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Is There Life on Other Planets?

Is There Life on Other Planets?

The Jewish view on UFOs, aliens and extraterrestrial intelligence

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Question:

Someone told me that according to Judaism, human beings are the only conscious beings in the universe. Is there any basis to this?

Response:

Certainly not!

First of all, the sages discuss the fact that animals also feel pain, based on the biblical prohibition against causing them undue suffering.

Second, there are plenty of accounts in the Torah of the higher angels, who are conscious of a realm of reality far beyond ours.

Third, Maimonides and others write about the heavenly bodies as conscious beings—and not simply in an allegorical sense. If anyone should ask, “How can a ball of helium and hydrogen contain consciousness?” simply ask in return, “And that a warm mass of gray meat has consciousness is reasonable?”

The uniqueness of humankind is not our consciousness, but the way that consciousness is able to enter the realms of good and evil, make decisions and distinguish between them.

Sources in Torah

The Lubavitcher Rebbe pointed out that there is support in Torah for the notion that life exists on other planets. Furthermore, we can know something about that life through deduction from what the Torah tells us. Here is his argument:

In the Book of Judges (5:23), Deborah the prophetess sings about the victory of Barak over Sisera. In her song, she says, “Cursed be Meroz! Cursed, cursed be its inhabitants, says the angel of G‑d!”

Where is Meroz, and who are its inhabitants? The Talmud gives two explanations, one of them being that Meroz is a star or planet. The heavenly bodies had also come to help the Israelites, as Deborah stated just one verse earlier, “From the heavens they fought, the stars from their orbits . . .” This star, however, which was the dominant star of Sisera, apparently did not come to their aid. And so, General Barak penalized Meroz—and its inhabitants.

Are these inhabitants intelligent? Intelligence is defined by Torah to mean the capacity to make decisions with free will. Free will is only possible where there is Torah, whereby the Creator offers His creatures more than one possibility and asks that they make the appropriate choice.

So, if there would be intelligent life elsewhere in the universe, those creatures would have to have Torah. Could they have a different Torah than us? This is not possible, since Torah is truth, and there cannot be two truths.

Could they then have the same Torah as us? This also seems impossible, since the Torah itself describes in detail how the Torah was revealed on this planet, and that account itself has a strong impact on how the Torah is to be fulfilled.

It therefore appears that although it is quite possible there is life on other planets, that life would not be intelligent in a way similar to human life and culture.

But should we be looking?

Dr. Velvl Greene was a biologist who was enlisted by NASA in their project to determine if there is life on Mars. He asked the Lubavitcher Rebbe privately if this was something he should be doing.

The Rebbe replied, “Dr. Greene, look for life on Mars! And if you don’t find it there, look somewhere else in the universe for it. Because for you to sit here and say there is no life outside of planet Earth is to put limitations on the Creator, and that is not something any of His creatures can do!”

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman, a senior editor at Chabad.org, also heads our Ask The Rabbi team. He is the author of Bringing Heaven Down to Earth. To subscribe to regular updates of Rabbi Freeman's writing, visit Freeman Files subscription.
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Discussion (269)
February 22, 2015
Why we do not add or subtract from the Hebrew Bible.
The opening 4 words say "In the beginning God.." It means at one time nothing existed accept God - with no additives applying. It also means the universe is finite with a beginning. This is very logical and anything else only pushes the goal post further to face the same brick wall.
Joseph Shellim
MELBOURNE
February 21, 2015
Analyze this!
Every atheist scientist miss-quotes Genesis by omitting that according to Genesis the universe is 100% finite. Genesis says 'In the beginning God' - this means once nothing but God existed, not even darkness, space, or time existed. This negates parallel Uni's, MV, string, etc, etc. because they violate the finite premise and merely push the goal post further.

The underlying reason for omitting the opening 4 words of Genesis is that it scientifically & mathematically reasons, by the process of elimination, the universe had to have a universe maker. QED.

Pls name an alternative premise for the universe emerging based on a finite one. Anyone.
Joseph Shellim
MELBOURNE
February 20, 2015
Science & Math says...
By the process of elimination, there are no scientific or mathematical alternatives to a Creator based on Genesis' absolutely finite universe. Name one?
IamJoseph
Sydney
February 19, 2015
Are ETs of G-d?
Who else is the creator? Only one, there is no other. He who created all that there was, is or will be. From no-thing. Ain Soph.
Eleazar Shlomo
San Francisco, CA
February 14, 2015
To re-ask the question What is not G-d?
Are E.T.s of God? Do they live somewhere in our solar system or do they visit us from another galaxy?

Some scholars and E.T. watchers have said there are 2 kinds: benevolent ones who are ushering in a (new) time of world peace, potentially carrying new technologies of healing & dissauding man's destructive use of its material resources ... and 2, the 'greys' who are here to steal our energy systems, conduct physical experiments with our bodies, & teach us about cloning and other things spoken of in Torah as "not approved" cooperations with fallen intelligences. Somewhat like the coming of the Nephillim in Genesis. Disruptive forces,

How do we test them? It seems the best way to test them would be with the Torah. Do they honor a loving G-d? Do they honor us as being in the image of a loving G-d?

If we ask forgiveness of our sins and change the destructive losses of our environment ... to re-creative policies and practises ... will we then merit moshiach?
H. Being
February 12, 2015
Go to Wikipedia for ET and UFO
The reason I quoted Wikipedia’s explanation on Phenomena, is to demonstrate unexplained and unresolved proof of extraterrestrial life and UFO for thousandth years and in many countries. Some I’m sure are hoaxes but most are legitimate.
Feigele
Boca Raton FL
February 10, 2015
Life on other Planets?
B"H If we do not know what something is, there is absolutely no way that we can honestly say that it does not exist. I can not tell you what life is , I think it takes an entire lifetime to know what the life of a human being is, so if I am talking about life elsewhere which I also can not describe; there is absolutely no way to state honestly that it doesn't exist. I do not know, therefore the possibility remains wide open. There are unexplainable things about our own existence, I'm sure you can agree. One example; Magnetism. Can you tell me what it is? Not how it's produced, or How it behaves, etc. but What is it? Wikipedia, and several other sources state it is a 'Phenomenon'. Look that word up...."an unexplainable event, occurrence, or behavior" Thesaruses allude it to the words, ' a wonder', and 'miraculous'. Everything requires Magnetism, it is All a Miracle. Am I wrong about what we take for granted in Life? If We R not from here, there's more out there where we came from.
Anonymous
Pasadena, CA
February 7, 2015
Life on other Planets?
B"H Here's something else to chew on, We do not know, nor can we find out at this time whether or not there are living beings living upon the surface of some electrons of the atoms which make up our own bodies. Although improbable, if this were the case, we could not know it. But the same principle does apply. In order to receive the correct information, one needs to ask the correct question. This is similar to the question of 'What is G-d?' I can only attempt to answer ' What is Not G-d?' If I could captivate what He may be even with a concept, He would eventually be found to be under My dominion. I know that I can not limit G-d to a human conception, else humans would be G-d. Therefore, in the same vane, I can not limit what Life may or may not be. We were wrong about all planets spinning with their axisis in like manner, in the case of Uranus? or was it Neptune whose axis points towards the sun, which made it look like it didn't rotate from earthbound telescopes. What certainty?
Anonymous
Pasadena, CA
February 6, 2015
Some evident problems
Not everyone can converse intelligently. Not everyone can discuss things rationally. Not everyone is playing with a "full deck". Many people suffer from phobias which distort their ability to deal with reality. Science never did, and never will have all the answers. Always, new discoveries, new perceptions, new awarnesses are coming into view. There is no point in conversing with a broken record player. And, there is no point in repeating one-self endlessly. That gets very boring.
Eleazar Shlomo
San Francisco
February 5, 2015
"the evidence which is the simple fact that there is Life on this planet"
That is not the true situation. The exception is not its own evidence. We have one planet of life with no such imprints anywhere we look for 14 Billion years - which is a standout anomaly, something unique, not the evidence of widespread life.
Joseph Shellim
Sydney
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