Is there intelligent life in outer space? Although this question intrigues scientists, theology can give us the answer.
Occasionally at conferences, someone will ask, “Do you believe in UFOs?”
I usually answer, “Absolutely! Any flying object that can’t be identified is a UFO.”
I then continue, “But do I believe in UFOs piloted by Vulcans, Klingons, or Cardassians? The answer is a definite no.” Sorry, Star Trek fans!
But if I don’t believe in aliens flying around in UFOs, does that mean I reject the idea that intelligent life could exist in outer space? As one of my friends once said, “Looking at the mess people get themselves into in this world, sometimes I wonder if there’s intelligent life on earth, let alone outer space.”
A good friend of mine, Dr. Clifford Wilson, author of the million-copy bestseller Crash Go the Chariots,1 did a lot of research on UFOs. He once told me that he concluded that, by far, the majority were either misunderstood natural phenomena or misinterpreted manmade objects. However, he did conclude there was a very small percentage that couldn’t be explained, and he allowed the possibility of some supernatural origin—albeit evil. But regardless, he, like me, does not believe in intelligent physical beings on planets other than our earth.
A number of leading evolutionists, like the late Dr. Carl Sagan, have popularized the idea that there must be intelligent life in outer space.2 From an evolutionary perspective, it would make sense to suggest such a possibility. People who believe this possibility contend that, if life evolved on earth by natural processes, intelligent life must exist somewhere else in the far reaches of space, given the size of the universe and the millions of possible planets.
During the six days of creation in Genesis 1, we learn that God created the earth first. On day four He made the sun and the moon for the earth, and then “he made the stars also” (Genesis 1:16).
From these passages of Scripture it would seem that the earth is very special—it is center stage. Everything else was made for purposes relating to the earth. For instance, the sun, moon, and stars were made “for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years” (Genesis 1:14).
Throughout the Old Testament, many passages distinguish between the heavens and the earth. Psalm 115:16 states, “The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord’s: but the earth has he given to the children of men.”
Many other passages single out the earth as being special, made for humans to dwell on, and a focus of God’s attention, such as Isaiah 66:1: “Thus says the Lord, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool.”
Isaiah 40:22 likens the heavens to a curtain that God basically stretches around Him: “It is he that sits upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretches out the heavens as a curtain, and spreads them out as a tent to dwell in.”
Such verses certainly imply that the earth is to be considered separate and special when compared with the rest of the universe, so they suggest that the earth alone was created for life. So far, based on man’s limited exploration of space and the solar system, this certainly holds true.
But there is a theological reason that I believe rules out the possibility of intelligent life in outer space.
The Bible makes it clear in Romans 8:22 that the “whole creation groans” because of Adam’s sin. When Adam fell, the entire universe was affected. Not only this, but one day in the future, there will be “a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away” (Revelation 21:1).
Isaiah 34:4 states, “And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falls off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree.”
Now here is the problem. If there are intelligent beings on other planets, then they would have been affected by the fall of Adam because the whole creation was affected. So these beings would have to die because death was the penalty for sin. One day their planet will be destroyed by fire during God’s final judgment, but they cannot have salvation because that blessing is given only to humans.
If intelligent beings lived on other planets, they would suffer because of Adam’s sin but have no opportunity to be saved through Christ’s sacrifice.
When Jesus Christ stepped into history, He became the God-man. The Bible calls Him “the last Adam” and the “second man” (1 Corinthians 15:45, 47). He became the second perfect man (Adam was perfect before he sinned), and He took the place of the first Adam by dying for the human race. As the first Adam was the representative head of the human race, so Jesus became the new head, the last Adam. So there can be no other Savior, only Christ. Jesus now sits in the heavens, still in human form, sitting on His throne next to the Father. If Jesus stepped out of His human form, we would no longer have a Savior. He remains the God-man forever.
But note, Jesus didn’t become a “God-Klingon,” a “God-Vulcan,” or a “God-Cardassian”—He became the God-man. It wouldn’t make sense theologically for there to be other intelligent, physical beings who suffer because of Adam’s sin but cannot be saved.
Now, regarding animal life and plants, we cannot be so dogmatic because the Bible does not state whether life exists elsewhere in the universe. Based on the passages about the heavens and earth, however, I strongly suspect that life does not exist elsewhere.
So the next time you hear someone talking about UFOs, think on the Scripture passages quoted above, and use them to segue into a presentation of the gospel: “For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:21–22).
Military officials checked out debris from a supposed UFO crash outside of Roswell, New Mexico. The government initially announced that they had captured a flying saucer. A few hours later they changed the story and said it was a weather balloon.
One of the largest number of reported sightings (in the hundreds) occurred in the Washington, D.C., area. According to reports, the blips on the radar were traveling close to 100 m.p.h. and could gain speeds up to 7,200 m.p.h.
Officials said these sightings were a result of “temperature inversions,” which caused ground lights to bounce from the clouds and give the appearance of lighted objects in the sky.
Local officials reported fast-moving, disc-shaped objects in southeastern Michigan. A UFO expert investigated the sighting and dismissed it as “swamp gas.”
Thousands of eyewitnesses reported seeing UFO’s flying over Phoenix. Referred to as the “Phoenix Lights,” these objects were also witnessed in at least five other cities. An investigation by U.S. Air Force personnel said the UFOs were a result of flares being dropped from an A-10 “Warthog.”
Over two years, many people reported strange objects over the Sea of Marmara, an inland sea between the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits. The chief witness was a night watchman who videoed objects on several nights between May and September 2008. Many people consider these the most significant recordings ever of a UFO. There is yet no agreed-upon explanation.