On Life on Other Planets
I’ve never had a problem with whether life existed on other planets; My issue has always been what kind of life we’d find there: would it be intelligent? If so, would it be humanoid? The fact that no life has been found yet doesn’t mean its not out there. Just because something hasn’t been proven does not mean it doesn’t exist.
If we use “belief” as our starting point, the question of proof or acceptance of what exists or not becomes very subjective and arbitrary. If something doesn’t exist then it will never be possible to prove it ever existed in the past, or will exist in the future. By using “belief” as our starting point, we limit our possibilities of viewing anything and make it far more difficult for us to acknowledge when, in the future, scientific proof may demand acceptance. There are things we simply don’t know or understand now. Are we prepared to say that we are absolutely sure there is no chance to prove life exists elsewhere, solely because we have no evidence of it now?
Science could never take this position. Science begins from a point of not knowing and proceeds by collecting data, establishing facts, creating theories and hypotheses, testing them, conducting independent experiments to establish that whatever conclusions it comes to are reproducible, then constructing knowledge based on what it has found.
If science took the position that since life has not yet been found elsewhere, that it doesn’t exist, then it would be discarding the very nature of what makes science “science”. Even today, evidence is being seen that some form of life could very possibly exist on one of the moons of Jupiter or some really harsh ecosystems on our very own planet.
I’m not a scientist; I offer no proof that life exists somewhere else. But I also think it’s a bit condescending to think that of all the billions of stars, of all the infinite galaxies out there, that we are the only place that life, with any kind of intelligence or consciousness, exists. My only question remains whether it would be humanoid life.
The fact is the Earth is so bio diverse – so many different species exist here. If intelligent life evolved here into human form (putting aside religious theology for a moment), is it possible that another form of life – common to Earth – could have taken the evolutionary path as the dominant form of intelligent life? If there are billions of species and humans are just one of those species, then had the conditions that made humans the dominant form been more favorable to insects, perhaps they could have become the predominant form of intelligent life.
It’s also conceivable that other planets will have their own unique biodiversity. That biodiversity would presumably be dependent on many factors such as the predominant elements in their atmosphere, the gravity of the planet, the rotation on its axis, the time it takes to travel around its sun, as well as other factors we have no knowledge of. It seems again very presumptuous to expect that intelligent life would appear as humanoid or anything related to any of the species we have on earth. Conditions there would be so vastly different than the ones existing on Earth. So for me, the only real solution is to keep an open mind on all these questions of life on other planets and let nature unfold in its own time and reveal its secrets when it’s ready, without forming any opinions one way or another.