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BBC Radio 4:Rev Professor David Wilkinson - 05/02/2018

Good morning. This weekend’s announcement of the discovery of planets in a galaxy beyond our own Milky Way is not only an extraordinary illustration of the power of science, but also strengthens for many the conviction that we are not alone in the universe. Astrophysicists at the University of Oklahoma, using a technique called gravitational microlensing, have claimed the existence of planets in a galaxy 3.8 billion light years away. Microlensing occurs when the gravitational field of a planet bends the path of light. Thus light from distant objects can be affected by planets in the foreground in a way that reveals their presence. The discovery of planets in another galaxy, alongside the three and half thousand seen so far in our own Galaxy, confirms the growing belief that planets are ubiquitous in the universe. And in a universe which has 100 billion stars in each of a 100 billion galaxies, then some argue there must be planets similar to the Earth which support intelligent life. As a scientist I remain open but cautious about such claims. The right planet even with organic molecules does not guarantee intelligent life. After all it is a long way from an amoeba to an accountant! Nevertheless, it does seem that the time is coming to take seriously what the effect on society might be of evidence for or even contact with alien life. It will certainly highlight the question of what it means to be human. Some argue that such questions will be catastrophic for Christianity, which seems to claim that humans are the centre of the universe. I’m not so sure. Theologian Ted Peters surveyed 1000 people from faith communities of whom 70% said that the discovery of extra-terrestrial intelligence would not be a problem for their faith. Indeed, since the beginning of the church, many Christian theologians have been at the forefront of speculation about other worlds. This was because they believed in a God who was the creator of the whole universe and could create wherever and whenever he wanted. Further, they taught that human beings are special not because they are alone in creation, but because of a special gift of relationship with God which was shown in Jesus. As a Christian, I am far from being fearful about these new discoveries. Rather, I am thankful for the power of science and fascinated at what we might learn about ourselves. For whether in cosmic questions or in everyday life, it is often in the encounter with the other that we see who we truly are. 来自:VOA英语网 文章地址: http://www.tingvoa.com/18/02/BBC-Radio-4-Rev-Professor-David-Wilkinson-05-02-2018.html