On the Vast Universe

The earth is a very small stage in a vast comic arena. (Carl Sagan)

I know I asked the following more than once to a room of teenagers: “Although there is no scientific evidence to support your belief, raise your hand if you believe life can be found elsewhere in the universe.”

A third to a half of the students would respond to the affirmative, along with me. The general thought being since the universe is so big, the odds are in our favor. Then again, I imagine some are influenced by their Star Trek images of other civilizations.

A friend (Bill) enjoys reading about science and will occasionally philosophize. I recall (years ago) asking him the same question, and his answer has not only stuck with me, but I occasionally think about it. Bill simply said (and I paraphrase), “Nope, this is it because God gave all of this to us to enjoy and marvel.”

Over the past several years, I have read much about the science and theology relationship – and yes – I still wonder about that question and Bill’s answer. One thing is for sure; my opinion/thought isn’t as firm as when I first asked the question to the teenagers.

So what do you think? Do you believe life exists elsewhere in the universe, or is this just it just here for us to stand in awe? Please respond … and enjoy the video (one of my favorites).

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22 thoughts on “On the Vast Universe

  1. You REALLY want me to respond? OK, come on, you know the words, say it with me: As quoted in the movie Contact, based on the Carl Sagan novel of the same name, (ready, Frank?)
    “If we’re the only ones in the universe, it seems like an awful waste of space.” :D
    Seriously, as I’ve stated both here and elsewhere, I find it hard to believe that in all those stars out there, ours is the only one to bring forth life. I also have trouble believing God would give us all this vast territory, then limit our ability to explore it with the very technology that has caused so many on Earth to question God’s existence. (I am NOT going to get into the “God is challenging us” argument, unless somebody REALLY insists. ;) ) Perhaps it is, as suggested in the 1950s version of War Of The Worlds (yep, another sci-fi movie!), that the greater our technology, the closer we will be to our God. If we can overcome the lightspeed barrier, whether with hyper-light drives or via wormholes, then perhaps God is far more generous than I give Him credit. Otherwise, with what we know, it will take millenia to explore even a fraction of visible space – and there we are back to the “waste of space” argument with which I started.
    Alternative explanations are welcome! :)

    • John,
      Of course I want you to respond. Actually, especially in this case, I was looking forward to your comment! (I know, that in itself seems a bit odd).

      First of all, I’m with you on the “God is challenging us” argument. I especially cringe when I hear that regarding fossils. Besides, I’m in the “God is good” camp, which strikes against the challenge argument.

      I also appreciated your comment about giving us the vast space but limiting our ability to explore it. Actually, there’s a point that hasn’t crossed my mind. See …. look at all you gave me today! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Absolutely, I believe life exists elsewhere. To think that we’re the only ones in the universe is pretty arrogant – especially considering how vast it is. What that life is, I have no idea. Maybe they’re little green men with bug eyes or something completely different. Whatever they are, I’m willing to bet the farm they’re out there.

    • Spinny,
      I don’t think my friend (Bill) made the comment out of arrogance … but I see your point. However, his point is an interesting theological one.

      ‘What is life?” is an interesting question. Of course, our perception and definition based on our experiences limits our concept. Oh how film and television have interpreted other life forms! Thanks for commenting.

      • I wasn’t referring to Bill as arrogant. If it seemed that way, I apologize. As a planet, we seem to think our little blue dot is the center of everything.

        And the little grey and/or green men are cute. :-)

        • Spinny,
          No problem – and no need to apologize. You mean the arrogance more to humans as a whole.

          Clearly, the human mindset was that our planet was the center of everything … and that thought was prevalent for centuries! And to think how society, especially the church, opposed Copernicus and Galileo’s findings. Nonetheless, many still abide by an anthropocentrism philosophy.

          Thanks for using the little blue dot reference as I adore this video! Thanks for clarifying.

  3. Considering that the Universe is a living thing, always changing, evolving, there’s no doubt in my mind there is life of some sort out there…Who knows where in this vast Universe, but it’s out there.

    • Beeze,
      The concept of the universe as a living thing is also interesting – which (I assume) is an expansion of the living earth (Gia). Sudden flash of the Moody Blues comes to mind …. I know you’re out there somewhere, somewhere. Thanks for visiting.

    • Nonnie,
      You are so spunky and unpredictable at times. (I love it). To work in the ex-in-laws is a hoot, but with an actual point. As you can tell, many of the comments here are supportive! Thanks for commenting.

  4. When I asked our Heavenly Father if He created life on other planets, His reply was that whatever He may or may not have done anywhere else has nothing to do with the plans that He has made for us, which neither confirms, nor denies, life as we know it being elsewhere. I find this rather interesting.

    • CCC- That’s along the line of the “double infinity” theory, popularised in “Animal House”. You know, where our solar system is an atom in some huge being’s body, and every atom we detect is a solar system in a galaxy made up of each item in our world. A great theory to explore, as they did in the movie, with some … er … “chemical enhancements”. ;)
      (See, Frank, I don’t JUST quote sci-fi movies! :D)

      • John,
        I’m impressed that you have expanded from sci fi movies to those of profound statements about society. You are quite the philosopher.

        BTW … hope you watch the video.

  5. I really don’t have an intelligent answer because I don’t believe in God based on “logic” and “reasoning.” I believe because I believe that there is God. The universe may confound us and God put us here on earth for a reason—-not to argue why we exist or whether or not He exists —but because we are called to just “believe ” and trust Him, even if it makes no sense. If everything makes sense to human beings, then faith is useless. That’s why it’s called faith.
    “We live by faith, not by sight.” God
    I believe that there is life elsewhere and that probably is heaven.

    • Bingkee,
      The point you bring up is basically the differentiation of science and theology. They are different fields answering different questions … and faith is very theological, thus not science. Yet I posed the question just from a personal perspective to get a variety of thoughtful answers – of which yours is one. Thanks for sharing.

  6. First of all, I think we have to define “life”. Would angels and/or demons count? Secondly let me respond by saying a that a few years ago, my world was shaken by the fact that I was part of one of the most widely viewed and documented ufo sightings ever. The funny thing is, I was leaving a revival service when I saw it. That left me to have to sort through my Christian beliefs and the belief of life on another planet. To be honest, I’m still sorting it out. All I know is that God is good. He knows everything, and I don’t. I believe Him even more than what I see or hear. Whether there is life on other planets or not, it would be like Him to create all of this for our enjoyment, and that makes me smile…

    • Journey,
      Welcome to a first-time commenter. This blog bounces around a variety of topics on given days. I hope you return again.

      Defining life would be based on our perceptions here. But what if life elsewhere doesn’t fit our description? Then again, extraterrestrial life may fit our paradigm. I too am a believer in a “God is good” theology. So whether this is all for us or if life is elsewhere, it is good … which also makes me smile. Thanks for sharing.

  7. First of all, I cannot believe I did not know you had a blog until now. How unobservant of me!

    I have had similar discussions with a good friend of mine, who happens to be in awe of our vast universe. I, on the other hand, am in awe of what is within the realm of my imagination only. Admittedly, I’ve a limited, narrow, and ignorant point of view. Whether life exists out there does not interest me b/c it’s beyond me. That being said, however, yes, I agree that in the grand scheme of things we earthlings are insignificant, and very likely not the only life forms in existence.

    • Gazing,
      Thanks for visiting and commenting.

      In that conversation with my friend, we agree on the vastness and the awe of it all. Life elsewhere is an interesting question – after all, we currently have no evidence for life – but that can change over time. Just something to wonder about.

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