Science Calls Earth “A Rare Gem in a Universe Very Hostile to Life”

Physicist Marcelo Gleiser reminds us that science is asking this question: “Are we alone in the Universe?” 

And: We live in this very special time when we can actually begin to answer this question. And it all points to our planet being a rare gem in a Universe that is very hostile to life.*

An animation explaining how, and where, the first unicellular life may have emerged, in spite of the extremely hostile conditions of early Earth. Video by TED-Ed.

Knowing the laws of physics and chemistry (Rupert Sheldrake prefers to call them “habits,”), “there should be other worlds with life …. But life is not so simple as large numbers.” Physicists and biologists don’t look at reality in the same way, biologists know “only too well that life is enormously complex.” It has taken Earth “many truly mind-boggling steps to go from non-life to the first living creatures, and then on to complex unicellular life and multicellular creatures.”

Unicellular algae chlorella. For more than half of our planet’s 4 billion year history, the only life forms were unicellular. Photo by Andrei Savitsky. Wikimedia Commons.

Life changes its host planet in dramatic ways. “The planet provides the basic support for life to be possible and life acts back on the planet and changes it.” The Earth is very different today than it was 3 billion years ago when only single-celled organisms peopled it. Those organisms dramatically increased the oxygen levels in the atmosphere, and made life as we know it possible—human life included.

We can talk about a “survival equation: Bad water + bad air = sick life.” That is what humans are currently doing to the Earth. We have “permanently scarred Earth” and are rendering life sick. 

ScienceCasts explains recent innovations in monitoring the health of our “Blue Marble” from the Deep Space Climate Observatory. Video by ScienceAtNASA.

Can this news from science move us to rethink how we relate to one another, the Earth and all Earth creatures?

It is the question in which we must hold all our preoccupations with wars in Ukraine and Gaza; courts struggling with an ex-president’s felonies; climate change; the Supreme Court’s supreme perfidy; inflation; misogyny in Texas and beyond; China wanting to invade Taiwan; the diminution of Democracy; the rise of authoritarianism the world over.

It resets Advent, Hanukkah, Christmas—and all human concerns–in a larger and more cosmic setting.   


* 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.

See also Fox, Christian Mystics, pp. 218, 234.

And Fox, Original Blessing: A Primer in Creation Spirituality.

And Fox, The Coming of the Cosmic Christ: 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.

To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.

Banner Image: Our “little blue marble” teeming with organic life, as viewed from an even smaller gray rock with no organic life. Photo taken by the Apollo 11 astronauts for the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Wikimedia Commons. 



Queries for Contemplation

How does it feel to hear a scientist speak of Earth as a “rare gem in a universe very hostile to life”? How does that affect your understanding of Christmas and of Advent, a time of anticipation and preparation?


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

Christian Mystics: 365 Readings & Meditations

As Matthew Fox notes, when an aging Albert Einstein was asked if he had any regrets, he replied, “I wish I had read more of the mystics earlier in my life.” The 365 writings in Christian Mystics represent a wide-ranging sampling of these readings for modern-day seekers of all faiths — or no faith. The visionaries quoted range from Julian of Norwich to Martin Luther King, Jr., from Thomas Merton to Dorothee Soelle and Thomas Berry.
“Our world is in crisis, and we need road maps that can ground us in wisdom, inspire us to action, and help us gather our talents in service of compassion and justice.  This revolutionary book does just that.  Matthew Fox takes some of the most profound spiritual teachings of the West and translates them into practical daily mediations.  Study and practice these teachings.  Take what’s in this book and teach it to the youth because the new generation cannot afford to suffer the spirit and ethical illiteracy of the past.” — Adam Bucko, spiritual activist and co-founder of the Reciprocity Foundation for Homeless Youth.

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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6 thoughts on “Science Calls Earth “A Rare Gem in a Universe Very Hostile to Life””

  1. Avatar

    The video on the first unicell, expanded my perception of all being… coming from the origin of ONE… unfolding, evolving and emerging into the complexity of the many.

    The feeling that arises when I hear the words, “Earth is a rare gem, in a universe hostile to life”, is that of immense gratitude, awe, wonder and reverence for the mystery, beauty and sacredness of this incomprehensible MIRACLE. I prayerfully bow down in HUMILITY… to be a part of such a precious gift and Her many blessings offered.

  2. Avatar

    Today’s DM and videos do indeed remind me that Our Earth and All Life in Our evolving COSMOS, including our own unique lives/Eternal Souls, are very Sacred, precious, and mysterious!!!
    With the Grace of Our Beloved SOURCE~ESSENCE~CREATOR, We are All Unique Conscious PARTS~SPARKS of this LOVING DIVERSE EVOLVING ETERNAL ONENESS ~ COSMIC CHRIST CONSCIOUSNESS ….

  3. Avatar

    Mystery is a human concept. The Way, The Truth and The Life is a universal experience of interdependence. Life is evolving in its complexity towards the reason Divinity visited us. “I have come that you may have Life in its fullness”. This has an intuitive sensible conclusion and Omega point for all matter. The injustice of only one blue planet is our inheritance of the Sin or injustice, of the world. “In My Father’s House there are many Mansions (Blue planets) I Am going to prepare the Way”. Our participation in the knowledge we can get some good for ourselves and institutions out of injustice, or evil acts, is Global, if not Cosmic. The signs are self importance from Hydrogen to the lowly individual. The second gives us power over others as demonstrated in all wars. The third is the accumulation of wealth in land, property and money. These three injustices are observable and contrary to the interdependence of all matter in an equal and equitable Way.

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