Wednesday, May 30, 2007

How Unique is Earth?

28 New Exoplanets Discovered tells us about the continual addition of new planets to an ever growing list of extra-solar planets. We know enough already to appreciate the uniqueness of earth in our universe. It is difficult even to locate planets with conditions that would allow for life. Yet it is planets which could be hospitable to life that are the most intriguing. If life arose on earth, why would it not do the same everywhere in the universe where conditions reasonably approximate those on prebiotic earth?

A designer centered cosmological outlook could explain earth's unique status and make predictions as to the likehood of finding life elsewhere in the universe. A non-designer outlook is pegged to environmental factors. Here is the opening paragraph at the linked website:

"Astronomers have discovered 28 new planets outside of our solar system, increasing to 236 the number of known exoplanets, revealing that planets can exist around a broad spectrum of stellar types-from tiny, dim stars to giants."

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7 Comments:

At 10:51 AM, Blogger psiloiordinary said...

Science does not show any evidence for the "uniqueness of earth".

The techniques currently used to find planets are incapable of detecting earth like planets.

You may as well fish with a 1" net and claim your catch as proof that all fish are bigger than 1".

To use this "evidence" to back up your religious beliefs is therefore silly.

 
At 11:35 AM, Blogger William Bradford said...

Techniques available are also able to tell us much about the stars in proximity to planets which in turn gives us an idea as to whether or not such systems are hospitable to life.

Using data to support Carl Sagan's views about religion was silly was it not?

 
At 1:58 PM, Blogger dobson said...

In an obvious sense, the earth is Unique - we will probably never discover a planet that is the exactly the same as earth, but that does not mean to say we have proven the existence or non-existence of life on other planets, and it certainly does not say anything about the validity of ID.

All we know right now is that these planets exist (probably) and that they appear to be very different from the earth and from each other.

Since we can only make quite vague generalisations about what these planets must be like we have no real basis for infering any support for ID from their existence. For example we do not know if these planets support any kind of life or if their conditions are vaguely similar to an early earth.

This is just another example of William pointing at some new bit of research and saying "See, that confirms my beliefs" without actually explaining why this new evidence is evidence of ID or even acknowledging that the papers he cites as support often have conclusions that are explicitly contrary to his beliefs.

 
At 2:34 PM, Blogger William Bradford said...

Dobson, you are mischaracterizing what I am saying. I am in accord with the most recent post on life on other planets and specifically the ending comment which was something to the effect that the search offers opportunities to confirm existing theories or to use the resulting data to debunk them. That's an eminently reasonable scientific position.

 
At 1:25 PM, Blogger dobson said...

And my point was that nothing has yet been found that has any bearing on ID.

 
At 4:55 PM, Blogger Paul said...

Hi Dobson.

I think a more accurate statement is that the small sample size we now have does not allow for a conclusive statement in favor of or opposed to ID. That's why I look forward to increasing our knowledge about the universe and sharpening our technology. Given enough time we should eventually have a huge data base on which to draw conclusions. Earth like planets are expected to be places we would find life. Given a large enough sample size, a determination as to whether any actually do host life, would lend support to current theories or indicate a need to revise them.

 
At 6:06 AM, Blogger dobson said...

That's why I look forward to increasing our knowledge about the universe and sharpening our technology. Given enough time we should eventually have a huge data base on which to draw conclusions. Earth like planets are expected to be places we would find life.

That seems reasonable enough; Earth-like life would require an earth-like planet. Other kinds of life (if it could be shown to exist) might require radically different conditions. More data is required.

Lack of data is not evidence for intelligent design or extra-solar life.

If I were to state my own hunch: There is no earth-like life anywhere in the observable universe other than on earth and we will also never confirm the discovery of any kind of extra solar life our own lifetimes; It's just to remote and small to be observed from these distances.

I'm quite sad about that, I would dearly like to think that there is something out there, but it seems more reasonable to be pessimistic given the problems that must be overcome.

 

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