Life On Other Planets According to The Bible
Human beings have always asked the question: Do plants, animal life, or even sophisticated cultures exist on other planets? What does the Torah say on this issue?
This question was in full public eye during the 1950’s and 1960’s, when the first manned spacecraft were about to be launched.
In 1960, the astronomer Dr. Frank Drake took the first practical steps to finding an answer by scanning the skies in search of radio signals from alien cultures. In 1961, he published the “Drake Equation” – a statistical formula that sought to estimate the number of advanced civilizations in the universe. The calculations took into account a number of factors, such the estimated rate of stars’ development, the number of planets that might have suitable conditions for life, the estimated period of existence of advanced civilizations. Dr. Drake postulated that in our galaxy alone, there are some 10,000 civilizations in addition to our own. It is interesting to note that since Drake’s first estimate, subsequent astronomers have raised this estimate significantly.
What does the Torah say on this issue?
During the preparations for the first manned flights into space, modern-day Torah Sages were asked the question: What does the Torah tell us about the possibility of sentient life existing elsewhere in the universe? Their answer was usually along these lines: We do not know of any specifically negative answer in the Torah, so that essentially, there is no contradiction between the opinions of those who claim that such civilizations exist and any basic tenet of Jewish belief. Still, the overall spirit of the Torah implies that there is no life elsewhere in the universe, other than that which exists here on Earth.
Before man landed on the moon and investigated it, astronomers argued vehemently about the possibility of life existing there. In his book, “Heavenly Hosts”,(1) the astronomer, Dr. N. Vidal notes with amazement that the great Sage and Kabbalist, Rabbi Mordechai Sharabi, was asked about the possibility of finding life on the Moon. The elderly Rabbi replied with a quotation from the preface to the Tikkunei Zohar,(2) in the section entitled Patach Eliyahu:
“And You [God] created heaven and earth… and on earth there are trees and grasses… and birds, fish, domestic animals, wild beasts and human beings.”
“In view of this statement,” continued the Rabbi, “it is highly unlikely that there is life on the moon, for it states explicitly that: ‘on the earth, there are trees and grasses, birds and fish, domestic animals, wild beasts and human beings.’ This implies
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