I deleted the rest of my original response because I think my responses to this last bit should clarify what I was actually trying to say.
There are only two options when it comes to intelligent alien life and the only reason Pascal's Wager wouldn't apply is if it was shown that intelligent alien life did, in fact, exist. THEN there would be a number of possible options to consider dealing with them and the implications of their existence to the Christian god.
Alright, now I think I understand. You were basing your argument on the statements in the article that Graybeard linked. I glanced over those and pretty much stopped when I saw that it was about discussing the Christian religion would relate to aliens. I personally find that to be more than a little bit ridiculous, like putting the cart before the horse.
The reason I responded the way I did is because I did not realize that you were referring to that. You were talking about the government (specifically, DARPA) spending money on talking about "what if we run into aliens". DARPA is a Department of Defense think tank, and it stands to reason that any discussion they would have about an alien encounter would be military contingency plans rather than how to convert them to Christianity. Part of DARPA's function is to come up with contingency plans for worst-case scenarios
; it may seem a bit ridiculous for them to plan around the possibility of a hostile alien invasion when we have no evidence that there are intelligent aliens anywhere near here, but I'm sure they would rather have a contingency plan for something that probably won't occur than to be caught by surprise and have to come up with a plan under fire if it does actually happen.
I was serious about the question of odds. I don’t understand how odds are calculated. I understand that within a universe this large there is the distinct possibility that life evolved elsewhere. However, have we seen any other example of spontaneous creation which resulted in the thing which was spontaneously created growing and expanding? If not, how can we infer that this universe was the exception to the rule?
Probability is very complicated. I'm not sure I can explain it very well. Hmm...I'll use coin-flipping, because I understand that fairly well. If I flip a coin once, I have a 1/2 chance of it coming up heads or tails. If I flip it twice, I have a 1/2 chance of each coin coming up heads or tails, meaning that I have a 1/4 chance of both coins coming up heads (HH), a 1/2 chance of one heads and one tails
, and a 1/4 chance of both coins coming up tails (TT). The odds are the chance of coming up with a unique result (HH, HT, TH, TT), but the probability is the chance of coming up with a general result (2 heads, 1 heads 1 tails, 2 tails). Because there are two unique results that end up with 1 heads 1 tails, the probability of that result adds the odds of both.
Three flips results in the following sets: HHH, HHT, HTH, HTT, THH, THT, TTH, TTT. The odds of any given set occurring are 1/8. Because the HHH and TTT sets are unique, they have a probability of 1/8. However, there are three results that end up with 2 heads 1 tails, and three results that end up with 1 heads 2 tails, so the probability of either occurring is 3/8. Four flips results in sixteen sets, with the odds of any one set occurring being 1/16; of which you have a 1/16 probability of all heads, a 1/4 (4/16) probability of 3 heads 1 tails, a 3/8 (6/16) probability of 2 heads 2 tails, a 1/4 (4/16) chance of 1 heads 3 tails, and a 1/16 chance of all tails. It progresses in that manner as you add more coin flips.
To relate that to intelligent life developing
, the odds would relate to intelligent life developing on any given planet. And those odds will be fairly low, based on the conditions that we know can produce intelligent life (we cannot possibly predict the odds of intelligent life developing outside of those conditions). The planet has to be large enough to hold an atmosphere, but small enough for life forms of sufficient size to develop. It has to be far enough away from its sun to prevent any free water from boiling away, but close enough to prevent it from freezing. It has to have a magnetic field to prevent its atmosphere from being ripped away by the solar wind. And then, life has to gain a foothold on the planet (whether through abiogenesis, panspermia, or something else). There must then be sufficient time for some life-forms to develop intelligence as we understand it without any disasters of sufficient magnitude to kill off most/all life-forms on the planet.
So the odds will be against any given planet developing intelligent life, because those odds require several things to all be true. But the probability of some planets developing intelligent life will be much higher, given that there are hundreds of billions of galaxies with hundreds of billions of stars. It doesn't mean that there are aliens out there for sure. We can't know one way or the other, because we're so limited on what we can observe from Earth. And even if there are aliens out there somewhere, there's no guarantee that they're even in this galaxy. And even if they're in this galaxy, there's no guarantee that we can get to them, or they to us. We just don't know enough. Until we can find out for sure, it's better to not assume one outcome is more likely than another. Consider both, but don't assume either.
Does that make sense?