Friday, July 16, 2010

On the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence: Requires an acceptance of ambiguity

 "One of the greatest misconceptions about SETI is that we know in our hearts that there is life out there, and the question is whether we’re going to be the generation that finds it. That’s false," he said. "SETI requires an acceptance of ambiguity. If there’s a virtue to SETI, it’s that it’s making ambiguity acceptable at a time when people are focused on the concrete and short-term. It is very often uncomfortable not having the answers, but we need to accept that. We try to recognize that, in this domain, with what we now know, the best we can do, the most honest thing we can do, is live with a sense of ambiguity."

"That sounds deeply spiritual," I told Vakoch. He asked what I meant. "The act of coming to peace with the unknowable," I said.

"It’s not necessarily a matter of being at peace with it," he replied. "There’s a passage in the Bible — ‘Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.’ In a sense, I think science and religion are not ultimately in opposition to one another. They are both attempting to understand things as they are. They understand different aspects of what is."

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