Alien Anthropology

Miracles, Magic and Advanced Technological Civilisations

The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, marble, life-size, 1647-1652.   Bernini captures the dramatic moment an angel pierces her heart with the arrow of Divine love.  It was Saint Augustine who suggested that miracles do not happen in opposition to nature but in opposition to what we understand of nature.  In a similar vein, it was Arthur C. Clarke who thought that magic was any sufficiently advanced technology.  We might bundle these concepts with Nikolai Kardashev’s eponymous scale upon which technological civilisations exist, categorised by a convergence of technological sophistication and power consumption.

Is any sufficiently sophisticated civilisation capable of miracles?  Undoubtedly.  Consider the instantaneous teleportation of information across continents and from satellites to earth and ask yourself – how would this *not* have been considered miraculous, even 100 years ago?  What the future hold for us all is uncertain but one thing is for sure, we will have to constantly reassess our notions of what qualifies as being worthy of the name “miracle”.

An afterthought – sufficiently advanced (Kardashev Scale 3+) technological civilisations may become indistinguishable from nature itself.  This is food for thought.

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