What Would the Discovery of Extraterrestrial Life Do to Our Faith?
- Tuesday, July 29, 2014
NASA has expended lots of taxpayer money looking for extraterrestrial life, and young-earth creationist Ken Ham isn’t happy about it.
“I'm shocked at the countless hundreds of millions of dollars that have been spent over the years in the desperate and fruitless search for extraterrestrial life," Ham wrote recently. “Of course, secularists are desperate to find life in outer space, as they believe that would provide evidence that life can evolve in different locations and given the supposed right conditions! The search for extraterrestrial life is really driven by man’s rebellion against God in a desperate attempt to supposedly prove evolution!”
Certainly many evolutionists—perhaps starting even with Charles Darwin himself—see the theory as an alternative, nontheistic explanation to the origin and development of life on earth. “I cannot persuade myself,” the 19th century naturalist once said, “that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created parasitic wasps with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of caterpillars.”
One might reasonably suspect that at least some secular scientists wish to find evidence of “exobiology” (life outside of the earth) not only because of the immense, intrinsic scientific worth of such a discovery, but because it might give some sense of meaning and transcendence to people who have been encouraged to jettison belief in a loving Creator like a used solid rocket booster.
Atheist apologist Richard Dawkins has summed up the purpose of life from this perspective: “We are survival machines – robot vehicles blindly programmed to preserve the selfish molecules known as genes. This is a truth which still fills me with astonishment.” While Dawkins is astonished, many of his fellow “robots” are rightly appalled. After all, this kind of atheistic reductionism provides a pretty flimsy foundation for morality and purpose.
Thus the search for ET continues, at an accelerating pace, in an era of economic uncertainty. What’s the payoff? Recently NASA astronomer Kevin Hand said, “I think in the next 20 years we will find out we are not alone in the universe." This prophecy is as much a faith-based statement of theology or philosophy as it is of science.
Of course, the Christian already knows “we are not alone in the universe.” We are, as others have said so aptly, the “visited planet.” The Bible tells us repeatedly of earthly visitations from spiritual beings—popularly called angels and demons—from other dimensions, perhaps even other universes. The descriptions of these creatures, truly, are stranger than science fiction. Here’s just one example:
As I looked, behold, a stormy wind came out of the north, and a great cloud, with brightness around it, and fire flashing forth continually, and in the midst of the fire, as it were gleaming metal. And from the midst of it came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance: they had a human likeness, but each had four faces, and each of them had four wings. Their legs were straight, and the soles of their feet were like the sole of a calf's foot. And they sparkled like burnished bronze. Under their wings on their four sides they had human hands. And the four had their faces and their wings thus: their wings touched one another. Each one of them went straight forward, without turning as they went. As for the likeness of their faces, each had a human face. The four had the face of a lion on the right side, the four had the face of an ox on the left side, and the four had the face of an eagle. Such were their faces. And their wings were spread out above. Each creature had two wings, each of which touched the wing of another, while two covered their bodies. (Ezek. 1:4-11)
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