Question for Atheists

What do atheists here make of the “Rare Earth hypothesis”?

Do you mean the ideas presented in the book by that name (Ward and Brownlee)?


I’m not an atheist, but I find the subject very interesting! Rare or common, life in the universe is to be celebrated.


From what we have discovered, it seems to be true - only a tiny minority of planets seem to be capable of hosting life.

Ah, thanks. I was wondering what it was :slight_smile:

For the sake of argument, I will accept the assumption that live is indeed rare. I suspect the question is then why did life happen on Earth… why us so to speak, right? If so, check out If you’re just asking my opinion on the matter, then the answer is that it’s probably rare, but even at .01% of planets, there would be billions with life. The universe is big :wink:

Exactly… Define rare.

Also if it is the case, it makes the fine tuning argument completely absurd.

Anyway as we all know stats don’t work that way.

When someone wins the lottery they are amazed, they can’t believe there luck, they may think god must have won them it. However when we look form the sidelines at someone winning the lottery, are we surprised?

Why does it make the fine tuning argument absurd?

Well why would life be so rare in a universe fine tuned for life??? :shrug:

As far as I am aware, we do not have sufficient information to make a judgment on the rarity of life of any form. The rare earth hypothesis is certainly worth exploring, however.

Similar issue I’ve thought about:

If there are many Earth-like planets in the universe, and many planets that have intelligent life, then it seems logical that a good number of them would have developed technologies capable of communicating across space (like we do, at lightspeed). And many of them would have done this, it seems, hundreds of thousands of years ago, if not more.

And yet, we have received no extraterrestrial communication. This doesn’t prove anything, but it does strike me as an argument for the profound rarity of intelligent life.

It would seem that the “burden of proof” falls onto the shoulders of the atheists here, at least for those who wish to say that life is “probably” (whatever that means) not rare.

:confused: Do athesists have some kind of vested interest in life being common in the Universe? Am I missing something?

If so, I wasn’t aware. I don’t see any impact either way. If alien life is common, or even if we are alone, picture looks godless either way.

Maybe an abundance of alien life would increase the likelihood that any God or gods that existed and interacted with the universe left more identifiable evidence of such behind? Or maybe having the universe to our lonely selves would support the idea that man is special in some cosmic way, supporting what seems like religious hubris otherwise?

One interesting impact for Christians who are creationists, or who believe in the physical restructuring of the universe at the time of Adam’s fall, is that if the universe was “recreated” as a result of Adam’s sin, and death and decay were thus established as the new, reigning physical laws of a fallen universe, that would be pretty substantial bummer for any alien civilizations in other parts of the Edenic universe, who were otherwise carrying on their merry, sinless way. All of a sudden, WHAM!, entropy, decay, disease, and parasite wasps laying their eggs in the living bodies of alien caterpillars as living food for the hatched larvae to eat their way out of…

Little do they realize that 10 billion light years away, some “Adam” dude has ruined the whole universe because of his selfish curiosity. Man has fallen, and ruined the universe for all the millions of other life forms out there.

At any rate, I think atheists don’t care one way or another as concerns their atheism. I don’t finder either case forceful or even interesting in that way.


both the abundance and the rarity of life are evidence that God does not exist!

  1. If life is rare it is a freak and must be fortuitous.
  2. If life is common it is inevitable because the environment must be conducive to life.

I see my remarks have been anticipated by Touchstone. It goes to show that they hit the nail on the head! :slight_smile:

I don’t think either case is evidence either way. My point was quite different than you cast it – that it isn’t an interest fact toward the question no matter how it comes out.


“If alien life is common, or even if we are alone, picture looks godless either way” amounts to the same conclusion…

What do you think looks godless about the universe? How would you expect a created universe to look?

Well, I’d expect some sort of interaction we could verify or measure or somehow substantiate in an objective way. It could be that a god created this universe and didn’t care to interact with it, or with the living, sentient creatures in it, but that would then look very much like a godless universe, and would be a godless universe, for all practical purposes.

But a god that interacted with man in a verifiable way would be quite a stark difference from the world we have. As I think I’ve said before here, a real Zeus coming down from the mountain, and demonstrating is plenopotentiary control over the universe (not just throwing those cool lightning bolts around!) in a way that objective observers and instrumentation could test and verify, you’d have a demonstrably Godful universe. We could have fun listing all sorts of various scenarios in which the God of the universe made himself known to rational, critical minds in that universe, and they’d all be quite different from the world we find ourselves in. On another forum we hashed out a scenario where God deigned to reveal himself to man in a real way, and demonstrated his deity and sovereignty by “unlocking” the secrets of DNA, revealing the unimpeachable marks of his “intelligent design” in the front-loading of the genes of all living things. “Showing his math”, so to speak.

But that would be a different world than ours. In this world, the ideas and claims of God’s existence are indistinguishable from claims of a fully imaginary God. If God is real, he does an excellent job of appearing to be imaginary…


So, you have this idea of who and what God “ought” to be, and anything other than what you think ought to be should be regarded as not worth considering?

Christianity teaches us that we must see God through faith, and that God will not give “proof” to us.

As an atheist, you have to realize something: If Christianity is true, and if God is real, there will never be proof that would completely satisfy you.

In other words, if it is true, you will never know it (until it is too late of course :frowning: ).

Here is something I find interesting, from a philosophical point of view:

Living things are so drastically different from non-living things.

You look anywhere in the known universe, and there is absolutely no life. It is empty and void of any life.

I guess life sticks out like a sore thumb in this empty universe on our little blue planet.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit