Humankind’s Defining Moment

Andrew Sullivan —  Apr 6 2011 @ 2:13pm


Martin Rees, a theoretical astrophysicist, has won the 2011 Templeton prize, which "honors a living person who has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works." Rees is nonreligious, but his acceptance statement makes clear his contribution to the greater good (pdf):

Some people might surmise that intellectual immersion in vast expanses of space and time would render cosmologists serene and uncaring about what happens next year, next week, or tomorrow. But, for me, the opposite is the case. My concerns are deepened by the realization that, even in a perspective extending billions of years into the future, as well as into the past, this century may be a defining moment. Our planet has existed for 45 million centuries, but this is the first in its history where one species—ours—has Earth’s future in its hands, and could jeopardize not only itself, but life’s immense potential.

The above graphic depicts the the first 1,235 planets and stars NASA's planet-hunting telescope has found. 54 are deemed habitable like Earth.

(Hat tip: Religion And Science Today)