Don't know if anybody is aware of the Fermi Paradox, or ever thinks about it, but I do. And if you have an open mind it can truly be a fascinating idea to entertain.  

This is a review of the paradox if you already know about it you can skip this next paragraph

First, let me give a quick review of what the Fermi Paradox is. About 60 years ago, with the technological advancements of power telescopes and our first exploration into space as a species, it quickly became evident that the sheer number of stars and planets in our galaxy alone, would suggest that, even at astronomically slim odds, life should be teeming throughout the Milky way. Our Solar system is about 4.5 billion years old, thus it has taken 4.5 billion years from its creation to produce intelligent beings such as ourselves. There are billions of stars with earth like planets that are much older than our sun, thus have had much longer to produce intelligent life. Using our own species as an example, once intelligence shows up on a planet it explores space in a relatively short amount of time (relative to the cosmological scale). The first modern humans appear around 100k years ago so in just 100k years we have gone from stone tools to iPhones and space-farring rockets. Very very short amount of time compared to the billions of years the universe/galaxy/solar system is. Taking all of this into consideration, it becomes evident that even an alien civilization only thousands of years older than us, would have technology completely unknown to us and if they explored space and left a mark like humans do it should be evident. This, the Fermi Paradox, "Where are they?"

There have been many solutions to the problem... Maybe we are truly unique and rare and life is really spread out too thin to ever make contact? Maybe all civilizations destroy themselves by way of new weapons, maybe intelligence is unlikely through natural evolutionary processes. This could be supported by the fact that it has only occurred once on earth. Intelligence isn't necessary to survive. However through the sheer numbers, even if intelligent life only evolves at a .001% rate on earth like planets, there would be thousands of intelligent alien civilizations in our galaxy alone. 

As technology advances and weapons become exponentially more dangerous to the entire world, it is possible that religious fanatics and extremists could evolve their attacks from car bombings and hijackings to bombings of the nuclear/atomic kind. Most of the terrorists are well educated and once they can produce weapons of mass destruction, in line with their beliefs, I don't think its inconceivable to assume that one day a religious person would do irreversible damage to our species in the name of God. Of course, this is theoretical, but it makes sense that every intelligent species on any planet would initially create religions to explain the things that they couldn't understand. What if there is no evidence of any intelligent life because every civilization (once becoming technological) is unknowingly engaged in a race to irradicate religion, in favor of reason. It seems that as technology advances, it is inevitable that one day a nuclear attack in the name of a religion is imminent. What if this battle between reason and religion is so much more important than we even realize. Our very fate could be reliant upon it, though, it may be an unwinnable battle and we are already doomed. 

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I would think the major issue is that we aren't quite sure what we are looking for. We are searching for signs of intelligent life that approximates our own, because we know that this at least exists in the universe. However, we may be just as ignorant towards other species that exist in the universe as fungi are towards the existence of humans. 

It seems unlikely that there isn't any other intelligent life in the universe that we possibly could communicate with, but the universe is a very big place and hard to traverse.

Other intelligent life somewhere else in the universe doesn't matter.

Time and distance makes us detecting such intelligent life a practical impossibility.

While that may be true of life in other galaxies, it's hardly true of life in our own milky way. We wouldn't need to travel to a planet to detect intelligent activity such as colonization through the galaxy, which is specifically what the idea refers to.

At the speed of light it would take over 100,000 years for a signal to cross our galaxy, it's only been about 100 years since we transmitted our first signal into space.  It will be 200,000 years from now before we can hope to hear a signal in reply, IF there is a technologically advanced species there to actually detect our first signal and be able to send a reply, by that time we will have exhausted all our resources and won't be listening for a signal from space.

All true, if you assume civilizations are our own age and level of technological complexity, but a much older civilization, say millions of years older, would have long depleted their planets resources and if they survived they would have had to spread throughout the galaxy. And if they did millions of years ago that light would have reached us long ago and would be evident to this day. Obviously it's all hypothetical and since we can't see it it seems clear that is hasn't happened at least longer than 100k years ago.

If by chance extraterrestrial life forms evolved similarly to those on earth, sudden contact could introduce pathogens (to either planet) that would make the plagues forced upon the new world seem like the sniffles.

Yes, the War of the Worlds lol

Let's assume for starters that scientifically-advanced life is fairly rare, such that only a dozen or so will ever arise in the Milky Way. Let's also assume that such advanced civilizations tend to last as advanced civilizations for only a couple thousand years (which in itself might be optimistic). There's no reason to suppose that such civilizations would exist timed such that they could detect each other.

It seems to me that a lot of people assume that advanced civilizations will last for many thousands of years and perhaps tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands or even longer. I find that very unlikely.

Absolutely, which was basically my question or thought, could not being able to overcome religion be a reason why civilizations cannot prosper for long enough to be detectable. Obviously, there could be a myriad of reasons, but if there is a 100% destruction rate of civilizations, it would seem to me there would be one particular inescapable problem that no civilization has ever been able to survive.


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