Grasping at Stars: The Search for Extraterrestrial Life
Science, if it is to be studied accurately, must be studied from a Christian perspective. The secular realm denounces such a perspective, saying it warps science in order to meet its own agenda. However, Christian teachers can point out that the secular science community, under the guise of objectivity, distorts science in many ways in order to support its own main agenda: to write God out of the story altogether. BJU Press began with a physical science textbook, written to give Christian students a clear presentation of Truth, and we continue to address in our publications antibiblical issues as they arise.
The past decade has brought unprecedented interest in life beyond the earth. While humans have long been curious about what is "out there," the increasing prevalence of a non-Christian worldview has opened many minds to an extraterrestrial explanation for the origin of life. If life is not a special creation of God but merely the result of a chance combination of the right chemicals under the proper conditions, it would be egocentric for us to assume that life evolved only here and is limited to our planet.
Increasing acceptance of the credibility of UFO accounts and conspiracy theories of alien cover-ups further illustrate public sentiment regarding the possibility of intelligent life beyond our planet. The entertainment market has capitalized on this with video games, television series, and major motion pictures.
In the early 1980s, the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) project was initiated to monitor radio waves from space—just in case alien civilizations were trying to contact us. Initially dismissed by many serious scientists as frivolous, this effort has garnered both public and private funding along with increased respectability. A decade ago, enterprising software engineers even created a free downloadable program that allows any Internet-connected computer to help with the massive task of processing data collected from space. The most recent focus of the science establishment, though, is not whether alien cultures inhabit other worlds, but it is a concentrated investigation into how and where life might first have formed.
Astrobiology is the study of the origin, evolution, distribution, and future of life, not only here but also throughout the universe. It places the study of life in the broader context of the universe. Considered to be on the fringe of real science only a few years ago, it is now attracting major government funding and some of the brightest minds in science. NASA has authored an Astrobiology Roadmap that directs its research to answer the following questions: "How does life begin and evolve?" "Does life exist elsewhere in the universe?" and "What is the future of life on Earth and beyond?"2 If you use any major Internet search engine to query astrobiology, you will probably come up with more than a million hits. This fledgling science already has its own websites; a peer-reviewed journal; and branch disciplines, such as bioastronomy, astropaleontology, and cosmochemistry. You can even enroll in graduate astrobiology programs at many major universities.
The motivation for such study is obvious. A rejection of the supernatural origin of life as recorded in Genesis leaves a huge void that begs to be filled. God created man with an inquiring mind, and the ultimate questions of "How did it all start?" and "Why am I here?" cannot be ignored. Laboratory attempts to generate life under the supposed early earth conditions have raised more questions than they have answered. As a result, many scientists are open to extraterrestrial answers. While some scientists labor to find and identify conditions that might have favored the formation of life on Mars or in distant worlds, others theorize about how life or its precursor chemicals might have traveled here on comets, meteors, or even space dust.
An understanding of this new quasi-scientific movement helps give perspective to many contemporary news stories. The search for evidence of water on Mars by NASA’s Mars Exploration rover mission, the now-discredited possibility that fossilized life forms may have been found in a meteorite, the recent discovery of more than a hundred planets orbiting distant stars, and even NASA’s Deep Impact probe that fired a missile into Comet 9P/Tempel 1 are all tied in with this desperate attempt to find meaning without God.
While the secular science establishment strives to rewrite the story of how life and ultimately man came into existence, God’s Word gives us all of the truth we need to know about man’s origin, fall, and need of redemption. As Christians and informed thinkers, we need to share that worldview-altering story with others and be on guard against the increasing attempts to create a world without a Creator.