Is there life on other planets?

Many science fiction movies, television series, and books were much enjoyed by me. In most of these books and mo, people had spaceships that allowed them to travel between different star systems, and on planets in these other systems, intelligent creatures lived that somewhat looked like people, but were different. We all know that reality is different from books. Physics tells us that strange things happen when we travel with a speed, somewhat close to the speed of light - and, if modern physics is correct, it is impossible for humans to travel between star systems. If other creatures live on other planets, then they have to face the same type of problems, so it seems impossible for them to travel from their planets to ours. So, if there are intelligent creatures living on planets in other star systems, it seems, according to modern science, that we won't meet them.

But, are there planets with other living creatures in this universe? And if so, are there intelligent creatures on other planets? Some people are fascinated by the thought, and quite some effort is spent to try to see if such creatures are there. For instance, there is the SETI at home project: a project where one tries to see if in the some random noise coming from space to earth, there is some pattern to be seen that comes from a civilization on some other planet: SETI means: the search for extra-terrestial intelligence: looking for intelligent beings not from this earth. One of the arguments for the expeditions to the planet Mars that were given is that these may help to search for life on Mars.

I do not understand why people make these types of efforts. If there is life on other planets, how did it originate? I see three hypotheses:

  1. On the other planet, life started in the same way as the evolution theory says that it started here. Apart from the fact that the evolution theory is not the well-rounded and totally scientifically proven theory that people want us to believe, in general, followers of the theory tell that the chance of life starting on a planet is rather small. A term used is sometimes: A magnificent accident. I believe the probability is even smaller than they say, too small to assume that it actually can have happened by accident, but even if you believe life on earth was such a magnificent accident, the chances that this has happened more than once are too small to assume that that can have happened.
  2. Life on different planets has a common origin. Say, some very primitive form of life originated somewhere, and it then travels from there also to some other planet, developping there to some intelligent form of life too. There are quite a lot of questions to be asked to such a theory, and, again, calculating the probabilities seems to make the theory unlikely.
  3. Life on earth has been created by God. Possibly, God also has created life on other planets. If God has created life on earth, he may have created life on other planets too. As far as I can tell, the Bible does not say something about this, so this remains possible. If there are intelligent beings on other planets, I would assume they would know God. Would they also have a fall to sin, like the humans? Would we meet them in heaven? Would there be atheists and religious extra-terrestials? We cannot know.

So, if there are extra-terrestial intelligent beings, or, even, other types of life on planets outside our solar system, then to me, that would be a new proof of the existence of God. But, I cannot understand atheists that sincerely state they follow standard evolution theory and are at the same moment on a search for intelligent life on other planets.

Finally, is there life on other planets in our solar system? Well, I guess, yes: probably on Mars, there now will be bacteria brought to the planet from earth by one of the Mars-expeditions that were recently carried out.

Hans Bodlaender, January 2004

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