Recently Stephen Hawking has been in the news for saying that we should look for aliens and listen in on them, but avoid contact if we want to avoid extinction. His statement is part of an ongoing discussion over the advisability of METI (Messaging to Extraterrestrial Intelligence), also known as Active SETI, which refers to the act of using high power communications equipment on Earth to transmit various messages to unknown extraterrestrial intelligences. This duscussion has been going on in the scientific community since it was first brought up during a February 13, 2015 meeting if the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
The concern is that the evolutionary “age distribution of Earth-like planets in the universe tells us that the average Earth-like planet is about 2 billion years older” than our planet, meaning that extraterrestrial civilizations could be far advanced of us. Since we dont know their intentions, many scientists worry about sending a directed message to potentially hostile ETs.
Creation Ministries International has seized on the xenophobic objections raised by Stephen Hawking and likeminded scientists to hawk the forthcoming film version of its CEO’s Amazon best-selling book, Alien Intrusion.
In an article entitled “Hawking fear of aliens” CMI’s David Catchpoole writes that “many young folk in particular have been influenced by science fiction notions of aliens traversing the galaxy in their faster-than-light spaceships and advanced weaponry” and that “young people’s belief in extra-terrestrials often goes hand-in-hand with a morbid fear of what aliens will do to them.”
A new poll by YouGov intended to guage American opinion on extraterrestrial life in the wake of the discovery of seven Earth-sized exoplanets in the TRAPPIST-1 system suggests that this might be overstatement.
A YouGov Poll of 2008 American adults conducted on February 24, 2017 asked, “If we discover or are discovered by an alien species one day, do you think it is more likely that they will be friendly or hostile toward humanity?” Half of the respondents [52%] weren’t sure. 29% thought they were more likely to be friendly. Only 19% thought they were most likely to be hostile.
Among 18-24 year old son, there was a greater percentage who believe that aliens life is likely to be hostile [27%], but an equal percentage thought aliens are likely to be friendly (a mere 2% drop from the overall average). In other words, young adults are more opinionated than they are uncertain, but are equally divided on the intent of any extraterrestrial life that might exist out there.
The bottom line is that a minority of Americans believe that intelligent extraterrestrial life is likely to be hostile. In fact, a 2002 Roper Poll concluded that:
“Most Americans appear comfortable with and even excited about the thought of the discovery of extraterrestrial life. Three-quarters of the public claim they are at least somewhat psychologically prepared for the discovery of extraterrestrial life, and nearly half are very prepared.”
So it kind of looks like that alien fear factor David Catchpoole mentioned doesn’t exactly apply to most people. I could find no poll that guaged the level of fear associated with the opinion that aliens are likely to be hostile. Saying that young adults have a “morbid fear” of aliens seems to be hyperbole. It’s possible that some of those who gave the opinion that alien life is likely to be hostile have a morbid fear of aliens, but how many of the respondents this applies to is unknown. It’s possible it’s more of a mild concern at this point, despite CMI’s cherry picked comments to the contrary. I mean seriously, how much of the population does David Catchpoole actually think are worried that an alien signal will contain a brain melting virus?
Personally I abhor such self-serving sensationalist fearmongering. Christians in particular have nothing to fear if aliens were to ever visit this planet (a possibility I find extremely unlikely). According to Biblical record, angels are more powerful than us but are kept in check by God’s will. Biological aliens would be no different. God is still sovereign and His will cannot be broken.
Of course that doesn’t mean it will always be sunshine and roses. The Church has suffered enough persecution and offered up enough martyrs to prevent us from thinking no harm will come to us simply because we’re Christians, right? When it comes down to it, we can look at those alien invaders and say, “You know what? This world isn’t my home either and I serve a God who is much, much bigger than you.”
And what if they were fallen angels posing as biological entities? Shouldn’t we be worried about that? If it happens (and I doubt the probability of this this scenario coming to pass only a little less than actual alien invasion), it will be because God allowed it in order for His will to be accomplished.
Either way, there is no reason to fear the possibility of extraterrestrial life if you trust in Jesus. Disintegration rays can’t touch your home in heaven.
And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. [Matthew 10:28]