Extraterrestrial Life and Christianity

Monday is for Discussion

Fascinated to read this first paragraph from a news report with this provocative headline today:

NASA Scientists Brings Scientists & Theologians Together to Prepare World for Extraterrestrial Contact

“A couple of months ago top US astronomers gathered in front of congress to let them know that extraterrestrial life exists without question. Their main argument was the size of the universe, emphasizing that there are trillions of stars out there, with one in every five most likely harboring an Earth-like planet.”

It was fascinating to me because this morning I read these words in Psalm 115:

The heavens are the LORD’s heavens,
.     but the earth he has given to the children of man. (v. 16)

Geode 1Three years ago in late Fall I took a trip to Arizona to see a dearly loved relative who also happens to be an atheist. We had a great time hiking around the Sedona Mountains, talking for hours about our lives, catching up and sharing our life experience with one another. At one point, we were looking at some magnificently colored geodes. Both of us remarked on how extraordinary they were. That’s when my Christian Worldview impinged on our conversation.

The awesome thing for me from a Christian perspective is that for however many centuries that geode has been forming and its beauty was being developed, God was the only one enjoying it until someone found it, broke it open and put it on display here.”

My relative was stunned by the thought. For them, the geode was simply the product of natural, random, impersonal forces. It was extraordinary but it was not the creation of an omniscient God. And that is the difference a biblical worldview makes. We (Christians) don’t know all things. We don’t know most things. The realms of human knowledge are vast and deep in both history and science. But we do have the inside track on ultimate truth.

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. And He is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything He might be preeminent. For in Him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.”
                                                                    Colossians 1:15-20 (ESV)

Robert Jastrow (1925-2008), though not a Christian himself,  with a PhD Theoretical Physics and the recipient of NASA Medal for Exceptional Scientific Achievement once said:

At present, science has no satisfactory answer to the question of the origin of life on the earth. Perhaps the appearance of life on the earth is a miracle. Scientists are reluctant to accept that view, but their choices are limited; either life was created on the earth by the will of a being outside the grasp of scientific understanding, or it evolved on our planet spontaneously, through chemical reactions occurring in nonliving matter lying on the surface of the planet. The first theory places the question of the origin of life beyond the reach of scientific inquiry. It is a statement of faith in the power of a Supreme Being not subject to the laws of science. The second theory is also an act of faith. The act of faith consists in assuming that the scientific view of the origin of life is correct, without having concrete evidence to support that belief.
Until the Sun Dies  (1977)  pp. 62-63

The details differ, but the essential elements in the astronomical and biblical accounts of Genesis are the same: the chain of events leading to man commenced suddenly and sharply at a definite moment in time, in a flash of light and energy … For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountain of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.
God and the Astronomers  (1992)  pp.106-107 

Indeed. This is the faith of the Church, a faith grounded in the resurrection of Christ which makes all things possible.

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