ONE BLOOMING ROCK
University of Washington professors Peter Ward and Donald Brownlee conclude in their book, Rare Earth, that the conditions favorable for life must be so rare in the universe that “not only intelligent life, but even the simplest of animal life is exceedingly rare in our galaxy and in the universe.”16 This has led their readers to the conclusion expressed by the reviewer from the New York Times: “Maybe we are alone in the universe, after all.”17
If Ward and Brownlee are right, what does that mean to us?
Michael Denton, senior research fellow in human molecular genetics at the University of Otago in New Zealand, tells us why this remarkable fine-tuning has reopened the discussion on the importance of man in our lonely universe.18
No other theory or concept imagined by man can equal in boldness and audacity this great claim … that all the starry heavens, and every species of life, that every characteristic of reality exists for mankind. … And today, four centuries after the scientific revolution, the doctrine is again reemerging. In the last decades of the twentieth century, its credibility is being enhanced by discoveries in several branches of fundamental science.
It seems ludicrous to claim that life exists on only one tiny speck in a universe of ten billion trillion stars. Yet, incredibly, Earth appears to sit alone in a hostile universe devoid of life, a reality portrayed recently in National Geographic:
If life sprang up through natural processes on the Earth, then the same thing could presumably happen on other worlds. And yet when we look at outer space, we do not see an environment teeming with life.
We see planets and moons where no life as we know it could possibly survive. In fact we see all sorts of wildly different planets and moons—hot places, murky places, ice worlds, gas worlds—and it seems that there are far more ways to be a dead world than a live one.19
The incredibly precise numerical values required for life confront scientists with obvious implications. Stephen Hawking observes, “The remarkable fact is that the values of these numbers seem to have been very finely adjusted to make possible the development of life.”20 Endnotes