Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Aliens

Stephen Hawking recently made a documentary in which he declares that aliens probably exist and it would be better for us if we didn't make contact with them. He says that there are 100 billion galaxies, each containing hundreds of millions of stars, creating the potential for an absurdly large amount of planets, some of which could be hospitable to life, even intelligent life. The odds, he says, are for it.

Growing up I was always afraid that, if aliens existed, that must mean that God couldn't. I'm not sure why those dots were connected in my mind, but I thought that the existence of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe was a slam dunk case against the existence of God. It would certainly mean that humans aren't special, and if we're not special, then don't all of Jesus' claims fall apart? It's a slippery slope, you see.

I may be speaking from a position of ignorance (I'm not a scientist), but I thought the probability of evolution (from single-cell organisms to intelligent beings) was as close to mathematically impossible as you can get. Operating from that assumption, it occurred to me that the existence of intelligent life somewhere else in the universe, rather than being the final nail in the coffin of theism, would actually be the greatest proof that there is a Creator. Surely something mathematically impossible couldn't happen twice (or more) without outside intervention.

Of course this is all light-hearted speculation, but what if aliens showed up and, after learning to communicate with each other, we discovered that they have a tradition very much like our Jesus-tradition? What if their stories mirror our own? What if they told us of a God who Created everything and then, when it all went wrong, became one of the creatures in order to set everything right? Isn't that at least just as likely as them coming to blow us up and take all the resources of our planet?

4 comments:

Corey said...

I heard a story (one that I cannot confirm, even after hours of googling) about one of the early moon missions. Apparently, one of the astronauts reported that after being so far out of the Earth's orbit he became aware that power of the enemy couldn't reach him, for his dominion is that of the air only. Interesting.
Also, the resources required for interstellar travel probably far exceed the potential energy harvest to be found on Earth. It doesn't make any sense for aliens to harvest all of our resources.

Kelly said...

Love that you brought this subject up! I'm a hobby scientist (about half of my books are on physics and astronomy), and at the beginning of my walk, I had lots of devout Christians telling me not to study these topics because they would slowly disassemble my faith and eventually make me believe that I was smarter than God. I ignored them ('cause that's how I roll) and literally EVERY time I've studied science in the last 10 years (which is a LOT of times), my faith has stretched inside of me and grown bigger and bigger. So many people look at the mysteries of the universe and feel alone. So many people look at the conundrum of space and feel afraid of the unknown. But when I think about it, God is so real to me. More real than when I write in my "devotional journal" or drink "lattes" in the church coffee shop or any of the other trendy things that are supposed to make Christian ultra-spiritual in American Evangelical sub-culture. My very favorite books in the world are C.S. Lewis' Space Trilogy. I'm guessing you've read them. But even if you have, do it again with your new found revelation in the back of your mind. Those books get me more emotional over God than 100 worship songs rhyming "king" and "sing" and "heart" and "a part" and "praise" and "days" put together! ;)

rachelspiegel said...

I would also recommend the C.S. Lewis space trilogy, they're great. I also agree with Kelly, the more I learn, the more it makes sense that there IS a creator.

Anonymous said...

What if we were to discover that all of the thousands / millions / billions of other God-created, alien populated planets in the universe had operated as God had originally intended. All worked great... but one - the one called "Earth"... it was the only fail. But He didn't just get rid of it (i.e. just vaporize it). He mounted a one-off rescue for this one pathetic instance, the 3rd planet from a second-rate star on the edge of one arm of a one-in-a-billion galaxies. How might this make the inhabitants of this Earth-fail feel? Pretty small. God's love? Pretty big.