Shaikh Abdal Hakim Murad, Muslim Chaplain at the University of Cambridge  
Tuesday, 27 April, 2010, 08:23 AM - Science, Murad
Rating 5 out of 5 (Extraordinarily platitudinous)

As always, I want to talk to you about a great topical issue in the news headlines. I have decided therefore to talk about a telly programme.

Stephen Hawking thinks we should avoid alien intelligences, at least until we're big enough to beat them in a straight fight. But even as I speak, this very radio signal is setting out towards the stars to give aliens a more nuanced and intelligent view of humanity than they might get from soap operas or reality TV shows. Is E.T. likely to be friendly?

This is one of those mildly amusing ethical dilemmas that science, in its brash unsophisticated way, tosses towards experts on morality such as myself. I can state with absolute certainty that we are made in the image of the Invisible Magic Friend, but is an eight legged blob, swimming the oceans of Europa?

It would not do to be dismissive of the opinions of an eminent scientist like Professor Hawking (I certainly wouldn't wish to go on national radio and not so subtly snigger at his views). But unlike Professor Hawking (a fellow academic here at Cambridge doing some obscure subject called "physics" ) I am able to do the calculations and can tell you, as the Muslim chaplain here, that alien life is extremely unlikely.

You may think that, as life appeared almost immediately on planet Earth, that this suggests a high probability of life getting started. In fact, when you examine the biochemical pathways that scientists have yet to discover, you will see that the evolution of bacteria is statistically highly unlikely.

I have also calculated the probability that life, in its battle for survival, would develop anything as absurd as an intelligent strategy for doing so and can once again announce the important scientific result that this also is highly unlikely.

The most unlikely thing of all, since nature is exclusively red in tooth and claw and has no examples whatsoever where cooperation turns out to be a viable survival strategy, is that humanity would develop a moral conscience towards other human beings. This is totally inexplicable by science and just goes to prove that there must be an Invisible Magic Friend, who is statistically 100% likely.

If only scientists would drop all that silly dogma of theirs and approach this problem rationally and statistically, like what I do.

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