T The question of UFO's and intelligent life on other planets has become very popular. Many fashionable scientists speculate about the possibilities, insisting that we cannot be alone in the universe. Alien life is the subject of hit television shows and movies, and is also a common belief of many New Age religions. Many people have asked what the Bible has to say about this subject. The following article is an attempt to deal honestly and simply with this subject and to answer the question in an easily understood manner. It is not meant to be an exhaustive or comprehensive theological treatise.
The Scriptures do not directly address the question of alien beings. The Bible does not explicitly confirm or deny the existence of intelligent life from other planets. Although the subject is not addressed explicitly, the Bible teaches implicitly that the only things He created with intelligence are the angels, man, and the animals.
It is important to remember that the stars and planets were not created billions of years before Earth. According to the Bible, Earth is not the result of billions of years of stellar evolution during which many other planets were created. Earth was created before any other planet or star existed. Earth came into existence on the first day of Creation (Genesis 1:1). God withheld the creation of the Sun, Moon and stars until the fourth day (Genesis 1:14-19). Earth is unique and holds center stage in God's Creation.
Furthermore, the Bible clearly indicates that the fate of the universe (every other planet and star) is forever linked to God's timetable for mankind and the Earth. One day, Christ will return to Earth and complete the final act of man's redemption (2 Peter 3:9-10). He will destroy this present universe and create a new heavens and Earth (2 Peter 3:7,10; Revelations 21:1). All the stars and planets will be destroyed, along with the Earth.
What bearing does this have on the question of extraterrestrial life? The timetable (and the whole reason) for this destruction and re-creation clearly seems to be based on God's plan for us Earthlings. If God had created intelligent life on other worlds, it is hard to imagine that their lives would be calibrated by the failures of Earth's inhabitants. It seems unlikely and unfair that their distant planets would be destroyed by God because of His plan for Earth. The implication of Scripture is that there are no other intelligent beings besides man, animals, and the angels.
Why will God destroy the planets and stars along with Earth? When Adam sinned, ALL of creation was affected -- the entire universe. Romans 8:18-22 teaches that all "creation was subjected to futility." Although we are all familiar with the fact that God made man the ruler of Earth (Genesis 1:28), Scripture suggests that even the heavens are subject to mankind. "Thy heavens, the work of the Thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which Thou has ordained…Thou dost make him [man] to rule over the works of Thy hands, Thou has put all things under his feet" (Psalms 8:3,6). "And take heed, lest you lift your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun, the moon, and the stars, all the host of heaven, you feel driven to worship them and serve them, which the Lord your God has given to all the peoples under the whole heaven as a heritage" (Deuteronomy 4:19).
Practical experience suggests that nothing in the universe is probably in its more perfect, originally created state. Earth is certainly no longer the paradise described in Genesis. Stars are dying. The moon and planets have been pummeled. It seems that everything in the universe will eventually wear out.
Why would God create such a vast universe if it is only for those on the planet Earth? What purpose does the universe hold? Frankly, God has not revealed all the answers, but he has shared at least some of the reasons:
The Bible does not teach that intelligent life exists elsewhere in our universe. Although our all-powerful God could have created such life had He desired, it seems rather obvious from Scripture that He did not. The timetable for this present universe is measured by God's dealings with us. It appears that God has created the human race, on the planet called Earth, as the sole beneficiary of His fellowship. This fellowship is of such a unique design that we are told that God's only true extra-terrestrial creations -- angels -- are eager to observe it in action. It is our privilege to be the center of attention in our vast and wonder-filled universe.
- LIGHT, TIME-KEEPING AND NAVIGATION. Scripture tells us that God created the Sun, Moon and stars to give light (brightening the utter darkness of the night sky) and to assist mankind (Genesis 1:14-15, etc.). That's right, one of the reasons that God made the Moon, solar system and stars was to provide a way for us to distinguish the passage of time (days, months and years) and predict the coming of seasons. Without these heavenly bodies, the job of keeping time and navigation would have been far more difficult. We learn from history that from the earliest days, ancient peoples used the movement of stars in producing their calendars and finding their way across great distances, just as God designed from the beginning. It may be that even some migrating birds make use of the constellations.
- GLORIFYING THE CREATOR. Another purpose for the myriad of stars is to bring glory to God -- focusing man's attention on the Creator's awesome power and greatness. Psalm 19:1 states, "The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands." The vastness of the universe is a tremendous expression of God's might and power. God is greater than we could ever imagine, even greater that His spectacular creation, the universe. Psalm 8:1,3,9 states, "O Lord, our Lord, How majestic is Thy name in all the earth, Who hast displayed Thy splendor above the heavens! …When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, The moon and the stars, which Thou has ordained; …O Lord, our Lord, How majestic is Thy name in all the earth!" When we consider the vastness of the universe, let us meditate upon the glory of God, not on dreaming up fantasies of alien beings.
What should Christians think about UFO accounts?
1. Never a single contact with an "extraterrestrial"
In 1900, the French Acadamy of Science offered a prize of 100,000 francs for the first person to make contact with an alien civilization -- so long as the alien was not from Mars, because the academy was convinced that Martian civilization was an established fact!
Since then, not a trace of "little green men," or indeed any life, has been found on any of the planets that our probes have explored, including Mars.
Despite this, a great number of astronomers think that, since life supposedly evolved here on earth, it must have evolved near one of the many stars out there. Around the world SETI (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence) researchers have scanned the sky, looking in vain for signals from intelligent beings. Despite all the listening, on thousands of frequencies over many years, nothing indicating intelligent life has ever been heard.
2. Conditions must be "just right"
Life on any planet can only survive provided a great number of very stringent requirements are met. For example, the planet must be at the right distance from its sun, so as to be neither too hot nor too cold. In particular, it must be in a very narrow temperature range so that liquid water exists.
Even if planets around other stars are confirmed, it is extremely improbable that any of them would fulfill all the requirements needed for life. Just having liquid water is completely insufficient, despite the excitement created when such was possibly detected on the surface of Jupiter's moon, Europa. (The fluid is now thought to be sulfuric acid.)
3. Life cannot form spontaneously anyway
Without intelligent, creative input, lifeless chemicals cannot form themselves into living things. This is the theory of spontaneous generation, disproved by the great creationist founder of microbiology, Louis Pasteur. Without unfounded evolutionary speculation, UFOlogy would not have its present grip on the public imagination.
4. Vast distances
Even if we assumed life existed somewhere else in the universe, a visit by extraterrestrials to earth, such as is claimed in UFO reports, seems completely impracticable, if not impossible. The distances (and therefore the likely travel times) are unimaginably vast.
The closest star to the earth, Proxima Centauri (a-Centauri C) is 40.7 million million kilometers (approximately 25 million million miles) away. The Apollo flights took three days to get to the moon. At the same speed, one would need 870,000 years to get to the nearest star. Of course, one could accelerate (particularly unmanned) probes to a greater speed.
At the incredible speed of one-tenth the speed of light, the trip, one way would still take 43 years. However, one would need enormous amounts of energy for such an acceleration, roughly equivalent to the electricity consumption of the entire world's population for one month.
Furthermore, in every cubic kilometer of space, there are an estimated 100,000 dust particles (made up of silicates and ice) weighing only a tenth of a gram. At such a velocity, colliding with even one of these tiny objects could destroy a spaceship.
So what about UFOs?
How then, should one understand the UFO phenomena and all the associate hype? In the German magazine Focus, it was recently stated "90% of UFO reports turn out to be a humbug, but there is a residual 10% which are not easy to dismiss."
The article quoted sociologist Gerald Eberlain as saying:
The Bible gives a desctiption of reality concerning all living things. The living God reveals himself as the Triune One -- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In heaven, there are the angels, powerful created beings who also serve mankind on earth.
|| Research has shown that people who are not affiliated with any church, but who claim they are religious, are particularly susceptible to the possible existence of extraterrestrials. For them, UFOlogy is a substitute religion.
There is another kingdom -- that of the devil and the demons. Ephesians 2:2 talks about the "prince of the power of the air," whose reign is on earth.
The devil has his own repertoire of deception in the form of various occult practices and a multitude of religious rites. It could be that beind those unexplainable UFO reports there is the work of the arch-deceiver. UFO reports, by definition, remain nebulous and not identifiable. People who do not know Christ are easily fascinated by all sorts of phenomena that are difficult to explain. For Christians there is Jesus' warning in Matthew 24:4 to "Take heed that no man deceive you." What is the best antidote to deception? Paul exhorts us, in 2 Timothy 2:15, "study" the Scripture, so we might "accurately handle the word of truth."
Secret Bases?…Government Cover-ups?
Many UFO enthusiasts spread the "urban myth" of secret U.S. government experiments on aliens, etc. -- an idea reinforced by the movie Independence Day. However, does a cover-up make sense when, under the inspiration of atheists like the late Carl Sagan, the U.S. government has spent millions of taxpayers' dollars listening "out there" for signs of intelligent extraterrestrial life? Many other evolutionary humanists, like Sagan, passionately believe that intelligent life has evolved "out there" in addition to earth, and would pounce on any hard evidence for this idea. Consider the media frenzy about the "life in Mars rock" fiasco. To imagine that a much more exciting discovery would be kept secret for decades defies credibility.
Feasibility of Inter-stellar Travel
The following calculations are given for the benefit of the more technically minded.
- For a spacecraft to acquire a speed of c/10, the kinetic energy needed is given accurately enough by the non-relativistic formula of mv2. For a very small unmanned spacecraft of 10 kg, this is x 10 kg x (3 x 107 m/s)2 = 4.5 x 1015 J, or approximately the whole world's electricity production for a month.
For a manned spacecraft weighing several tons, the energy requirements would greatly exceed the world's annual electricity consumption. For the city-sized spacecraft in Independence Day, the energy requirements would be staggering. And when the spacecraft slowed again, it would use up to almost this amount of energy in braking.
If the spacecraft had to accelerate to c/10, slow down, and speed up many times, the energy needed would be many times greater.
It would probably be impossible for enough fuel to be carried without some sort of antimatter drive. If perfect annihilation -- complete conversion of matter to energy (E=mc2) -- where possible, 1 ton of antimatter could annihilate 1 ton of ordinary matter to produce: 2000 kg x (3 x 108 m/s)2, or 1.8 x 1020 J. And this is the absolute maximum amount of energy that could be produced from a given mass of fuel. A real spacecraft could be nowhere near this efficient.
- The kinetic energy of a speck of dust with a mass of just 0.1 gram impacting at a tenth the speed of light, calculated from the spacecraft's reference frame, is mv2, or
The combustion energy of TNT is 4,520 kJ/kg, or 4.52 x 109 J/ton. So 4.5 x 1010 J is equivalent to 9.95 tons of TNT. Therefore, the impact energy of a 0.1 g object hitting a spacecraft traveling at c/10 would be equivalent to an explosion of about 10 tons of TNT.
|| x 10-4 kg x (3 x 107 m/s)2 = 4.5 x 1010 J.
For more information…
What does the Bible say about intelligent life on other planets? Answer
Were the biblical nephilim (sons of God) extraterrestrials? Answer
Did a "Martian" meteorite proven the existence of ET? Answer