The Case for Panspermia
People don’t tend to agree very much, especially about big, important things. The more important something is the less likely people are to have shared opinions. But we all seem to agree on one thing: Life is precious.
As far as we know, life only exists on planet Earth. Many people insist that there must be other life out elsewhere in the cosmos, but there is no real evidence for this. Perhaps part of why life is precious is simply because it is such a rare thing.
Some people claim life on Earth was kick started by biological much that was floating in space and landed on our watery ball. This would be a cool thing to prove. It would mean that life does indeed exist somewhere else in space. But if life exists somewhere else, is life on Earth still as precious?
Maybe we never find any evidence of life out there in the cosmos. Maybe space is far to vast for us to ever contact anyone else. Maybe we never find any other life because there aren’t any aliens. Maybe we are alone in the cosmos. There is just as much evidence for this as the alternative.
In the case that we are alone in the universe, then life on Earth certainly is a precious thing. Do we have a responsibility to ensure that such a precious thing does not go away?
Panspermia is the notion that life should not only be preserved, but also propagated. The idea is that the more occurrences of biological life in the universe, the less of a chance this precious thing could be completely wiped out by an errant meteor or gamma ray burst. That brings us back to an earlier question. If life is spread throughout the solar system, galaxy, universe, does it make life itself somehow less precious?
Life is previous, we all agree. What are we supposed to do with precious things? A single family heirloom is a previous thing, but a million family heirlooms would quickly become a burden you are glad to be rid of.
For all we know, the cosmos are dead. If life is so precious, I say we should do everything we can to make barren worlds vibrant. Send humans to space, sure. Send microbes and plants and maybe even elephants as well!
What should we do with precious things? We should duplicate them. Make them ubiquitous. You know you’ve done right by something precious when you’ve made it so its no longer previous anymore.