Saturday, October 2, 2010

Aliens Among Us

Last week, as I watched the premiere of NBC’s foray into science fiction, The Event, I found myself squirming at some of the improbabilities — like the president and Secret Service pausing to watch a jet about to slam into the executive party.  Yet, the elements of mystery and intrigue drew me in, as well as the online chatter relating the new series to UFO disclosure.

I do not know what direction the story will take.  However, one scenario that readily suggests itself is that human-alien hybrids are being held in a top secret Alaska base. Understandably, some Americans, including those within the secret government, alarmed at the prospect of alien invasion, will go to any length to prevent the hybrids’ release — even flying a commercial jet into the president, with a nod toward the current heated debate around protecting our borders.

The idea that powerful aliens are walking among us is not a new one.  In Greek mythology, the gods would sometimes show up in human form to test the hospitality and allegiance of their human hosts.  Long before the James Cameron film, Hindu Avatars — incarnations of deities, (most notably, Vishnu) — descended from heaven to Earth, often to smite the wicked and assist the good.  In the Book of Enoch, we have the Watchers — angels dispatched to watch over humans, who succumb to their lust for the daughters of men.  Even the modern idea of the human-alien hybrids is foreshadowed by the Nephilim the offspring of the Watchers and human beings.

This theological background would seem to beg the question:  are human-alien hybrids good or evil?  (The Event seems to be steering toward both sides of this dichotomy.)  In other words, are hybrids here to help us or perhaps to wrest away control of planet Earth, while their pure-bred alien masters enslave or annihilate the human race?  Before we can plunge into that hedge of thorns, a more fundamental question asserts itself.  Are human-alien hybrids even feasible?

I recently asked a Stanford geneticist about the possibility of creating a human-alien hybrid.  He responded that it would be enormously complex, requiring not only a complete mapping of the respective DNA but a complete understanding of the human and alien genome.  Part of the complexity is that traits are the result of many genes, and genes are not neatly organized along the DNA molecules.  One might ask, how would alien DNA be combined with human DNA without giving birth to monsters?  Furthermore, we cannot assume that aliens would even have DNA — unless we embrace the notion that DNA is a universal code for life,  perhaps hitching a ride through the galaxy in bacteria that inhabit interstellar comets or intentionally distributed by an alien race (aka: directed panspermia).

Having cast doubt on the feasibility of human-alien hybrids, now we may step off the diving board of scientific opinion into highly speculative waters.  Hybrids, if they are real, must exist for a reason.  If we follow David Jacobs and others down the path of paranoia (I use the term here descriptively, not diagnostically) then the reason appears to be a quite sinister one.  “The hybrids or the aliens themselves integrate into society and assume control."  (David Jacobs, The THREAT: Revealing the Secret Alien Agenda)

On the other hand, if we take a more optimistic — some would say, pollyannish — view, then a human-alien hybridization program may be preparing us for the next stage of human evolution.  After a century of mass slaughter under the shadow of nuclear Armageddon, one could argue that ETs might be doing us a favor by bioengineering into us greater intelligence and psychic abilities and weeding out aggression.  In fact, some would say that the current program is only the most recent phase of a millions of years old project that started when our hominid ancestors’ brains began their phenomenal growth spurt.  (The prospect of early alien intervention in the human genetic story pushes back in time but does not render moot some of the scientific objections to blending human and alien DNA.)

If an alien race tampered with our DNA in ancient prehistory, then perhaps we are all hybrids, part familiar, part stranger.  Part human, part something we can scarcely imagine.  A being who is alien and mysterious to herself and yet whose future lies clearly in the stars. 

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