Life Here On Earth

Thursday 23rd February

It seems that life is not only abundant but omnipresent on this, the only planet we really know.  Life is everywhere, in the deepest ocean trenches, in subterranean caves, in the bleakest deserts, in the coldest climates – it is everywhere.  Which leads me to question what exactly is life.  And also, why this planet, amongst the billions there must be in the Universe?  Chemical reactions are basically the exchange of electrons from one atom to combine with electrons from a different atom. Life itself appears to have stemmed from more and more complicated chemical reactions in what is known quaintly as ‘the primordial soup’ of a warm planet with lots of water.  But why do electrons combine so readily with electrons of other atoms?  Is there indeed some force, some unwritten law of the Universe that atoms will exchange electrons and go on to form more and more complex molecules which, maybe under the right circumstances, generate self-fulfilling chemical machines, autonomous and eventually life itself.  This is so remarkable that it is easy to see why the idea of the Creator was established, and maybe this very force, the ‘life’ force may be evidence of some creative force in the Universe itself, though whether it is intelligent or following a design is questionable.

But let us come down to Earth for a minute.  This earth has lots of water, lots of oxygen, lots of carbon, an atmosphere and all the other things which scientists insist are not only essential for life, but just about perfect on our planet and absent on the vast majority of others.  But not all; astronomers are discovering similar planets to ours out there in the vast Cosmos.  But more fundamentally maybe this ‘life’ force, this tendency for atoms to exchange electrons and produce complicated molecules is not confined to Earth.  Indeed it would be incredible if it were.  And maybe complex chemical reactions are happening on quite different planets all over the Universe creating quite different ‘life’ than anything we have discovered on our planet.  When one looks at the incredible diversity here on Earth it seems quite likely to me that life does exist all over the Universe, but maybe in completely different forms than we would begin to recognize.  Also the distances are so vast that we may never find out, or just as likely, they may never find us.