Scientists now think there may be 300 sextillion stars in the Universe. I believe that is 3 trillion times 100 billion. In other words, a lot of stars. This adds new fuel to a very old question: Are we alone?
So how does this affect us? Well, if the number of stars have tripled, then you can also expect the number of habitable planets to approximately triple. Anyone who offers a number of habitable planets is guessing, of course, but it’s not obscene to wonder if there are hundreds of billions of such planets. As of this writing we already know of 509 exoplanets, and that is just what we have observed so far in our “neighborhood.”
In his 2001 testimony to the House Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson said:
At the moment, life on Earth is the only known life in the universe, but there are compelling arguments to suggest we are not alone. Indeed, most astrophysicists accept a high probability of there being life elsewhere in the universe, if not on other planets or on moons within our own solar system. The numbers are, well, astronomical: If the count of planets in our solar system is not unusual, then there are more planets in the universe than the sum of all sounds and words ever uttered by every human who has ever lived. To declare that Earth must be the only planet in the universe with life would be inexcusably egocentric of us.
If you accept the ability of life to occur naturally, as nearly every scientist does, then you are forced into the same conclusion by odds alone. It would be likely that there are many kinds of life in the Universe, maybe even some similar to life on Earth.
If, on the other hand, you think that life can only occur supernaturally, and that we are a unique creation alone in this Universe, then you should ask yourself a question. Is it realistic to think that God made a huge Universe and bothered to make all these stars and planets in order to just create us?
If that is what you believe, then it truly baffles my mind.
- Is naturalism a type of faith?
- In Defense of Science
- The Paradox of the Ravens and Hypothesis Testing