Beasts or gods; why a War Of The Worlds is very unlikely


One of the scenarios that is often played out in science fiction is what would happen if we encountered an alien civilization.  Often, we are portrayed as defending Earth from an alien invasion or fighting battles with the aliens in a war.  Another scenario, commonly found in more culturally introspective fiction, focuses on what our responsibility would be if we encountered an alien society less advanced than ours.

These stories are a lot of fun, and they often give an opportunity for commentary on colonialism and other cultural issues in our society.  But the chances of either of these, or similar, scenarios actually happening is infinitesimal.  To understand why, let’s do a thought experiment.  Imagine three worlds, which we’ll call Planet A, Planet B, and Planet C.

Planet A is Earth.  It is about 4.5 billions years old.  Life began around 4 billion years ago.  Anatomically modern humans

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