Either we are alone in the universe, or we are not. Which terrifying option is your choice? Is there another option?
Only Two Possible Answers
Either we are alone in the Universe, or we are not. These two possibilities give rise to fear based on their philosophical and logical implications. It makes sense to probe these two possibilities. It will help us understand how our personality and instinctual stack relate to this dilemma. Investigating these possibilities forces us to delve into the fabric of our fears.
“Only two possibilities exist: Either we are alone in the Universe, or we are not. Both are equally terrifying.” ― Arthur C. Clarke
Existential thought, contemplating our existence, comes early in life. Children begin asking questions about death at an early age. It’s an inborn curiosity, a natural catalyst to spark the inward quest. It prompts other questions. Who am I? How do I fit into the scheme of life on this planet? This quest leads people to answers. It draws some into organized religion for this reason.
What are the implications of only two possible answers?
Are We Alone in the Universe?
Being alone in the Universe is fearful because it means we are either an insignificant occurrence or the object of celestial preference. This latter possibility is why so many people cling to mythologies of the Gods. These stories of a make-believe being or beings make humankind a unique life form in the Universe. Many legends teach the Universe was made just for us. It’s a comforting substitute rather than facing the implications of the only two possible answers posed by Mr. Clarke.
Whether you believe in a God, being alone in the Universe brings into focus the fear of our existential dread (1). It’s the realization of our eventual demise. It’s a philosophical position leading to the meaningless or absurdity of life. (2).
We Are Not Alone in the Universe
If you lean toward the more scientific position that because of the sheer number of planets in the Universe that could support life, we are probably not alone. There is a great deal of scientific evidence supporting the premise that we are not alone in the Universe. There is more proof to support alien visitation probability than the existence of a supreme being. The chance that some other life forms exist in the multiverse is greater than the likelihood we are alone.
The discussion of probabilities brings us back to the original dilemma, are there only two possible answers. For this reason, contemplating this dilemma is a profound source of inner work.
The Third Possibility?
Is there a third possibility? Can we decide not to choose either way but hold both options as potential realities? This position leaves us open to the potentials of these possibilities without committing to either. Does this third position enable us to contemplate the two prospects with less fear and dread?
“After I give lectures—on almost any subject—I often am asked, “Do you believe in UFOs?” I’m always struck by how the question is phrased, the suggestion that this is a matter of belief and not of evidence. I’m almost never asked, “How good is the evidence that UFOs are alien spaceships?” ― Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark
“People think that alien spaceships would be solid and made of metal and have lights all over them and move slowly through the sky because that is how we would build a spaceship if we were able to build one that big. But aliens, if they exist, would probably be very different from us. They might look like big slugs, or be flat like reflections. Or they might be bigger than planets. Or they might not have bodies at all. They might just be information, like in a computer. And their spaceships might look like clouds, or be made up of unconnected objects like dust or leaves.” ― Mark Haddon, The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time
This discussion is food for thought and contemplation. This question is a good exercise for studying your personality through the Enneagram Personality Profile. If you use this tool, you’ll find that many of the fears we face are social programming, and some are products of the mechanism of our personality.
The personality is a necessary element that connects us to consciousness. We can change social programming if we apply ourselves to the task. This question of two possibilities shows how our social programming affects certain personality types more than others.
Altered or higher states of consciousness also present us with other options for investigation. Shamanic traditions have long told us that non-ordinary realms are as tangible as any normal state.
Accepting the conclusions of only two possible answers gives us a third option. Since neither is inevitable, it might be better to hold both.
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(1) Existential Dread, Wikipedia
(2) Absurd World, Wikipedia
(3) Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia