Father George Coyne, an astronomer and Jesuit priest, Lynn Rothschild, an astrobiologist, offer their unique perspectives on the question and potential of extraterrestrial life.
Is the Earth the only place where life was realized? Is it possible the physical universe offered other potential niches for life?
Father George Coyne
George Coyne is the former director of the Vatican Observatory and the President of the Vatican Observatory Foundation. The Vatican Observatory is one of the oldest astronomical research institutions in the world, and its research group operates the Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope (VATT) at the Mount Graham International Observatory (MGIO) in southeastern Arizona.
It does leading research on current issues in astronomy such as dark matter, dark energy, quasars, and supernovae. Dr. Coyne has published many papers on polarimetric studies of interstellar medium, stars with extended atmospheres, interacting binary star systems that give off sudden bursts of intense energy, and dust about young stars.
The asteroid 14429 Coyne discovered by Shoemaker and Levy is named for him. Dr. Coyne has commented often on the differences between science and theology, for example, opposing intelligent design as defined by many of its supporters. Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion, interviewed Dr. Coyne for Dawkins' television program The Genius of Charles Darwin in the UK.
Lynn Rothschild is an evolutionary biologist-astrobiologist at NASA's Ames Research Center and a consulting professor at Stanford and Brown Universities where she teaches Astrobiology and Space Exploration.
Dr. Rothchild's research has focused on how life, particularly microbes, has evolved in the context of the physical environment on Earth and potentially elsewhere in the solar system and universe. Her work has taken her to the harsh environments in some wild places on Earth. Most recently she has taken to the air in conjunction with the Aeronautics and Astronautics Department at Stanford, flying experiments up to 106,000 feet on high altitude balloons.
Dr. Rothschild has appeared on a number of Naked Science TV programs on the National Geographic Channel and on the Alien Faces episode for The Universe TV program on the History Channel.
Simon P. Worden
Simon P. ("Pete") Worden, Ph.D. (Brig. Gen., USAF, Ret.) is Director of NASA's Ames Research Center (ARC) at Moffett Field, Calif. Before joining NASA, he held several positions in the United States Air Force and was research professor of astronomy at the University of Arizona, Tucson. He is a recognized expert on space issues – both civil and military. Dr. Worden has authored or co-authored more than 150 scientific papers in astrophysics, space sciences, and strategic studies. He served as a scientific co-investigator for two NASA space science missions, and received the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal for the 1994 Clementine mission. He has been named the 2009 Federal Laboratory Consortium Laboratory Director of the Year.
The Catholic faith does not oppose evolution, nor does it see it as a threat to belief in God. This is a common misconception mostly caused by American fundamentalists. So Fr Coynes teachings are nothing "new" Watch Fr Coynes interview with atheist Richard Dawkins on youtube.
The Catholic faith does not oppose evolution, nor does it see it as a threat to belief in God. This is a common misconception mostly caused by American fundamentalists. Watch Fr Coynes interview with atheist Richard Dawkins on youtube.
I don't know if man created god or if god created man. But if we all came from an explosion of matter smaller than a pinhead, tell me where space and that matter came from - because I want to know more about my great great great grandpa pinhead.
As a atheist myself, I could find no fault with Father Coyne and Dr. Rothschild's presentations of the basic and advanced scientific knowledge that we all know and love. We know that our star, the sun, is a third generation star but I had not heard, nor thought of, that it takes a third generation star to have the abundance of the element of carbon to form the life as we know it, which implies that stars of less than three generations will probably not harbor life, which I find plausible, and thus by extension the universe would have to be as old as it is to create the third generations star to form which seems to me to imply that there may not be life that is significantly older than life here on earth.
They go on to say that we don't know all the conditions that life may evolve but life as we know it has certain requirements of elements and within a certain habitable zones in relation to the size and heat of the star, this is, of course, well known. These are facts, regardless of their religious faith.
He is a priest, I don't know if Dr. Rothschild is or not, and sometime injected his beliefe in the supernatural, but it did not seem to me to be in conflict with the scientific facts he was basing his talk about. I found this presentation to be interesting, witty and well presented and thoroughly enjoyed viewing it but I agree with some of the previous comments that it would have been better if we could have seen the slides and other props that the audience was able to see.
Enlightening video. At this time, I dont really hold a critical judgement. But I will say it was different to see a man of the lord speak on the sciences of space and life, and not step on the toes of his faith. Guess we tend to generalize our opinions to either one or the other, but forget to ask ourselves could both live together in sense and untainted point of views of truth?
I agree with you...American religious figures (I am American)most defiantly have their heads up their own asses.
Relating to Jurriaan's statement. Why would your opinion matter? The woman that followed Father Coyne had respect for his scientific principals. Just because he believes in God does not make his scientific contribution any less profound. He is the definition of a scientist. Father Coyne does not let his personal opinions affect his experiments and data. His remarks should be taken very seriously because he IS a scientist. It is not a question as to if science and religion can coexsist, they are two very different ideas. Apples and Oranges.
Originally Posted by Jurriaan
I totally agree,
Moreover I find it hard to take the remarks of Father Coyne seriously. I dont think you could ever take anyone seriously in the scientific field who, in this case from a religious point of view, has some principles which you know are not open for discussion. The existence of a God for example. Never mind if he does or doesn't exist, what his role is or was, what he's made of etc...
Its like saying, however the world works, lets put God into the equation.
I personally dont see how this helps scientific development.
(Fathers remarks about Galileo are saddening considering the history, and his "clever" well God created Hell before the Big Bang for people like you asking these questions not worth the laugh. Im sure he is a very nice man and has a good hart but thats all beside the point)
I am an atheist myself but I will say that Father Coyne is from european religeon, this is different than the dumbed down American brand of religeon. Here in europe, most of the christians are old earthers and evolutionists, it's not a problem to them as they dont take the bible litterally. America has yet to interllectually mature to this point.