On this site, when we discuss lights in the sky, we are usually referring to UFOs; however, today we will be examining a Bible passage that is often twisted to exclude the possibility of extraterrestrial life.
I’m speaking of Genesis 1:14-19, which relates the events of the 4th Day of the Creation Week:
14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:
15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.
16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night:he made the stars also.
17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth
18 And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.
19 And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
It turns out that there may be more to these “lights in the expanse” than just lights.
Recently, we read the announcement that the NASA Kepler mission has discovered 219 more exoplanets in the Cygnus constellation. Ten of these exoplanets are potentially rocky, close to the size of Earth and within the habitable zone of the stars they orbit.
With the addition of this latest release, Kepler has now identified 4,034 planet candidates, and 2,335 of them have been confirmed as exoplanets. The mission has also found 50 candidates (a total which includes the 10 just announced) similar in size to Earth, with more than 30 of them confirmed.
The possibility of the discovery of another Earth grows with each year. As Daniel prophesied, knowledge truly has increased [Daniel 12:4]. We literally went from horse-and-buggy to a man on the Moon in less than 100 years. Never in the recorded history of the world has man accomplished so much in so little time.
And now we’re looking for other worlds to colonize…
It’s sort of interesting that we are looking for other planets at all. Planets aren’t mentioned in the Bible.
One immediately objects. “Wait! Isn’t the ‘morning star’ another word for Venus?” Ever wonder why it’s called the morning star? Every other reference to what we know are now planets are named as stars in the Bible. Even worse, all heavenly bodies (including moons and planets) are referred to as lights in the expanse. Have they no substance? Are they simply a grand background illustration akin to some Hollywood special effect?
Yet we can walk on the moon. It has substance. So too with the other planets and other moons in the Solar system. Their chief benefits to Earth (i.e., marking seasons, giving light, declaring the power and glory of God) do not appear to be the sum of their qualities. Nor did the Bible ever say this was the case.
But why aren’t planets mentioned in the Bible? Well, basically for the same reason that dinosaurs aren’t mentioned in the Bible. The word dinosaur wasn’t coined until 1841. The King James Bible was translated in 1611. Before Sir Richard Owen gave us the term “dinosauria,” we referred to big, wondrous scaly beasts as dragons, a term found in the Bible.
The word planet was around at the time the King James Bible was written but until the end of the 19th century the word included a wide range of celestial bodies just as the ancient Greeks used the term. Eventually the word planet came to be applied exclusively to a small set of objects in our solar system. After 1992, it was expanded to include exoplanet. In 2005, the word planet was further refined, so that Pluto lost its official status as the ninth planet, being demoted to a dwarf planet. Of course, calling a planet a dwarf planet or minor planet is simply slapping an adjective on the word planet. The controversy over the exact definition of a planet looks as if it will continue in the foreseeable future.
In any case, that’s why planets as we define them now aren’t mentioned as such in the Bible. Our terms for celestial objects have been continually refined as we make new discoveries. When the Bible calls then stars it was presenting the information in the broader terms that the original audiences would have understood.