Science Speaks: Earth’s Rarity in the Universe

We interrupt our discussion of human creativity and issues of the wars in Ukraine and in Gaza, courts struggling with an ex-president’s 91 apparent felonies, Climate Change, the Supreme Court of Texas choosing to kill a mother to save a dying fetus, inflation, congressional Republicans supporting Putin over Ukrainian democracy, threats from China to invade Taiwan, the diminution of Democracy in America and many places, the rise of authoritarianism….to bring you some Real News from the Cosmos itself.

A Sky View of Earth from NASA/NOAA Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership spacecraft. NASA/Goddard on Flickr.

It is this: The Earth is rare.  It is special.  And of course, it is endangered.

Will Homo sapiens join all its fellow hominids and go extinct?  OR will it wake up to the wonder and gift and sacredness that our Earth is? 

AND, God has visited our planet regularly—Christmas is just one unvarnished reminder of that. Divinity dwells here without ceasing, as in the rest of the cosmos. 

Let us put our other preoccupations aside for a short intermission and listen to what science is learning.  In a recent article entitled “Exoplanet discoveries reveal Earth’s profound rarity in the cosmos”*, Brazilian physicist Marcelo Gleiser writes:  

The more we learn about other worlds and planetary systems out in our galaxy, the more remarkable our planet becomes.  Out of the vast number of discovered exoplanets, few are comparable to Earth.

HD-189733b, one of the exoplanets nearest to Earth, is totally inhospitable. “The planet’s atmosphere is scorching with a temperature of over 1000 degrees Celsius, and it rains glass, sideways, in howling 7000 km/h winds.” NASA Goddard on Wikimedia Commons.

Astronomers have discovered more than 5,000 confirmed exoplanets—very few of which resemble Earth. 

A new field of astronomy called “comparative planetology” has examined 5,557 confirmed exoplanets and another 10,000 candidates are waiting in line for their turn to be examined.  “The main goal is to compare them to Earth and other planets in our Solar System.”  Only about 3% of stars are yellow dwarfs like our Sun. 

The diversity of exoplanetary systems is absolutely staggering.  There is no obvious or common type of planetary system….Those resembling our Earth…seem to be quite rare.  

To discover an exoplanet is a “delicate and spectacular” discovery, “much harder than finding a flea in front of a floodlight.”  

To be continued

*Marcelo Gleiser, “Exoplanet discoveries reveal Earth’s profound rarity in the cosmos.”

See Matthew Fox, “Blessings of the Flesh: Universe Flesh, Earth Flesh, Human Flesh,” in Fox, Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul & Society, pp, 21-104.

And Fox, Original Blessing: A Primer in Creation Spirituality

And Fox, The Coming of the Cosmic Christ: The Healing of Mother Earth and the Birth of a Global Renaissance

And Fox and Bishop Marc Andrus, Stations of the Cosmic Christ

Banner Image: The star-studded center of the Milky Way. NASA/Goddard on Flickr.

Queries for Contemplation

How does the thinking of physicist Marcelo Gleiser inspire and deepen your understanding of human existence, of the mystery of the universe that is our home, of the original blessing that existence is?

Recommended Reading

Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society

Visionary theologian and best-selling author Matthew Fox offers a new theology of evil that fundamentally changes the traditional perception of good and evil and points the way to a more enlightened treatment of ourselves, one another, and all of nature. In comparing the Eastern tradition of the 7 chakras to the Western tradition of the 7 capital sins, Fox allows us to think creatively about our capacity for personal and institutional evil and what we can do about them. 
“A scholarly masterpiece embodying a better vision and depth of perception far beyond the grasp of any one single science.  A breath-taking analysis.” — Diarmuid O’Murchu, author of Quantum Theology: Spiritual Implications of the New Physics

Original Blessing: A Primer in Creation Spirituality

Matthew Fox lays out a whole new direction for Christianity—a direction that is in fact very ancient and very grounded in Jewish thinking (the fact that Jesus was a Jew is often neglected by Christian theology): the Four Paths of Creation Spirituality, the Vias Positiva, Negativa, Creativa and Transformativa in an extended and deeply developed way.
Original Blessing makes available to the Christian world and to the human community a radical cure for all dark and derogatory views of the natural world wherever these may have originated.” –Thomas Berry, author, The Dream of the Earth; The Great Work; co-author, The Universe Story

The Coming of the Cosmic Christ: The Healing of Mother Earth and the Birth of a Global Renaissance

In what may be considered the most comprehensive outline of the Christian paradigm shift of our Age, Matthew Fox eloquently foreshadows the manner in which the spirit of Christ resurrects in terms of the return to an earth-based mysticism, the expression of creativity, mystical sexuality, the respect due the young, the rebirth of effective forms of worship—all of these mirroring the ongoing blessings of Mother Earth and the recovery of Eros, the feminine aspect of the Divine.
“The eighth wonder of the world…convincing proof that our Western religious tradition does indeed have the depth of imagination to reinvent its faith.” — Brian Swimme, author of The Universe Story and Journey of the Universe.

Stations of the Cosmic Christ
By Matthew Fox and Bishop Marc Andrus.

This is a book of meditations on the Cosmic Christ, accompanying the images of 16 wonderful clay tablets by Javier Ullrrich Lemus and M.C. Richards. Together, these images and meditations go far beyond the traditional Stations of the Cross to inspire a spirit awakening and understanding of the cosmic Christ Consciousness, Buddha consciousness, and consciousness of the image of God in all beings, so needed in our times.
“A divinely inspired book that must be read by every human being devoted to spiritual and global survival. It is cosmically brilliant.” — Caroline Myss, author of Anatomy of the Spirit

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3 thoughts on “Science Speaks: Earth’s Rarity in the Universe”

  1. Avatar
    Altari Sunra Peterson

    Does anyone else see the peace dove in the cloud formation of the NASA picture? Let there be peace on earth…for this is to be.

  2. Avatar

    The knowledge that Earth and the life of Humanity is rare in the universe is ‘mind blowing’! Yet knowing that Humanity is potentially in danger of extinction because of our man caused ongoing pollution to our Sacred Mother Earth and its graceful abundance essential to our continued survival along with other living species should be more than alarming to All of Us!!!
    With the Grace of our Loving Living Source~Creator’s Presence within and among Us in Our Sacred eternal multidimensional-multiverse Cosmos, We will be able to save our Beautiful Sacred Mother Earth and Sacred Humanity….

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