Are we alone? An article on the existence of extra-terrestrial life

Astronomy is a quite interesting field of science. In addition to its valuable additions to our knowledge of the universe, the aspirants of astronomy are also intrigued and amazed by the mysteries and miracles embedded in the universe by the Almighty God.

Uranology started during the Aristotle’s time, who is a well known and influential philosophical, political and scientific figure in the history of mankind. He proposed a model in which the earth was regarded as the center of the whole universe.

His theory was based on the motion of the sun, the moon and the stars. Obviously, if we see the earth and the other celestial bodies such as sun and moon, we ‘ll notice that other celestial bodies rotate around the earth each day, the sun rises from the East and sets in the West.

Based upon the current knowledge available on the universe we know that Aristotelian model of the universe is not true.

After this, Aristotelian philosopher Ptolemy also presented a geocentric model of the universe in the 2nd century based on the assumption of Aristotle. He also believed in the Aristotelian theory. His addition to the Aristotle’s model was about then known five planets, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn that according to him were rotating in their spheres around the earth.

One of the spheres other than these five and earth contained the remaining part of the universe that was unknown at those times.

Both these models were believed to be true until in 1543, Copernicus, a Polish priest and astronomer, presented his famous and ‘revolutionary’ model of the solar system known to us today.

After this, Galileo confirmed the Copernicus’s theory through observation of the moons of Jupiter and Saturn. He also noted the motion of the other celestial bodies of the solar system i.e. the path of the moon, Mercury, Venus.

Astronomical observations of Galileo became a death blow to all the orthodox theories of Aristotle and Ptolemy because due to the rotation of the moons of Jupiter and Saturn around their planets, there could not be a single center of the universe. Instead, there became two centers and hence both the previous theories were rejected. Observations of Galileo were the cornerstone of modern astronomy.

Today, astronomy has covered many milestones towards progression revealing the hidden truths of the heavenly bodies and it is benefiting the mankind in many ways. Yet there are many truths that need to be discovered in the universe and one of those is the existence of life other than earth in any form i.e. microbes, animals, plants & trees, intelligent human-like form.

Initially, it was believed that in the universe, due to geo-centricity, the earth is the only planet that is suitable for the life. It was based on the theories of Aristotelian and Ptolemy, who presented earth as the center of the entire universe, all heavenly bodies circling the earth. Both there scholars were unknowingly rejecting the fifteenth century’s principle of plenitude due to the lesser knowledge that universe is infinite, there are many exoplanets, not a single solar system and a possible extraterrestrial life somewhere else.

Debate over the intelligent life has been going on and on for many centuries. From the ancient paintings, through modern astronomical observations, viewpoint of contemporary religions, UFO sightings, reports of people being taken abroad and so on, this debate goes on and looks to be never ending until an undeniable evidence of the existence of extraterrestrial life is found.

There is no known boundary of the universe. Even with advanced techniques available today, scientists are not able to find a ‘stable figure ‘ of the exact size of the universe.  There are uncountable galaxies and stars in the universe. This number is so large we cannot figure it out precisely.

Only a few galaxies can be observed today through present astronomical techniques. Perhaps, galaxies known to the mankind would make only 0.001% of the total galaxies in the universe, or even less than this figure. Is the so vast universe formed only for the humankind? Why would our planet be centric? And what is the probability after so vast universe that only earth posses life in different forms? Obviously, we are not a special creature in the universe.

All the contemporary religions have discussed the existence of extraterrestrial beings to some extent. Major religions including Roman Catholicism, Orthodox Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Mormonism, Sikhism, Bahaism, Hinduism, Judaism and Jainism, to some extent have directly or indirectly hinted towards the possibility of life somewhere else in the universe.

Allah says in Quran: “And among His Signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the living creatures that He has scattered through them: and He has power to gather them together when He wills” (42: 29);

“He is the Lord of (all) the Worlds” (41:09);

“Whatever beings there are in the heavens and the earth do prostrate themselves to Allah” (13:15);

“Allah is He Who created seven Firmaments and of the earth a similar number” (65:12).

All these verses imply in the non-uniqueness of the earth. Absolutely no. Quran verse 65:12 hints towards parallel universe concept.

As far as angels are concerned, they cannot be regarded as extraterrestrial beings for they do not posses any physical body but have a spiritual body, they are not fully independent in their actions and have to obey the orders of Allah in all circumstances unlike us.

In Sri Guru Granth Sahib, on various occasions, it has been said that there are multiple worlds. For example: “So many worlds beyond this world – so very many!”.In another passage, the Sikh holy book teaches about the millions of created worlds populated by beings.

Abdu’l-Bahá, sthe uccessor of Baha’u’llah who was founder of Bahaism, says:

“Living creatures created by God have always existed. There were always creatures.”

According to him, human kind and earth are recent creations of God and other creatures have always existed. It means definitively extraterrestrial creatures do exist. It is upto us to discover their habitats. Similarly, some Hindu, Jain and Judaist scholars are pretty sure about many worlds, other than Earth.

Not only this, religious teachings of other major religions directly or indirectly hint towards possible evidence of an intelligent life form somewhere in the universe.

Development in the field of astronomy from time to time is paving way for the discovery of more and more worlds habitable for the mankind and obviously other forms of life. Each day, astronomers give news about the discovery of exoplanets and planetary systems. Using different techniques through the discovery of habitable exoplanets, scientists are sure that ‘we do not live in a special place in the universe’. They must be sure. Until 2000 there were only 50 exoplanets discovered. This number became more than 1200 in the year 2015.

In 2013, a research was conducted to estimate the number of Earth-size planets in Earth-like orbits in the Milky Way. Of 150000 stars studied by Kepler, 42000 were Sun-like of which 603 showed evidence for the existence of planets orbiting them. 10 out of the 603 planets were Earth like in habitable zones where conditions permit surface liquid water and hence, life.

Number of exoplanets is predicted to increase further because exoplanets discovered are those present in the Milky Way only and there are millions of galaxies yet to be discovered and observed for the more and more planetary systems. What would it mean if we discover more and more galaxies, and more and more exoplanets, which would increase chances of more and more habitable planets for the nourishment of life.

Study of carbonaceous chondrites is also a matter of concern for this topic. Carbonaceous chondrites is a stony meteorite containing carbon compounds.

On 28 September 1969, barely three months after the landing of the first human on the Moon surface, Murchison fireball fell on the Earth surface. Geochemists studied its traces and results were astonishing.

Unlike other meteorites, Murchison contained 12 percent water content extraordinarily higher than normal water content in the meteorites, it had never been subjected to extreme pressure or heat, its age was four billion five hundred and sixty million years same like other carbonaceous chondrites, contained 74 different amino acids which are critical for life of which 30 were possibly extraterrestrial in origin, there were extraordinarily more left-handed amino acids than right-handed amino acids, its carbon-12 to carbon-13 ratio was 88.5 percent slightly lower than normal 90-92 percent in all naturally occurring terrestrial materials.

These results surely meant that chemical reactions that occurred on it were extraterrestrial in origin. More meteorites were studied after this and results showed the existence of extraterrestrial amino acids. What would it mean? Could life on the Earth have been seeded by some kind of Murchison-like meteorite? If it is true, does it mean seeding of life somewhere else in the universe?

In 1984, a meteorite that had its origin on the Mars was found in the Allan Hills region of Antarctica. It contained microscopic traces fossils of bacteria that could have existed erstwhile on Mars. Mars is still believed to posses microbial life on it. On the Europa, the fourth largest moon of Jupiter, it is believed that life exists on its under-water oceans.

With advancement in the technology, we are moving towards more surety that intelligent life may exist somewhere else. Astronomy has been nourishing for more than 2000 years, yet we are not sure about the existence of the intelligent life somewhere else in the universe, in any other galaxy or celestial body. But the absence of the evidence is not the evidence of absence.

We are pretty sure about the life that originated and nourished on some celestial body and lives in the heavens, perhaps more intelligent and technologically advanced than us and nourishing, growing. How would it look like if we for a moment think about the aliens doing their routine jobs just like us, or bacteria advancing nitrogen cycles, or plants and trees more beautiful than ours growing?

We can say that intelligent life may exist somewhere else. It is upto us to discover those creatures. At one end, it would increase our knowledge of the universe, and at the other strengthen our faith in Allah .

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1 Comment

  1. Sohlya says

    Good to c u in professional life n experiences may Allah give you more power n knowledge to lead the people…

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