Can humans ever travel to other star systems and have aliens come to earth? How do the answers to these questions mesh with Christianity?
In fall 2016, Steven Hawking, famous physicist and atheist, said that we have 1,000 years to leave earth and begin to spread among the stars or become extinct. According to an article published on Space.com: “Though only about a dozen potentially habitable exoplanets have been detected so far, scientists say the universe should be teeming with alien worlds that could support life. The Milky Way alone may host 60 billion such planets around faint red dwarf stars, a new estimate suggests.”
An estimate of how many galaxies there are in the observable universe is 100 billion. So we multiply 100 billion by 60 billion to get the number of planets where conditions might be right for life. Given this information, if true, it seems likely that God has placed life on other worlds.
In June 2017, in a BBC documentary called “Expedition New Earth,” Hawking changed his estimate and said that we have only 100 years. Hawking would like for humanity to continue to exist although one wonders why. Why does he want humans to go to another planet since we are ruining our own?
In evolutionary theory, humans are still being perfected and it would seem he wants this to continue. If we do find a form a space travel which will allow us to seed other planets, only a few out of billions of humans will ever be able to go. The rest will die on earth. In the book “The World’s Last Night: And Other Essays,” C. S. Lewis wrote an essay entitled “Religion and Rocketry.” He said, “I have wondered before now whether the vast astronomical distances may not be God’s quarantine precautions. They prevent the spiritual infection of a fallen species from spreading.”
Steven Hawking is pessimistic about the future of humanity on earth and he is aware that his own life will soon end. Yet he hopes that some version of humanity will spread to other planets. As a Christian, I place my hope in Christ, the perfect man, who is my redeemer and who has created this and all worlds. It is best to think about our own destiny on earth and after our lives end than to place hope in fleeing to distant planets. Christ is at work making us like him in character and preparing us for eternal life. When we meet him face to face, we will learn of God’s intentions for this impossibly huge universe.
Yet, if we are going to think of going to other worlds, it is natural to think about aliens visiting our planet. due to the distances between earth and habitable planets in other solar systems, moving people from here to there is currently impossible. The amount of energy needed to accelerate even a small ship to light speed and then decelerate it for landing is impossible for us to put in a ship at this time. In addition, the time required, even at light speed, would require some sort of hibernation or immense food supplies if people were to remain awake. Since mass increases as one approaches the speed of light, the problems get worse as one goes faster and needs bigger ships.
It is estimated that ion propulsion technology might get one to the nearest star in 75,000 years. You can read an article on Universe Today that lists the different energy sources for an interstellar ship and the costs – and you will probably agree that space travel beyond our solar system will not be happening without a huge technological discovery. Some have speculated we will need to invent a way to warp or fold space so we can jump from here to there quickly. This is no more than a glint in the eye of some physicist’s imagination.
If it is impossible for us to go to alien worlds, it is just as difficult for them to get to us. David J. Eicher (editor-in-chief of Astronomy magazine, author of 16 books on science and president of the Astronomy Foundation) has said in an article in the Huffington Post that meeting aliens on our planet or theirs is just a dream due to the distances involved.
Further, the idea that they have come here only to sneak around and play games with us with lights in the sky and kidnapping people for experiments, seems preposterous. An advanced race that has invented faster-than-light-space travel would not waste its time and technology on such things unless of course they are not only very smart, but also monsters as the movie “Prometheus” has proposed. Do we really think this would be the case? With billions of worlds to choose from, why choose to come to earth and harass human beings?
It is far more likely that there are natural or spiritual explanations for the current belief in alien visits. These include a desire to be distracted from God’s call to focus our lives on knowing and loving Him.
Read more of our Dear Theophilus series on the Living Faith blog. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org and use the subject line “Dear Theophilus.” To learn more about the College of Theology at GCU, visit our website or contact us using the Request More Information button.
- Eicher, David J. “Why UFOs Have Never Visited Earth – and Probably Never Will.” Huffington Post. Retrieved from: huffingtonpost.com/david-j-eicher/ufos-visit-earth_b_3709611.html
- Gannon, Megan. “60 Billion Alien Planets Could Support Life, Study Suggests.” Space.com. Retrieved from: space.com/21800-alien-planets-60-billion-habitable-exoplanets.html
- Lewis, C.S. “The World’s Last Night: And Other Essays.” Harvest Books.
- Williams, Matt. “How Long Would It Take to Travel to the Nearest Star?” Universe Today. Retrieved from: universetoday.com/15403/how-long-would-it-take-to-travel-to-the-nearest-star/
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University.