Intelligent Life in Outer Space

March 6th, 2017 Posted by Thought Tools 44 comments

While he was directing the defeat of the Nazis in World War II, Winston Churchill found time to write on topics millions of miles from Pearl Harbor, the siege of Leningrad and the fall of Bataan.  As a matter of fact, a week before General Douglas MacArthur fled the Philippines for Australia, Churchill penned an essay entitled, “Are There Men on the Moon?” which appeared in London’s Sunday Dispatch on March 8, 1942.

He wrote that he was not so conceited to think that our sun is, “the only one with a family of planets.”  Furthermore, he mused, with such an unthinkably large number of stars and planets out there, some must have the necessary conditions to sustain life and it would be a strange thing if some of those didn’t actually have living creatures. 

By the laws of statistics, Churchill was right. With so vast a universe how could the miracle of life have occurred uniquely on this small speck of rock lost in a gigantic galaxy in a remote corner of the universe?  What is more, random events never happen uniquely.  If you watch a roulette wheel for a week and notice that in all that time, during hundreds of spins, the ball falls into the number seven slot only once, you will know that the wheel was rigged.  Random events never happen only once.  If life on earth evolved through a lengthy process of random, unaided, materialistic evolution, it MUST have happened elsewhere too.

There are only two possible explanations for the presence of humans on planet earth.  First, the explanation I just described, namely random, unaided evolution which is widely accepted in the churches of academia and the cathedrals of scientism.  Second, the good Lord in His wisdom created us in His image and placed us here.  That’s it! There are no more options.  It is easy to see why, in our time, with science overrun by secularism, only the first explanation is acceptable.  

But it comes with a problem: if it was truly a random, unaided evolution, it MUST have happened elsewhere too.  Therefore, if you wish to validate the random unaided explanation, you MUST seek and find life elsewhere.  Without that, your thesis collapses and you will be dragged kicking and screaming to the second explanation—God created us.

Sixty years and more have elapsed since Churchill published his essay, and we have even less reason to believe that living creatures exist elsewhere in the cosmos.  For one thing, the serious search for extraterrestrial life (SETI) has been going on since about 1960 when astronomer Frank Drake, using an eighty-foot radio telescope in West Virginia, began probing the heavens.  Ten years later, NASA began injecting huge sums of money (your taxes) into the search.  That went on for over twenty years until the depressing results decentralized the search to many academic institutes around the world.  Still not even a hint of a sign of anything promising.

It wasn’t even until 1992 that the statistical assumption that there must be other planets outside our solar system (exoplanets) began to be seriously investigated.  We still haven’t actually seen any other planets but their presence is deduced by variations in the light of stars they theoretically occlude.  They probably exist but there is still not one hundred percent certainty that there are any other planets in the universe other than the eight or nine neighbors we learned to memorize in elementary school with the mnemonic, My very excellent mother just served us noodle platters. Never mind extraterrestrial life; there may not really even be any exoplanets on which such life might exist.  

To me, this entire matter is of little concern.  To the extent that one can know anything, I know that God created us in His image and put us here.  If the good Lord in His wisdom also created other forms of life elsewhere, fine.  If He wants us to meet them, He’ll arrange it, and if not—not. I really am not going to stay up at night worrying about it.

But, for secular fundamentalists who start off rejecting even the possibility that we are here because God put us here, there is no such peace.  If they fail to find life elsewhere, then by their own calculations, they MUST conclude that life on earth was not a process of random materialistic evolution.  That leaves only one other possibility.  And for secular fundamentalists, that possibility is too horrible even to contemplate. 

The heavens, yes the heavens are the Lord’s but the earth He has given to people.  (Psalms 115:16)

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Stephen Dale says:

We have not detected life that possesses technology. We’ll see if we detect chlorophyll soon. If one chooses the creator option, why would the creator not find joy in creating a myriad of worlds in the trillions of galaxies we HAVE DETECTED. 🙂 Why would a creator not have as much fun as a billion worlds would give?

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Certainly a theological consideration Stephen,
Why not indeed?
But I think He takes greater pleasure in one humble human with a huge heart than in all the stars of the Milky Way

Laura says:

While no expert myself, the people at Answers in Genesis have responded with a very Biblical explanation as to why extraterrestrial life(aliens) are not real. I would refer you to that article. (sorry – as a policy we don’t post links – but Google works wonders if anyone is interested.)

Thus says Jehovah who created the heavens, Who is God, Who formed the earth and made it, Who has established it, Who did not create it in vain, Who formed it to be inhabited. I AM Jehovah and there is no other. I alone am God. Isaiah the prophet—Old Testament.
New Testament: Hebrews chapter eleven: By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God, so that things that are seen were not made out of things which are visible.

Notice that He made worlds, but He only made the earth to be inhabited. The Holy Scriptures of both the Old and the New Testaments indicate that God had a dream (purpose) He wanted to fulfill. This dream required a creature that was made after His image and likeness. It only required one world, not many of them to achieve His dream. It is His dream, not ours to determine how he accomplishes it.

Jam says:

Look at the mess man has made of this world, yet God has stuck with us. Why would God need to create other worlds, at least not until earth is in harmony with His purpose of creation

Susan Lapin says:

Ah, but God doesn’t need to do things – He graciously bestows them on us.

Art Carnrick says:

Excellent thesis! I believe in God… I believe in Science… any dissertations that bring these two concepts together always interest me…

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Thanks Art–
I believe in God. I use science, I don’t believe in it any more than I believe in my electric drill or my lathe. Neither do I consider scientists, the high priests of scientism to be infallible.
but that’s just me,

JOEL WS says:

Your analysis is brilliant, the argument unassailable, and your way with words a delight. You almost make me feel sympathy for the materialists’ and secularists’ inter-psychic conflict. I imagine their trauma is mitigated, to a tolerable degree, by alcohol and government grant funding.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Hello Joel–
I take profound pleasure in your enjoyment of this Thought Tool; thank you so much. I also chuckled at your pseudo sympathy. But in truth, I do know just what you mean. I think we’re living through history’s first defeat of materialism as an all encompassing philosophy and I don’t envy those whose job it is to continue defending it.
Thanks for writing

Walt Huber says:

I’ve been following your posts for several years now, and really enjoy them. This one about “origins” and God’s creation verse random chance reminded me that we sent you a copy of our book back in July 2015. Our book is titled: “How Did God Do It? A Symphony of Science and Scripture.” We tackle the classic Bible stories asking How Did God Do all those wonderful Bible stories without using a “magic wand,” not violating any laws of Physics and not conflicting with the basic tenets of Judaism and Christianity. I’m wondering if you ever go a look at it? If so, what did you think about our concept?

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Dear Walt–
I do remember you sending your book and I do remember glancing at it and skimming the thesis. I am sorry that I didn’t read it more carefully. The work pressures on my time allow me terribly limited time to look at books not on my reading list. However I recall being impressed with the work you did on the book and if I didn’t write to thank you for it–which I hope I did–I apologize.
In general, I do not read books on topics I am currently working on because I don’t want to be influenced even subconsciously by the words of others and God forbid finding myself inadvertently plagiarizing the work of others. So my official policy is to discourage sending books though there are exceptions.
Thank you for devoting so much work to this area of study and teaching.

alex says:

Consider there is life on other planets and planted by God as well. This planet Earth then may be the only planet with original sin, the only planet where Satan is allowed to wander the earth and devour men. Perhaps our need to reach out to find others is simply our need to find and return to God.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Certainly interesting theological conjecture, Alex,
Thanks for responding to our Thought Tool and for giving it some serious thought.

Joe Christian says:

We should pity those who cannot comprehend the vastness of God’s time and distance. Sixty years ago we started sending signals to others. Since radio waves travel at the speed of light, we would have responses now from beings that are a) within 30 light-years, b) capable of recognizing our signals, and c) capable of responding to us in a way we could recognize. There are some 1400 known star systems within 50 light-years, and clearly fewer than that within 30 light-years. The odds of finding anything identical to us that close is slim. If God has created other life forms, He has done so at His own pace and in His own space. We should wonder at the vast possibilities rather than pout because we haven’t quickly found our twins.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Well said, Joe,
No pouting at creation; just wonder..

Tom BozikisTom Bozikis says:

Dear Rabbi,

I enjoy your writings, and I enjoy your podcast as well. This God, who is also known as the King of the Universe is so majestic, and his ways are beyond comprehension, but yet he is mindful of us, and he allows us the privilege of grasping a little of his mind, and his feelings towards the people he’s created in his own image.

As I read the letter from the New Testament by Paul to the church in Rome, he expresses the point that all creation, which includes the universe, has been subjected to decay because of the sin of Adam, and we look forward to the restoration of creation to its original form when Messiah comes to set all things straight.

Human kind is the pinnacle of his creation, and as such, I believe that he intended for us to be involved with his creation, but we blew it in the Garden, and we were expelled. Because of my limited understanding of all things, I still can accept that we are unique in the universe, and that we are the only place in this vast universe that sustains life.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Thanks for contemplating these lofty ideas and for writing, Tom,
In my view, the little pinky of my youngest daughter is a more fascinating creation than the Alpha Centauri star system.

Tom Ziglar says:

Dear Rabbi,

I love this Thought Tool. It reminds again of why I am so jealous of our friends who believe in the “Big Bang” and a universe without a creator. From a mathematical perspective the explosion that was responsible for the “Big Bang” could have been any power, from just over zero to infinity. Yet only one power of explosion allows for the creation of the universe as we know it.

Any less powerful and the gravitational pull of the matter would make the universe collapse back on itself.
Any more powerful and the expansion would have been to fast to allow the matter to form suns, planets, etc.

The “Big Bang” requires a faith so big it is depending on a single number between zero and infinity. Oh, if only I had that amount of faith.

Your friend,
Tom Ziglar

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

My Dear Tom–
How wonderful to hear from you and what an awesome responsiblity we feel writing Thought Tools knowing that you are reading them.
You’re right. Some are filled with self doubt and question the obvious as if not trusting the incandescently clear evidence is proof of one’s great moral virtue. Others possess unshakeable faith in the grotesquely absurd.
Loved your piece about holding hands with your wonderful father the unforgettable Zig Ziglar. Whenever I mention him to live audiences, I always add how kind and gracious he was to me. Invariably, numerous people come up to me afterwards to tell me the anecdotes of how Zig changed their lives too.
Hope to fellowship with you soon, if not in Dallas, then somewhere else; warmest regards from us both-

Thanks, Rabbi; you are always comforting and fascinating. My household Philosopher used to say (he wasn’t the first to say it) that you can’t prove a negative, except concerning a very small space: “There are no cavities in this mouth”. So you can’t prove that there is no other intelligent life. One interesting synergy is the notion of evolution by divine design; what do you think of that idea? It would allow for seemingly random events. The Hebrew Testament records the ongoing effort to understand God; meanwhile,God goes right on being God.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Dear Deb–
Good to hear from you. Ah, yes, evolution by divine design…..This is exactly why I used the words above “random UNAIDED materialistic evolution”. Secular Fundamentalism won’t ever accept evolution by divine design. As far as I’m concerned, God could have used a Cuisinart food processor to create the world. I don’t care. He could have used evolution. But the point is He did it. Uniquely. Which rules out random, so we’re sort of back where we started.
Thanks for writing,

Terence says:

Hello Rabbi. Loved the piece and all your work, written and podcasts! Never miss one. A thought: I’m not an atheist but not a strong believer also. Wish I was. If no other life in universe means (which I agree!), is it not the case that if other life was found, it would be quite likely that we are here by chance? I think intellectual honesty requires that admission.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Dear Terence–
Thanks for writing and for valuing our work. That’s much appreciated. As I wrote above, finding planet-fulls of intelligent aliens in no way impacts my world view. But you ask, surely the inverse of my argument is just as true? No, actually it is not. Let me explain. We both agree that if any event happens only once, that event was not random but designed. Then you say that intellectual honesty requires that we admit that if an event happens many times, it is not designed but random. Not correct, Terence. Here is the logic:
A unique event can NOT be random.
A non-unique event, one that happens many time MAY be random OR MAY be designed. For instance, if that roulette ball I cited, falls into slot #7 a hundred times during a period in which the next highest occurring slot was, shall we say eleven times, then we know the wheel is rigged just as clearly as we knew when it fell into slot #7 only once.
Or, if you like, finding only one small smooth-shined, perfectly black cube on the beach filled with millions of different pebbles says it was made and placed there by some human agency. If we find twenty such shiny black cubes it in no way compels the conclusion that they were created randomly as all the other millions of pebbles were. Do you see?
The logic is not symmetrical and cannot be reversed. So, in fact, intellectual honesty and logical rigor require that we acknowledge that many populated planets proves nothing but if there’s only one, that proves everything.
Hope that makes sense.
Thanks Terence,

Anton says:

Sorry if I’m repeating anyone here, but doesn’t Genesis 3:20 say that Eve is the mother of all living? “And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living.”

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Good point, Anton–
Though of course there are many who do not regard Genesis 3:20 as authoritative. The piece we wrote was intended to be unarguably persuasive for both Bibler believers and others. But you’re not repeating anyone and your letter is appreciated.

James says:

Thanks, dear Rabbi, for making the critical distinction between science and ‘scientism,’ an ominous word of which many are not aware. A religion based on science selected and slanted at will is no longer science! I also would not lie awake at night worrying about invasions from the next galaxy. But scientism, i.e. ‘science as religion,’ applies to many other hokey causes today, as you have stated: global warming / climate change and the new ‘gender guidelines,’ etc.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Yes, Dear James–
Science is not a synonym for scientism. The latter has become a dangerous ally to the bureaucrats, politicians, and elites who would establish permanent power over every corner of our lives.

larry mccoy says:

Where was God during the Holocaust ?

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Dear Larry–
Surely you don’t really expect this question to be adequately answered in the ‘comments’ section to an article about extraterrestrial intelligence?
You should be aware that this question has over the past sixty years, become a popular slogan of secularism. The question is usually flung out like an unanswerable charge, a rhetorical flourish after which the questioner resumes his seat with a self-satisfied smirk on his face. The truth is that the Holocaust was precisely prophecied in the Hebrew Scriptures as were earlier national tragedies like the two destructions of Jerusalem. As Rabbi Akiva astutely observed two thousand years ago, Jerusalem’s destruction proves the existence of God and the validity of His word. The same can be said of the Holocaust. The short answer to your question however, is that He was exactly where he was when Hutu tribesmen murdered a million Tutsis in 1994 and when MaoTseTung and Stalin murdered tens of millions of their people, and when a nine year old girl in Peoria is killed by a drunk driver. And exactly where He was when all kinds of wonderful blessings happen in your life and in the lives of all His other children. When I am asked to give a speech or lecture teaching on the topic of your question, I require a minimum of ninety minutes. This is about as good as I think I can do in a few lines.

larry mccoy says:

Thank you so much Rabbi Lapin for you response. I was afraid that you might think I was trying to “bait” you and believe me at 70 years of age, I would not waste your time or mine.
I’ve always wondered about where God was during the Holocaust, and in your brief response above, you gave me more to think about than other folks have when I asked that question.
I was raised a Christian but over the years I have become very skeptical of some of the teaching I received as a child in a Baptist church. The racism, bigotry, and other teachings I see on TV and in the news has convinced me that their are a lot of shysters and deceitful people on Christian TV.
I’ve been talking to my Jewish friends about me converting and how to get more information. I’ve found your show on TCT to be a blessing and I’ve learned so much about Judaism through your and Susan’s teachings. Your kids are lucky to have such loving, caring parents like your self. Anyway, one of my Doctors, Dr. Kline suggested I go the the Synagog and talk to the Rabbi their, so that’s my plan.
God bless you and your family Rabbi.
Larry Mccoy 🙂

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Good luck with your plan, Larry–
and if that doesn’t work out well for you, why not try another church? There are so many, which I think is a wonderful blessing, you will surely find one with at least a few admirable souls you would want to associate with. And you don’t need more than that.

Ronald Hosford says:

Hi Rabbi Lapin, love your teachings and Thought Tools! In my opinion the very fact that the Bible/Tanach talks about other beings, other than man, shows it would be foolish to believe there is no other intelligent life then man! There is far to much evidence and eye witnesses accounts and photos to say any different! I love watching documentaries especially on UFOs. I don’t buy into the ancient alien theory that aliens manipulated DNA to create man!! That’s complete hogwash! I see no problem or conflict in believing God created man and other life on other planets. Some may ask how then are the aliens more advanced? I can see 2 reasons 1) their “Adam” never sinned so nothing inhibited their scientific advances. 2) the Bible/Tanach talks about God stretching out the heavens. So if we are the ones God moved at the speed of light then the universe would have aged while we stayed young. Thus giving more then enough time for other life to become more advanced. Either way it doesn’t change the fact that there is a God who has laws to follow or the fact that everyone needs a Rabbi!! Shalom.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Thanks for writing Ronald,
Great to hear from you. Just one minor but important correction: There is actually NO evidence for intelligent beings other than man. If there was evidence, there’d be no further debate. That’s what evidence tends to do. It brings certainty and ends the argument. There may be extraterrestrial intelligence or maybe there is not. Frankly my dear Ronald, I don’t give a doubloon. However, the longer it takes to find any evidence of other intelligent life, the more awkward life becomes for devoted believers of America’s state religion of Secular Fundamentalism. But that of course was the point of our Thought Tool.
You are very inventive Ronald, your theory of an expanding universe making time available made me smile. You really ought to try writing a science fiction story. I may not agree with everything in your letter but I enjoyed reading it all. One thing you mentioned with which I agree 100% is that everyone needs a rabbi-
Happy to be yours,

Ron Hoy says:

Hello Rabbi Lapin
I enjoyed your essay here. I think that
there are other beings in the second heaven. And I think the secular world is in contact with them and I believe they have interacted with man since creation. NOt sure about Jewish teachings on Gen 6. and the book of Enoch ( non canon) I suspect that these Rebels against Jehovah will succeed in gaining a position of worship again at some point in the future. But as far as God creating any other fleshly race . Scripture literally makes us the exclusive peak of God’s glorious creation, and while one could speculate otherwise, they would have no position of authority for that opinion . Also I see a clear proof that God used his spoken word( and God said!), not evoloution, to create all things in 6 -24 hr days ( evening and morning were the first day)Evolution requires cycles of death and mutation( courruption) to work. Death resulted only after Adam disobeyed God. Thus no death- no evolution no sin -no death ! Thank you for your faith and honor of God’s perfect word! I truly wish everyone who called themselves Jewish would share in your faith and at least allow us as a society to publicly practice and honor the code of Morality that God established. And that despite our differences in theology , Jew and Christian should be in agreement on. God bless you.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Thanks for writing Ron–
The seminal question for Christians and Jews is did God give His message to mankind through Moses on Mt Sinai. The answer is either ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Any answer starting off “Well, …….” means “no”. Six twenty-four hour periods is tough since the sun, making 24 hour days the standard, didn’t make an appearance till day 4. Ancient Jewish wisdom says that Einstein and early 20th century quantum mechanics got it close to right with their understanding that time is not an absolute (other than when my wife is waiting for me to pick her up)

As we say in Buffalo, NY….Holy kielbasa that is a lot of responses. I’m prepared to expound on my knowledge of The Creator and how he did it. Ready??? I’m done. Thank you to you and Mrs. Lapin for all your hard work and sacrifice.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Yes, Louis–
we love our commenters and correspondents; and as we say in Brooklyn, Super Salami We do have a lot of outstanding commenters.
You sound like my dentist–“This won’t hurt–did it?”

Jeffrey Payne says:

Rabbi Lapin,
Your podcasts are a beacon of Biblical insight in a land that has embraced blindness & called it “liberation”. As one who does not share that love of blindness, I have enjoyed listening to your podcasts. In “Why Does Secular Fundamentalism Favor Doctrine & Dogma Over Reality?” you drilled down to the fundamental flaw in our mental models that is the source of the divide between Conservatives & Sec-Fundies (love that term, by the way). That flaw is in the relationship between Power & Truth:
Sec-Fundies believe that Power defines Truth, while Conservatives understand that Truth defines Power.
Many commentators I hear or read, Left & Right, express bafflement at the “hypocrisy” of those on the other side. But the bafflement disappears once we understand the mental models with which each side is operating. The Sec-Fundies speak of “truth as just a social construct” & deny that there are any “absolute” values. This inevitably sends their thinking down a path that is incomprehensible to those of us who start with the words, “In the beginning, God created…” And on the flip side, those whose understanding of the reality teaches them the primacy of Power, can’t comprehend those of us who take a stand on Truth. The sense of contradiction comes from each side trying to force-fit the other’s values into their own understanding of Truth & Power.
For example, let’s say a Sec-Fundie decided to reduce his time to commute to work by attaching a jet engine to his car. He reasons, “Jets travel at 600 mph; so if I can commute at that speed, my 30 minute trip goes down to 90 seconds!” After attaching the jet to his car, all he needs to do (he thinks) is to get his friendly, neighborhood politicians to increase the speed limits to 600 mph, & he’s good to go… Well, not so fast, says the Conservative. Strapping a jet to your car is do-able, but a 600 mph speed limit does NOT solve little problems like: terrain, turns, other drivers, air resistance, etc. These truths of engineering are not subject to political manipulation. To which our Sec-Fundie sneers, “Neanderthal! Troglodyte! You’d drag humanity back to the Dark Ages! We must have Progress!” Because in the Sec-Fundie’s mind, if the Power of the State makes the speed limit 600 mph, then he is liberated to drive at 600 mph. Reality is reconfigurable; Truth must bow to Power.
Now this analogy might seem silly, except that we just had a President whose Departments of Education & Justice teamed up to put out a letter labeling as bigots girls who don’t want to shower with a boy who thinks he’s a girl, & threatening their schools with the loss of funding & lawsuits if they don’t bow to the new, politically-defined “genders”. Effectively saying that reality is reconfigurable, that Truth must bow to Power.
But reality is not optional; Truth will still stand after Power has exhausted itself. So, in light of the perils of our time, please continue shining the light of Truth in our darkness-infatuated society.
Best regards,

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Dear Jeffrey–
I really like your analogy and your excellent phrase “Reality is not optional”
Well crafted!

eckhart says:

Please consider not to use the word humans as a noun,
rather use it as an adjective:

humans versus human beings

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Thank you Eckhart
I will consider it.

eckhart says:

Dear Rabbi Lapin,

thank you for responding to my suggestion. I have the impression that the use of ‘human’ as a commonly used noun is a relatively new occurrence. I did not find much of such a use in older literature – ‘google books searches’, the Bible.

I am not a native English language speaker.

I am comfortable with its use an adjective ‘human beings’ – understood as, in German, ‘Mensch’.
‘People’ for a group, I find acceptable, though a bit less already.
‘Person’, I find acceptable in the sense of ‘ per sonere’ – latin ‘to swing through’ – yet, also with reservation, as it does not recognise the sex.

‘Human race’ I find to be problematic – this appears to be contradictory to me.

‘Humans’ as a noun: this seems to indicate a classification, a race out of the animal kingdom ? I find this to be lacking. I cannot find ‘created in His image’ in this term. It is degrading and misleading.

May I ask your opinion about this ? Do you judge this as an important issue ? What does ancient wisdom suggest in your opinion ?

Example of my concerns: we are created as a man or a woman, the sex of each is implied. As ‘humans’ we have no sex implied and ‘genders’ have to be assigned; this lack of definition invites confusion.

If you find time to answer, – I would love to learn form your insights.


Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Dear Eckhart–
Interesting observation you make that ‘human’ ignores gender. Person and individual also do and we often use them specifically when the gender of the person is irrelevant. You are correct that it is certainly better to say, “Would the person/individual driving a red Toyota please come to the office” as opposed to saying “Would the human….”
Thanks for writing,
Auf widersehn.

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