When the inquisition condemned Galileo for writing that the earth might not be the center of the solar system, the Roman Catholic Church was supporting the philosophy and science of the Greco-Roman world because it seemed to support the religious idea that the earth, life in general and human life in particular, should be the center of God’s world.

Today very few religious people think that if the earth revolves around the sun, it makes humans less important to God.

Astronomical evidence of stars with earth-like planets, at the right distance from their star for liquid water, and an atmosphere with oxygen, will be found in the next few years.  There should be no need for religious people to deny the evidence and condemn the scientists as anti-religious.

Religious people need to know that the Bible and the Qur’an clearly teach that the Living God created the whole universe to be conducive to the universal evolution of life.

The Zabur of David says, “Your kingdom is a kingdom of all worlds; and Your dominion is for all generations.” (Zabur-Psalms 145:13)

The Qur’an says, “We have not sent you but as a blessing for all the worlds.” (Quran, 21:107)

Muslim commentators say this refers to the 18,000 worlds created by Allah. Our world is one of them. (Mir’at-e-Kainat, vol.1, p 77) This Qur’anic verse refers to the 18,000 worlds inhabited by intelligent creatures capable of worshipping God, but since such worlds are very rare, there must be billions of planets that have life forms that are not intelligent self-conscious beings yet.

According to Prof Dan Maoz of Tel Aviv University and Prof Avi Loeb of Harvard University, the Webb Space Telescope is capable of detecting oxygen and water in the atmosphere of an Earth-like planet orbiting a white dwarf star, after only a few hours of observation, much more easily than for an Earth-like planet orbiting a sun-like star.

And now Phosphorus, a key chemical element for many biological processes, has been found in icy grains emitted by Saturn’s small moon Enceladus’ icy crust as geysers that create a plume, which is likely abundant in its subsurface ocean. Phosphorus in the form of phosphates is vital for all life on Earth.

One of the most important discoveries in planetary science over the past 25 years is that worlds with oceans beneath a surface layer of ice are common in our solar system.

Worlds like Earth with surface oceans must reside within a narrow range of distances from their host stars to maintain the temperatures that support surface liquid water.

Interior ocean worlds however can occur over a much wider range of distances, greatly expanding the number of habitable worlds likely to exist in our galaxy.

Dr Christopher Glein said: “With this finding, the ocean of Enceladus is now known to satisfy what is generally considered to be the strictest requirement for life. The next step is clear—we need to go back to Enceladus to see if the habitable ocean is actually inhabited.”

Each new discovery in astronomy yields new evidence of God’s wisdom and power. As the Qur’an says, “The heavens, We built them with power; and verily, We expand [them]” (Quran 51:47)

The Qur’an also declares, “Verily in the heavens and on the earth are signs for those who believe.” (Quran 45:3)

And Prophet King David’s Zabur says, “The heavens declare the glory of God. The universe proclaims God’s handiwork.” (Zabur-Psalms 19:2)