Is the Earth Special or Not?


Science Design Inferences are Unlike ID
( #2

You have two mega problems with your cartoon:

  1. Fermi paradox
  2. Universal Common Descent - can you figure out why?

It’s also a bad caricature, but we’ll let that slide.

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(S. Joshua Swamidass) #3

Interesting question. For those new to this, please briefly explain the Fermi Paradox. Curious where you are going with this.

(Jon Garvey) #4

Marie Curie’s favourite element.

Curie needed to refine several tons of pitchblende in order to obtain tiny amounts of radium and polonium, another radioactive element discovered by Curie. One ton of uranium ore contains only about 0.14 grams of radium.

Wanna bet? Nobody would go to so much trouble for such a tiny result.

( #5

“The Fermi paradox is the apparent contradiction between high estimates of the probability of the existence of extraterrestrial civilizations, such as in the Drake equation, and the lack of evidence for such civilizations”. Observations to date disagree with “Earth is just an ordinary planet circling an ordinary star located nowhere special inside an ordinary galaxy”.

Abiogenesis is also supposed to be an ordinary “arising” of life from non-living matter. If this were true, spontaneous abiogenesis would be a trivial common occurrence here on Earth as well as throughout the Universe, and we would have many “trees of life” instead of one. However, until now, all abiogenesis experiments have failed to produce life, spontaneous generation has been rejected, and the Fermi paradox still stands, all these keeping the single “tree of life” and UCD hypothesis [barely and inexplicably] alive.

Less important, that’s a bad caricature because - last I checked - religious texts simply do not mention various planets, stars and galaxies, let alone “favorite planet…”

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(S. Joshua Swamidass) #6 I agree with much of what you are saying.

Earth is certainly special to humans. If humans are special to God, therefore, the Earth is special to him.

The Fermi paradox seems to be telling us something, but its not clear what. Some ID advocates argee ID means there must be life on other planets. Which on is right? I don’t know, but it certainly does mean life is not easy to come by. All the more reason to value earth, from even an atheist point of view.

About UCD, I don’t get your point. UCD is about life on Earth, not life on other planets.

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #7

Who thinks abiogensis would be a trivial and common event? That sounds absurd.

(Guy Coe) #8

@Patrick --Jesus loves you… but I’m His favorite! : )

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( #9

Well, if it happened once, what would prevent abiogenesis from happening again? And if “nothing” then it should be a trivial event. I will open a new topic to elaborate on the UCD hypothesis dilemma.

( #10

So far, the Fermi paradox tells us Earth is unique.


Of course the Earth is unique. But according to the Copernican Principle, it is not special.

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #12

@Patrick that is a strange statement. I insist that the Earth is very special to me, and everyone else who lives on this rock, including you. What earthling would in their right mind claim that Earth is not special, at least to us?


The Copernican principle says that our planet, while very special to you and me, is unique but is not special from all the planets in the universe. An analogous statement is that all people are unique but none are special.

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #14

This is value-laden language that cannot be justified scientifically. Is it really your contention that there is nothing special about earth compared to Pluto?

The copernican principle is different. It states that we are not privileged observers here on earth (, which is equivalent to saying that the laws of the universe is the same on earth and in the “heavens”. We do not lie at the center of the universe, with everything spatially oriented for our perception. This certainly appears to be true at the highest level, but some arguments might be made to argue we are in an uncommonly good place from which to view the universe.

This is a totally different claim then saying there is nothing special about earth. That value-based claim is a sequitur that you yourself cannot possibly believe.


Ok, I can see how I am using the Copernican Principle incorrectly. Yes, the Earth is both unique and special to me. So is Holmdel NJ.

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(S. Joshua Swamidass) #16

Well you have effectively made your point. Thanks for calling that out.

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(Ashwin S) #17

Patrick, this is a false argument. Things like “special” can only be attributed by conscious beings. The sun does not have the ability to call anything special or mundane…

If human beings cannot acknowledge their “specialness”… its not a scientific problem. Its a cultural, philosophical and psychological issue.


Yes, I now see that. Defining something as special is a value judgement.

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( #19

Fermi paradox deals with life while Copernicus with astronomy. Two entirely different fields.


My own view moves in the other direction. All planets are unique. There are probably very few planets in our galaxy that are identical to Mars or Venus. There are probably very few gas giants with beautiful rings that also have a moon with liquid methane lakes and methane rain.

I think that human bias makes us focus on the things we benefit from and the things we find important to humans and we tend to forget just how unique all things in the cosmos are.