It was announced last week that astronomers have discovered seven more exoplanets, planets that might be able to sustain our sort of life. Naturally, Albert the Pious hastens to take the fun out of dreamy speculations about other life in the universe.
Now at this point Christians should immediately recognize we’re talking about what some scientists call the Cosmic Anthropic Principle. That is, the principal that makes very clear that planet Earth happens to be calibrated along with our own solar system and universe in such a way that it is precisely right for the emergence and nurturing of life, that is, precisely right. The Cosmic Anthropic Principle reminds us that if planet earth were just slightly outside its current orbit, life would be impossible because it would be to cold. On the other hand, if planet earth were to be even slightly inside its current orbit, the Earth would be too hot for life also to be possible. So we are in effect as a planet right in the middle of our own Goldilocks zone. The question is, why?
This is where Christians understand that this is a tremendous and direct testimony to the divine creation of the universe and to God’s intention on this one planet to create human beings and other forms of life. That is what is crucial to the Cosmic Anthropic Principle. In other words, it takes a great deal of denial to suggest that somehow this is just a tremendous cosmic accident. But if you do believe that it is a cosmic accident, then you must wonder if it’s an accident that has happened elsewhere also.
Notice: “… what some scientists call …” By an overwhelming majority, scientists reject that so-called principle. What most scientists believe — excepting that unidentified some, most of them associated with the Creation Museum or the Discovery Institute and unfit for academic appointments — is not that the universe was created to accommodate us, but that we evolved to survive on the earth we’ve got with its magic-number distance from the sun, et cetera, et cetera.
But this raises some fun theological questions. If there is other life in the universe — and, at least statistically, it is almost a certainty that there is — is that life, too, tainted by Original Sin? And imperiled by an eternity in hell if it doesn’t accept that a 1st-century hippie, on a different planet, served as a blood-sacrifice for their sins?
And how is that message conveyed? “Long, long ago, in the beginning, on a planet far away …” Ha! I’ll bet there’s no shortage of skeptics on the planet Xeno, either. And wouldn’t it just figure that it’s the True Believers who want to ZAP earth with a high-energy photon beam?