Seven planets were recently discovered using the Spitzer space telescope. Three of these planets show promise of atmospheres similar to that on earth. One of these planets could have significant amounts of water too. This is interesting news for the scientific community. It is exciting news too. There is anticipation, curiosity, and expectation.
The faith communities might feel jolted, fearful if we do find alien life. I wonder why we are always trying to put science and faith at odds with each other. Evolution has been a centuries-long debate between scientists and religious adherents. I, a follower of Christ, sometimes feel ostracized from conservative churches because I think evolution is plausible.
Now, I still think God had to orchestrate creation, but I don’t think that evolution negates God’s majesty, power, or biblical accounts. The faith community would be naive to denounce that microevolution exists and occurs. I’m not sure if macroevolution occurred. I tend to lean towards macroevolution didn’t happen, but it is plausible. I wasn’t there in the beginning. The Trinity was and his ways are not my ways. His thoughts are higher than mine. I want to let God be God and I’ll simply stand in awe, rendering the praise he asks me to give; trying daily, by the power of the Holy Spirit to be made more in the image of Christ.
I simply ascribe to the notion that the Bible is literature. I think it is inspired literature, but it is literature nonetheless. Literature uses motifs like history, poetry, and allegory. Literature tells a story- intricate, complex, nuanced. There are interpretations to stories. Yes there are proper ways to interpret, but sometimes the blank spaces or silences are meant to enhance mystery or intimacy. The unknown can be scary but it also leaves room for adventure, stuff that fairy tale excitement is made of. We compose stories to escape the mundane routine we typically think life is. What if we realized we belong to the greatest mystery writing that ever existed. What if we simply enjoyed the ride?
There could very well be life on other planets. Extraterrestrial life doesn’t have to strip God of his majesty or power. In fact, if we say that the Bible is God’s inspired word that reveals himself to his people, then we can admit that the Bible is pretty silent on matters of space. We know God operates outside of our time-space continuum.
Einstein’s theories of gravitational waves don’t prove or disprove the existence of God. They simply just are. God gave us minds, minds to pursue, discover, and unlock mysteries, but only in part. Scavenger hunts are fun because it is a quest to find hidden treasures. God gave humanity science and math to search for the hidden treasures of his intricate creations, finding that sometimes, the search is more fun and exhilarating than uncovering the hidden gems anyways. The hunt gets us connected with others and perchance in deeper search of him anyways.
God saved us through his son Jesus dying on the cross, in our place, resurrecting on the third day, and then ascending into heaven to intercede on our behalf for all time. This is our salvation story. This is a human’s romance to redemption. Who is to say that there isn’t a book or story for the aliens? Maybe God has his own book for them? Maybe it is the same book written in a way that they would understand and relate to him.
Why must the search for life in foreign or distant lands disturb or weaken our faith? Why are we so scared of foreigners when we are merely foreigners in this land? Doesn’t Scripture tell us that we are merely travelers? Why can’t there be travelers on other planets? The Bible is pretty silent on such a case so may we not be rattled with such a discovery. Instead, let us join the scientific community in wonder and awe. Let us realize that our God is bigger, bigger than the Milky Way. He is the Way. That Way has created how he has seen fit. We are perhaps finding out more about ourselves, our world, and most importantly, the relationship between God and his creation.
[Aside: I’ve also wondered why the criteria for life must contain carbon backbones, water, and an atmosphere with oxygen. That is how we understand physics and life here. Maybe extraterrestrial life is governed with different principles, different miracles, but the same big God. Why do the laws of physics as we understand them have to be what other “life” operates under? There are forces greater than our understanding. Can we admit that the God who created us is capable of creating distant lands? He is all powerful, all knowledgeable, all present. He could even be the God of a galaxy far, far away. Our faith doesn’t have to be shaken with such discoveries. We are merely uncovering how infinite our God truly is. Let us stand in awe of a God who created all things, even things we don’t quite understand. We have yet to fully grasp God’s entire nature—fully man and yet still fully divine.]