The Intelligent Design of Earth as a Life-Support Planet
(and The Probability of Finding Extraterrestrial Life
... & SETI Success)
- by R. Totten (c)2005
As we look up in wonder at the immense cosmos, many wonder what the possibility is of finding other intelligent beings besides us --extraterrestrial life-- out there in the universe. Some people have speculated that there may well be life on other planets throughout the universe --and, in fact, some full of hope and even "faith" (notably the SETI efforts, which spent $30 million on the Allen Telescope Array, which went online in 2007) have been scanning the stars for more than 40 years, and have examined about 30 trillion different wavelengths for intelligent signals --all to no avail. No signs of intelligent life. Only non-intelligent static and noises.
(NASA/ESA Hubble images)
So, what are the chances that the universe (with all bodies and forces it contains) could be suited to be hospitable to life --intelligent or non? This article will attempt to show that discoveries of modern astronomers and astrophysicists are now increasingly demonstrating that life in the universe is, most probably, quite rare... in fact, not at all likely --without the intelligent design of a suitable place for life.
Numbers of Galaxies and Stars
The first thing to determine, is the numbers of galaxies and stars among which we might expect to find life.
In doing searches of information on the internet, it is currently estimated that --in light of Hubble Telescope surveys, and other surveys-- there are about 125 to 200 billion galaxies in the universe. Occasionally there are estimates of 300 to 500 billion galaxies in the universe, therefore, we will use this higher number (500 billion galaxies) in our calculations.
After considering galaxies, we will look at the numbers of stars in a galaxy, and will use the general estimation that there an average of 200 billion stars in a galaxy.
Parameters Which Limit Life-Possibilities in Galaxies
There are various conditions present in galaxies, near stars and on planets, which limit the possibility of life. To evaluate and describe these conditions, we will be utilizing the frequency of these parameters based largely on the analysis of astrophysicist Hugh Ross, Ph.D. --- Dr. Ross earned a B.Sc. in physics from the University of British Columbia and an M.Sc. and Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of Toronto. Even at the age of 17, Ross was the youngest person ever to serve as director of observations for Vancouver's Royal Astronomical Society. Dr. Ross is a post-doctoral fellow at the California Institute of Technology.
The analytical numbers we will employ have been found on Dr. Ross's website: http://www.reasons.org/ ...(and also in his books, such as: The Creator and The Cosmos, Hugh Ross, Nav Press, 1995). A fuller list of many of the possible parameters is found at: Fine Tuning For Life In The Universe. The percentage numbers for these parameters are based on a comparison of the full range of possibilities as compared to the narrow range required for the survival of living things.
1. Galaxy-Cluster Density
Any given galaxy usually occurs in a cluster of galaxies. If these clusters are too "rich" (or dense), galaxy collisions (or mergers) will disturb solar orbits too much for living organisms to survive. But if galaxy-clusters are too sparse, there will not be enough infusion of gasses to maintain star-formation for long enough to bring about life-sustaining conditions. -- 90% of the galaxies in the universe occur in clusters which are too rich or too sparse to allow for the survival of living organisms on any planets within.
Of the 500,000,000,000 galaxies in the universe, 10% are suitable for life in regard to galaxy-cluster density.
This leaves 50,000,000,000 galaxies in which life could occur.
2. Galaxy Size
The size of a galaxy can be destructive to the survivability of life. If a galaxy is too large, the infusion of gas and stars would disturb a sun's orbit and ignite too many galactic eruptions. But if a galaxy is too small, there is an "insufficient infusion of gas to sustain star formation for long enough time" to bring about life-sustaining conditions. -- 90% of galaxies are either too large or too small for life to exist there, and this means that 90% of the above galaxies (which occur in a suitable galaxy-cluster) are of the wrong size.
Of the 50,000,000,000 galaxies left in #1, 10% are also of suitable size.
This leaves 5,000,000,000 galaxies in which life could occur.
3. Galaxy Type
The only type of galaxy which can sustain life, is the "spiral" type. --If a galaxy is too elliptical, star formation ceases before sufficient heavy element build-up can occur for life chemistry. If a galaxy is too irregular, radiation exposure is too severe, and in addition, heavy elements for life chemistry would not be available. -- 90% of galaxies are either the irregular or elliptical type. --Only about 10% are the required spiral type.
. . .
. . .
. . Elliptical Galaxy . . . . . Irregular Galaxy . . . . . Spiral Galaxy ...
Of the 5,000,000,000 galaxies left in #2, 10% are also spiral types.
This leaves 500,000,000 galaxies in which life could occur.
4. Galaxy Mass-Distribution
If the mass-distribution is too much and too dense in the central bulge, any candidate life-support planet in the rest of the galaxy will be exposed to too much radiation. BUT, if there is too much mass-distribution in the spiral arms, any candidate life-support planet will be destabilized by too much gravity and radiation from adjacent spiral arms and adjacent stars. -- 80% of spiral galaxies (above) are deadly to life in this regard.
Of the 500,000,000 galaxies left in #3, 20% have suitable mass-distribution.
This leaves 100,000,000 galaxies in which life could occur.
5. Galaxy Location
If a galaxy is too close to a rich galaxy cluster, that galaxy would be gravitationally disrupted to allow conditions for life. --OR if a galaxy is too close to very large galaxy(ies), that galaxy would also be too gravitationally disrupted to allow life. --OR if a galaxy is too far away from dwarf galaxies (required to produce needed gas and dust), then insufficient infall of gas and dust will occur to sustain ongoing star formation in order to sustain life. -- 90% of galaxies are in such a wrong location.
Of the 100,000,000 galaxies left in #4, 10% have suitable galaxy locations.
This leaves 10,000,000 galaxies in which life could occur.
6. Galaxy-Cluster Size
If a galaxy is located in a cluster (of galaxies) which is either too large or too small, the radiation and gravitational forces and gas-availability (for star-formation) will be wrong for sustaining life. -- 90% of galaxy-clusters are unsuitable for life in this parameter.
Of the 10,000,000 galaxies left in #5, 10% have a suitable galaxy-cluster size.
This leaves 1,000,000 galaxies in which life could occur.
7. Galaxy-Cluster Location
If a galaxy-cluster is located too close or too far from other galaxy-clusters this destroys the possibility of life-sustaining qualities near the stars of those galaxies. -- 90% of galaxy-clusters are deficient in this regard.
Of the 1,000,000 galaxies left in #6, 10% have a suitable galaxy-cluster location.
This leaves 100,000 galaxies in which life could occur.
8. Size of the Galactic Central Bulge
If the size of the galactic central bulge is too large, the radiation from the bulge region would kill life on a candidate life-support planet in any spiral arms. If the size of the galactic central bulge is too small, there would be inadequate infusion of gas and dust into the spiral arms, preventing solar type stars from forming at the right locations late enough in the galaxy's history. -- 80% of spiral galaxies have central bulges which are too large or too small for life to be supported.
Of the 100,000 galaxies left in #7, 20% have a suitable central bulge size.
This leaves 20,000 galaxies in which life could occur.
9. Proper Amount of Galactic Dust
If the amount of dust is too small, star and planet formation rate is inadequate; and star and planet formation occurs too late in the galaxy's history; and there is not enough dust to block out too much exposure to deadly stellar ultraviolet radiation. BUT, if the amount of dust is too large, star and planet formation occurs too soon and at too high of a rate, and there are too many collisions and orbit perturbations in the galaxy and in the planetary system. -- In 90% of galaxies, the amount of galactic dust is either too small or too large for life-support.
Of the 20,000 galaxies left in #8, 10% have a suitable galaxy-cluster size.
This leaves 2,000 galaxies in which life could occur.
10. Giant-Star Density in Galaxy
If the giant-star density is too small, there is an insufficient production of galactic dust; and deadly radiation unblocked; and ongoing star formation impeded. BUT, if the giant-star density is too large, too much galactic dust forms; and too many stars form too early disrupting the formation of a solar-type star at the right time and under the right conditions for life.
Of the 2,000 galaxies left in #9, 10% have a suitable galaxy-cluster size.
This leaves 200 galaxies in which life could occur.
11. Frequency of Nearby Gamma-Ray Bursts
If this rate is too high, there would be too many mass extinctions of life for the maintenance of long-lived, multi-cellular species. -- 95% of galaxies have a too high a rate of gamma-ray bursts.
Of the 2,000 galaxies left in #10, 5% have a suitably low rate of gamma-ray bursts.
This leaves 10 galaxies in which life could occur.
12. Dwarf Galaxy Absorption Rate
If too many dwarf galaxies are absorbed, too much gas and dust is absorbed, causing too many stars form too early disrupting the formation of a solar-type star at the right time and under the right conditions for life. BUT, if too few dwarf galaxies are absorbed, then there is an insufficient infall of gas and dust to sustain ongoing star formation. -- 90% of spiral galaxies have too many or too few dwarf galaxies absorbed at the proper rate to produce conditions to sustain life.
Of the 10 galaxies left in #11, 10% have a suitable dwarf galaxy absorption rate.
This leaves 1 galaxy in which life could occur.
NOTE: In reality, the above 12 parameters are not even half of the qualities and situations which may seriously limit the suitability of planets within those galaxies to support life. There are many more, such as the density of giant galaxies in the early universe; the masses of stars which become hypernovae; the frequency (& closeness) of hypernovae eruptions; the frequency (& closeness) of supernovae eruptions; the number (& closeness) of white dwarf binaries; the timing of solar nebula formation; the density of nearby quasars; the decay rate of cold dark matter particles; and the amount of silicate dust annealing by nebular shocks. -- See Dr. Ross's web-site for A fuller list entitled: "Fine Tuning For Life In The Universe".
Parameters Which Limit Life-Possibilities Near a Star
We will now narrow the scope down to a single galaxy, considering a few of the parameters which limit the suitability of a "parent" star around which a prospective life-hosting planet might orbit. As mentioned above, we will start with an average-sized galaxy containing 200,000,000,000 stars.
13. Star's Nearness to Galactic Center
If the star is too near the center, galactic radiation would be too great and deadly; also stellar density would disturb planetary orbits; also, there would be wrong abundances of silicon, sulfur, and magnesium relative to iron for appropriate planet core characteristics. BUT, if the star is too far from the galactic center, the quantity of heavy elements would be insufficient to make rocky planets; and there would be wrong abundances of silicon, sulfur, and magnesium relative to iron for appropriate planet core characteristics. -- 80% of the stars in any spiral galaxy are too near or too far from the galactic center for life-support; thus, only 20% of the stars in a spiral galaxy are in the "habitable zone" (marked by the green circle).
. . . In reality, what is popularly called a "habitable zone" in the news should actually be Much more narrowly defined.
Of the 200,000,000,000 stars in the galaxy, 20% are a suitable distance from the galactic center: in the "habitable zone."
This leaves 40,000,000,000 stars near which life could survive.
14. Parent Star's Age
If star's age is too old or too young, the luminosity of the star changes too quickly for stable life-support. -- 60% of stars are the wrong age to maintain stable luminosity suitable for life-support.
Of the 40,000,000,000 stars left in #13, 40% are of a suitable age for stable luminosity.
This leaves 16,000,000,000 stars near which life could survive.
15. Parent Star's Mass
If the star's mass is too great, the luminosity of the star would change too quickly; and the star would burn too rapidly and too hot for lengthy enough life-support. (e.g., If the Sun in our solar system were one of the most massive and hottest stars, all of the liquids and lighter things on earth would boil and burn off) ...BUT, if the star's mass is too small, the range of suitable planet distances for life would be too narrow and close; also, tidal forces would disrupt the life planet's rotational period to rapidly; also, UV radiation would be inadequate for plants to make sugars and oxygen.
-- 99.9% of all stars have the wrong mass for proper luminosity, burning rate, UV radiation, and proper range of suitable planet distances for life-support. In other words, 1/10th of 1% are OK in this regard.
Of the 16,000,000,000 stars left in #14, .1% have a suitable mass for life-support.
This leaves 16,000,000 stars near which life could survive.
16. Parent Star's Metallicity
If the star's metal-content is too small, then insufficient heavy elements for life chemistry would exist. BUT, if its metal-content is too large, then radioactivity would be too intense for life; also, life would be poisoned by to large of concentrations of heavy elements. -- 95% of all stars have a metallicity which is too small or too large for suitable life-support on nearby planets.
Of the 16,000,000 stars left in #15, 5% have suitable metallicity.
This leaves 800,000 stars near which life could survive.
17. Star Rotation Rate
If the rotation rate of the parent star too slow, then the star's magnetic field will be too weak, resulting in not enough protection from cosmic rays for the life-support planet. BUT, if the rotation rate is too fast, then there will be too much chromospheric emission, causing radiation problems for the life-support planet. -- 70% of stars have a rotation rate which is too slow or too fast to support life nearby.
Of the 800,000 stars left in #16, 30% have a suitable rotation rate.
This leaves 240,000 stars near which life could survive.
18. Close Encounters With Nearby Stars
If the parent star has a close-encounter(s) with a nearby star(s), then any living things on nearby planets would be killed by extreme radiation, and the orbits of planets would be disrupted --and the host planets possibly absorbed into the star-- destroying all life-forms. -- 99% of stars have close encounters with other stars, which destroys the possibilities of life during the suitable age of candidate stars.
Of the 240,000 stars left in #17, 1% have no such close encounters.
This leaves 2400 stars near which life could survive.
19. Parent Star's Carbon-to-Oxygen Ratio
The parent star must produce a host planet with a carbon-to-oxygen ratio which is suitable to produce the various building blocks of life, without producing a state of lethal amounts of oxygen or too much carbon in the environment. -- 99% of stars have such an unsuitable ratio for the support of living things.
Of the 2400 stars left in #18, 1% have a suitable carbon-to-oxygen ratio for life.
This leaves 24 stars in the universe near which life could survive.
20. Solar Wind's Strength and Variability
If the solar wind of the parent star is too strong, then too few cosmic ray protons reach planet's troposphere causing too little cloud formation. But if the solar wind is too weak, then too many cosmic ray protons reach planet's troposphere causing too much cloud formation. -- 90% of stars have winds which are too strong or too weak to cause a suitable amount of cloud formation for suitable water and weather cycles for sustaining life.
Of the 24 stars left in #19, 10% have a suitable solar wind strength and variability.
This leaves about 2.4 stars in the universe near which life could survive.
NOTE: The above parameters for stars are not all of the qualities and situations which may seriously limit the suitability of stars to support life. There are more, described by Dr. Ross.
Parameters on a Planet Which Limit Life-Possibilities
Not only do galaxies and stars have parameters which they must satisfy in order to support life, but in addition a candidate planet must satisfy a good number of requirements as well, for example:
1. The planet must be the right distance from its star ...if it is too close, the surface stays too hot for life, and the star's winds and radiation strips the planet of free gases. -- Or if the planet is too far from its star, then it stays too cold. -- (In this regard, only 1 planet out of 1000is suitable for life-support.)
(A 2% change in the earth's distance from the Sun would make it unable to host any life.)
. . . Again, what is often called a "habitable zone" in the news should actually be Much more narrowly defined.
2.The planet's rotation-period must not be too slow or fast. If the planet rotates too slow, one side will boil while the other side freezes. - (Only 10% of planets are passable in this regard.)
3.The planet's orbit must be almost circular ...not too eccentric, which puts the planet either too close for part of the orbit (making it too hot) or too far from its star for part of its orbit (making it too cold). - (Only 30% of planets are OK here.)
4. The planet's mass (and gravity) must not be too large or too small - (In this regard, only 1 planet out of 1000is suitable for life. ---An example of a planet with too little mass, is Mars, which could not hold onto its atmosphere and most of its water, and is now a wasteland, unable to support life (especially higher life). An example of a planet with too much mass and gravity, is Jupiter, which is a massive giant and could not support life.)
5.The planet's axis-tilt must be within tolerances. If the axis points toward the host star, that end of the planet will boil, while the end pointing away will stay frozen. - (In this regard, only 30% of planets are suitable for life.)
6. The planet must be basically solid and rocky ...not gaseous. - (Of the 150 planets discovered between 1995 and 2005, almost all of them were gas giants --like Jupiter-- and not suited for life).
In considering the above 6 parameters, only about one planet out of 100 million would be suitable for life, but the list of qualifiers for a planet is even more extensive, and can be seen in the above articles by Dr. Ross.
In support of these findings, an article in usatoday.com on 3-31-05 states:
"A habitable planet has liquid water on its surface, explained Margaret Turnbull of the Carnegie Institute of Washington. Thus far, 90% of all detected alien planets have host stars that can flare and sterilize the surface of the planet. Furthermore, planets, which are that close to their host star, would be in a synchronous orbit. This means that only one side of the planet would face the host star and all potential water on that side would evaporate and go to its "dark" side."
Astronomers are now upscaling into a period of heightened planet-hunting, and I welcome any new statistics in regard the suitability of most planets and star-systems for life, in order to refine or correct the points made by this article.
1. It is highly UNlikely that there are any planets in the universe which have life on them (especially intelligent life) if all the parameters and chances of life-permitting favorability are taken into consideration. -- Dr. Ross gives more than 300 parameters which would need to be fulfilled for life to exist anywhere in the universe, and he explains that for them to be filled by chance occurrence would be one chance out of 10282 . . . but there are only about 1024 stars in the entire universe!
2. The chance of a life-supporting planet-sun system occurring randomly in our present universe is so small that it is quite reasonable to conclude that the highly unlikely existence of our sun-earth system may very well be the result of an intelligent designer.
Again, from the article in usatoday.com on 3-31-05:
The overwhelming majority of the alien planets found have been in eccentric orbits, and Paul Butler, the co-discoverer of two-thirds of the known extra solar planets, comments:
"I think with the data at hand, we can say that our solar system is rare. Eccentricity dominates. --It's just a matter of how rare we are."
Some people think it is arrogant to say that Earth is evidently the only planet in the universe with life on it. Why so? Evidence is just evidence, and should not be evaluated according to emotions or desires. If the facts at hand are where the evidence leads, there is not necessarily any arrogance involved, but rational analysis and conclusion. Instead, it would appear that some people are merely afraid to follow evidence where it leads, and theirs is apparently an emotional reaction to the facts as they currently stand.
And some say that there may be other universes in which alien life-forms could exist. -- However, there is no empirical evidence to indicate that such a speculative notion may actually be true. Thus far, the idea of alternate universes is only an imaginary abstraction without supporting evidence of any plausible reality.
Still others maintain that alien life may have a different chemical basis than life on Earth, ...which we can't rule it out. We must remain open to this possibility. -- However, there has never been a coherent description of what different chemical bases alien life-forms could take, including the required chemical methods for the building of things analogous to proteins, DNA, and energy-storage/processing systems that could all plausibly function together to keep something alive.
Furthermore, Physicist Robert Dicke maintains that if there are other life-forms, they must be based on carbon. --Boron and silicon can form complex molecules, but boron is extremely rare, and silicon can only form a chain of no more than about 100 amino acids, which is most probably too short and simple for a life-form. Thus, we can reasonably say that life must be carbon-based. Therefore, we can discuss the minimum requirements for life, as is done on this website on the page about "Mathematical Proof of Intelligent Design in Nature".
Identity of The Designer
In light of the above considerations, we therefore have strong evidence that our solar system was intentionally designed by the purposeful work of a designer, however, the specific identity of the designer does not seem to be (as yet) apparent from an investigation of only nature. It does not even appear that we can necessarily conclude that the designer is an omnipotent being, since all of the designed things we might consider are finite things, for which a finite designer could be adequate (...however, it would seem that an almost unfathomably powerful and intelligent designer would be necessary, due to the magnitude of the universe, and the complexity of designed things).
---Still, if you will read further in this website, you may agree that there is an excellent body of evidence which indicates that the Bible is a supernaturally produced piece of literature, the true Word of God. ...and the Bible claims to identify the living God (and Jesus Christ) who did the intelligent designing of all things. If you want to read about such evidence concerning the Bible, click on this link: "Prophecy Proves the Bible's Authority."
---Concerning Jesus Christ, the Bible says: "Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made" (John 1:3). Similarly, it says: "For by him allthings were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible" (Colossians 1:16).
A "Waste of Space"?
Some people feel that if Earth is the only planet with intelligent life on it, that this is a "waste of space." --But I disagree.
According to my reading in astronomy, the general age of the universe was needed in order to properly generate and gather all the elements used for living things. And the neighboring stars we needed to produce the necessary elements. --Space was not wasted at all.
And furthermore, the unfathomable immensity and powers of the universe --as well as its beauty-- is a great glory to God. And what's more: The rarity of habitable places is not a bad thing, because it showcases the marvelous designing work of God. --Not a bit of space is wasted at all.
YOU, dear reader are loved by God, and that's why Jesus Christ came!
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Old Earth Articles :
- - (TestingWorldviews.com stance is that the best evidence points to an old earth --and that the Bible teaches this perspective.)