Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Lost In Space

Do you believe in aliens? Every so often I am asked this question. I typically respond in the affirmative, that not only do I believe in aliens but I see them rather frequently and have, on occasion, even communicated with them. 

At this point, my inquisitor usually chuckles and explains that he is not referring to people from other countries, but rather intelligent life from other planets. Obviously, such a qualification makes a world of difference. 

The real quandary is this: Is there intelligent life on other planets? Of this, the scriptures are silent. Nowhere, despite spurious claims to the contrary, does the Bible speak of extraterrestrials or space aliens. Theology is quiet and science is ignorant concerning intelligent life on other planets, and therefore the matter is highly speculative.  

Thus I am amazed when I hear it said, “If we discover other intelligent life, it will disprove all religion.   

One has to wonder why this would be so. Christians discovered intelligent life on unknown continents a few centuries ago. This startling discovery didn’t hurt the Christian faith in the least. Why should the discovery of intelligent life on unknown planets be any different?  

Furthermore, the notion that finding intelligent beings in space would be evidence against the existence of God, seems to overlook the obvious: We already know—beyond all reasonable doubt—that intelligent life exists in space. Where in the world are Earth and earthlings located if not in space? 

Some suggest that Christianity would be disproved by extraterrestrials because man would no longer be the “center of the universe.”            

This is a rather odd assertion, because “man as the center of the universe” or “man as the measure of all things” is the product of the Enlightenment, not Christianity. According to the Christian faith, God is the center of the universe, the measure of all things; not man. “The heavens declare the glory of God” (Ps. 19:1). If there is intelligent life on other planets, it exists to the glory of God, as does life on Earth.            

Strangely, I’ve observed self-proclaimed “agnostics” become quite dogmatic with the insistence that alien life must exist due to the immensity of the universe. I do not find the argument from immensity to be compelling. Because something is big it must be inhabited? I don’t follow the logic. God made the universe for His glory alone. Why shouldn’t it be immense?  

The universe declares the glory of God and immensity is what one should expect. If there is intelligent life on other planets, it does not exist because the universe is so big that it begs for occupancy. If it exists, it exists to further God’s glory. 

Similarly, I’ve also heard it said, “To believe that we are the only intelligent life in the universe is arrogant.”  

I would be more inclined to listen to the assertion, were it spoken with more humility. It seems that those who believe in space aliens are no more or less humble, no more or less self-centered, than those who do not. But the fact remains: Other than anecdotal testimony, conspiracy theories, and philosophical musings, there is no evidence (scientific or theological) for a universe which teems with alien life.  

Nevertheless, despite the lack of concrete evidence, man yearns to find intelligent life on other planets. Why?  

One could cynically respond that man wants to find intelligent life on other planets because it is becoming increasingly difficult to find it on this one. But I suspect there’s more to it. Perhaps man wishes to find intelligent life in space because he rebelliously lives in alienation and isolation from God, and even from himself, right here on Earth.  

C. S. Lewis, who personally doubted alien life, wrote a space trilogy. In borrowing from the premise of these books, I offer the following observation: If there are intelligent beings on other planets, God in His wise providence has situated them astronomical distances—far, far away—from sinful man for their own preservation and well-being.  

In the final analysis, “Are we alone in the universe?” is a question the theist need not ask nor fear. He already knows the answer. Man is not alone. The universe is filled with the presence of God. The universe is teeming with life, perhaps not alien, but most certainly Divine.

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