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Final Essay Conclusion

Page history last edited by Nichole Duncan 15 years, 7 months ago



      The question, "Are we alone in the universe?" has been around since ancient times. Despite the fact that we have made huge leaps with technological advancements and refining scientific knowledge about life on Earth, we may not be much closer to finding an answer than our ancestors, who pondered the same question using only their eyes and their imaginations.

     Many plausible arguments exist for and against plurality, including the principle of plenitude, the Oparin-Halden theory and the Fermi paradox, but neither side can conclude with any undeniable proof that extraterrestrials do or do not exist. Advancements in technology through the development of the telescope, space flight, spectroscope, radio astronomy and so forth, have helped us to gain more knowledge on the topic.


      Even though the aperture size of telescope increased, thanks to the contributions of pioneers like Percival Lowell, the argument for the canals on Mars was not dissuaded until observations were made outside of Earth's hemisphere. Astrophysics has told scientists what other stars and planets are made of and their ability to support life, but still cannot tell us whether life exists there. Space crafts and probes have allowed us to put man, and cameras, into space and on the moon, but limitations on actual space travel due to time restraints, cost, and the vast amount of space between planets prevents us from traveling even to Mars. With these limitations, it is impossible to visit other planets to try to discover life, hindering the progress of such a search. It could be many,many years before anything significant might be found but we may not know how to test it.


     On Earth, the tenets of natural law and application of scientific testing through falsifiability are inherent truths to understanding. This methodological application through empirical science with the assumption of natural law may be flawed in its application to the search for extraterrestrial life, because life as we know it may not exist elsewhere and the same laws may not apply there as well. Therefore, science may not be the most effective way to solve the question of extraterrestrial life, since it has yet to come to any full conclusions about the problem. Science seems to have just futhered the debate by a little but not by much. Furthermore, religion does not solve the problem with concrete evidence because it deals with the supernatural which cannot be empirically tested. Religion relies on full faith in a deity/intelligent creator and revolutionary experiences that cannot be empirically tested.


     SETI is the most dedicated search right now for discovering advanced life and spends massive amounts of money on this task. However, their search is limited to those life forms that could send out a signal that could reach Earth. SETI, however, is useless in detecting the possible existence of non-intelligent extraterrestrial life. There might possibly be life that exists on another planet but is not what we consider intelligent. In truth, if we want to discover any form of extraterrestrial life except highly intelligent and communicative beings, we as a race need to expand our physical horizon and actually examine planets with landers or even astronauts. With the combined effort of the SETI program and advances in space travel, we might be able to have a better advantage in finding life in the universe if it does indeed exist.


     Conversely, attempts to prove that extraterrestrials do not exist have done very little, if anything to prove their theory. Whewell and Wallace made scientific arguments against plurality but they were not successful in their efforts either. They both presented logical reasons that make the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence less likely, but the search continues. In the future, there are sure to be more arguments both for and against these arguments. With further advances in technology and knowledge, scientists hope to find a more definitive answer in the future. Currently, however, the answers to the extraterrestrial debate represent science at its limits, and may possibly continue to do so indefinitely.


    New ideas about the origin of life were thought to help provide answers to the question of plurality. No matter how the argument was made—design, chance or scaffolding—they still cannot answer the question of our life so there is no way to apply it to extraterrestrial life. The origin of life debate is one that uses scientific experiments and studies to test, just like the search for extraterrestrial life. However, neither of these issues have been solved, showing that science may not be the solution to our question. Due to the large size of our universe and near-infinite amount of time it has and will exist, there will always be the possibility of another "intelligent" life form evolving. Until we find it, or come up with proof that it simply cannot exist, however, we will not be able to put to rest the debate on the existence of extraterrestrial life, because the debate is not falsifiable.




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Comments (1)

Peter Ramberg said

at 10:40 am on Dec 7, 2008

This looks like a very good start on the conclusion. Remember to draw specifically from examples in the previous sections to strengthen your conclusion, for example, the "advances in technology" argument in the first paragraph. What examples were discussed earlier to support this conclusion? (i.e. this example shows us that ...")

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