Cosmologic philosophy: are we alone? (Introduction)

by David Turell @, Thursday, August 04, 2022, 22:48 (6 days ago) @ David Turell

An opinion essay:

"Astronomers estimate that there are some 100 billion to 200 billion galaxies in the universe—averaging 100 million stars apiece. The number of exoplanets out there is mind-boggling, each a potential cradle for life. Given the math, it seems impossible that we humans would be the only living things in the cosmos.


"Looking for life off-Earth prompts interesting philosophical questions. If we use the chemistry of life’s beginning on our own planet as a rubric, it might dictate (or limit) how we investigate life elsewhere. The universe may be teeming with unexpected chemical life-forms that look very different from us. And then there’s the matter of chance. As astrophysicist John Gribbin writes, a serendipitous chain of events had to occur—from the timing of our solar system’s formation to our planet’s distance from the sun—for organisms to spring up on Earth. It may well be that such conditions are actually rare. And even if alien civilizations are abundant, the universe is immense—beyond the scope of the human mind, certainly—and our cosmic backyards keep us far apart.

"Legendary astronomer and science educator Carl Sagan was a firm believer that the cosmos is full of intelligent beings. He even more vehemently valued scientific reason and evidence and was known to say that extraordinary claims—even if they support your most wished-for dreams—require extraordinary evidence. Given his brand of skepticism, one would hope that he would be pleased about the latest tools we’ve built to determine if we are indeed alone. In the 1997 film Contact, based on the 1985 science-fiction novel written by Sagan about the discovery of an extraterrestrial radio signal, the main character, astronomer Ellie Arroway, says, “The universe is a pretty big place … so if it’s just us, it seems like an awful waste of space.'”

Comment: the 'awful waste of space' comment reminds me of dhw's wonder as to why God made the cosmos so big and so complex with so many active forms when He only wished to have us. We don't know what God wanted to create. I don't follow our religions' proposing our singular specialness as only here on Earth. That there may be other colonies of very intelligent beings similar to us or otherwise, and that doesn't change my view of God in any way.

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