Around 50 years ago, the world was buzzing with excitement when the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) of USA managed to send humans to the moon for the first time in 1969 in the Apollo 11, carrying astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin and Michael Collins. Since then, the world powers have been fixated on achieving greater space exploration feats; many more were sent to the moon and NASA has plans to use the moon as a base station for visits to Mars and possibly to the planets beyond. Dozens of spacecraft have been sent to Mars to map and study the planet’s surface in preparation for sending astronauts to Mars. World leaders have poured billions of money into the renowned International Space Station (ISS), which is used as a space laboratory to help pave the way for further space exploration. SpaceX, one of the companies formed by entrepreneur Elon Musk, has been making headlines as the world’s fastest growing provider of launch services. SpaceX’s key goal is to develop reusable rockets and provide shuttle services between earth and space.
Other than in the news, the topic of space exploration is also prevalent in entertainment, especially in movies and science fiction or dystopian novels. Most of us would have heard of the movie E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, in which an alien befriends a child on earth.
As Reformed Christians, it is important for us to question how we should view space exploration from a Reformed worldview. What does the Bible tell us about the galaxy? How should we as Reformed believers perceive space exploration? Is it wise to support or even participate in such research and feats? And to bring it even further, what should our view be on life beyond earth? In the following article, we will explore the answers from Scripture to these questions.
The Universe in the Bible
Before we start attempting to answer these questions, we should first consider what Scripture has to say about the universe. From the Bible, it is clear that God created the moon, the stars, the heaven and the earth (Gen. 1:1; Ps. 8:3). Without a doubt, God created the galaxy, asteroids, stars and planets. God makes the constellations and sets the stars in their place (Job 9:9). The purpose of God’s creation is so that God’s name is glorified and His majesty is shown forth. This is seen in Psalms 19:1 where David declares that the heavens show forth God’s glory and the firmament is God’s handiwork. Compared to God’s creation of the heavens, man is so small and there is
nothing that we can boast of in the presence of His excellency (Ps. 8:1,4,9). This forms our basis as we discuss the questions, that God is the Creator and His Creation serves to glorify His name.
Reformed Perspective on Space Exploration
With all the advances in space exploration, should we support such research or take delight in the feats of space exploration? It would depend on our motives – whether it is for the purpose of (1) learning more about God’s wondrous creation and giving all glory to him or (2) to glorify men and fuel men’s pride. It is good to desire to learn more about God’s creation. In fact, doing so would greatly humble us when we are put in awe at His perfect creation.
However, today, space exploration is largely conducted to glorify men. World powers invest large sums of money in order to be at the forefront of space technology.1 Scientists use space exploration as a means to prove evolution2, to deny that God is the Creator and that the world was formed by a “Big Bang”. Atheists worship science as their god as they seek to answer all the mysteries of creation without God and the Bible in their answers.
As we read and learn more about the planets, stars and moon beyond this earth that scientists of the world discover in the years to come, may God grant us the grace to give all glory to Him and leave none for men.
Life Beyond Earth
Is there anybody out there?
The Search for Extra-terrestrial Intelligence is commonly found in entertainment where movies and dramas show the possibilities of aliens and intelligent life beyond this earth. We have heard of astronomy, which is the study of stars. But have you heard of astro-biology? Scientists researching in astro-biology study life among the stars, the origins of life, evolution and the possibility of humans living beyond earth. We know clearly from Scripture that God is the Creator, so that leaves no ambiguity regarding the origins of life and that there is no place for evolution for a Christian.
What about life beyond earth? What does Scripture say?
There is a deafening silence in the Bible with regards to life beyond earth.
Scripture teaches us that God created all the creatures and living things on the earth, He made man to dwell on the earth and gave him dominion over the earth (Gen. 1:28). Adam and Eve fell into sin on the earth and Christ took the form of a man on the earth. Christ will return to the earth and God will create a new heavens and earth.
There is nothing mentioned in Scripture about life beyond earth. If nothing is said, can we say that there is a possibility then? God tells us that His Word is perfect and necessary for our salvation (Ps. 19:7; 2 Tim. 3:16-17). Hence, it is my opinion that since Scripture is silent on intelligent life apart from humans on earth, it is not possible for extra-terrestrial intelligent life to exist. God has revealed in Scripture what is necessary for our salvation and it is not our place to speculate about what God does not say. God will reveal more fully His works and ways when we dwell with Him in heaven and it is not our calling to spend our God-given time and energy on pursuing intelligent life beyond earth.
So is there anybody out there?
Yes! God, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ is out there! That is all the comfort that we as God’s people need. Our God is omnipresent. He is in the heavens and in the earth and He dwells in us by His Holy Spirit every day and everywhere.
As we read and hear about more and more achievements of space exploration, may we be careful not to join in the pride of men. Instead, may we meditate on God’s might, giving praise to God for His perfect work in creation.
“The spacious heavens declare
The glory of our God,
The firmament displays
His handiwork abroad;
Day unto day proclaims His might,
And night His wisdom tells to night.”
– Psalter 37 (Psalms 19) –
1 Russia’s 10 year (2016-2025) space program has a budget of $20 billion while USA budgeted $19.3 billion for NASA in 2016 alone. (Source: https://arstechni- ca.com/science/2016/03/russian-space-program-to-match-nasas-annual-budget-over-the-next-decade/)
2 In an article describing NASA’s 50 years of space exploration, results from their satellites are said to have provided unprecedented detail on the origin of the universe and the evolution of the first stars and galaxies. NASA’s spacecraft also was described to reveal the secrets of cosmic evolution from the big bang to the present. (Source: https://www.nasa.gov/50th/50th_magazine/historyLetter.html)
Written by: Elisa Chew | Issue 43