Does intelligent extraterrestrial life exist?
The idea that intelligent extraterrestrial life exists off-world—in our solar system, in solar systems in our galaxy or another galaxy, or in parallel universes in a multiverse—appeals to many people. The hero genre portrayed in many movies (e.g. those which include Marvel or DC comic book characters) is one example. Other examples include the extensive investment made in the past in SETI (search for extraterrestrial life) and a wide-spread fascination with reported UFO sightings.
Recent articles have appeared in the popular media illustrating a continued high level of interest in this topic. Consider a few headlines from articles which either challenge or defend the possibility of the existence of intelligent extraterrestrial life:
- Intelligent life really can’t exist anywhere else1
- Have we already been visited by aliens?2
- Why extraterrestrial life may not seem entirely alien3
- Why are we still searching for intelligent alien life?4
- NASA is preparing to send a new message to aliens5
- The substitute for the Drake Equation in extraterrestrial space archaeology6
Writers at CMI have addressed this topic for over twenty years from various perspectives (see, Related articles). However, the launch of the James Webb telescope in December of 2021 has again raised the question—“Could This New Telescope Help Us Find the Aliens?”7
So, let’s reconsider the question—does intelligent extraterrestrial life exist?
We accept without question, based on the word of God, the existence of angels and demons. So, someone might ask, “So, isn’t it possible that God could have created other rational creatures somewhere in this vast physical universe but has not told us about them because their existence is not relevant to our situation on the earth?” Of course, God could have done so, but the real question is, did he? “No, God did not create intelligent life anywhere else in the universe.” The claimed sightings of UFOs from other star systems and meetings with aliens who travelled in spaceships are bogus—the observers may have seen something that they cannot explain, but what they saw was not vehicles carrying intelligent creatures visiting earth from planets beyond our solar system.
How can we be so emphatic? Because the account of Adam’s sin and the subsequent curse on Adam, all mankind, and the created order (Genesis 3:17–19) teaches us:
- Man is responsible for the introduction of sin into the physical universe. Almost all science fiction novels and movies that portray aliens include hostilities between humans and aliens, or at least the potential for such hostilities. We innately understand that the curse on Adam’s sin pervades the universe and if there were intelligent beings elsewhere, they would be affected by Adam’s sin and yet would not be responsible for it. In contrast, the angels who sinned were held accountable, expelled from Heaven, and consigned to a future of everlasting torment in Hell (Matthew 25:41). But other rational creatures in the physical universe could probably justly claim that God is unfair if they suffered the consequences of man’s sin when Adam was not their covenant representative before God as he was for us.
- The consequence of Adam’s sin resulted in decay and disaster everywhere. Not only was the earth affected, but the entire universe (Genesis 3:17–19; Romans 8:22). If man could travel beyond our solar system to distant planets, he would discover that rocks could fall and kill him, as on earth. Any intelligent creature anywhere in the universe would also be subject to the increasing entropy and danger that man has caused by sinning against the Creator.
- Jesus took on a flesh-and-blood human nature, becoming the last Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45),8 so that through his death he could provide for mankind a means of redemption from sin (Hebrews 2:14–15). But he did not take on the nature of angels or die for angels who sinned (Hebrews 2:16). Likewise, Jesus died to cover the sins for believing human beings (1 Corinthians 15.21–22), but not of other rational beings who are supposedly out there but are not descended from Adam. Jesus did not become a God-Kryptonian or a God-Wookiee—he became the God-man. Nevertheless, his death on the cross, and resurrection, was a once for all space and time event (Romans 8:19–22; Colossians 1:20, Hebrews 7:27); not just a once for humanity event.
- As Peter tells us (2 Peter 3:10–12), the physical universe, in its totality, will be consumed when Jesus returns to this earth—this includes all the stars and all the planets around all those stars. If there were sinless or sinful rational creatures on those distant planets, they would have no means of being warned of the coming destruction by fire—unless we posit a purely speculative idea that the second person of the Trinity visited these places in a way similar to his incarnation on this earth.
God could have created non-rational life in other parts of the physical universe, but likely did not. Mankind was given dominion over the rest of the living entities on earth (Genesis 1:26). This mandate could logically be extended to any place beyond this earth in which non-rational life existed—for example if men went to Mars and found animals living there, mankind’s dominion would extend over them. But the exercise of this delegated dominion would be meaningless if it could never be realized. Since there is little probability that mankind will ever travel beyond our solar system in the time left to this earth, before its decay reaches the point that it can no longer sustain life and Jesus re-creates it (2 Peter 3:13), it is likely the case that even non-rational life does not exist beyond our planet.
Man is alone in the physical universe as the only intelligent, rational, being created in the image of God. Man is unique and the earth he possesses as his home is unique throughout the entire universe. This is not, as some suggest, because man is the product of a profoundly improbable sequence of cosmic, geologic, climatic, chemical, and biological events. Rather, it is because God created mankind to inhabit this world, which is an ideal habitation for us. Despite our insignificant size (Psalm 8:3–4) we are the centre of God’s concerns in this universe—as shown by the Word becoming human flesh (John 1:14, Hebrews 2:14).
Any scientist who is honest knows that the factors which had to be in place on this earth, or any earth-like planet, to generate life spontaneously are so remotely improbable that it is impossible. So, it is a waste of resources to fund programs such as SETI or Breakthrough Listen. The underlying reason why men wishfully search for intelligent life (or any form of life) beyond the earth is their hope that they can demonstrate that evolutionary forces must exist, which can produce life. This is the result of their desperate attempt to dethrone God and to reinforce their materialistic and naturalistic belief that humankind is nothing more than the product of random events, and essentially no different from animal kinds and the inanimate universe.
References and notes
- popularmechanics.com/science/a34771475/does-intelligent-life-exist-elsewhere Return to text.
- newyorker.com/magazine/2021/01/25/have-we-already-been-visited-by-aliens Return to text.
- quantamagazine.org/arik-kershenbaum-on-why-alien-life-may-be-like-life-on-earth-20210318/ Return to text.
- space.com/why-humans-search-intelligent-alien-life-SETI Return to text.
- anomalien.com/nasa-is-preparing-to-send-a-new-message-to-aliens Return to text.
- thedebrief.org/the-substitute-for-the-drake-equation-in-extraterrestrial-space-archaeology Return to text.
- seti.org/could-new-telescope-help-us-find-aliens Return to text.
- Hughes, J. and Doyle, S., The multiple ‘Adams’ of Scripture, J. Creation 36(1):122–127, 2022. Return to text.