Warning: This blog is written for a rational audience that likes to have fun wrestling with unique or controversial points of view. It is written in a style that can easily be confused as advocacy for one sort of unpleasantness or another. It is not intended to change anyone's beliefs or actions. If you quote from this post or link to it, which you are welcome to do, please take responsibility for whatever happens if you mismatch the audience and the content.


I can't provide 100% certainty that human life on Earth is the result of intelligent design. But I can get to around 99.99% certainty.

By intelligent design, I mean Earth is seeded with DNA provided by human-like inhabitants of another planet.

I'm borrowing my argument from others. None of this is original, and I've written about it before. What's new is that we're getting close to being able to seed another planet with our own DNA. And there's talk of doing just that because there's a non-zero chance that humans of the Earth variety won't survive unless we seed other planets.

I imagine we'd launch one big rocket into space that would leave the atmosphere and divide into thousands of small rockets that can make tiny adjustments to their direction but otherwise use the inertia of the mother rocket as propulsion. These tiny rockets can scan planets on the fly for earthlike properties and navigate toward ones that look promising, ending in a parachute landing.

If we decide to seed other planets with our DNA, which seems inevitable, it's likely we'd send thousands of seed rockets, not one. Sending one rocket would be a bad bet.

And since scientists are already talking of doing something like that now, and apparently we will have the ability to do so, it stands to reason that our genetic spawn on those planets will someday evolve to have the same impulses and capabilities. Then they will send out their own DNA seed ships.

So the odds are that planet-seeding will happen not once but thousands if not millions of times as one seeded planet begets thousands of others and so on.

We have no reason to believe we're the original humans. Sure, we evolved from lower creatures, but that might have been exactly how the seeding works. You start with the lower forms of creatures and let them evolve until humans have plenty to eat when they come along later. That's how I'd play it.

Or maybe the dinosaurs were seeded by some alien species whereas mammals came from human-like aliens. There are lots of possibilities.

What seems least likely is that we're the first humans on the first planet with an original idea about seeding other planets. It's far, far, more likely we're somewhere in the middle of the trend. We might be one of thousands or one of millions of planets seeded.

You might be tempted to quibble with the timing of things. But perhaps evolution on the newer planets is sped up by the designers. The original humans might have taken a billion years of evolution to arrive. By the hundredth iteration of humans seeding humans, perhaps the process has been compressed to a million years. That seems within the realm of possible.

So I say there's a 99.99% chance we are the result of past seeding by earlier humans. If you still believe we're the first, perhaps that is a case of feeling special more than a case of rational thought.

What's wrong with this line of reasoning?


1. The seeders couldn't guarantee creating humans just like us. But we know, for example that eyes evolved in at least two separate lines of evolution on earth. I'll bet intelligence is also likely to increase over time in at least one species. And once intelligent, that creature would need less speed and strength and even hair covering. So I think evolution might create weak, hairless, intelligent creatures with eyes as often as not. Add some symmetry and limbs and you're close enough. 

I allow the possibility that the race seeding us looked more a customer in a Star Wars bar scene than like Brad Pitt. Close enough. 

2. I'm surprised how many people think we won't ever have the technology to launch rockets that can sniff out the remote signature of habitable planets. Not in a thousand years? Really?

3. As to whether we would be motivated to seed other planets, all you need is one billionaire who wants to give the universe a facial. You think that guy won't exist in the next thousand years?]


Scott Adams
Co-founder of CalendarTree.com

Author of the most thoughtful graduation present


Rank Up Rank Down Votes:  +15
  • Print
  • Share


Sort By:
Jun 2, 2014
Scott, in many countries bearbaiting has been outlawed, but not it seems in Cal. 
I think you know your argument relies on certain widely held logical fallacies
1) All evolution leads to humans as we are today (false). Without a drought we’d still be Neanderthals (they were around about 100,00 years more than us and never invented the spoon, the playstation or the big mac) Turn that drought up a little and it would have wiped out all of the modern humans , turn it down a little and we’d still be wearing furs and eating mammoth
2) We are big on a cosmic scale (false). Space is huge, throwing 1000 (10,000, 100,000) tiny seed rockets are unlikely to hit anything , and giving them enough computing and propulsion to avoid 4 gas giants and hit the first rocky planet without burning up, landing in a volcano or hitting an establish life form on the head is a big ask.
3) Humans as a collective have no morals (false). Why would we do this? We’d risk wiping out other life forms so that we can do what? Hopefully wiping out everything from our planet that isn’t cute or tasty will provide a lesson in not meddling
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 2, 2014
If this is true then either (A) Humans are inevitable or (B) we are just a step on the way to the inevitable alien facsimile.

If (A) why are humans not still evolving out of other Primates? This is one of those derail questions that evolutionary scientists have to field all the time, and while it is a stupid question in actual evolutionary terms, if we are following some sort of seeding hypothesis with the intention of achieving human life, then it becomes valid.

If (B) then we won't be seeding anything but the same problem as (A) either we are a step on the chain to the end goal, in which case you would think all live would be moving towards this same goal, or we are just an anomaly and everything is heading towards some other goal, but there should be some similarity occurring.

As others have mentioned there have been a LOT of steps along the way to get to us. Many many many of these are accounted for by environmental !$%*!$%*!$%*!$ meaning that the seeders must have had a very very intricate knowledge of Earth from a LONG way back. It seems like it would be simpler to just stick a few colonists in stasis and send them along if this level of planning was possible.

Finally ego is a reason to do this, but we do have a massive moral reason for NOT doing this, it's a bit arrogant to assume that we have a right to supplant any natural evolutionary cycle with our own. While I don't doubt that there are some arrogant people on the planet I would think the scale of this project would mean that such moral concerns would have to be answered.
+3 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 2, 2014
Humans have many impulses; our need to spread seed all over the place is just one out of many.
The only problem I have with your line of thinking is that you have cherrypicked impulses that lead to your hypothetical conclusion.

We humans also tend to screw things up. That could be what this is all about: us being seeded here is the screw up of our ancestors, and we intend do everything imaginable to propagate their screwup further.
+4 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 2, 2014
Seems to me that a desire to be 'designed' by advanced sentients is more about wanting to feel special than simply accepting we evolved, warts an all, from out of the soup.

Besides this designer has an odd sence of humer wanting us to go through all the cancer, death, squabbling & general unpleasantness that life tends to entail when they were probably well past all that. - Bit like designing a robot with genuine AI then writing ia program to give it a cold.
+11 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 2, 2014
"What's wrong with this line of reasoning?"

Dinosaurs? Fossil record? The evolution of species?

If something was seeded here, it wasn't humans or anything close to being capable of seeding another planet.

Jun 2, 2014
Pretty silly idea.

It assumes that it's possible to predict evolution.

Since the possibilities for random^n are, by definition, exponential, evolution can not be predicted reliably without having something which governs probability.
If they are on that level, it seems way easier just to actually plant humans here.

Life on earth being affected by extraterrestrial sources is of course a possibilty, but we alreadu have an answer that is more likely since we actually have evidence for it.
Jun 1, 2014
Also, there's one huge problem with claiming nature has amazingly fitted itself to a intelligent plan. It assumes the intelligence is human -- what other kind can we imagine? -- and that our intelligence isn't itself an artifact of what we're trying to explain.

Even Sherlock Holmes argues that the unnecessary beauty of a rose is proof of a benign sentience out there. In fact, the rose's attributes are to aid it in reproducing and certain civilizations came to assign those attributes the name beauty.
Jun 1, 2014
Star Trek: The Next Generation actually ran with the idea. A scientist is killed after finding a sort of treasure map encoded in the DNA of various humanoid life forms. Earthlings, Romulans and Klingons race to the planet and find a disappointing hologram from a human creature explaining they found themselves to be alone in the universe, and so seeded everything with DNA so we wouldn't be lonely.

At the time, it struck me more as a neat explanation of why the universe was dominated by life forms that looked like Earthlings with makeup.
Jun 1, 2014
Passing lightly over the difference between this and what proponents of "intelligent design" mean . . .

I think the probability that this happened is the product of the probabilities of a whole lot of things. And we don't know enough to assign any of those probabilities very precisely. So, my estimate is 50 percent plus or minus 50 percent.
Jun 1, 2014
Scott appears to be very precise in his certainties. He says he's 99.9% certain about this. He said he was 99% certain the Electricity-from-the-Air thing was BS. His posts are full of numeric statements of probability like this. Yet all of these apparently precise percentages turn out to have no statistical basis at all. He pulls them out of, to be polite, thin air. I think it's a hypnosis/persuasion thing he likes to experiment on us with.
Jun 1, 2014
[Same reason we have children: ego. -- Scott]

Why is ego implied by a species simply doing what it needs to do to perpetuate itself?
The rabbits must have a whole lot of ego ...
Jun 1, 2014
@delius1967: two problems with your basketball analogy. 1) planets are almost always found in the vicinity of a star, so the basketball would need to have a gigantic neon sign next to it that said "look here", and 2) if you have to be within 800K miles of a planet to detect it, you need better detectors; planets in our solar system which are thousands of times farther away than that can be seen with the naked eye.
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 1, 2014
I don't know about humans doing it, but that sounds cool.

The recent cosmos (on tv) suggested life that can live in space passing life planet to planet is likely. ...then evolution.
+11 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 1, 2014
OK, I can buy the possibility that the origins of human life were seeded from another civilization, but I take exception with a few of your claims.

* You can't know anything with any certainty, much less 99.99% certainty, because we have no idea the odds of all the contributing factors. For example even if alien civilizations are sending out seeds, we have no idea how many would be making it to different worlds and starting civilizations.

* We have no idea how common it is for life to form spontaneously. You seem to be of the fallacy that life only forms once. If it's a relatively common practice (given near infinite number of worlds) then even if aliens are seeding civilizations it's possible most life is of unique origin.

* Assuming alien life is seeding other worlds, it's pretty silly to think after billions of years of evolution in a different environment life would even be identifiable, much less have similar characteristics to us. Evolution just doesn't work that way. At best all you've done is identify how the first simple organisms appeared on earth, and pushed back the initial creation of life a little further. That's not intelligent design, that's just evolution started anew (not that it ever stops).
Jun 1, 2014
So giant human space p3nises are going to be exploring unknown places and shooting DNA seeds over multiple fertile masses?

Sounds like NASA space nerd-p0rn to me.

So why not shoot nano-bots into these planets which can analyze the life or conditions there and replicate or start reprogramming the life that's already there? You don't have to start from zero if it is in a non-zero state, you just need to start tweaking what's already there.

Take plants. They created the first mass extinction by spewing a toxin known as oxygen into the early oceans and killed off a ton of life. That could have easily been one little tweak some might pass off as a random mutation. Who's to say that wasn't a part of the past human plans to colonize earth? Or a part of God's plan if you believe he was involved.

I am a creationist; I believe God has the knowledge and tools to make universes.
Jun 1, 2014
This has been my belief as well for quite some time. When I first heard the idea, it just FELT right.

Why this hasn't yet been 1) made into a movie, or 2) adapted from the Twilight Zone episode that edges toward this idea, I cannot imagine.
Jun 1, 2014
Considering that once you reach a certain level of management stupidity, all innovation ceases and we passed that ages ago when we got ISO9000 and Investors in People and Mission Statements, how does a society ever get around to seeding other planets when it is consumed by its own paperwork?
Jun 1, 2014
You want proof of seeding / panspermia? One word for you: Tardigrades.

[Nice! I had to Google it but it was worth the read. - Scott]
Jun 1, 2014
True, one cannot know where we are along the timeline of seedings, but we can assign a probability based on random selection of a spot on the timeline. There is only one chance each to be the first or the last. There are many, many, chances to be somewhere in the middle. On that basis, while we cannot say exactly when we are, we can say that if the process is random, then there is a much higher probability that we are somewhere in the middle. Not exactly in the middle, but simply not near the beginning or the end.
-1 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 1, 2014
You say that it's much more likely that we're in the middle of the process than the first ones to get the notion. That's... a strange claim to make. I'd argue that absent other information, it's no way to know whether we're the first, in the middle, or the last. There's just no way of knowing.

Which is my main argument against others that claim that with the size of the universe, there must be older, more intelligent, more evolved species. There's no way of knowing whether we're the first, in the middle, or the last. It's just not knowable, absent other information.
Get the new Dilbert app!
Old Dilbert Blog