Is Earth A One-Off Aberration?

In a recent Daily Mail article, two Princeton scientists concluded that our Earth is probably distinct from all the planets in the Cosmos and a fluke, an one-off aberration.  The probability of abiogenesis on another world is unknown but unlikely based on what we know of the earth.

How did Professor Edwin Turner and Doctor David Spiegel arrive at their conclusions?  They used the Bayes’ theorem.

Bayes’ Theorem is a simple mathematical formula used for calculating conditional probabilities. It figures prominently in subjectivist or Bayesian approaches to epistemology, statistics, and inductive logic.” Sanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Thomas Bayes was an English theologian and mathematician who sought a way to explain Christian beliefs using mathematics.  He lived from 1702 to 1761.

The research presented adds to the field of astrophysics.  It is an interesting way to add to the conversation about life out there.  Cosmology is an important scientific field.

Science fiction over the years has presented extraterrestrial life forms from benign to hostile.  You have the Alien/Predator group and you have the My Favorite Martian/ET group.  When you toss in the Star Trek’s Borg/V’ger or the Horta/ Tribble types you have a whole gamut of various life forms.  Of course all of this is based on imagination and flights of fancy.

In the Wisdom Book of Job the first and second chapters mention some kind of cosmic council meeting where the “sons of Elohim” (בְּנֵי הָאֱלֹהִים) came to meet with Yahweh. In the LXX these beings are referred to as “angels of Elohim”. Of course there are other references to these beings in other sacred writings.

The ancients believed there were supernatural (cosmic) beings who interacted with humans.  Every culture has myths and legends of these beings.  Numerous books have been written on this subject.

Today, many Jews, Christians and Muslims and others believe in these beings who live out there in the cosmos.  Of course belief does not make it so, but belief allows the existence of life forms which science cannot disprove or prove.

I find it difficult to accept that life only exists on this earth.  Of course it could be wishful thinking or those flights of fancy on my part or an embedded code in the genome which ties us to our cosmic heritage.

It seems that with what we know now and what we are discovering about life and the cosmos, it would be a sad reality of this earth was distinct and we had no cosmic neighbors.  Sad indeed!

Let’s postulate for a moment this is true.  We are the only life forms in the cosmos.  Then the song by Three Dog Night: One Is the Loneliest Number is indeed “the saddest experience” for our race.

If this is all there is in the cosmos with its majesty and beauty, then we are the lost children of creation. If we perish, then life perishes from the Cosmos forever.

Ponderings…what do you believe about life out there?


G. D. Williams       © 2012


Daily Mail




Bayes Theorem

Thomas Bayes

Three Dog Night: One Is The Loneliest Number

Vangelis: Beautiful Planet Earth

Cosmos: The Shores of the Cosmic Ocean Carl Sagan