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IS THERE LIFE ON MARS?

RABBI JONNY ROSS

Sep 28, 2006
Bill Watterson, the creator of the ever brilliant Calvin and Hobbes, said it best "The surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the Universe is that it has never tried to contact us". Some of us believe that life exists on other planets. Exactly how one would know that is open to debate. Tell a man there are myriads of aliens flying above us and he'll believe you, but tell him that a bench has wet paint on it and he'll have to touch it to be sure. So what does Judaism have to say about UFOs, flying saucers and extraterrestrial life?
 
Few Jewish commentators actually discuss this and we have to go back to a published work in 1556 to find the first written discussion of the question of extraterrestrial life. This opinion states that there is nothing in Jewish theology that would rule out the existence of life on other planets. The Talmud in fact tells us that G-D flies through 18,000 worlds and since they would all require His supervision, we may assume that they are inhabited. However one could argue that these refer to spiritual worlds as opposed to physical ones.
 
Interestingly, we find the exact opposite opinion from this commentator's disciple. He states that since the Universe was created for the sake of man and since no other creature possesses his level of free will, they would have no reason for existing and would therefore be basically superfluous and thus, in his view, they cannot be real. A third opinion agrees partially, but still maintains that even though they have no free will, they do, in fact, exist.
 
In conclusion: there may be support that aliens do exist, however there is really as much reason for believing they exist as not. In other words "There's life Jim but not as we know it!" 

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