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Part-7:-The-Goldilocks-Enigma

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on December 6, 2008 at 9:57:07 pm
 

One of the reoccuring themes in the plurality debate is the Goldilocks Enigma.  The Goldilocks Enigma is based on scientific observations showing that if the universe or the planet Earth were any diffirent it would have profound effects on the possibility for the formation of life.  It is commonly known as the Goldilocks Enigma because our place in the universe is "just right" similar to the porridge that Goldilocks ate in the fairy tale.  Many authors such as William Whewell and Alfred Russel Wallace, and Stephen Webb have written about how unique our place in the universe must be and have all argued, more or less, that it shows how special life is and that we are most likely alone.  The Goldilocks Enigma is primarily used as a way to check pluralistic enthusiasim by putting scientific and astronomical findings in the context of the formation of life.

 

The first example of the belief that Earth was unique came from Aristotle about three hundred years before the common era.  He argued that the universe rotated around the Earth wich was made out of a different material than the rest of the universe.  His universe was very finite and stopped at the end of the solar system.  Aristotle believed that all matter was drawn to the center of the universe and, because matter had a natural tendency to fall towards Earth, we must be at that center. The importance that he placed on Earth and the fact that the claimed that a diety moved the universe made Aritotle very popular with many philosphers and the Christian Church untill his theories were pushed aside by Copernicus in the sixteenth century.  Even though his ideas seem completely unfounded now, Aristotle had a profound affect on the way people thought about the universe for a little over a thousand years.

 

In the mid nineteenth century William Whewell revived the idea that the Earth was special.  He began by arguing agains the trend of witters who kept asking why should the Earth be different from other planets by truning the question around asking why shouldn't the Earth be special.  He believed that it shouldn't be surprising that one planet would be different from the rest and he saw no reason why that planet couldn't be Earth due to the fact that it has life.  He continued by arguing that the Earth was in the "temperate zone"(Whewell Ch. 10) of the solar system.  Whewell argued that the Earth was in just the right spot in the solar system to still enjoy the warmth of the Sun while not being burned by it.  Earth wasn't too cold nor too warm (think of the Goldilocks story).  He also used nature to argue that not every part of existence has to support life and since we have only observed life on Earth it must follow that Earth might be the only life bearing planet.

 

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Cool Website On A Book Review For The Goldilocks Enigma:

http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,20875880-5003900,00.html

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