Thoughts of a Catholic convert

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Is this the best of all possible worlds?

- Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Jessie Willcox Smith

I saw this post today about the search for Goldilocks planets at 13.7: Cosmos and Culture - The Goldilocks Enigma: Is The Universe Fit For Life?. Here's a bit of the post ....

[...] As astronomers zero in on possible habitable planets, it's worth pondering on the often-stated belief that "the universe is just right for life."

How certain are we of this and why? And when we say life, what do we mean by it?

The essential reason why so many scientists are confident that life exists elsewhere is the regularity of the laws of physics and chemistry across the cosmos. The same laws of nature that apply in our solar system apply to galaxies billions of light-years away. They move in similar ways and shine in similar ways to galaxies nearby, allowing us to identify their distance and chemical composition with near certainty. If the same laws apply everywhere and at (mostly) every moment of the universe's history, and if the same chemical elements are found in distant stellar systems, it's fair to assume that the same chemical processes that led to life here on Earth some 3.5 billion years ago will reoccur in other planetary platforms. This is what could be called the argument from regularity.

But is it enough? ..........

It is interesting to imagine how the finding of life on other planets and/or the transplanting of human life to other planets will affect our religious beliefs. Science fiction has been all over this forever, of course, and even Vatican scientists have addressed the issue, but I'm betting it will make a big difference to ideas like original sin/atonement and human exceptionalism - I think this will be a good thing :)


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