February 28, 2016: Last week a team of astronomers announced that they have found seven planets around a star 39 light years away that are similar to Earth. The planets are in the star’s habitable zone, a region where there is sufficient starlight to permit the existence of liquid water. “Three or four of the seven planets may also be candidates for hosting alien life” the team told journalists.
“This is really the first time we have seven planets that we can say are in the terrestrial zone,” stated Michael Gillon, a team member and professor of astronomy at the University of Liege, Belgium. It is “a giant leap forward in the search for habitable worlds,” said Sara Seager, a planetary scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who was not part of the research team.
Adventist Today asked Dr. Desmond Ford, the Bible scholar well known to Adventists, if he would comment on this discovery. What does it mean for believers?
“All the questions that SETI has dealt with for years have been raised again,” Ford told AT. “Those who watched Carl Sagan’s Cosmos years ago no doubt felt grateful to him for his comprehensive information about our universe. But even more important is a single sentence in his article on ‘Life’ in Encyclopedia Britannica. There he tells readers that the information content needed for a single cell would take one hundred million pages of Britannica to transcribe.
“Eric Metaxas brought us up to date in a well-known article published first in the USA, later in Australia and elsewhere. He recorded the continual failures of SETI to find life outside of our planet. An excellent volume written by Peter D. Ward and Donald Brownlee entitled Rare Earth and published at the beginning of this century gave the reasons for SETI’s failures. Those interested should read that book.
“Scripture says plainly that all we have on this planet is just a drop in the bucket, the fine dust left on a weighing scale. Though God probably has an infinite number of sinless worlds, I see no reason why He should reveal that fact to us. See Isaiah 40:15. Sagan referred to our earth as a ‘pale blue dot.’ That is exactly what is seen from far off, but the New Testament considers it a wonder that should compel our reverence and gratitude because of the Calvary event.”
SETI stands for the Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence, an area of scientific research. The SETI Institute maintains a web site at www.seti.org.
The featured photo was obtained from the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).