What should Christians believe about extraterrestrial life?
I was reminded of this common question this week as I watched, along with millions of viewers, the television premiere of the movie Contact starting Oscar award-winner Jodi Foster. This movie was based on the Carl Sagan novel by that name. The fictional movie dramatically glorified the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) research project. At the same time the obvious motive of the movie was to caricature those who believe in God. It misrepresented Christians as anti-science and unable to defend their beliefs. The movie's main character, played by Foster, demonstrates this when she says that in Sunday School she asked "annoying questions" like "Who was Mrs. Cain?" Later she suffers persecution by means public humiliation due to her brave stand in her "non-belief" in God. Therefore, the answer to your question, according to the Hollywood is "Yes! There is life out there. To doubt this is to doubt science."
Unfortunately for Sagan and Hollywood, however, proof for their faith is lacking. The SETI program can now scan 28 million radio frequencies per second but has failed to obtain just one signal from outer space in the past 40 years. This, despite millions of tax dollars received over the years from NASA, the National Academy of Sciences and the National Science Foundation.
No doubt that millions more of our dollars will be spent on this kind of science fiction. The origin of life on earth cannot be explained by evolution because there is no mechanism for it. Natural selection and mutations have been taught for years as the engine for evolution. Evolution has become like a bright and shiny new car, very attractive and appealing but when you open the hood there's nothing there; there is nothing to drive it. Natural selection does not provide for the needed vertical variation and mutations are the origin of death and deformity, not the origin of life. These embarrassing facts have increasingly become apparent to those in science and education. That is why so much of an emphasis is being placed on finding life in outer space.
Francis Crick, famous for discovering the double helix structure of DNA, was one of the first to give credibility to the idea that life on earth began by being "seeded" from outer space. Crick was probably more aware that anyone of the complexity of the living cell so he was unable to accept the conventional explanation that life resulted from chance. In 1973 he proposed the idea of panspermia--the idea that life on earth began by "seeding" from intelligent life in outer space. Incredibly, this unscientific idea, which should remain in the area of science fiction, is increasingly becoming popular today. Recently quoted in the journal Nature, NASA administrator Dan Goldin expressed a desire to "make the search for extraterrestrial life one of the central themes of the agency." Thus, this explains the "panting" going on in science today. Astronomers, desperate to turn science fiction into reality look to the stars wailing "Water! Water!" If only they can prove water on Mars or someplace in space, then this could give them reason to believe that life also exists there.
The scientific problems with this ridiculous notion are obvious but many scientists today are blinded to them by their devotion to a naturalistic explanation of origin. Baptized in evolution, immersed in the thinking that a supernatural creator could not have been involved, many scientists have sacrificed reason on the altar of naturalism. That is, by believing unconditionally that everything can be explained by natural causes and at the same time denying that God could be involved, outer space has become their "promised land." It is the perfect explanation for life without God. Astronomy is a soft science; it is not provable and speculative. All that is needed is a fancy interpretation that can make a good headline every once in a while to keep the public uninformed and unthinking. Helped along with a fascination for science fiction, Star Trek and movies like Contact, Americans are exceptionally gullible and willing to throw away reason when faced with such an unfounded explanation.
All this makes challenging the conventional wisdom of the day not only difficult but necessary. We cannot allow Hollywood or the so-called science of the day to continue to portray Christians as unscientific and unable to defend questions like "Who was Mrs. Cain?" We must be equipped now more than ever before. If we are not equipped to give an answer from logic and science to questions like "Is there life in outer space?" then the so-called science of the day will be happy to continue to preach the illogical, irrational and scientifically unfounded ideas like we saw in Contact. In two weeks I will answer this question beginning with the most logical and scientifically reliable source that we have -- the Bible; then I will address the many scientific problems with the idea of panspermia.5/5/01
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Originally published in the Rockdale/Newton Citizen