Saturday, 19 April 2014
Most earth like planet found & extraterrestrial life?
This was one of the most fascinating discussions we had at our Shabbat table yesterday, following the latest announcement that the 'most earth like planet yet' has been discovered. It's called Kelper 186, slightly larger than earth, but apparently large enough to hold water and close enough to the planet's star, it could be like earth and therefore it could have extraterrestrial life and apparently might look like this :
I've always taken such issues in my stride, for suggesting some form of extraterrestrial life does exist is perfectly logical. Our own galaxy has around 200 billion plus stars (suns) - if only 1% of these (an extremely conservative %) had a planet similar to our own that is 2 billion potential earths; if only a further 1% had any life on it that would be 20 million planets and say a further 1% had intelligent life that is 200,000 civilisations. With mathematics like that, I think it is certain there is indeed extraterrestrial life out there.
But that is the secular science. What does Orthodox Judaism say about this? From my own research, I do believe that there was Orthodox Rabbi (who was also a physicists) Aryeh Kaplan, who was quite comfortable with this idea, an argument of his is here. It also seems that the Lubavitcher Rebbe, had no such problems with the idea of extra terrestrial life. Such are the arguments from the more mystical ends of the Orthodox Jewish spectrum, but does anyone from the rationalist Orthodox school have a view on this? To me I read that in Genesis G-d creates the stars and the universe. Why should extraterrestrial life, therefore, be in contradiction to the Torah?
But what do readers think ? Is this idea Biblical and in line with Torah or this heresy? And if life does exist on other planets, are the other 'chosen' people out there? Or would alien life forms be required to follow some form of the seven laws of Noah? As we are continuing to celebrate Passover- itself an intervention of the divine- and in particular as we remember the parting of the red sea- is there not room for one further revelation or miracle of creation ? [these were some of the things we ended up discussing at midnight last night!]
I'll leave people to think and comment.