Küng on alien life
Review of Küng’s Der Anfang aller Dinge, section D, part 1.
The review of section D of Der Anfang aller Dinge has turned out to be rather longer than planned. Why? Well, because it is such a fascinating chapter, one that really gets to the nitty-gritty questions. I hope you enjoy reading these following posts as much as I have writing them. Without a further ado ...
Section D. Life in the cosmos?
In section D and E, Küng turns to address that hotly debated question: If the shape of the cosmos and life itself can be explained with the laws of natural cause and effect, is there room for a special intervention of God in this process? In this section, Küng specifically asks: If God did intervene, did it happen when life first appeared on earth (the question of biogenesis)? In section E, he asks whether any special ‘intervention’ happened with the appearance of Homo sapiens.
1. Since when has there been life?
After dismissing that the Genesis account of creation is to be understood as anything other than a symbolic story, Küng, as the initial step in his argument, asks: ‘What is life’? In concluding, along with the modern scientific consensus, that life is characterised by three things (reproduction, mutation and metabolism), he proceeds to ask the fascinating question: ‘Where is there life?’
Directly asked: ‘Is there alien life’? Though this is somewhat of a digression from the subheading of the section, Küng spends a number of pages detailing the initially positive estimates for extraterrestrial life, but notes that the search for alien life produced by such optimism returned exactly no concrete evidence. This leads him to suggests that perhaps we are in fact all alone in the universe. Indeed, observation of the known universe hasn’t, as yet, lent itself to the notion that there are life-friendly places for life to evolve; the universe outside of our solar system appears rather unsuited to support any reproduction, mutation or metabolism. Nevertheless, he is clear that ‘One can, of course, certainly not forever excluded the notion of extraterrestrial life’ (cf. p. 153), and theology has nothing to fear were it found - even if E.T. were to finally be discovered ‘moonying’ us from planet Zob.