Friday, September 16, 2011

Pre-Victorian Sources on Extraterrestrial Life

"The Lady yielded to their prayer, and said, weeping sorely the while: 'Again and again have I willed to tell you all, but I felt assured your hearts would be wrung with grief by my words, and therefore have I forborne till now; and now is the hour come I may no longer abide with you. No maid of this mortal land am I, but the Capital of Moonland is my birth-place. Long ago it was decreed that I should descend upon this earth, and bide there somewhile; but now is the time at hand when I must go back whence I came, for when yonder orb shall be at its fullest, a company of moonfolk will come down from the sky to bear me away.'" - The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, 10th century Japanese folktale

"Alexander wept when he heard from Anaxarchus that there was an infinite number of worlds; and his friends asking him if any accident had befallen him, he returns this answer: 'Do you not think it a matter worthy of lamentation that when there is such a vast multitude of them, we have not yet conquered one?'" - Plutarch

"And men have been formed and all the other animals that have life; and the men have settled cities and cultivated fields as with us, and sun and moon and the rest as with us; and the earth grows all sorts of produce for them, the most useful of which they gather into their houses and use. This is my account of the separating off, that it must have taken place not only where we live, but elsewhere also." - Anaxagoras, referring to other worlds

"There are innumerable worlds of different sizes. In some there is neither sun nor moon, in others they are larger than in ours and others have more than one. These worlds are at irregular distances, more in one direction and less in another, and some are flourishing, others declining. Here they come into being, there they die, and they are destroyed by collision with one another. Some of the worlds have no animal or vegetable life nor any water." - Democritus

"...there are infinite worlds both like and unlike this world of ours. For the atoms being infinite in number...are borne far out into space. For those atoms.. have not been used up either on one worlds or on a limited number of worlds, nor on all the worlds which are alike, or on those which are different from these. So that there nowhere exists an obstacle to the infinite number of worlds." "we must believe that in all worlds there are living creatures and plants and other things we see in this world.." - Epicurus

"Rabbi Chasdai Crescas (14th century) writes that nothing in the Torah outlook precludes the existence of life on other worlds. The verse "Your Kingdom is one which encompasses all worlds..." (Psalms 145:13) implies the existence of more than one world. According to the Talmud there are at least 18,000. The existence of these other worlds and the fact that they rely on Divine Providence make it reasonable to think that life might exist there. The Sefer Habrit states that extraterrestrial creatures exist..." - Rabbi at Ohr Somayach

"...The basic premise of the existence of extraterrestrial life is strongly supported by the Zohar. The Midrash teaches us that there are seven earths. Although the Ibn Ezra tries to argue that these refer to the seven continents, the Zohar clearly states that the seven are separated by a firmament and are inhabited. Although they are not inhabited by man, they are the domain of intelligent creatures." - Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan

"And among His Signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and of whatever living creatures He has spread forth in both..." "And He has the power to gather them together when He will so please." - Quran 42:29

"Life, as it exists on Earth in the form of men, animals and plants, is to be found, let us suppose in a high form in the solar and stellar regions. Rather than think that so many stars and parts of the heavens are uninhabited and that this earth of ours alone is peopled – and that with beings perhaps of an inferior type – we will suppose that in every region there are inhabitants, differing in nature by rank and all owing their origin to God, who is the center and circumference of all stellar regions." - Cardinal Nicholas of Kues

Bruno wrote that other worlds "have no less virtue nor a nature different to that of our earth" and, like Earth, "contain animals and inhabitants". - Giordano Bruno, Italian philosopher

"I am of the opinion that it is not particularly necessary to assert that all planets must be inhabited. However, at the same time it would be absurd to deny this claim with respect to all or even to most of them." - Immanuel Kant

"...all the unnumbered Worlds that revolve round the fixt Stars are inhabited, as well as this Globe of Earth." - John Adams

"... I believe that man is not the most perfect being but one, but rather that there are many degrees of being superior to him. And so when I stretch my imagination through and beyond our system of planets, beyond the visible fixed stars themselves, into that space that is in every way infinite, and conceive it filled with suns like ours, each with a chorus of worlds forever moving around him; then this little ball on which we move, seems, even in my narrow imagine, to be almost nothing, and myself less than nothing, and no sort of consequence." - Benjamin Franklin