Would We Believe in the Possibility of Alien Life Without the Theory of Evolution?

A May 31, 2006 article by Gary Bates and David Catchpoole on Creation.com caught my attention a while back. It was called “ET Needed Evolution.” Notably, it’s now cited as a linked resource for Session 2 in the Discussion Guide for the Alien Intrusion movie.

I hadn’t yet written Strangers & Aliens but I had read Gary Bates’ Alien Intrusion: UFOs & the Evolution Connection. Something that had bothered me about the book was that Bates never really proves his subtitle’s thesis. As I wrote in another post:

In his Amazon bestseller Alien Intrusion: UFOs and the Evolution Connection, Gary Bates tries to make an intrinsic connection between a belief in extraterrestrial life and the theory of microbes-to-man evolution. The implication is that a belief in the possibility of alien life is the result of an evolutionary worldview rather than a Biblical worldview. Since Bates is the CEO of Creation Ministries International, it is understandable that he would want to connect the subject matter of Ufology and exotheology to the creation/evolution debate; however, the “evolution connection” Bates promises in the subtitle of his book is probably one of the weakest points he raises. 

Bates devotes a tiny section (entitled “Aliens and the evolution connection”) of the first chapter, spanning a mere two and a half pages (!), to his promised thesis. Even so, he fails to establish an intrinsic connection between evolutionary premises and the belief that alien life is possible. 

Instead he ends up saying that evolutionists believe that alien life would come about by evolution, and that evolutionists think that common descent evolution is a natural property throughout the universe, therefore life must be as common as gravity. It is no surprise that an evolutionist with a commitment to naturalism would make such assumptions.

For example, in the 2006 article I mentioned, he cites Mark Brake from Stephen Pincock’s article, “Communicating through movies,” in the February 2005 issue of The Scientist:

“Key to the advancement of extraterrestrialism in the 20th century was Darwin’s theory of evolution. Darwin’s theory gave credence to the development of life under alien conditions, placing the extraterrestrial hypothesis on a sounder footing.”

This is an unnecessary conclusion. Brake glosses over Kepler and then promotes HG Wells as if only Wells and his evolutionary beliefs were necessary to develop the idea of extraterrestrial life… and does so precisely because it supports his thesis. In doing so, he ignores (or remains ignorant of) the fact that theologians had been discussing the possibility of extraterrestrial life favorably since at least the Middle Ages. Of course, these Christian theologians didn’t suppose that evolution was necessary for the existence of extraterrestrials. They correctly surmised that if extraterrestrials existed, then God had created them. 

For those who object that the Bible doesn’t mention extraterrestrials, I would remind them that the Bible does not claim to be an Encyclopedia Galactica containing all information that ever existed. Point in fact, it doesn’t mention microbes or planets as such and yet they exist.

Gary Bates commits the same basic mistake, and it’s all due to his pre-existing bias against extraterrestrials based on the idea that extraterrestrial life could be used to support the theory of evolution. In doing so he commits a logical fallacy known as an appeal to (bad or unfavorable) consequences. It’s a variant of the slippery slope fallacy. Point in fact, creationists affirm the validity of fossils though not the dates attatched to them. We affirm antibacterial resistance without also affirming the idea that it supports microbes-to-man evolution. There are lots of things that we affirm that are true  that are none the less used by evolutionist as alleged support for their naturalist dogma.

In fact, it is somewhat disingenuous to make this kind of argument in light of the fact that creationist often point out that both evolutionist and creationist are attaching different interpretations to the same evidence. If alien life were discovered, creationist would not be forced to abandon their faith or ditch their Bibles as they bowed to evolutionary dogma. Quite naturally, we would interpret the data in light of the Bible and say that the extraterrestrial life must have been created by God. Thus, the existence of alien life would neither prove nor disprove either evolution nor Christian theology. 

As CS Lewis aptly pointed out in his essay, “Religion and Rocketry,” both the possibility of aluen life and its possible absence have BOTH been proffered as pitentially damning evidence against Christianity. An absence of ET life allegedly “showed the absurdity of the Christian idea that there was a Creator who was interested in living creatures,” while the existence of aliens allegedly “showed (equally well) the absurdity of Christianity with its parochial idea that Man could be important to God.”

He wisely deduced:

“This is a warning to what we may expect if we ever do discover animal life (vegetable does not matter) on another planet. Each new discovery, even every new theory, is held at first to have the most wide-reaching theological and philosophical consequences. It is seized by unbelievers as the basis for a new attack on Christianity; it is often, and more embarrassingly, seized by injudicious believers as the basis for a new defense.

But usually, when the popular hubbub has subsided and the novelty has been chewed over by real theologians, real scientists and real philosophers, both sides find themselves pretty much where they were before. So it was with Copernican astronomy, with Darwinism, with Biblical Criticism, with the new psychology. So, I cannot help expecting, it will be with the discovery of ‘life on other planets’ if that discovery is ever made.”

The bottom line is that evolution is not necessary for a belief in the possibility of extraterrestrial life… and most creationists agree on this point!

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