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Are We A Privileged Planet? - (are we "alone" among billions of galaxies, stars & planets?)
AMERICAN ENTERPRISE ONLINE.COM ^ | JUNE 10, 2005 | WILLIAM TUCKER

Posted on 06/10/2005 8:04:42 PM PDT by CHARLITE

For a few moments there, “Intelligent Design” seemed to be making headway.

Two weeks ago, the Smithsonian announced it would screen the movie, “The Privileged Planet,” produced by the Discovery Institute, at the National Museum of History on June 23rd. The outcry in the New York Times and The Washington Post was immediate. The Smithsonian was caving to religious fundamentalists. “While `The Privileged Planet’ is an extremely sophisticated religious film, it is a religious film nevertheless,” pronounced The Post in an editorial entitled “Dissing Darwin.”

Within a week, the Smithsonian had yielded to liberal opinion. It cancelled its “co-sponsorship” of the event and gave back Discovery’s $16,000 contribution – although the movie will still be shown on schedule. It’s a fitting resolution. Thanks to the Times and Post, Discovery will now have an extra $16,000 with which to spread its heresies.

I haven’t seen the movie, but I did read the excerpt from the book, The Privileged Planet, in the March 2004 issue of The American Spectator. I don’t know whether I’d call authors Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay Richards’ argument “religious.” “Creepy” would seem a better term.

Some of “Privileged Planet” is legitimate science. Gonzalez and Richards are addressing the question of whether life exists elsewhere in the universe. We know there are billions of galaxies, each of them containing somewhere between 100,000 and 1,000,000 stars. (The Spectator made a telling typographical error when it said there are “1022 visible stars.” They meant to say “1022.”) With astronomers now finding that planets are fairly common around nearby stars, the odds that there is life out there somewhere seem reasonably good.

Not so fast, say Gonzalez and Richards. Instead they approach the question from a different angle. There may be billions and billions of stars with billions of planets circling around them, but how many of these planets are right in the earth’s sweet spot – the “temperate orbit” where temperatures range only between 0o and 100o so that life can survive? How many have a liquid ocean, rather than icebergs or infernos? How many have a moon that massages the oceans so they circulate nutrients and even (so G&R claim) stabilize the parent planet in its orbit? How many suns are in the mid-range of their galaxy, where they aren’t overwhelmed by cosmic radiation or starved for lack of it?

Fair enough. These are legitimate arguments that illustrate the earth’s very unique position in relation to the solar system and the galaxy.

But then Gonzalez and Richards start talking about other strange “coincidences.” How many planets have a clear atmosphere so they can look out on the stars? they ask. How many have a moon that is exactly the size of the sun in its sky? Without that, say Gonzalez and Richards, we wouldn’t be able to see a perfect solar eclipse. “Newton was able to examine the spectrum of sunlight because of the solar eclipse,” they argue. “Einstein’s Theory of Relativity was only proved by observing the bending of starlight during a solar eclipse.”

All this leads them to one conclusion. Not only is our planet “designed” for life, it is also “designed” with a “purpose”—to breed a species just like ourselves capable of looking out on the rest of the universe and discovering its secrets.

Now wait a minute. Are you trying to argue that not only did God put us here on earth but also arranged the size of the sun and the moon so that Einstein’s theory of relativity could be verified? This seems a little far-fetched to me. I don’t think even firm believers in Hinduism, Christianity, or any other religion who would go quite that far.

Instead of arguing that everything on earth has been “designed” for some mysterious “purpose,” I think it’s much more instructive to look at some of God’s little errors. The one that has always struck me is the density of ice.

One thing we learn right away in elementary physics is that gas is the least dense state of matter, liquids are in the middle, and solids are the densest. That’s because the molecules are loosely associated in gases, adhere together somewhat in liquids, and are tightly bound together in solids.

There is one glaring exception, however—ice. Unlike any other element or compound, H2O is lighter as a solid—ice—it is as a liquid—water. No other substance has this property. Is this a big deal? It certainly is. It just so happens that it made the evolution of life possible.

If ice were heavier than water, it would sink to the bottom in a lake or shallow sea. Then, more water would freeze on the surface and sink again and soon the whole body of water would be frozen solid from top to bottom. Anything living in that lake or shallow sea would die. Since most life originated in water, living forms never could have survived.

Instead, ice floats. Why? There doesn’t seem to be any real explanation. I’ve always thought it was evidence that God was willing to admit His mistakes and bend the rules when it counted. When He was finished designing the fundaments of the universe – gases, liquids, and solids – He said, “Oh, darn, I forgot. This isn’t going to work.” So, He made that one exception. All solids shall be denser than their liquids except water. That way life could evolve.

Is there a better explanation? The Darwinian “anthropogenic” view now popular in scientific circles, would say, “Of course ice has to be lighter than water. Otherwise we wouldn’t be here to observe it. Therefore, Q.E.D.” At the other end of the room, the “Privileged Planet” people would say, “It has to be more than coincidence. Things like that don’t just happen. It’s proof of Intelligent Design.”

Personally, I prefer the explanation offered in the Book of Job. “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?” The ways of God are still more mysterious than any of us can comprehend.

NOTE: You’ll notice I haven’t even gotten around to mentioning Charles Darwin, who is supposed to be the target of “Intelligent Design” theory. Next week I’ll talk about whether complexity theory supports ID—as Dan Peterson argues in this month’s American Spectator— or whether it indicates something different.

William Tucker is a contributing writer for TAE Online.


TOPICS: Miscellaneous; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: creationism; earth; einstein; galaxies; intelligentdesign; moon; postedtowrongforum; relativity; stars; sun; theoryof
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1 posted on 06/10/2005 8:04:43 PM PDT by CHARLITE
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To: CHARLITE

Sure looks that way


2 posted on 06/10/2005 8:06:18 PM PDT by Archon of the East ("universal executive power of the law of nature")
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To: knews_hound; little jeremiah; Evolution
For your interest.

Char :)

3 posted on 06/10/2005 8:06:57 PM PDT by CHARLITE (I propose a co-Clinton team as permanent reps to Pyonyang, w/out possibility of repatriation....)
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To: CHARLITE
Are We A Privileged Planet?

Nahh... we just have a shitty little test sample.

4 posted on 06/10/2005 8:09:54 PM PDT by bikepacker67
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To: CHARLITE
*cough* most galaxies have between 100 million and 400 billion stars.

Not 100,000 to 1 million.
5 posted on 06/10/2005 8:11:19 PM PDT by Crazieman (If Con is the opposite of Pro, what is the opposite of Progress?)
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To: CHARLITE

6 posted on 06/10/2005 8:15:49 PM PDT by null and void (Oh what a tag lined web we weave...)
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To: bikepacker67

Maybe you where, but as for me and mine, we where made in the image of God.


7 posted on 06/10/2005 8:17:48 PM PDT by champisme (The more I know, the less I understand.)
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To: CHARLITE
Within a week, the Smithsonian had yielded to liberal opinion.

Begone Smithsonian. I never knew you.

8 posted on 06/10/2005 8:18:39 PM PDT by Luke (CPO, USCG (Ret))
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To: CHARLITE
This is pretty funny:

We know there are billions of galaxies, each of them containing somewhere between 100,000 and 1,000,000 stars. (The Spectator made a telling typographical error when it said there are “1022 visible stars.” They meant to say “1022.”)

CHARLITE, the second "1022" should look like this:  "1022". But what's funny is the egregious order of magnitude error that the writer, Tucker, makes. In fact, a galaxy contains, on average, something like 100 billion stars, not 100,000 or 1,000,000. So, in trying to correct the American Spectator, Tucker makes a bigger error.

As I said, pretty funny.

9 posted on 06/10/2005 8:19:31 PM PDT by snarks_when_bored
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10 posted on 06/10/2005 8:19:33 PM PDT by Aetius
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To: CHARLITE

Personally, I prefer the explanation offered in the Book of Job. “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?” The ways of God are still more mysterious than any of us can comprehend.

Funny he accepts what God says in the book of Job but totally dismisses what God says in the book of Genesis...a pick & choose kind of guy.


11 posted on 06/10/2005 8:24:44 PM PDT by ThisLittleLightofMine
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To: CHARLITE
Instead, ice floats. Why? There doesn’t seem to be any real explanation.

Oh, that's easy.  There's no such thing as gravity.  We all know the Earth sucks to hold things down, ice just isn't as sticky.

12 posted on 06/10/2005 8:25:50 PM PDT by quantim (Victory is not relative, it is absolute.)
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To: snarks_when_bored
On the original page, he does type it correctly. It simply didn't translate when I copied it onto the posting form. Perhaps there is a way to write the small "22" (22nd power), but I don't have that capability, and I didn't see that it failed to copy correctly, but if you go to the page, using the link, you will see that he has it right. (Fourth paragraph down the page)
http://www.taemag.com/issues/articleID.18579/article_detail.asp

Char :)

13 posted on 06/10/2005 8:27:25 PM PDT by CHARLITE (I propose a co-Clinton team as permanent reps to Pyonyang, w/out possibility of repatriation....)
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To: CHARLITE

Yes, I knew that the 22nd power of 10 was correctly represented in the version of the article at the site. That's why I addressed the superscript remark to you (not a criticism, just pointing it out). Keep up your good posting work!


14 posted on 06/10/2005 8:32:16 PM PDT by snarks_when_bored
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To: CHARLITE
<> May I, personally, prefer Native American legends? I mean, may I prefer them over biblical legends? Is this allowed when creationists take charge of all government and police powers?
15 posted on 06/10/2005 8:33:17 PM PDT by thomaswest (We are all for God. Who claims to know may be questioned.)
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To: quantim
I wonder ? if you took 1 oz of water put it in a cup ( first weigh the cup ) and took the same amount of water ( 1 oz ) and froze it, and weigh the froze water, would both be the same weight ? or would the froze water of the same amount ( 1 oz ) weigh less ?
16 posted on 06/10/2005 8:33:47 PM PDT by Prophet in the wilderness (PSALM 53 : 1 The ( FOOL ) hath said in his heart , There is no GOD .)
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To: CHARLITE

Speaking of observation, I will believe in life elsewhere when I see it. But, IAC, how likely is it on a plant unlike earth in a solar system unlike Sol's in a Galaxy unlike the Milky Way?


17 posted on 06/10/2005 8:37:14 PM PDT by RobbyS (chirho)
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To: thomaswest

There is hardly a Native American legend that is not known through the writings of white men, that is through a Christian prism.


18 posted on 06/10/2005 8:39:04 PM PDT by RobbyS (chirho)
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To: CHARLITE

We know that given an earth like planet, with a sun like star and a moon like moon, that it is reasonable to guess that it takes over 4 billion years for technologically capable life to form.

We know the dinosaurs had 200 million years to develope technology and they failed.

We know that oceans must fall within a certain salinity and ph levels for complex life to form.

My guess is that in our galaxy, we stand a good chance of being alone and unique.


19 posted on 06/10/2005 8:40:30 PM PDT by staytrue
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To: Prophet in the wilderness

Water expands as it freezes, forming a crystal structure.


20 posted on 06/10/2005 8:40:57 PM PDT by RobbyS (chirho)
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To: RobbyS

I'm wondering if the orientation of two hydrogens to one oxygen (they line up opposite each other as I understand it) has anything to do with why the solid crystalline state is lighter (less molecules per volume in the crystalline form).


21 posted on 06/10/2005 8:50:30 PM PDT by MHGinTN (If you can read this, you've had life support from someone. Promote life support for others.)
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To: RobbyS

You are correct about this. My error.

May I prefer a legend from China? They have a history back 3000 years. I just wanted to know where the religious police might take over.


22 posted on 06/10/2005 8:51:10 PM PDT by thomaswest (We are all for God. Who claims to know may be questioned.)
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To: CHARLITE
Alone? Maybe, but I guess we will find out.

However, on this planet, I have heard that we are comforted by the spawn of Satan...

Invoke the name of Yeshua to repell these nasty pests.

23 posted on 06/10/2005 8:51:25 PM PDT by Dark Skies ("Die, Monster...Die!")
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To: staytrue
All of the points you have discussed, including time span and chemistry, in the possibility and development of life are covered in the book Lonely Planets by David Grinspoon. He also has a website.

It's an interesting book, regardless of which side of the origin of life divide you fall.
24 posted on 06/10/2005 8:57:37 PM PDT by TennCon
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To: CHARLITE
Bible never mentions aliens from outer space (yeah, that will be a popular answer). So it seems that either God didn't create any, or, if He did, He felt no need to tell us about it, which makes me doubt that we'd EVER see any real ones.

Biblically the "aliens" would be demons entertaining the sci-fi fascinations of humans

25 posted on 06/10/2005 9:01:03 PM PDT by gamarob1
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To: gamarob1
Read Enoch...look for "nephilim."

Nothing extra about it...

26 posted on 06/10/2005 9:03:19 PM PDT by Dark Skies ("Die, Monster...Die!")
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To: Prophet in the wilderness

Sort out the difference between 'weight' and 'mass' and you'll know. And how Earth is spinning relative to the Sun, and how fast the Sun is moving around the center of the Milky Way Galaxy, and how this Galaxy is moving relative to the observable Universe.

If you had any idea on how fast you were moving through space relative to other major bodies even though you think you're sitting still you'd pee your pants if you could calculate how fast you're flying now. It's basic Newtonian math.


27 posted on 06/10/2005 9:04:21 PM PDT by quantim (Victory is not relative, it is absolute.)
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To: CHARLITE

"All solids shall be denser than their liquids except water."

Not quite. It is unusual when soilds are less dense than their liquids, but 'type metal', an alloy of antimony, bismuth, and tin also has this property. It's been used for 300 years, because when poured into typeface molds, it expands to fill the serifs. Pouring lead would cause shrinking from the facies, leading to a poorly formed letter. B. Franklin knew this well.

It is indeed remarkable that water is most dense at 3.9 degrees C. As evidence for a deity, I am doubtful. I note that ID never has accounted for Brownian motion nor extinctions in their idea of "design".










28 posted on 06/10/2005 9:04:27 PM PDT by thomaswest (We are all for God. Who claims to know may be questioned.)
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To: Dark Skies
Nephilim as in, the demons that united with man?

Yep, nothing "extra" about it at all

29 posted on 06/10/2005 9:05:31 PM PDT by gamarob1
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To: quantim

would 1 oz of water in a liquid form, weigh the same as 1 oz of water froze ?


30 posted on 06/10/2005 9:07:51 PM PDT by Prophet in the wilderness (PSALM 53 : 1 The ( FOOL ) hath said in his heart , There is no GOD .)
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To: gamarob1

Yup...can't attest to it...but it sure feels right.


31 posted on 06/10/2005 9:08:30 PM PDT by Dark Skies ("Die, Monster...Die!")
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To: CHARLITE

I believe we were created by aliens as part of an experiment that was abandoned and allowed to run wild.


32 posted on 06/10/2005 9:08:41 PM PDT by Spandau
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To: Dark Skies
Yeah, I think that's it too.

This reminds me of my old time Chuck Missler studies LOL

33 posted on 06/10/2005 9:11:18 PM PDT by gamarob1
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To: CHARLITE

"Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun.

Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-two million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.

...lots of the people were mean, and most of them were miserable, even the ones with digital watches...

..Many were increasingly of the opinion that they'd all made a big mistake in coming down from the trees in the first place. And some said that even the trees had been a bad move, and that no one should ever have left the oceans."

- Foreword to "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy"

Another little gem from one of the five books of the Hitchhiker's "Trilogy" is the description of a planet whose only intelligent life form is a bat-like creature that hangs upside down from trees. Every now and then, some of these creatures get thrown off their branches for the crime of speculating that their might be intelligent life on other trees.

Rest in Peace, Douglas Adams.


34 posted on 06/10/2005 9:11:22 PM PDT by guitfiddlist (When the 'Rats break out switchblades, it's no time to invoke Robert's Rules.)
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To: Spandau
Could be. But that would make Yeshua a liar.

And for students of history...it isn't that far back. When one looks at what He has accomplished...the question remains.

Is he a liar?

35 posted on 06/10/2005 9:13:21 PM PDT by Dark Skies ("Die, Monster...Die!")
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To: Prophet in the wilderness
Floating is a volume/weight thing. Ice floats because it has a greater volume per unit weight than water. Same with boats.
36 posted on 06/10/2005 9:13:33 PM PDT by Doe Eyes
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To: CHARLITE
Privileged planet?! Ha.

More like an isolation ward.
37 posted on 06/10/2005 9:13:38 PM PDT by mercy (never again a patsy for Bill Gates - spyware and viri free for over a year now)
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To: Prophet in the wilderness

Sort out the difference between 'weight' and 'mass' and you'll know.

Again.


38 posted on 06/10/2005 9:14:13 PM PDT by quantim (Victory is not relative, it is absolute.)
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To: CHARLITE

"Perhaps there is a way to write the small "22" (22nd power), but I don't have that capability,..."

Char - here's how you do it:

10<*sup*>22<*/sup*>

Copy the line above and then remove all the *, then recopy and paste it into your post and you get 1022

(The *  is not part of an html tag, which is why I could use it to show you the code - sup stands for superscript.)

39 posted on 06/10/2005 9:15:11 PM PDT by RebelTex (Freedom is everyone's right - and everyone's responsibility!)
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To: CHARLITE
No aliens. This is the Planet we were given by the Creator. We are first to make this little, blue planet in space a literal Ganeden. We can worry about other places in space later.

On the day that Armstrong put his foot on the moon, how many murders were committed on Planet Earth ? How many children were abused ? How many rapes took place ?
40 posted on 06/10/2005 9:16:59 PM PDT by Red Sea Swimmer (Tisha5765Bav)
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To: CHARLITE
< sup>Superscript< /sup>
41 posted on 06/10/2005 9:17:27 PM PDT by null and void (Oh what a tag lined web we weave...)
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To: CHARLITE

It looks to me like every single number in this article is made up.


42 posted on 06/10/2005 9:17:28 PM PDT by IYAAYAS (Live free or die trying)
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To: bikepacker67
Nahh... we just have a shitty little test sample.

Have you lost your mind? The earth is the most beautiful and wondrous place imaginable! If not for the evil of man, and of Satan, this would be heaven!

Maybe it is. Read carefully...

"And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good." -- Genesis 1:6-10

So far, so good. Now, read this very carefully...

"And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good." -- Genesis 1:20

Winged fowl fly around in heaven? Then is Heaven not our atmosphere?

43 posted on 06/10/2005 9:19:18 PM PDT by PhilipFreneau ("The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork." -- Psalms 19:1)
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To: RobbyS

You may know Kurt Vonnegut's book, Ice Nine.

I've lost track, but there are at least 14 forms of ice, depending on temperature and pressure. Some of these occur in snow, resulting in many different crystals.

When water molecules crystalize, hydrogen bonding and van der Waals forces become dominant. This is well understood and needs no miracles to explain.

In fact with enough miracles, anything whatsoever can be "explained".

It is also possible for liquid water, ice, and steam to co-exist. This is at the triple point. Any thermodynamics text can provide details. Oxygen, sulfur, iron, uranium, etc. also have a triple point. Also molecular compounds, such as ethanol, sulfur dioxide.


44 posted on 06/10/2005 9:19:36 PM PDT by thomaswest (We are all for God. Who claims to know may be questioned.)
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To: CHARLITE
are we "alone" among billions of galaxies, stars & planets?

Of course not. But the odds that there are other beings who share any part of our unique reality, let alone share one or more of our "senses", are slim. It's not even likely that other beings would have any concept of what "planets", "suns", or "universes" are. They may have no concept of "time" or "space"; of "solid", "liquid", or "gas"; of "sight", "sound", or "touch". They may have no concept of what a concept is.

The point is, we are never going to contact any other "beings" in any usual way. The notion that we will someday "talk" with little green men or beings which are even remotely humanoid, complete with brains and hearts, etc., is laughable on its face, although it is certainly the vanity of human nature to dream of the possibility. Not all that long ago it was a difficult proposition for men to slowly, reluctantly, give up the idea that the sun and stars all revolved around the earth.

45 posted on 06/10/2005 9:21:51 PM PDT by Lancey Howard
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To: PhilipFreneau

Agree with you.

Planet Earth is a wonderful gift from the Creator.


46 posted on 06/10/2005 9:22:13 PM PDT by Red Sea Swimmer (Tisha5765Bav)
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To: staytrue

"We know the dinosaurs had 200 million years to develope technology and they failed."

They died out, but primates evolved and did develope tools.

How old is the universe? No one can answer that. How old is our milky way? Again no one can answer that. We will probably never know in our lifetimes if there is any intelligent life out there. No one can say for certain if there is or isn't. We can believe it, or not believe it. With billions of stars and other solar systems out there, to think we are the only ones, seems narrow minded.

Why would we not think or believe that there is other intelligent life? Maybe life (civilizations?)that are a million lifetimes older than us. Are we to be the new Flat Earth Society? Every day brings us closer to the answers, did we know there was another planet beyond Pluto until recently? (Sedna). We have begun to reach out into the universe, this is only the begining, to go where no man has gone, in hopes to find other intelligent life. When (if) we make contact that will surely present additional questions to ponder and answer. Will we stop there? I doubt it, mankind's quest for knowledge is endless. Will we ever develope the technology to do all those things? I believe we will in the far future, provided of course we don't end up destroying ourselves.


47 posted on 06/10/2005 9:22:57 PM PDT by Bringbackthedraft
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To: Spandau

If life is just the result of spontaneous generation like the scientists believe then it is imperative that any intelligent species that pops up has a very limited time to escape their original planet. A few hundred years into technologically advanced industrial existence and everything is used up. Thus the need for a new planet.

But there's a problem. Bio-organisms. Like viruses. In order to survive on a new planet the colonizing life forms must co-mingle their DNA with some suitable resident species.

If Somebody made up the Bible out of whole cloth then something like the above could be a reasonable explanation for what's going on around here.


48 posted on 06/10/2005 9:23:02 PM PDT by mercy (never again a patsy for Bill Gates - spyware and viri free for over a year now)
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To: CHARLITE
Most humans don't have a clue...

I think it's extreme hubris to think that we're the only intelligent form of life in the Universe (or that we're even all that intelligent to begin with.) Besides, Slartibartfast really made the Earth. He even won an award for the Fjords.

49 posted on 06/10/2005 9:24:42 PM PDT by WestVirginiaRebel (Carnac: A siren, a baby and a liberal. Answer: Name three things that whine.)
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To: thomaswest

Vonnegut's book which featured Ice 9 was called 'Cat's Cradle'.
Terrific read.

Regards,
LH


50 posted on 06/10/2005 9:25:06 PM PDT by Lancey Howard
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