Recently, the federal government released video footage of Unidentified Aerial Phenomona (UAPs for short) recorded by various military aircraft. Meanwhile, at the University of Puerto Rico, astronomers at the Arecibo observatory have developed a growing database of potentially habitable planets orbiting other stars. These developments raise a question: Is there life on other planets?
Answer: I remember when my parents took me to see the movie E.T. As a child, it was enthralling to consider the possibility that life existed elsewhere in the universe. Yet the answer to the question of life existing on other planets depends largely on the definition of “life”. Are we thinking of life in general or specifically of intelligent life?
The possibility of life in general
Even in the twenty-first century, the wonders of God’s creation still have the power to astound. Here on earth, biologists continue to discover on average one new animal species per day. The universe still contains many wonders beyond our understanding that point to the wisdom of our Creator.
That includes the heavens as the work of God’s creation: “The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork” (Psalm 19:1). As of today, life has not yet been discovered on another world. Yet it should not surprise us to learn one day that one of the rovers on Mars has discovered a species of bacteria that can survive the harsh Martian climate. Nor would we be shocked if scientists discovered single-celled organisms surviving under the ice of one of Jupiter’s moons. We would recognize that life, wherever it is found, is one of the wonders of God’s creation.
The possibility of intelligent life
Human beings may discover life on other worlds, but Scripture would seem to preclude the existence of other intelligent alien life. The Bible speaks of human beings as the crown of God’s creation. When God created Adam and Eve, He made them in His own image and likeness and gave them dominion over His creation (Genesis 1). Later, in order to redeem all of creation, God the Son takes on human flesh and blood and becomes a man—not something else (John 1:14). No other creature can claim this special status before God; it is a mark of His love for us. King David is humbled by that fact as he looks up and sees evidence of God’s handiwork in the moon and stars. “What is man that You are mindful of him,” David says, “And the son of man that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, And You have crowned him with glory and honor” (Psalm 8:4-5).
Yet since the 1940s, military pilots report encountering objects that seem to maneuver faster than physics would permit. UFOs (now they’re called UAPs) are spotted in some places on an almost daily basis. In some cases, people report direct contact with otherworldly beings. So what’s happening?
Do not overlook the spiritual aspect. For many, a UFO sighting is a religious experience associated with messages of enlightenment and prophecies of catastrophe. Witnesses of UFOs often tend to have some involvement with the occult— spiritism, magic, or witchcraft. Add to that everything Scripture reveals to us about God’s invisible creation, describing angels and demons as intelligent creatures who clearly are not human. Many Christians see all this and conclude that at least some of the unexplained UFO phenomena is the work of Satan. Why wouldn’t “the prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2) manifest himself to the world in a way that lures gullible human beings away from the truth of Christ? After all, Satan can transform himself into an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). Why would he not choose to appear to some as a benevolent extraterrestrial?
Thankfully, we have nothing to fear—of extraterrestrials, UFOs, UAPs, or the devil—because the Lord is with us. He has not left us to face the devil by ourselves. His angels watch over us and protect us. He armors us with His Word so that we can withstand the devil’s attacks and see through his lies. He comforts and consoles us with the good news of His Son, who is coming soon to deliver us into the kingdom of His eternal glory, where we will find life everlasting. As we continue to learn more about the universe God has created, may we always stand in awe of the wonders of God’s creation—and in even greater awe of the wonders of His love for His creation in Jesus Christ.
Rev. S. Piet Van Kampen