Theoretical physicist Marcelo Gleiser, author of The Island of Knowledge (2014) offers some thoughts on what the Copernican Principle means and doesn’t mean about Earth’s status as a planet — whether Earth is a special place or a pale blue dot.
He has no objection to the Copernican Principle (“a cornerstone of astronomy”) as such. The problem, he points out, is what happened next:News, “Physicist: Copernican Principle doesn’t make Earth insignificant” at Mind Matters News
Copernicus famously proposed that Earth was not the center of the universe; the sun was. The Earth, he suggested, was just another planet orbiting the sun like Mars or Jupiter…
The principle, as understood today, is usually stated as, “Earth is an ordinary planet, and we, human observers, are ordinary too.” There is nothing special about either Earth or our species.MARCELO GLEISER, “WHAT DOES THE COPERNICAN PRINCIPLE SAY ABOUT LIFE IN THE UNIVERSE?” AT BIG THINK (SEPTEMBER 22, 2021)
We really don’t know enough to determine anything of the kind, he says.
He hopes the big new telescopes, James Web and Giant Magellan, will start providing science-based answers about life on exoplanets:
Takehome: We’ve only begun to point huge telescopes at exoplanets. There are too many unknowns to be sure of our status.
You may also wish to read:
Is intelligence common or rare in the universe? A recent analysis says that life is common in the universe but intelligence—not so much. Let’s explore the reasoning. We really don’t know anything about life elsewhere in the universe so even university-trained scientists often try to WISH it into existence.
Maybe there are just very few aliens out there… The Rare Earth hypothesis offers science-based reasons that life in the universe is rare. Even if life is rare in the universe, Earth may be uniquely suited to space exploration, as the Privileged Planet hypothesis suggests.
Is intelligent life in the universe living in interior oceans of planets and moons? The Ocean Planets Hypothesis is that intelligent beings may flourish in the interior oceans of the moons of gas giant planets — or within exoplanets — but they are trapped there. If intelligent life forms are trapped in the interior oceans of rocky moons and planets, Earth is a special planet—much better suited to space exploration.