Alien Life Forms: Is There Anybody Out There?
By Michael Bauml
All right, I confess!! I'm a trekkie. When Star Trek was first televised, I was hooked even before it became popular. I can recite the Starship Enterprise mission statement while making the Vulcan peace sign with both hands. I was there when E.T. phoned home and when Luke Skywalker used "the force". Regretfully I never had any close encounters of the third kind, but I did see a meteorite fall from the sky once.
I was the kid who, after lights out, read comics and sci-fi novels under the blankets with a flashlight. Like many others, I was enamored with science fiction and the possibility of alien intelligence. When I was younger, I was ready to volunteer for the first mission to colonize another planet, but scrubbed all my plans after a run-in with a diabolical roller coaster. I read Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clark, Frederick Poul and many others. I can still finish a good science fiction novel in a day of two. If only I could read the Bible as faithfully!
Recently, I was thinking about life on other planets. I felt it was almost conceited to believe we were the only intelligent life in the entire universe. If there is intelligent life elsewhere, did Christ also come to them? Will they also share in the eternal life we have been promised? If we are made in the image of God, are they also?
I, therefore, decided to ask Father Andrew. His customary response to my many inquiries is to recommend a book. The title of the book was Rare Earth. In all honesty, the book was dry and boring, technical and highly scientific. I persevered and completed it, thought it took me a long time. I cannot say that I enjoyed it, but it did convince me that it is highly unlikely that intelligent life exists anywhere but here on earth.
I learned that higher forms of life exist only within a very narrow range of conditions like temperature, mineral content, sunlight, gravity, atmosphere, etc. An extremely complicated series of events was required to occur in order to establish these conditions here on earth. Rare Earth went into depth about such topics as plate tectonics, the presence of a large and orbitally stable moon, the proper distance of the earth from the sun, the presence of large planets surrounding the earth to attract asteroid collisions, gravitational effects, oxygen production, types of stars and on and on.
With the new orbiting Hubble telescope, scientists have not only been able to observe neighboring stars, but can even determine the types of elements present around these stars. They have been unable to uncover evidence that a set of conditions exists anywhere like here on earth. In all likelihood, we live on a planet that is not only rare, but also singularly unique. Since life as we know it can exist under such a narrow range of conditions and these conditions depend on the uniqueness of our rare earth, the possibility of life on other planets is highly unlikely.
This may be very interesting, but what does it have to do with God? For me reading Rare Earth did more than simply deny the existence of alien intelligence. It reaffirmed my belief in the existence of God. Rare Earth established that our world is unique and resulted from a series of million to one occurrences mysteriously forming a chain of events. These led to the possibility of life, as we know it. Was this random luck or did the hand of God guide it?
Taking this one step further, the human body is also unique. Science has unraveled some of the mysteries of our genetic makeup. A single strand of DNA determines the complicated functions of the human body, where a single part of the strand out of place can result in deformity or no life at all. As you read this, your body is constantly performing a series of complex biochemical reactions. Your eyes transmit electrical impulses to your brain, which translates them to understanding.
The human body, like the earth, is a series of million to one occurrences meshing together. So how do we explain this series of million to one occurrences that created our unique planet and then placed the miraculous human body on it? Was it simply random luck or evolutionary pressure? I don't think so. It was definitely accomplished by the guiding hand of our Lord and God. It's a small glimpse of the awesome wisdom and power of our Creator.
If you believe that your existence on this most unique of planets is a result of simple random chance, then I suggest you buy a lottery ticket. However, if you believe that your presence on this earth is a result of the guiding hand of our all-powerful Creator, then maybe you should stop in at His House and pay him a visit. Discover the treasure of worshipping Him who "stretched out the heavens like a garment" (Psalm 104) and "formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life." (Genesis 2:7).