Quite often, in recent months, I have found myself caught in the middle of heated debates between proponents of special human creation, on the one hand, and astronomical optimists, on the other, in regards to the existence of intelligent extraterrestrial life. Proponents of special human creation quite often argue that human consciousness and intelligence could not possibly have arisen naturally, that it is impossible for such things to be properties of solely physical processes, and that they are therefore justified in claiming that it is entirely inconceivable that intelligent extraterrestrial life could exist in the universe. You can find this view very commonly espoused by Young Earth Creationists, Old Earth Creationists, and Intelligent Design proponents, alike (for example, check out this recent article by noted Young Earther, Ken Ham). On the opposite side of the fence, you’ll quite frequently hear both amateur and professional astronomy enthusiasts proclaiming that the physical cosmos is so inordinately vast that it is absolutely inconceivable that intelligent extraterrestrial life doesn’t exist in the universe. Such advocates often spout off statistics regarding the number of stars in the observable universe, facts about the abundance of the primary chemical building-blocks of life, and various iterations of the Drake Equation.
Almost invariably, I find myself getting yelled at by both sides of these arguments, because I disagree with both of their positions.