Margaret Race: Balancing Commercial and Science Space Policy in the Coming DecadeFrom an end-of-broadcast (2/24/13 episode) Q&A between the host of Star Talk Live!, Neil deGrasse Tyson (NDT) and his guest, Dr. David Grinspoon (DG), an astrobiologist, the following quotes are their thoughts regarding our human uniqueness.

NDT: "So, what are the prospects for life on the exoplanets (planets beyond our solar system), then, that now join the catalogs of what we know to exist in the galaxy?"

DG: "I would say almost 100%.  In other words, if you believe there's no life on any exoplanet, then it's almost like being a creationist -- you have to think that there's something so special, so remarkable about earth that's not going to be met anywhere in the billions and billions of worlds out there.  And that just seems incredibly unlikely.  If that were true it would mean there's something astounding about this planet, but nothing that we've learned about the history of life, about what we think we've learned about the origin of life, about the conditions for it suggest that that's true."
Discussion on the topic: Recent exoplanet discoveries
A few minutes later, Mr. Tyson offered some concluding remarks.
NDT: "The cool thing about the universe is something can be rare, yet common. So something can happen one in a million stars, but when you have 400 billion stars it's happening all the time in the galaxy.  And so the good thing about the universe is you can appeal to the shear scale of the cosmos to improve the likelihood of finding that which is otherwise highly improbable.  ...  When you have a galaxy with hundreds of billions of stars and a universe of nearly a hundred billion galaxies then it's just a matter of where you're looking and how long it takes before you find something else just like what you wanted to find.  And so I would say yes 100% chance of finding life because the universe doesn't make anything in ones."

The two engaged in dialogue while a panel of 3 comedians provided humorous side-commentary.  The truly interesting part is that the group spent nearly an hour talking about all the highly unique qualities of planet earth.  For instance, our relative proximity to the sun (not to far to freeze, nor too close to burn), the proper mixtures of life-sustaining gases, the existence of water, etc. 

If evolution is a formula of time (and lots of it) plus matter plus chance, then it happens that we are, in fact, special, even from an evolutionary perspective.  We are literally one in a billion, and scientists are proving it every day.  However, we're unique not simply because we live on one planet among many, but because we have been made in the image of God, the imago Dei.
Artist's Impression of Exoplanet GJ 1214b
Contrary to what astro-physicists may say, there is, in fact, something astounding about human life.  I certainly do not intend to detract from all they've learned as a profession.  After all, I find their discoveries extremely fascinating.  They have pulled back a small corner of the sheet of our universe to show just how grand it is.  And those discoveries serve to show just how grand our Great Creator is.  I appreciate the astro-physicists and biologists, because they confirm how astounding we are.  I simply hope they can stop resisting the God who created them.

Photograph sources: Our Progress and Yahoo!

1 comment:

  1. "If evolution is a formula of time (and lots of it) plus matter plus chance, then it happens that we are, in fact, special, even from an evolutionary perspective."

    By that logic, the dung beetle is pretty darn special.