Fermi’s Folly, Alien Worlds, & This World’s End

Wisdom's Friend

Fermi’s Folly, Alien Worlds, & This World’s End

“Where is everybody?”

That is the question that noted physicist Enrico Fermi once asked some fellow scientists when discussing why there seems to be no one else in the universe but human beings on planet earth. The question arises because, according to scientific observation and measurement, the cosmos is so huge that, in the evolutionary view, there should be many worlds where life evolved, not just once, on planet Earth. But if this is so, “Where is everybody?” (meaning aliens from other worlds.)

This is a more important question than might first be supposed. It is not simply an interesting topic for conversation but has real and serious implications for your life and mine, especially so as we near the end of this world, as many Christians believe because of what they read in the Bible about this time and what they see happening in the world in these times (1 Chr. 12:32, 1 Th. 5:4-6).

What follows is a look at the seriousness of the question and the profound implications of the answer to it which one believes.

Starting with the secular viewpoint of Fermi and many others in this world, it must be understood that Fermi looked at this question from a solely scientific framework, one which rules out from the start (according to the way many interpret what science means) the possibility of the existence of a God or intelligent design. Therefore, it is not surprising that he could not come up with a solution, since the true solution was ruled out before he even began his calculations.

And calculate he did. He did a series of calculations on the probability of earthlike planets, the probability of life arising on such planets, and so forth. And He concluded on the basis of such calculations that we ought to have been visited long ago and many times over. Hence the question, “Where is everybody?”

That conclusion gives rise naturally to the question. Yet his conclusion should not necessarily be faulted, given the assumptions made, for the reasoning follows an orderly and consistent pattern to its conclusion, given those assumptions. The problem is with the assumptions. They are all based on a belief in evolution and probabilities, which they necessarily must be, since there is no way to test and measure this area as the scientific method is commonly employed. Probabilities based on human assessment of what is known about the universe is what it must come down to; probabilities, because no one knows for sure.

As secular scientists and others holding similar views of reality continue to grapple with this paradox, a whole host of possible solutions have been put forth as to why we have not seen aliens contact our world (discounting ufo claims), despite the probabilities that other inhabited worlds likely exist. Some of these solutions entail looking at communication problems due to the vast distances of space, evolutionary variations in the sort of life that arises on these other worlds, and many other aspects that affect the problem.

But none of these can be confirmed as the real barrier to contact between our world and these other supposed worlds. Therefore, more radical hypotheses are put forth, including one that should receive more attention, namely: that the current scientific understanding of the nature of the universe or reality itself is seriously incomplete.

This is where the real problem lies, though those holding to the evolutionary viewpoint of reality do not like to admit it. For to consider this answer to the paradox would require an admission that the entire framework on which they base their worldview–science of natural laws alone–is incomplete. Notice that this does not mean that it is necessarily wrong in total, only incomplete. For the scientific view, correctly formulated and applied, is not to be summarily dismissed, as some Christians do. Science is simply a way of discovering truths about the natural world which God has created. There is nothing wrong with learning more about God and his created world. Scripture itself looks with favor upon this as a way to glorify God.

“Great are the works of the LORD; they are pondered by all who delight in them” (Ps. 111:2 NIV).

And speaking of Solomon, who studied the vast world of nature, Scripture says:

“He described plant life, from the cedar of Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of walls. He also taught about animals and birds, reptiles and fish. Men of all nations came to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, sent by all the kings of the world, who had heard of his wisdom” (1 Kings 4:33-34 NIV).

So, there is nothing wrong with studying our amazing universe with the scientific method; done with a humble heart before God, such study glorifies him as man learns how great and wonderful are those works of God and the One who created them. The problem comes when only the scientific method is used, when it is used to glorify man, and when it is relied upon for the final answer to life and its great mysteries. Even brilliant king Solomon, the great student of the natural world, recognized this, for after his thorough search of the world using his great mind and scientific methods, he came to this singular conclusion: “I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind” (Ecc. 1:13 NIV).

If the meaning of the universe is sought using only the human mind and the scientific method for discovering the answer to the puzzle, including that of other worlds and their supposed inhabitants, that search is doomed to frustration and failure, for though much will be learned by this method, it will still be incomplete–for the reason mentioned previously, that the foundational source of all that exists, God, is left out of the picture. Therefore, all that is left is to make speculations and best-guesses, based on incomplete information. Everything may be tantalizingly close but still maddeningly vague and unsatisfying. It is unsure and open to debate.

Contrast this with the sure knowledge which God, the Creator, has revealed to man in the Bible about this universe in which we live. There we are told that, whereas Fermi and others holding the secular worldview must resort to probabilities, we have sure knowledge of the facts about which they can only speculate. For instance, whereas they presume life arises only because of natural laws and chance, God declares that he is the one who created those very laws, and also that he is not confined to those same laws, but rather that he creates life by design and an act of will:

“You created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being” (Rev. 4:11 NIV).

“He is God; he who fashioned and made the earth, he founded it; he did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited” (Is. 45:18 NIV).

All we know for sure, whether from human study and speculation or from the Bible, is that only one world definitely has life and intelligent life on it, the planet earth. All else is surmise.

“The highest heavens belong to the LORD, but the earth he has given to man” (Ps. 115:6 NIV).

There is no verse in the Bible that says one way or another that there are other planets with life on them. So the question is moot, as far as the believer in God’s Word goes. But such an one does not need to know the answer to this question; he can let it rest and be a mystery known only to God. All he needs to know is that his life on earth is given for a purpose, to obey the Giver of all laws.

“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law” (Dt. 29:29 NIV).

And right there is where the great dividing line exists between searching the amazing, mysterious cosmos with a solely secular scientific method, and studying it from a biblical perspective: the reason or motive for such a search. Secular scientific searching is based on a quest for knowledge apart from God, motivated by a need for satisfying the human desire to know, ignoring God’s directives and commands to acquire only that knowledge that is in accord with His plan for humankind. For God has forbidden certain kinds of knowledge for man’s own good. When a human government or dictator does this same thing, issuing edicts that restrict people, those people rebel, for then it is simply one human being or group of human beings lifting themselves up in arrogant pride over others, thinking that they know better than the masses what is good for them, or, what is worse, not even caring about them at all but simply exerting power over them for their own selfish desires.

But when God forbids certain knowledge to man, it is because he loves us and knows, as our creator and God, what really is for our own good; because God as creator of man knows man’s limitations, especially since the fall into sin further endangers man when he encounters knowledge which he is not able to handle or that endangers his soul (Dt. 18:10).

“And the LORD God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die'” (Gen. 2:16-17 NIV).

Ever since man disobeyed this command of God, mankind has been dying, going further and further away from God. This ongoing death is easily seen in the wickedness and violence on this planet. Those with eyes to see can easily see that this world is dying and in its death throes and in dire need of a savior. God sent that savior, but the world has, in large part, rejected that savior and now looks for its savior elsewhere, including among the stars of the heavens. The search for life on other worlds thus takes on new urgency, for it is sensed that there is little time left before mankind destroys itself.

So attention is turned to the stars. More and more scientific evidence seems to indicate an abundance of planets capable of supporting some sort of life. Even if such worlds are not yet detectable by us, calculations such as those by Fermi show that many such worlds could exist. So, again, the question arises, “Where is everybody?” The fact that we have had no contact with such supposed civilizations is the pertinent paradox. Pertinent, because, as will be seen, as we approach the end of this world, the reason why man seems to be alone in the universe takes on more importance. For it is possible that this question will be answered in a way that will thoroughly shake mankind to its roots. It will be similar to what the Lord said concerning the coming invasion by the Assyrians of the Jewish land in the time of Isaiah:

“The understanding of this message will bring sheer terror. . . .The LORD will rise up as he did at Mount Perazim, he will rouse himself as in the Valley of Gibeon–to do his work, his strange work, and perform his task, his alien task” (Is. 28:19-21 NIV).

The Assyrians were the aliens of that invasion, and the Lord used them as instruments of his judgment upon Israel for abandoning him. The Bible warns that this world will one day be punished by God for its abandonment of him (Is. 13:11, Jer. 2:19). Part of that punishment will be an invasion of alien beings (Rev. 9:1-10). Just what these creatures are we do not know, but they certainly are not normal creatures of this earth; they are alien to it.

These particular alien creatures described in the Bible are clearly hostile to mankind. This is a common theme of science-fiction stories and movies. However, the opposite is also true. Many such tales portray aliens as friendly to man, bringing new technologies and knowledge to save man and make the earth into a paradise. Thus there are these two, opposite scenarios frequently broadcast to the human race: good aliens and bad.

It will be quite easy for evolutionists to see such alien invaders as coming from those other supposed inhabited planets in the cosmos. Indeed, there has been a long history, by now, of television shows and movies that have prepared millions of people around the world for such an invasion of aliens who possess amazing abilities to manipulate the created world. This is a great deception and a lie.

“The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness” (2 Th. 2:9-12 NIV).

Nevertheless, those who trust God’s Word, the Bible, will not be fooled by the arrival of these alien beings. For God has revealed to us ahead of time of their true origin. They are, indeed, citizens of another world, but that world is not among the stars but in the lower regions of the earth: They are denizens of hell.

“The fifth angel sounded his trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from the sky to the earth. The star was given the key to the shaft of the Abyss. When he opened the Abyss, smoke rose from it like the smoke from a gigantic furnace. The sun and sky were darkened by the smoke from the Abyss. And out of the smoke locusts came down upon the earth and were given power like that of scorpions of the earth. They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any plant or tree, but only those people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads” (Rev. 9:1-4 NIV).

“The beast, which you saw, once was, now is not, and will come up out of the Abyss and go to his destruction. The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the creation of the world will be astonished when they see the beast, because he once was, now is not, and yet will come” (Rev. 17:8 NIV).

The astonishment of the people of this world at the events and alien creatures of the end times will be great, because they will not have prepared themselves for such an abrupt and drastic change to the form of the world which is so familiar to them. It will be like the astonishment of the ancient peoples at the Great Flood of Noah’s time. They had never seen the heavens open up as they did then; it was as though the very heavens were being torn apart, as the flood of waters deluged the earth from above and below. The Bible warns that as it was then, so will it be in the last days (Mt. 24:37-38, Is. 34:4, 2 Peter 3:5-7, 2 Peter 3:10).

“This world in its present form is passing away” (1 Cor. 7:31 NIV).

Do you catch the extreme nature of these words? This world in its present form is passing away. People are so used to things in this present world being as they are that they simply cannot envision the extreme change that is coming to this earth.

“They will say, ‘Where is this “coming” he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation'” (2 Peter 3:4 NIV).

But “thus says the Lord GOD: Remove the turban, and take off the crown; things shall not remain as they are; exalt that which is low, and abase that which is high. A ruin, ruin, ruin I will make it; there shall not be even a trace of it until he comes whose right it is; and to him I will give it” (Ezekiel 21:26-27 RSV).

When the Lord Jesus comes again to this earth, that which the world held in high esteem will be abased, and that which was held to be beneath its notice, those clinging to the name of the Lord, will be raised up, both literally, in the rapture, and spiritually, in their status before the eyes of the Lord.

“At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people–everyone whose name is found written in the book–will be delivered. Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt” (Daniel 12:1-2 NIV).

At that climactic moment of time, it will not matter whether or not there are any other beings on other worlds. All that will matter for every individual human being on the planet Earth will be whether or not he or she is ready to meet his or her Maker (Amos 4:12). Each person will stand alone in judgment before the Lord (Rom. 14:10). No one will be able to escape judgment for his or her own sins by appealing to the righteous life of parents or any other human beings (Ezekiel 18:4). Only those who admit their sinful nature and trust in Jesus’ cleansing blood and sacrifice on the cross to cleanse them of their sins will be able to have another’s righteousness imputed to them, the righteousness of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, and thus be allowed to join all the great company of heaven. All others will be left standing alone before God in their sin. Then they will hear echoing in their ears, the awful words of Jesus:

“Leave them alone. They are blind guides of the blind. If the blind guide the blind, both will fall into a pit” (Mt. 15:14 WEB).

The bottomless pit of hell (Rev. 17:8) is the destination of those who are left alone by God in the final judgment. They sought their savior in other worlds among the stars of outer space, or in the inner world of self, or in a host of other places and worlds, seeking to surround themselves with the company of evildoers. These who seek the company of men and demons over the companionship of God will hear him say:

“‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’ There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out” (Lk. 13:27-28 NIV).

Thrown out. Away from all the glorious company of heaven. Then, when one has been separated from God and his glory for ever, it will be an empty wail to cry out, “Where is everybody?”

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