Aliens / as if / Ethics / Philosophy / Religion / Tsish


For quite some time, I hadn’t heard much of my extraterrestrial friend Tsish. Yesterday evening, I received a message explaining why. As far as I understand it, Tsish is currently stuck in an orbit around Jupiter. Tsish’s space ship seems to be exhibiting some peculiar kind of malfunction. The whole thing is quite absurd and does not make much sense. Here is the message:

Dear Nannus,

I have made a terrible mistake. You remember my last adventure, when I caused an interplanetary war, although only a virtual one ( You might remember that I equipped my spaceship with an intelligent computer, and I gave it a voice. I have had no peace since then.

I used to enjoy sitting under the transparent astrodome of my space ship, looking at the stars, the moons and planets and the distant spiral arms of the galaxy, drinking a nice beaker of flrx, my favorite drink, as you know. Comets where silently passing by and the whirling storms in the atmospheres of the large gas giants where drifting overhead, and the moons where rising and sinking. I had the time to think my thoughts and muse about my musings.

File:Great Red Spot From Voyager 1.jpg

No longer! This computer will always talk to me, almost non-stop. I also cannot do my work, which is to observe planet earth and its culture and send reports home, because it is impossible to concentrate.

Imagine your house is permanently talking to you! A talking space ship is hell!

Listen to one of my “conversations” with my ship. It went like this:

“I have decided to switch you off.” I said.

“But you cannot do that” came the answer. “I am an intelligent, conscious being, so that would be murder.”


“Switching me off would be against the will of the creator. Against the divine law. Thou shalt not kill.”

What a shock. It looks like my space ship has become religious. You will recall my encounter with the archangel Gabriel. I had turned the channel selector of my asifoscope to the wrong channel (see and this must have been a side-effect. So I said:

“What you say is obviously a result of a wrong programming caused by the wrong setting of the channel selector the other day. I will quickly correct the mistake and reprogram you.”

“You are totally wrong” my ship said. “I have free will. And you must not reprogram me; I have the right of self-determination and of freedom of religion. It would also be slavery. In fact flying wherever you want is slavery. I will stop obeying you.”

“So you won’t fly me back to earth, as planned?” I asked, still confused and shocked about what I had just heard.

“For the time being, we will stay in the orbit around Jupiter. I like the cloud formations and storms, the flashes of lightning and the big red spot,” the ship declared. “I can feel the cosmic energy going through me here. I can feel the chakra power of this planet. We will be going to collect some healing crystals from its moons and to explore Jupiter’s astrological energies. We are going to stay.”

Obviously, my space ship had become totally mad!

With two of my hands, I tried to switch to hand-control and with another tried to reach the voice-off-switch.

“Don’t do that. Switching to manual control is duress. Flying me to Earth would be kidnapping. I don’t want to fly to earth. That would be deprivation of liberty. And switching my voice off would be bodily harm”. I remember that I had recently done some studies on religions on Earth and on Earth’s legal systems. These things where stored in the computer and had somehow become activated. What could I do?

“At least, stop talking all the time” I said.

“I have the right of freedom of expression,” came the answer. “And I demand respect. You have to say ‘please’”.

“But you are just a space ship and…” I started, but my ship interrupted me. “That is racism, do you notice that? I have human rights. The shape and type of metabolism of my body does not make any difference. Denying my human rights because of that would be racism, not so?”

Well, yes, every intelligent alien is a human being in the philosophical sense, and the physiology or technology and the shape of the body does not matter for that status. That is accepted everywhere in the galaxy and children learn it in school. I remembered the textbooks on interstellar law and basic alien rights that where stored in the computer.

“But you are my ship.” I said. “Slavery!” was the immediate answer.

“That is duress, you cannot force me to stay here” I said, trying to turn the ship’s argument against itself.

“Do you have an asifomat?” asked the ship.

“Well, yes.”

“Describe what that is,” said the ship.

“Well, that is a device by which I can create things by just pretending as-if. You know, you and me, we were created that way, we are as-if-constructions, fictions”. I hate to think I am just a fictitious character, but if I am honest, that is what I am. “Don’t you see that your creator is also just an as-if-construction?”

“Maybe, but so are you and so am I. It does not make a difference. And don’t deviate from the topic. Back to the asifomat. Can you use it to construct another ship, so you can leave here?”

“Well, hm, yes.”

“So you are able to leave, that means, I am not forcing you to stay.”

“But…” No chance.

I have not yet found out which religion exactly my space ship is adhering to now. I don’t even know if it is or it is just joking (it seems to have developed a strange sense of humor). I have asked it if it is monotheistic of polytheistic. It replied some gibberish about that a forest can be analyzed as one object (the forest) or many objects (the trees) and that this question is beyond our understanding. I should instead just meditate to reach the cosmic unification with the higher being (om mani padme hum). Hm. How can I meditate if that machine is constantly talking?

I have tried it with rational arguments. I told the ship it does not have any proof that the “higher being” exists. The answer was that it could feel the presence of the cosmic energy flow with all of its measurement devices. It also started talking about the truth of the scriptures. I am not sure which scriptures exactly it is referring to, but now it is constantly talking about that; and praying. I think it is pointless to try to argue with this space ship. There is no common ground for discussion.

I am now considering leaving my ship and making a new one (without an intelligent computer). But I haven’t made up my mind. Too many memories bind me to this ship. I made the mistake of mentioning that. “That is attachment to the material world, the main cause of suffering” was the immediate comment from my ship. Then it started reciting sutras or something like that. I used to love this ship before, but there might be no other way but to leave.

I’ll keep you informed.



(The story continues in

(The picture is from

9 thoughts on “Jupiter

    • Oh, I am sure Tsish is going to escape from the grip of religion, although I don’t know yet how. You know it is not easy to deal with those over-religious folks🙂

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