During Medieval times most Christian theologians accepted the Ptolemaic earth centered Greek view of the universe as an absolute universal truth. Some Christians still think that humans must be at the literal center of God's creation. Thus they believe that the rarity of life in our universe proves that God must have created life on this planet.
The Bible and the Qur'an however teach that the Living God created the whole universe to be conducive to the universal evolution of life.
The Zabur of David says, "Your kingdom is a kingdom of all worlds; and Your dominion is for all generations." (Zabur-Psalms 145:13)
And the Qur'an says, "We have not sent you but as a blessing for all the worlds." (Al-Anbiya 107). Muslim commentators say this refers to the 18,000 worlds created by Allah. Our world is one of them. (Mir'at-e-Kainat, vol.1, p.77) Two recent studies support this Biblical and Qur'anic view.
One study in the journal Nature found that organic compounds of unexpected complexity exist throughout interstellar space the region between stars. Thus, complex organic compounds are not only a product of simple molecules formed on a planet. They can be made naturally by stars. So life is not a random fluke; the universe itself is formed to create life.
Organic substances commonly found throughout the Universe contain a mixture of ring-like and chain-like components. The compounds are so complex that their chemical structures resemble those of coal and petroleum. Since coal and oil are remnants of ancient life, this type of organic matter was thought to arise only from living organisms. The team's discovery suggests that complex organic compounds can be synthesized in space even when no life forms have yet evolved.
Not only are stars producing this complex organic matter, they are also ejecting it into general interstellar space. The work supports an earlier idea that old stars are molecular factories capable of manufacturing organic compounds.
Most interestingly, this organic star dust is similar in structure to complex organic compounds found in comets. Since comets are remnants of the early Solar System, the findings raise the possibility that stars enriched the early Solar System with organic compounds. The early Earth was subjected to severe bombardments by comets and asteroids, which would have carried organic star dust to planet earth.
Another study published in Astrophysical Journal found that methanol formation is the major chemical pathway to complex organic molecules in interstellar space, If scientists can identify regions where conditions are right for rich methanol production, they will be better able to understand where and how the complex organic molecules needed to create life on planets are formed.
Scientists discovered that methanol is most abundant around a very small number of newly formed stars. But most young stars do not reach such potential for organic chemistry.
In fact, the range in methanol concentration varies from very small amounts in some regions of the interstellar space to approximately 30% of the ices around a handful of newly formed stars. They also discovered methanol for the first time in low concentrations (1 to 2%) in the cold clouds that will eventually give birth to new stars.
If life only forms on planets with stars that have high concentrations of methanol, life would be very rare in our universe.
But when scientists compared their results with methanol concentrations in comets in our own solar system they found that methanol concentrations at the birth of our solar system were actually closer to the average of what they saw elsewhere in interstellar space.
"This means that our solar system wasn't particularly lucky and didn't have the large amounts of methanol that we see around some other stars in the galaxy," one researcher said.
I say that random luck has nothing to do with it.
I do not believe that the evolution of life is solely due to luck because I am a Reform Rabbi and a Muslim Jew. Actually I am a Muslim Jew i.e. a faithful Jew submitting to the will of God, because I am a Reform Rabbi.
As a Rabbi I am faithful to the covenant that God made with Abraham - the first Muslim Jew, and I submit to the commandments that God made with the people of Israel at Mount Sinai.
As a Reform Rabbi I believe that Jewish spiritual leaders should modify Jewish tradition as social and historical circumstances change and develop.
I also believe we should not make religion difficult for people to practice. These are lessons that prophet Muhammad taught 12 centuries before the rise of Reform Judaism in the early 19th century.
Reform Jews are the largest of the Jewish denominations in the U.S. In the U.K..Reform Judaism is called Liberal Judaism.
As a Reform Rabbi and a Muslim Jew I would say to all scientists that random luck has nothing to do with the evolution of life on this or any other planet. More and more evidence is accumulating that nature is not random. Nature has been formed by the laws of physics to create life.
Thus this rabbi says that more and more evidence is accumulating that nature has itself been formed to create life: "The heavens declare the glory of God. The universe proclaims God's handiwork." (Zabur of David-Psalms 19:2)
New discoveries will always change the scientific understanding of God's universe; but the religious belief that the whole universe exalts God and reveals God's glory will always remain the same. Or as the great poet Jalal al-Din al-Rumi taught, "Ritual prayer can be different in every religion, but belief never changes." (Fihi Mafih)
Rabbi Allen S. Maller retired after serving for 39 years as Rabbi of Temple Akiba in Culver City, California. His web site is rabbimaller.com.
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