A recently published article in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports that at least 8.8 billion habitable Earth size planets exist in the Milky Way Galaxy alone. A super-computer simulation estimates that the number of galaxies in the universe may be 500 billion. Logical conclusion: there is life out there and most likely in far more varieties than the combined imaginations of Stanley Kubrick, Stephen Spielberg and James Cameron could ever come up with if they had invented a new alien species every minute of the day and night for their entire lives.
But in the vast distances of space, we are for all purposes still alone. This planet is all we have. So let’s continue to peer out into space to try and locate some of our fellow travelers, but let’s prioritize the more immediate challenge which is to call forth and link together the better angles of our nature before we disrupt our little planet’s life support systems so severely that we quite possibly end ourselves before we can even find out who else is out there.
It might not look like it as we ride the relatively short roller coaster of our own lifetimes, but according to cognitive scientists like Steven Pinker, thanks to the spread of government, literacy, trade, and cosmopolitanism, we are increasingly evolving to control our impulses, empathize with others, debunk toxic ideologies, and deploy our powers of reason to reduce the temptations of violence against each other.