing a dopey nursery rhyme. The other astronaut goes on a hippie acid trip and ends up seeing lots of black rocks circling Jupiter and imagines himself turning into a creepy old guy who drops dead and comes back as a big headed baby inside of an egg high above the earth. Like I said, WORST movie I ever saw!!!"

That "2001" synopsis caused screams of protest from me that my father was completely lacking in any sort of imagination that would allow him to appreciate what an inspiring film it was. However, in retrospect, I can now see that my father was right in a strange way. Yes, I still aesthetically appreciate "2001" as a work of art but my father was oddly correct in his basic assessment of the far as the theme was concerned. So don't wait hopefully for Space Messiahs of the methane, propane, or any other variety to save us from ourselves. They just aren't out there.

And when exploring other planets and moons while secretly hoping to find Space Messiahs, keep one thing in mind...all these worlds are yours, except Europa. Attempt no landing there.

About The Author

P.J. Gladnick

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