Extraterrestrial Life Debates in 19th century/Trollope

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Extraterrestrial Life Debates in 19th century/Trollope

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Jan 31, 2011, 8:32 pm

NASA reported today on its newest program to try to find intelligent life on other planets. It would be nice if they could finally settle the question. After the earth-centered universe of Copernicus was accepted, nearly everyone took it as a matter of course that there must be intelligent life on other planets, else God would be guilty of wastefulness. Only in the 19th c. was this questioned seriously. One the one hand, Scottish physicist David Brewster, who argued for the religious side. On the other, man of science (and inventor of the word "scientist") who argued that scientific facts suggested the absence of intelligent life elsewhere. The debate even made it into Trollope's BARCHESTER TOWERS: "Are you a Whewellite, or a Brewsterite, or a t'othermite, Mrs. Bold?"