I do not expect you to agree with this. I do not expect you to condone it. I only expect you to do the maths. And, after that, I hope you understand it and, perhaps, even consider it yourself.
Now, about the maths…
There at least two-hundred and fifty billion stars in the Milky Way. The Milky Way is just one galaxy in around a hundred billion known or visible galaxies across all of space. If we took this as the number of stars in space and converted it to seconds in time, then this number of stars would add up to nearly eight-hundred thousand years.
In other words, if you counted these stars at a rate of one per second and never did anything else, it would still take you eight-hundred thousand years to count them. This about four times the length of time that humanity on planet Earth has been considered to be “civilized”.
We are small and insignificant in the face of this cosmic scale.
Ignoring the possibility of non-carbon-based life, carbon-based life needs to live within the Goldilocks Zone of a universe. This means that life needs a planet of sufficient size and with water and oxygen that has a stable rotation neither too far nor too close to a star. This makes it plentiful in the building blocks of life and neither too hot nor too cold for life to form.
If space has a hundred-billion multiplied by two-hundred-and-fifty-billion stars out there, then statistically some of these will have planets orbiting them within this Goldilocks Zone. Even if one in a billion of these stars has such a planet–this is 0.0000001% of these stars–then there would be literally billions of them out there.
Let us assume, once again, that only one in a billion–once again, 0.0000001%–of these planets in these infinitesimal rare Goldilocks Zones has actually evolved complex life. That would mean that there are over twenty-five thousand possible planets where complex life has actually evolved.
The Milky Way in which we reside is one of the older galaxies–but far from the oldest–so let’s assume that three-quarters of these planets that host life are younger than us. Thus, their lifeforms would probably be less evolved than us (or, potentially, still building up to creating life sometime in the future). Hence, we will ignore them as sentient, conscious beings for our purposes (though, they may well be so in the future). Hence, that would still leave over six thousand older planets that potentially hold life that is equally or more evolved than our life on Earth.
Do not forget that over long periods of time, the risks of extinction rise. It may be self-inflicted from weapons or wars, naturally driven by viruses, seismic events or weather patterns, or cosmically created by asteroids or other things hitting the planet before life has evolved technology to survive the said disaster. The point is, a large number of these older, life-holding planets would have seen extinctions that either would have reset their evolutionary clocks behind ours or completely wiped life out on these planets.
Let us assume that 99% of these older planets have had some such event–and that their life could not save itself from said mass extinction. Thus, these planets no longer factor into our calculation as these planets are now barren rocks floating out in space.
That still leaves just shy of a hundred planets were life has not just survived, but thrived. And, in so doing, is probably thousands to billions of years more evolved than we are on planet Earth floating our the Sun in the Milky Way. If you consider that planet Earth hosts a couple million life forms–almost nine million, per our last estimate–how many life forms would these rare, surviving and succeeding parent-planets hold? Perhaps approaching a billion collective types, shapes and forms of life with, at least one per planet, being more evolved and technologically advanced than we currently are.
Hence, cosmic maths dictates that it is not if alien life exists. With near certainty (per our maths above, we have given it less than one percent of a quarter chance in a billion-billionth of a percent, yet even that gives us plenty of alien life!), alien life does exist. The only variable is how much alien life exists. And, there is probably quite a lot of it too.
We are small and insignificant in the face of this cosmic scale. We are not unique in being life–or alive–and we are not unique in being conscious and having a degree of power over our destinies. We are also not unique in constantly being at threat of extinction and, statistically, we are unlikely to survive.
But why would all this life exist? Why would it matter?
Perhaps the answer–once you strip out our typically human-centric view of things–is one of statistical odds.
If “God” exists, he would not be fighting some arch-enemy that is the root of evil. Evil is a human and moral invention. Cosmically, the two differentiating things that do exist is organic matter–life!–and inorganic matter, or everything else. Rather, this God would be fighting on the side of life against its very extinction in a harsh and hostile space where life–however rare–is also fragile and statistically doomed.
If this God was making a divine gamble that life–in whatever shape or form–would survive, the best way to do this would be to diversify its shape, form, placings and sensitivities. In other words, this God would cast the dice against the inhuman, inorganic universe with only two variables in his favour: diversification and adaption.
Make lots of life. Make life of all different types. And make life spread out all over the place. This increases the odds that at least some life survives.
In other words, humans would be little more than a venture capital investment on God’s portfolio of life as he tried to protect against complete bankruptcy in the harsh, risky space and time of reality.
From thermo-nuclear super novas wiping galaxies or black holes sucking everything in, from radiation or vacuums, from viruses to changing weather patterns, from the randomness of mating and DNA to the precision of evolution over long periods of time… We are minute data points in the most incredible series of numbers amidst the most magical of experiments in the largest of all portfolios that reach scales and quantum that our mortal minds cannot fathom.
And yet we worry about what clothing we should wear? We worry if people like us or if we are getting older? We are concerned about how many likes we get on Facebook or what our neighbours are doing? We spend time wondering what to eat, to watch on TV and to say to fill the silence, but we never look or around at the cosmos or space and time. We count our bank balances and Uber rides, not the stars in the sky nor the galaxies that hold them. We judge when mere minutes go by in a queue but we barely glance at the math of space and time, nor where or how we have arrived at where we have arrived, nor even where we are going.
We are small and insignificant in the face of this cosmic scale. We are not unique in being alive and we are not unique in being conscious and having a degree of power over our destinies. We are also not unique in constantly being at threat of extinction, but we are petty in our immediate wants, desires, thoughts and actions. Our myopic consciousnesses fold in on themselves, hiding this maths from us either out of selfishness or to protect our fragile egos from its comprehension.
But is such a comprehension of this scale so terrifying? Is it so terrible that we are small data points in a grandest of statistics? Or, could this comprehension not be liberating?
We are small and insignificant, but therein lies our beauty. We can each follow our hearts and our dreams with little cosmic consequence. We need not worry about mundane things, as they really do not matter. We can carve our own meanings in this cosmic maths and find our own ways to weigh this grand scale across our lives. We need not feel guilty for going in any direction for life is both so plentiful and so scarce that we are both insignificant and a miracle. All at once.
Is it not liberating to comprehend this?
I do not expect you to understand this. I do not expect you to condone or agree with it. I only expect you to do the maths and realize the same thing I have realized: against all odds, I am alive and, against all cosmic scale, I still matter to myself. Beyond that, you are free. This appreciation is the suicide of our myopic human-centric consciousness and the birth of a beautiful, cosmically-scaled mind.
And, so, in the spirit of this planet-locked suicide, I invite you upon one of our colony starships. Earth is a few short generations from dying as is most of our solar system. Leaving our planet may be risky, but staying is riskier. Colonizing space may be risky, but not trying is riskier. Humans will likely be extinct soon, but life is plentiful out there. It will take thousands of years for us to reach the nearest galaxies, but our colony starships are self-sustaining and cryogenic stasis is now a reality. We can reach the furthest flung parts of deep space, eventually, and all the wonders that it brings with it.
All you have to do is buy a ticket. Buy a chance. Against all odds, you are alive and you still matter to us. So, do the math, and buy a ticket.
Colony Recruitment Agency