Alone in the Cosmos




About Jack Cashill







By Jack Cashill
News Talk 980 KMBZ (Year: 1999)

Courtesy of the Cashill Newsletter - July 30, 1999


he secret of the universe came to me at the mid-point of a bicycle ride on a muggy July afternoon. On my coke break, I started to read the only book I could find that would fit in my saddlebag--"Cosmos" by the late and famed astronomer Carl Sagan. On page 3, Sagan estimates that there are some 10 to the 22nd planets in the cosmos, about a billion trillion. Believing that chance rules the cosmos, he asks what are the odds that the earth alone is inhabited. According to his lights, not good. "To me," says Sagan, "it seems far more likely that the universe is brimming over with life."

But Sagan stops doing his math much too soon. He does not follow the laws of probability to their logical conclusions. Allow me, please, to take up where Sagan leaves off.

If we presume that the odds against sentient life evolving on a given plant are, say, a billion to one, a reasonable presumption, that would still leave a trillion planets "brimming with life." If the odds were upped to a trillion to one--and there is no reason to believe they should be any higher--there would still be a billion such planets.

If chance rules, half of these planets should have beings smarter than we are, but let's stack the deck and presume that only 1/10 of 1% of all such planets do. That still leaves one million planets with highly intelligent life forms, some of whom must be very smart indeed.

Now let me ask the salient question: how is that none of those smart folkson those million odd planets has bothered to contact us? We've surely tried to contact them. Is it a conspiracy? In the sci-fi movies earthlings are often seen as unworthy of alien contact, too primal and bellicose and depraved. If this be true, why then do not these superior beings rescue us the way, say, we rescued the Kosovars? (Oops, bad analogy.) No, the big-brained aliens would know enough to avoid those pitfalls. They would surely help elevate us out of our current misery.

That is, if the universe were, indeed, "brimming with life." The math, however, leads us to an opposite conclusion: that the universe is not brimming with life at all, rather that it was created uniquely for us. I say this with no assurance, but it is the most rational conclusion to which an earthling can come if he follows the rules of chance.

It is also the conclusion that my heart tells me is right.




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