Thursday, December 17, 2009

An Alien Faith Passed On

One fear people have of alien contact is how the proof of alien existence will affect our theologies; this includes how, beyond "just" their existence, alien theologies will affect our theologies.

One thought that popped in my head the other day was what if an alien race had in their theology that they, as a people, would corrupt and lose their true religion - their church would be without leadership, without a head, and that one day a new church leader would come, one who at first did not know they were appointed to be their leader, one who was from another race, one extrasolar and thus alien to them, who would come from the stars, learn their religion and lead their church. How would that affect us?

If their mythology predicted their church would become corrupt and they would lose all knowledge of the true religion and that someone from the heavens would come to show them the right way - that would be a call to action for many, if not most, of the churches on Earth to send missionaries and possibly fight over who would lead the aliens to the light (as Earthlings see it).

But in the first scenario - a human would need to go to the alien planet, learn their religion, and lead them. Would that cause the alien religion to be adopted by some people on Earth? Would they adopt it because it essentially elevates humans as saviors? Would they adopt it because it presents the promise of power? Would they adopt is because they have become cynical of Earth religions? Would they adopt it because they would feel accepted, part of something greater that they were not able to get, for whatever reasons (good or bad or imagined), in churches here on Earth?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Genosia - Hive Races

I was watching Star Wars: Clone Wars episode 2.7, "Legacy of Terror," and, as usual, am skeptical about insectile sentient beings ("insectoids"). As discussed in my past insectoids post, the anatomical structure of insects precludes them from obtaining great size. Although, there are instances were they could obtain larger size: a humid, oxygen rich atmosphere, or water environment. A dry environment like Genosia is not a likely habitat. However, universal biology will allow for a great range of diversity - insectile creatures on other planets may have some similarities to Earth insects, but they may well have differences, especially if they were able to evolve to high level (i.e., technological using) sentience.

But my main query from watching the episode is one of the several topics I keep returning to: hive cultures. The Genosians have a queen, who spawns the entire civilization, much as an ant queen spawns all the members of her colony. This raises some questions.

Would one queen for an entire planetary civilization even make sense? Many separate colonies ensures the species as a whole survives because a) if an accident or disease strikes down one queen, only her colony dies, the others survive and b) one queen, even if constantly laying eggs, can not hope to produce as many offspring as multiple queens. But as a species evolves to higher order sentience, it is possible that they can eventually go against biological logic: and one queen becomes dominant - eradicating all others. Sentient beings do not always have to make "natural" sense (as we humans have shown repeatedly).

Why always a queen? Even the Borg eventually has a "queen." Why can not a species have a male king who is the only one that spreads his genetic material. Much like a queen sits around constantly (24/7) producing eggs, a king could be doing not much more than just fertilizing female eggs.

If a queen, or a king, is primarily involved in replenishing the species, would they really have that much control over their subjects? Lower species control via instinct and chemical signals. Higher species may be able to fight instincts - an underground, at first, resistance to the monarchy. A non-queen individual could have a mutation that reduces the queen's influence on them. For a lower species, that probably not pose much of a threat to the queen, but for a higher level sentient species, it may prove to be a major threat.

However, let us say for argument sake that the instinct is just too deeply embedded into their makeup, and so they keep their loyalty to the queen even into their technological age. Would such an alien race be bent on making all subject to their queen? Would our shocking level of independence from each other be too much of a philosophical threat? If a queen can not stop reproducing, and the population overruns the planet (especially if "minor" queens are allowed to have colonies of their own, all ultimately loyal to the dominant "alpha" queen), they would be pressured to go out into space and find new places to colonize. It would make sense that they would find safe places such as places that are not populated by a species that would fight back and endanger a queen, or which have microbial life forms which could threaten the queen's health (though there is the scenario that if a queen dies, their species may have a mechanism for one of the subjects to take her place).

And, I wonder, what kind of theologies would a hive-minded sentient culture develop?

Image credit: Animation Factory