Archive for the ‘aliens’ tag
Since it touches on philosophy and astrophysics, at least to some basic degree, I thought I would write a short review of the new movie, “Knowing,” with Nicolas Cage. First, here’s a brief rundown of the plot:
Cage plays an astrophysics professor who, after losing his wife, seems to have concluded for himself that life is nothing more than a series of random accidents and that there is no structure, rhyme, reason or determinism to life. Even so, this conclusion is clearly troubling for him as he seems to wrestle with it nightly with a liquor bottle in hand. His son, Caleb, becomes the recipient of a time-capsule message left by a student 50 years prior who heard whisperings from a then-unknown source telling her the dates and death tolls of future events. Cage’s character attempts to crack the code, which appears as a series of numbers on a page, and when he does, a fellow colleague thinks the death of his wife has taken him over the deep end and tells Cage to abandon his theory that the note was foretelling future events and leave it alone. Caleb later starts hearing voices too, as does the other child in the story, who is the granddaughter of the girl who wrote the original coded note. Cage, being the crack astrophysicist that he is, discovers that a solar flare will occur at a specified time, thus destroying the earth. In essence, a character who once said life had no ultimate determination seems to reach different conclusions. Things just get zany from there, so without giving away too much, that’s the crux of it.
First, if you see the movie, you’ll likely be most impressed with the special effects. They are remarkable, especially the last couple scenes. The storyline itself is interesting at first, but as the plot goes along, it just gets more and more bizarre. There’s seemingly no attempt by the American government or any other to do anything about the solar flare, to prevent or lessen the damage. (I’m no expert, but that’s assuming something could be done to minimize or lessen the damage from such an event.) Further, the filmmakers could have come up with a more plausible earth-destroying event, perhaps a gamma ray burst or a wayward meteor. We at least have an asteroid headed near our orbit on April 13, 2029. The chances of us taking the last train out of town via a solar flare is next to zilch, at least not any time soon. And that’s probably the biggest hit against this movie:
[SPOILER] It’s as if the producers were clamoring for a way to somewhat happily wrap up the plot and fell back on allowing some mysterious outside “force” taking the two kids up in a space pod to start a new life elsewhere, in a new Garden of Eden, if you will, complete with fields of heather and a tree of life-esque tree at the center.
Thus, if you watch want to check this out for nothing more than to be entertained and for the special effects, it’s probably worth the box office price. But if plausibility is important to you, the movie will likely leave you confounded.
We all search for meaning to life, and if-if we would even have a discovery that there is a habitable planet, let alone life on it-I think it would uplift the human spirit. – astronomer Daniel Goldin, quote from the “Nova” Public Broadcasting Service program
Whether you are atheist, Christian, or whatever, it is astounding that we live in an phantasmal and seemingly infinite universe, yet, we are, at least officially, alone. Let me repeat again: alone in an infinite universe; not one single-celled organism that we know of, anywhere. Picture tumbleweeds and a dried up spacescape of photons, rock and gases.
I often wonder what would happen to the Judeo-Christian tradition if life, even in its most simplest form, was discovered in a body of water on another planet or moon. Scientists think that simple-celled organisms could exist on Mars, as evidenced by this 2005 story published by NASA: http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/mars_life_050216.html
One of NASA’s Mars Exploration Rovers, Opportunity, bolstered the casefor water on Mars when it discovered jarosite and other mineral salts on a rocky outcropping in Merdiani Planum, the intrepid rover’s landing site chosen because scientists believe the area was once covered by salty sea.
Scientists, then, think where there is water, there is life. This presents an interesting picture with regard to opening lines in Genesis, where we find this passage:
1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was[a] on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. 4 And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day. (NIV)
Here, obviously, mention is only made of Earth. In fact, the assumption of the entire Bible, from creation to Revelation, is that the narrative of the Old and New testaments takes place on Earth and only matters on Earth.
So, I ask, what effect might the discovery of life on another planet have on the Judeo-Christian world or other monothiest religions? Would it be catastrophic to the entire belief structure or is the possible existence of life on another planet irrelevant? Would such discoveries fall in line with accepted Biblical thinking about the origin of life and our place in the cosmos?
These are questions in which I don’t have the answer. So, I suppose, just stay tuned and stay informed.