The news of several Earth-sized planets orbiting a small, dim star called TRAPPIST-1 fell like a bombshell this past few days. The announcement was well orchestrated, complete with a 360 image of an exoplanet’s surface, a more mundane image of the same, a little video, and even a travel poster. It was admittedly overkill, but even Google got involved with an exclusive Google doodle. Why? Because exoplanets are cool!
I found out about it within an hour of the announcement but I wanted to see how my fellow creationists would react before I posted about it. Thus far, there hasn’t been much.
For those of you who don’t know, I’m a Biblical young earth creationist who happens to believe in the possibility of extraterrestrial life. This position has made me an instant outsider. I’ve been banned from several creationist sites simply for voicing the obvious truth that we shouldn’t be dogmatic about things (including aliens) that THE Bible is silent on. The official creationist position has become dogmatically xenophobic and the book I wrote to counter this unnecessary and unwise anti-alien position has become the Most Hated Book in Creationism.
I personally think that the search for aliens worlds is exciting stuff! Many of my fellow creationists seem to think that the very search for strange new worlds which might support life is an attack on the specialness of Earth. Let me be clear: God made creatures in His image here, incarnated here, and died and rose again here. Nothing can impugn on the specialness of Earth. If we find another life-bearing planet, it would not mean we are less special or loved, any more than the arrival of a new sibling means that an older child is less special or loved.
Dr. Danny Faulkner (who promised a fuller treatment of the TRAPPIST-1 exoplanets in the near future) immediately weighed in that evolutionists are keen to discover alien life because they are keen to prove evolution is true. Of course, evolutionists are keen to prove evolution is true! Whoever thought otherwise? Does this mean that alien life would prove evolution occurred and special creation was false? Um, no. This false dilemma permeates the creationist discussion of alien life; however, as creationists are fond of pointing out otherwise, evolutionists and creationists have the same evidence to interpret.
Point in fact, I’m keen to discover alien life, if it exists, to see what new surprises the Creator has in store for us. Alien life would not be out of character for the God who made microscopic organisms well before we developed the tools to view them. Incidentally, neither microbes nor aliens are mentioned in the Bible.
I think that the search for exoplanets should be encouraged for several reasons:
- As I stated, if alien life exists, I’d like to see what else the Creator made. Since the Bible is clear that God made everything, if they exist, God made aliens. As a Christian scifi author, I write about alien worlds and extraterrestrial life, but I can’t help thinking that the real thing will be so much more awesome and surprising than anything I’ve managed to dream up.
- By allowing godly Christian astronauts to explore our moon and space, God has made it pretty apparent that the idea that the heavens are God’s and the earth was given to men does not limit man to the earth, nor could it then limit life to the earth. Likewise, the moon landing made it clear that the moon’s stated Biblical purposes (to provide light, to mark seasons and times, and to declare God’s glory) aren’t meant to be viewed as the entire extent of its potential purpose. The same could be said for the rest of the heavens. We should explore the universe God has created with an open mind and a sense of wonder. This knee-jerk anti-alien dogma smacks of the very anti-science creationists have fought so hard to demonstrate they aren’t guilty of.
- If aliens don’t exist, the search for aliens serves a useful purpose in ruling out the possibility without resorting to an argument from silence.
In any case, I really think we ought to stop making dogmatic anti-alien statements when the Bible is silent on the matter.