Extrapolating the current pace of technological advance to the future, some futurists are convinced that within a few decades we will get to such a deep stage of hybridization with machines that we will not be able to pull apart from them anymore. (Try being without your cell phone or computer for a week, for example.)
If these predictions come through, and it seems to me that they already are, soon we will be a new species, beyond human.
Imagine, then, that in some corner of the galaxy, other intelligent creatures also discovered some version of science. But they did so, say, a million years before us, which, in cosmic time, is not much. These creatures would now be machine-hybrids, completely different from what they once were. As Arthur C. Clarke once wrote, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic,” a theme myself and co-blogger Adam have been focusing on these past few weeks.
Perhaps “they” are only information, free-floating in coded energy fields spread across space. Perhaps they have, much beyond anything we can presently contemplate, the power to create life, choosing its properties at will. They could, for example, have created us, or some of our ancestors, as part of an experiment in their version of evolutionary genetics, or as a test bed in a study of the relation between intelligence and morality. They could, perhaps, be observing us, as we observe animals in a zoo or a laboratory. These entities, immaterial but living as self-sustaining bundles of information, could have been our creators. Would they be gods, even if not supernatural?
My first instinct is to say no. How can space aliens be god? However, that’s the rub with god(s): there is really no agreed upon definition. The concept of god is just so nebulous that each individual is capable of creating their own. Believers all pretend they are speaking about the same entity, but that’s not really true now, is it?