Do Aliens Exist? or, Thoughts on Our Existence
Updated: May 12
The views, information, and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the individual/author involved and do not necessarily represent or reflect the official policy or position of any other entity whatsoever with which I have been, am now, or will be affiliated. This includes any agency, organization, employer or company and their employees. Assumptions made in the analysis are not reflective of the position of any entity other than the author - and, since I am a lucid, critically-thinking human being, these views are always subject to change, revision, and rethinking at any time. Please do not hold me accountable to them in perpetuity.
A small portion of this blog post has been copied, adapted, and/or paraphrased from an extremely thought-provoking episode of the Netflix original series "Explained," which is accessible in its entirety at the following link: https://www.netflix.com/title/80216752. A 7-day free trial is necessary to view. No portion of this blog post should be considered original content. All rights are reserved by the original author.
Introduction: Where Did This Blog Post Come From?
Hopefully, you will be reading this blog post long after the world has settled down into a more stable and more healthy rhythm. Unfortunately, I am writing this blog post during the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, or, as I hope it will be called in posterity, the CCP virus pandemic (because the Chinese Communist Party needs to be held more accountable for preventing the further outbreak and spread of such diseases). Like many people who are stuck at home during the widespread shutdown, I have been catching up on my to-do list of things I've always wanted to do but never had the time to do. In other words, I have no excuse to keep putting off the things that I had time for but always ignored in lieu of other things.
One of the things I finally caught up on was watching a few episodes of a much-recommended and fascinating Netflix original video series called "Explained." Produced by Vox, a news organization known for its explanatory journalism, the series takes complicated concepts and breaks them down into manageable and digestible chunks. But that's not why the series is interesting. The series is captivating because "Explained" actually tackles some of the most complicated, controversial, and confusing topics of today. Using a blend of interviews, infographics, historical film footage, extensive research, and a phenomenal soundtrack, "Explained" manages to make the viewer do something that most Netflix shows don't: think. After watching one particular episode of "Explained," I was motivated to piece together several years of thoughts and ideas into one cohesive blog post, presented here in its entirety.
Part 1: Does Extraterrestrial Life Exist?
Thanks to the episode of Netflix's original series "Explained" entitled "Extraterrestrial Life Explained," I learned that an increasing number of scientist positively believe that there is 100% chance of life in other parts of the solar system. This remarkably certain conclusion is not due to the number of "habitable" or "hospitable" planets which we have directly observed in our galaxy, but due to the assumption that many planets similar to Earth likely exist in the entire universe. These scientists have completed a few simple back-of-the-envelope calculations, which clearly show that when working with the truly massive size of the universe, a very tiny (close to zero) percentage of planets would likely harbor some form of life. In today's world, most scientists take this as a given, so science textbooks and teachers skip the calculations and jump straight to trying to explain why we haven't found those life forms yet--or why those life forms haven't found us. The problem is, they haven't found any direct evidence of extraterrestrial life.
In this particular episode of "Explained," the scientists being interview admit that no real evidence has ever been found to prove the existence of extraterrestrial life. Even a few "positive" test results from a Martian rover expedition were mixed with negative results, which effectively negated all of the results from those tests. It's refreshing that the scientists (and the show's producers) are willing to admit this. However, they don't seem to be concerned by this glaring problem. In fact, they seem just as confident in extraterrestrial life as ever! These scientists (and I suspect many others, even non-scientists) see this lack of evidence as a mere stumbling block on the way to finding the truth. Indeed, this lack of evidence does lead to the truth. However, it's not the kind of truth they're looking for.
Instead, those interviewed by the show offer up a variety of inventive and entertaining theories for why we haven't found evidence of extraterrestrial life. For example, they propose that perhaps life elsewhere hasn't evolved to our level yet, and thus hasn't created a method of communication. However, their previous number-crunching system (which takes into account the massive size of the universe) invalidates this hypothesis. After all, since the galaxy is so immensely large, the scientists figure that there must be a huge variety of forms of intelligent life out there, right? And if there are so many of these intelligent life-forms, then at least one must be sufficiently advanced to contact us, right? So, the question in their minds is therefore simplified down to this:
Part 2: Why Haven't Aliens Contacted Us?
In answer to the Fermi Paradox (another name for the question above), this episode of "Explained" proposes the following solutions:
Aliens are Early. They visited before life evolved on our planet (or at least before humans had evolved), so they passed us by and haven't yet returned.
Aliens are Snooty. They stopped by and weren't impressed, so they avoided us.
Aliens are Classified. They have visited us intending to make contact, but governments have covered it up.
Aliens are Different. They have biology that is so different, or they have technology that is so highly advanced, or they have consciousness that is so far beyond us, that they can't communicate, even if they wanted to.
Aliens are Distant. They don't know we exist, because we're in a backwater of the universe.
Aliens are Busy. They have better things to do with their time than try to hunt down other intelligent life in the universe.
Aliens are Patient. They are waiting until we have developed enough to be capable, (or worthy) of communication with them.
The problem with all of these proposals is that they assume that aliens do exist, while all current evidence points toward the very opposite. Interestingly, one of the people interviewed in this episode said that our very existence proves that aliens exist, because a higher intelligence must have planted the seed of life on this planet, and perhaps they then went extinct. However, this raises the following question: if the aliens are extinct, shouldn't we be far more concerned about ensuring the survival of our species by focusing on global ethical and social issues, rather than searching for extraterrestrial life? We certainly don't want to risk extinction, and we certainly don't have to worry about getting attacked by extinct aliens while we are preventing our own destruction. Another interviewee on the show put it this way: "If intelligent life is typical, and humans are typical intelligent life, and the typical thing for intelligent life is eventual extinction, then that doesn't say much for our future."
So, those who hold to this theory of aliens planting life on Earth also suggest, by necessity, that after planting the seed of life here on Earth, the aliens left to plant another seed somewhere else (otherwise, where are they now?), and are perhaps inspecting and observing us like we're under a microscope. But that argument also collapses, because if intelligent extraterrestrial life planted the seed of life on this planet, then that directly contradicts what scientists are simultaneously telling us, which is that we evolved through the processes of mutation and natural selection. This means we then have to ask, "who planted the seed of life for the aliens?" If we claim that the aliens simply evolved, then we have the same difficulty: if life on Earth couldn't start without a seed being planted via intelligent extraterrestrial being, then how could that intelligent extraterrestrial life have started without a seed being planted via an even more intelligent extraterrestrial being? This argument is self-refuting.
Part 3: Why Do Aliens Matter?
Since we can't seem to prove that aliens planted a seed of life on earth, scientists keep looking and listening, scanning the skies for signs of life in the universe, mainly so that they don't have to ask the hard questions of existence for themselves. If aliens are found to exist, then it seems reasonable to assume that life on Earth could have also have popped into existence on its own. This evidence of extraterrestrial life would support the theory of evolution. This theory would be promptly rejected if it was introduced today, since It is a great stretch of faith to believe that random chance led to such a delicate balance of life as we know it today. We have discovered that "natural" processes are extremely complex, finely tuned, and precise. However, when Darwin and his peers first introduced the theory, life was assumed to be quite simple. The "cell" was considered a blob of chemicals, which could be "zapped" into life under the right weather conditions. Today, we can barely understand the complexity of a single cell, let alone the smaller organisms which live inside it. And yet we are told to believe that life can not only come from non-life, but that it can transform into entirely different species and eventually us! This is called macro-evolution, which seems absurd in this day and age. Micro-evolution, however, is regularly observed: just see how many different breeds of dogs have been bred in the last few decades! Despite small changes, all of those dogs are still dogs. None of them have become a new type of creature. But by now, the theory of macro-evolution has become so firmly ingrained in mainstream society that people insist that "it must be true," even when it has so little to support it. But once again, I am impressed by this episode of "Explained." The show readily admits that scientists haven't found anything yet to support the existence of extraterrestrial life. But they keep searching.
Since we are physically limited to a very small slice of space, our primary method of interstellar search is through telescopes and antenna. With these, scientists search for indicators of extraterrestrial life: techno-signatures and bio-signatures. I will discuss these in further detail later on, but the important thing to realize here is that these searches have turned up empty-handed so far. Despite their best efforts, scientists have not learned anything about aliens. They have, however, made some fascinating discoveries about pulsars, black holes, gravity waves, and distant supernovas. I hope this lack of evidence bothers you, because it certainly doesn't seem to bother the people interviewed for this show. Instead, they propose that we are searching for the wrong thing.
Part 4: Are We Searching For The Wrong Thing?
Once again, the show is remarkably candid. Those interviewed admit that they are searching for extraterrestrial life with a set of presupposed assumptions based on their current understanding of the world and its physical laws. In other words, we are looking for other humans who look, think, and act just like us. In short, they admit to looking for evidence within a framework based on their personal experiences. By definition, this means that scientists cannot interpret evidence with perfect objectivity. Instead, they are looking for aliens because they want to find aliens. This is exactly what scientists do when they conduct research regarding macro-evolution. They are looking for evidence of macro-evolution because they want to find evidence of macro-evolution. All scientists have access to the same set of data, information, and evidence. But just as a private investigator could come to a different conclusion about a crime scene than a detective because one of them has an eye-witness and the other does not, so too do creationists come to a different interpretation of the evidence surrounding them because they have an eye-witness who wrote a book about the events of the past: the Bible. Creationists are looking for evidence of intelligent creation on Earth because they want to find evidence of intelligent creation. Both macro-evolutionists and creationists are looking at the same evidence through the lenses of different paradigms, and seeing completely different things. The episode of "Explained" is honest enough to admit that they may be looking for the wrong thing.
According to the show, the problem with our current search method for extraterrestrials is that scientists assume that these life-forms will resemble life as we know it; that it will be built from the same building blocks and be using the same type of intelligence to construct similar machines to ours, when in reality they will likely be something completely different. If that's so, we immediately have two major problems.
First, the calculations for Fermi's Paradox break down. If you recall my discussion earlier, you will remember that Fermi's Paradox is the seeming contradiction between the calculated possibility of life's existence in the universe (which seems to be, "quite a lot!") and the observed evidence of life's existence in the universe (which is to say, "none."). If we believe these scientists who propose that extraterrestrial life doesn't resemble anything we have experience with, then we can't presume to estimate the chance of that life existing! The only way we can calculate the possibility of life's existence in the universe is if we have some idea of what conditions are perfect for life. Therefore, most of the current searches are looking for the following things in our galaxy:
A medium-sized planet, similar to Earth.
A semi-solid planet, similar to Earth.
A planet in a "habitable" orbit around a "reasonable" sun.
A planet with organic elements present.
Many scientists recognize the problem with narrowing our searches down to these parameters if extraterrestrial life exists in forms beyond our comprehension. We'd simply never find anything! However, if extraterrestrial life did exist in a form we can identify, then, as I explained before, it would not make much sense why we haven't found them, or why they haven't found us.
The second problem with searching for life similar to ours is that the Great Filter Theory also breaks down. The Great Filter Theory imagines the macro-evolution of life as a stream of possibilities flowing through a series of increasingly fine filters, until only intelligent, communication-capable life comes out the other side. The Great Filter Theory can also be imagined as a race in which a series of hurdles have been set up. The first hurdle is the hurdle of biological compounds joining together to form basic organic ingredients. Under the right conditions in a laboratory and possibly on a planet somewhere, this can sometimes happen. However, the organic compounds are no more alive than a tree turning into coal or rain turning into snow.
The next hurdle in The Great Filter Theory is the transformation of those organic compounds into a simple, living cell. Even though biologists would be ecstatic to create just one in the laboratory, they haven't been able to clear this second hurdle at all. For the time being, it seems that life can only come from other life. Assuming, however, that this second hurdle in the race were to be vaulted by some over-achieving organic compounds, the third hurdle of The Great Filter Theory would soon loom into view. This single cell would now have to morph into a multi-cellular organism. That happens all the time in the womb, but a single cell in the wild never survives long enough to even have the ghost of a chance of clearing this hurdle. However, suspending disbelief once again, this magically-existing multi-celled organism now must clear the fourth hurdle of The Great Filter Theory: it must transform into an intelligent multi-celled organism.
As pet owners know, there is a big difference between animal intelligence and human intelligence. A cat or a dog can perform complex tasks on command, recognize their owner's voice, and even express their feelings. Chimpanzees can use sign language and solve puzzles, yet none of these creatures has ever been able to hold deep philosophical discussions on their existence. Humans possess a self-awareness that is orders of magnitude beyond animals, which makes this yet another hurdle that can't be leaped. But let's suspend disbelief for a third time as we approach the fifth and final hurdle of The Great Filter Theory. This miraculous multi-celled, intelligent organism must overcome the second most difficult barrier of all (after life, of course): Outreach.
It's one thing to think about traveling through space and time to talk to someone or go somewhere, and it's an entirely different thing to actually do it. Yet that's what the final hurdle of The Great Filter Theory requires; the multi-celled, intelligent organism that we have followed from its miraculous birth through its miraculous development must now create a way to transport itself (or its ideas) across the galaxy. We broadcast radio waves into space and send space probes like Voyager 1 & 2. This intelligent being could send an asteroid with a protomolecule aboard, or something else entirely; it doesn't really matter, because we can only assume that something similar to us would be able to clear those hurdles. A human being checks all of the boxes. The other living things on Earth don't. That's a very small ratio. If we are looking for the wrong thing, as the scientists propose, and life could exist in a form we can't fathom, then the hurdles may be all wrong, in which case The Great Filter Theory is moot. However, the scientists are persistent.
Let's suppose, for a moment, that we do all of the work of tracking down extraterrestrial life--any kind of life--in the universe, and the only hurdle that extraterrestial life must clear is "mere existence." Even if it isn't intelligent, or multi-celled, we must repeat the question I brought up earlier: "Who planted the seed of life in the first place?" In order to weed out the possibility of macro-evolution, let us consider why macro-evolution has some major hurdles of its own to clear.
Part 5: Why Is Time So Important?
In this episode of "Explained," the interviewees admit that there is a significant assumption that if all of the conditions are right and the ingredients are in place and enough time is present, life just might get lucky on a planet somewhere. We already know that the right conditions may exist somewhere. Therefore, there are still two problems with this assumption. One, that there is plenty of time, and Two, that life can result from non-life. We will address each of these concerns in turn.
To begin with, it is assumed that there is plenty of time for macro-evolution to happen. Time is the conventional "magic wand" which washes away any doubts about how macro-evolution is possible. Given plenty of time, scientists suppose, anything can happen. But the evidence we have here on Earth could also be interpreted to indicate a very young earth, and a very young universe. If this were true--just suppose--then it would highly unlikely that life would have developed anywhere else. So the age of the earth and the universe becomes one of the most important questions to today's scientists. The very fact that there is a controversy surrounding the age of the Earth indicates that the matter has not been completely closed. The episode of "Explained" addresses this uncertainty by suggesting that the Earth could be relatively young, and that other parts of the galaxy are much older, giving more time for life to develop. However, this doesn't actually address the core question: "How old is the Earth and the Universe, really?" As I am about to show, the current dating methods may be inadequate.
Part 6: How Old Is The Earth?
With the age of the Earth and the Universe so critical to supporting macro-evolution, it is no surprise that scientists desire to date the things around us. Scientists utilize two primary dating methods: first-hand accounts, and physics. It is very straightforward to date things using first-hand accounts. Scientists are able to date nearly anything that has occurred within the last few thousand years by consulting oral and written histories. The construction of buildings has been observed and recorded, so even if the stone used in the construction of those buildings is much older, we know when those buildings were completed. Likewise, we use family genealogies as a shortcut to calculating how long people lived, by consulting their birth date and date of death. In short, if an eyewitness describes when something was created, we can skip the "analysis" and jump straight to the conclusion. Let us consider one more example of this type of dating method.
Suppose an archaeologist digs up a piece of pottery near Mt. Vesuvius. The scientist would probably look to see if there is any record of pottery being at that location in the past. If he finds a written account of Mt. Vesuvius exploding and burying a potter's workshop in AD 79, he can accurately assume the pottery dates from about AD 79. If, however, the archaeologist finds a bone of an animal in a very remote area of which no written or oral history exists, he must find another way to estimate its age. He must use the second dating method: physics.
Although I have referred to Physics as the "second" dating method, it is actually a collection of methods, each of which is better at dating certain things. When scientists want to know the age of something here on Earth (and a first-hand account is unavailable), they must first obtain a sample. Then, they can use their knowledge of physics to perform "radiometric dating" on the sample.
In radiometric dating, scientists obtain a sample of something they wish to date, and then measure how much of a particular unstable isotope is present in that sample. An "isotope" is simply a different version of an atomic element. An isotope is "unstable" if it has extra neutrons. Therefore, an unstable isotope of an atomic element is radioactive, releasing and absorbing particles as it eventually decays into a more stable (and less radioactive) atomic element. When scientists are dating a sample, they call the unstable element the "parent" isotope. The stable element that results from radioactive decay is called the "daughter" isotope. Scientists measure both of these elements in order to estimate how much of the original parent isotope has decayed into the daughter isotope. However, radiometric dating only works if two conditions are present.
To begin with, radiometric dating only works if a sample (such as a rock or a fossil) is sturdy enough to prevent any of the parent or daughter isotopes inside the sample from escaping. If any of the parent or daughter isotopes escape, then scientists can no longer be certain how much of the parent isotope was originally present in the sample, nor how much of the parent isotope decayed into daughter isotopes. Secondly, radiometric dating only works if a sample is sturdy enough to prevent any parent or daughter isotopes outside the sample from entering. If any external parent or daughter isotopes enter, then scientists can no longer be certain how much of the parent isotope was originally present in the sample, nor how much of the parent isotope decayed into daughter isotopes. Finally, radiometric dating only works if the only source of the daughter isotope is the decay of the parent isotope. If the daughter isotope could be formed from other processes within the sample, then scientists cannot be certain how much of the parent isotope was originally present in the sample, nor how much of the parent isotope decayed into daughter isotopes. As you can see, conditions within a sample must be perfect in order for radiometric dating to work. This is why sandstone cannot be directly dated, but zircon crystals can. Sandstone is very porous, and lets lot of elements in and out. Zircon, on the other hand, traps radioactive uranium isotopes and its resulting daughter element, lead. Fossilized plants often trap carbon-14 and its daughter element, nitrogen-14. How, though, can measuring amounts of parent and daughter elements in a sample result in a date?
Scientists believe that parent isotopes decay into daughter isotopes at a constant rate. This means that parent isotopes have a consistent "half-life," which is the amount of time it takes for half of a given quantity of a parent isotope to decay into a daughter isotope. Therefore, scientists calculate the number of half-lives which have passed by measuring the proportion of parent to daughter isotopes. By adding up the half-lives, scientists can calculate the age of a sample. However, if enough half-lives have passed, almost none of the parent isotope will remain in a sample, making it nearly impossible to measure the proportion of parent to daughter isotopes. Therefore, scientists must determine the age of a sample by measuring only the isotopes that have long enough or short enough half-lives to be useful. This is why not all samples can be accurately dated: they must contain isotopes with the right length of half-life, and they must also be able to trap those isotopes without letting any in or out. Even if scientists are able to find the right samples with the right isotopes, you can clearly see that radiometric dating only works if it is true that all parent isotopes have a consistent half-life. As it turns out, however, this may not be the case.
There are two key pieces of information that scientists need in order to figure out an isotope's half-life: how many atoms of the parent isotope were originally in the sample when it was formed or fossilized, and the parent isotope's rate of decay. The problem is that the rate of decay is dependent upon the number of radioactive atoms that were originally present. The more parent isotopes that are originally present, the more decays per second occur. Therefore, scientists are attempting to use the current amount of a parent isotope in the sample and its known half-life to work out the likely rate of decay, working backwards to its original amount. They must make one major assumption: that the rate of decay of the isotope in the sample has always been the same as its current rate of decay. The problem is, the rate of decay is not a constant because it is dependent on the amount of material being measured. Therefore, they are making a very dangerous assumption about the past, which they themselves were unable to observe. Let's use carbon-14 as an example.
Many plants and animals absorb carbon dioxide throughout their life. Carbon dioxide often contains different isotopes of the carbon atom, which means that fossilized plants contain the stable isotopes carbon-12 and carbon-13, as well as the unstable isotope carbon-14. Since carbon-14 eventually decays into nitrogen-14, scientists can measure how much carbon-14 and nitrogen-14 is currently in the sample. In order to figure out how much carbon 14 was originally in the sample, scientists look at the number of carbon-12 and carbon-13 atoms in the sample. Since scientists believe that the ratio of carbon-12, carbon-13, and carbon-14 have remained fairly consistent in our atmosphere, they can measure the amounts of carbon-12 and carbon-13 in the sample (which haven't decayed) and then calculate how much carbon-14 should be in the sample. When they compare how much carbon-14 should be in the sample with how much carbon-14 is currently in the sample, scientists can calculate the number of half-lives that have passed. Then, they check this against the amount of nitrogen-14. However, carbon dating depends upon a fairly consistent ratio of carbon isotopes in Earth's atmosphere throughout history. In reality, burning fossil fuels such as coal and petroleum has elevated carbon-12 levels in the atmosphere, thus skewing the proportions of all three carbon isotopes within plants and animals. Samples of plants living today would appear much older than they really are, simply because they have more carbon-12 than the ratio takes into account. Therefore, it is clear that assuming a consistent ratio of carbon isotopes throughout history is faulty. If there was a lot less carbon-12 or a lot more carbon-14 in the atmosphere during the past, then samples which are only a few thousand years old would appear to be much, much older to scientists dating them today. This problem is similar to
In short, scientists use radiometric dating and other similar methods to estimate the age of things on the Earth, and thus extrapolate the age of the Earth. However, these dating methods are based on assumptions, which means that the resulting dates are also only assumptions. Based on this information, we cannot fully trust radiometric dating. It would seem, then, that our only hope of dating the Earth is to find some first-hand account of the creation of the Earth and what occurred afterwards. As you will soon see, an eye-witness account of the Earth's entire history does exist, yet many scientists choose to ignore it.
Part 7: How Old is the Universe?
As you can probably imagine, we cannot perform radioisotope dating on the rest of the Universe, since it is impossible to obtain samples. Therefore, scientists have developed a different physics test with which they estimate the age of the universe. This test is called the Light Time Travel Test, and it is quite simple and straightforward. First, scientists measure the distance between us and the most distant star or galaxy they can see. There are several ways they can do this. Then, they divide that distance by the speed of light. Since light almost always travels at the same speed through space, they can calculate how long it has taken for the light from that star to reach us. That time should tell us AT LEAST how old the universe is. Not surprisingly, scientists often obtain estimates of millions or billions of years. The very fact that we can see things which are so far away seems to support the very old age of the universe. However, this dating method makes a critical assumption. It assumes that light always travels at nearly the same speed. But what if it doesn't?
In the first few chapters of the Bible, known as "the Genesis account," God is described as forming and developing plants, animals, and even humans very quickly. In fact, the entirety of Biblical creation is described as taking place in less than a week. Basically, God brought living things to full maturity by using normal processes abnormally fast. It is therefore logical to conclude that He also brought natural light from the distant stars and galaxies at unnatural speed. This is not as far-fetched as it sounds. The Biblical Flood of Noah was something we are all familiar with--a local flood-- on a global scale. The Egyptian Plagues of Moses were common afflictions uncommonly strong. Is it not also possible that He drew light to Earth much faster than the "speed of light" we are accustomed to? Although it would be convenient to use our current understanding of physics to explain how the light of the stars could have reached us in such a short amount of time, such an extraordinary occurrence must be considered a miracle.
Before you dismiss the concept of accepting a "miracle" as an explanation for the Light Time Travel problem, consider a miracle that many scientists already accept as an explanation for the creation of the universe: the Big Bang Theory. There is nothing that we have been able to observe using our current understanding of physics that explains how the entire universe could have exploded into existence from nothing. Yet many scientists accept the Big Bang Theory simply because "it must have happened." If they are willing to seriously consider a miracle such as a Big Bang, then they should also seriously consider a divine intervention in bringing light from distant stars to Earth.
Part 9: Can We Trust Macro-Evolution?
Although I have just demonstrated the danger of using current dating methods to date the Earth and the Universe, let us ignore this gaping hole in the assumptions of macro-evolution so that we may inspect the second problem with macro-evolution: the matter of life itself. In its typical honesty, this episode of "Explained" admits that scientists are no closer to figuring out the true age of the universe than they are to figuring out how "the right conditions" can spontaneously form life. Scientists know a lot more than they used to about how life works, but they still don't know how it is formed: how it comes into being. Life gives birth to life, but inanimate objects and natural processes don't. To quote their own words, "nobody has a clue. We have no idea how non-life turns into life." They have major gaps in their understanding of the major macro-evolutionary transitions which they have constructed for themselves. They claim to know what the hurdles of macro-evolution are, just not how hard it is to get past those hurdles. If I was asked to consider the non-existent body of direct evidence demonstrating the creation of life from inorganic compounds without the input of intelligent life to direct that creation, I'd say those hurdles in The Great Filter are impossible. This is why the search for Life on other planets is so important to so many people. They are seeking something, anything, that will support or confirm their belief in macro-evolution. The only reason they'd be searching for evidence of macro-evolution is if the theory of macro-evolution doesn't have any evidence to support it.
Part 10: What Are We Really Looking For?
People are desperate for answers about Life. This desperation is why conspiracy theories abound regarding UFOs: they provide a sliver of hope, however small, that intelligent life might possibly have evolved somewhere, thus validating our own existence. While most people dismiss UFOs as "hogwash," those same people are using massive telescopes to listen, look, and search the skies for something extraterrestrial that's engineered and artificial, something that nature can't produce. In other words, are tax dollars and scientists are looking for UFOs. Because, in their own words, "If I find technology, I'm going to presume, at least at some time, the existence of an intelligent technologist." Now isn't that a bit strange to admit? Aren't we completely surrounded by super-advanced technology that exceeds anything humans can create? There are self-replicating and self-healing bacteria that live in sulfur pools, yet we can't create a self-healing submarine. The human body itself is a beautifully complicated piece of engineering, and yet scientists don't presume the existence of an intelligent technologist? I am sure you can see why this is hypocritical.
If a scientist tells you they will assume the existence of an intelligent technologist if they can find an example of technology, show them a smartphone with its tiny circuits running thousands of complex computations every second. They will admit that an intelligent technologist designed it. Show them a human brain with its billions of synapses firing in perfect sync to process a 3D visual image dozens of times per second, and they will say it randomly evolved. Apparently, they're only looking for what they want to see. The episode of "Explained" sums it up perfectly: the search for life elsewhere in the universe is important because people are trying to understand themselves. People aren't actually looking for aliens or UFOs or life on other planets; they're actually searching for meaning. They have a deep desire and need to understand how we as a people came to be here on this planet. And they want to know what the next big step for us is. But all of these questions have already been answered!
The Bible already tells us why we are here, how special we are, and what our next step is. It tells us how old the universe is, whether life exists elsewhere, and exactly how life as we know it will end. In essence, people--not just scientists--are completely ignoring the evidence and the eyewitnesses and trying to make science fit their worldview, which some of the more honest among them they readily admit. Here's why:
When people ask themselves, "How did this smartphone come to be?", they have no problem describing the vast, hard-working team of intelligent individuals who carefully thought it out and put it all together. But when they ask "How did life come to be?", they feebly admit "We don't know," since the obvious answer--an intelligent designer--causes them even more problems. This is the same answer that the Pharisees and teachers of the law gave to Jesus when he asked them to whom they should pay taxes: to God, or to Caesar? They saw they were trapped, because if they replied "to God," then Caesar would have them arrested and executed. If they had answered "to Caesar," the people would have called them heretics and blasphemers, and they would have lost all of their religious authority. So they took the easy way out and said, "We don't know."
Now, everyone should want to follow leaders who display honest humility, but the problem is, the people who "don't know" how life came about aren't genuinely at a loss for a reasonable explanation. They're lying to save face, because this isn't about science. Science is just a tool that you can use for gathering evidence about the world around you. You can twist the evidence and twist the facts to match your own agenda or fit your worldview. This isn't about science; it's about theology. The personal theology of many people says God doesn't exist, for a variety of reasons. Maybe they don't want to be held accountable to God, so they pretend He doesn't exist. Maybe they're angry at God for the loss of a loved one, so they have turned their back on Him. No matter the personal reason, they have decided that God doesn't exist, which rules out the only logical possibility--intelligent design--, leaving them grasping at straws.
Part 11: Does God Exist?
Throughout this article, I have mentioned how impressed I was that the episode of "Explained" was honest enough to admit the holes in their understanding of life's existence. Now, it is time for me to be completely honest: while I can clearly show that the Earth and the humans on it were made by intelligent creation, I can't prove to you beyond the shadow of a doubt that God exists. I can't pick God up and show Him to you, or call God up and ask Him to drop by your house after work. But unlike the theory of macro-evolution, that's not a problem with the Biblical worldview of Creation.
On one hand, scientists claim that macro-evolution occurs through natural processes. Therefore, it's a serious problem that they can't directly observe natural processes actually causing macro-evolution. On the other hand, I claim that "since the beginning of creation, God's invisible attributes--His eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse" (Romans 1:20). Therefore, it's not a serious problem that I can't directly observe God, since God has already told me that He is revealed through His masterful creation!
If God's existence were any more obvious, then we would have no choice but to believe that He exists. And if we had no choice but to admit His existence, then we would recognize His true power and His Almighty role in all of Creation. Fearing for our very lives and yet in awe of His mercy, we would drop to our knees and worship Him in holy reverence, just as Revelation describes will happen during Christ's Second Coming. But if we have no choice in the matter, then we would simply be forced into praising God and acknowledging His omnipotence and omnipresence. This would mean we are mere animals or puppets, compelled to do things for His glory and honor. We might do it willingly, but that wouldn't be true choice if we weren't given a choice in the first place. Thankfully, this direct revelation of God's existence is incompatible with what the Bible tells us about Him.
The Bible says that God is full of love. If He truly loved us, then He would want what is best for us. And if He wanted what was best for us, then He would give us freewill, because He knows the best thing in the universe is for us to be with Him in a loving relationship. And it's not love if it's non-consensual. But that freedom of choice means we have the opportunity to choose NOT to believe in Him, to choose NOT to acknowledge His existence. And He can't give us any more examples of His existence (as if He hasn't already given us enough), because that would jeopardize our freewill.
So then, why doesn't God intervene on our behalf when a loved one is sick and dying, or when people are being killed on a massive scale? Well, sometimes He does: just not always in ways that are one hundred percent, without-a-doubt, obvious. But when He doesn't, it's not only so we still have a choice to love Him, but also because we've already made that choice.
We have all chosen to turn our backs on God: that's called sin. Adam and Eve may have been the first to sin, but they certainly weren't the last! Each of us has broken God's heart by rejecting His love for us and His plan for our lives at some point, and as a result, there are consequences. Ultimately, sin results in death. God offers forgiveness and salvation free-of-charge through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ, and the free gift of the Holy Spirit, but just as a murderer must receive a sentence even if the family of the murdered forgives them, so, too, does our sin result in both separation from God and mortality here on Earth.
Part 12: Can God and Evolution Co-exist?
Some have accepted the intelligent creation of life, and some have even attributed that intelligent creation of life to God, but many still question His knowledge of what would happen to that life once it had been created. If we have great difficulty in predicting the weather, they ask, then how could God possibly predict the future? They use this argument as the basis for theistic evolution, which is an attempt to reconcile the two opposing views of life: macro-evolution and intelligent creation. Perhaps God planted the seed of life, they consider, but natural processes made it grow. Perhaps God could create the spark of life, they think, but He depended on macro-evolution to see it through to completion. Before I explain how God can know the future, let me briefly explain why theistic evolution is extremely problematic.
You might be aware of the great importance that scientists of all convictions place on the fossil record. This collection of fossilized bones and other animal artifacts is an extremely powerful tool for glimpsing into the lives of animals in the past. It is clear to even lay-people that many of the creatures of the past very quite violent. Take, for instance, the T-Rex, with its massive jaw and sharp teeth. Or the sharp teeth, bones, and claws of pretty much all the other dinosaurs. These were giant, destructive beasts, and this violence was not simply restricted to animals. The Bible states that people in the past were also "extremely wicked." Whether or not you believe that humans existed at the same time as dinosaurs, it is obvious that the history of both animals and humans has been filled with what the Bible would call "sin"-great evil. In fact, death and destruction are a key factor in the theory of macro-evolution, because the "strong must prey on the weak," and "only the strongest survive." Yet theistic evolutionists are attempting to reconcile evolution with the Bible's description of God, perhaps by reinterpreting the first few chapters of Genesis. The Bible clearly states that evil, death, and destruction did not enter God's creation until after Adam and Eve sinned--after Adam and Eve were created. If we believe that God used macro-evolution to evolve life to its more complicated and advanced forms, then we must reconcile the fact that death and destruction existed for thousands or millions of years before Adam and Eve "sinned." The fossil record agrees with the Bible, but only if animals existed alongside humans, not if humans evolved from animals. Therefore, theistic evolution has no solid footing. Yet the question still remains: If God created everything purposely, how is is possible for God to know the future?
Part 13: Does God Make Sense?
In order to answer this question, it's important to realize the vast difference between our perspective and God's. He is outside of the constraints of time and space, since He created them. Therefore, it is understandable, but still mind-blowing unfathomable, that He can see all of History at the same time while still being fully capable of stepping into it, just as His Son Jesus Christ did, and that Heaven can exist despite our best efforts to find it.
To us, trapped in time and space because of the physical limitations of our bodies (but not our souls), we can only see history as it happens, and look back through the memories and writings of eyewitness of the past. That's why God gave us the Bible; it's our eyewitness account of history that fills in some of the gaps in our tightly-constrained view of the world. This constrained view means we can't see what is going to happen tomorrow or the day after that, let alone the end of the world. So, from our perspective, we simply have to make choices one at a time, doing the best we can for the future.
From God's perspective, He's already seen the results and consequences of those actions, and all the actions afterwards as a result of those actions. From God's perspective, although He knows time is passingly linearly for us, He can see everything as if it has already happened. Therefore, the course of history--every baby born, every person passed away, every human who chose Him or rejected Him--is set in stone. But, as I've said before, we can't see things from that same perspective. So, from our perspective, it looks as though we have choice, freewill, AND WE DO. This is a very important point; it's not that God is forcing our hand; it's just that God knows what we'll choose, even before we choose it. Therefore, from our perspective, EVERYONE has a choice to believe God really exists. We all have a chance to believe that He's already done, is currently doing, and will eventually do all that He said. When we are no longer bound to our physical bodies, however, and our souls are freed from this earthly perspective, we'll have the benefit of Heavenly hindsight, which will cause us to say, "Oh! So that's why that particular thing had to happen that way! God really DID know what He was doing all along!" Yet the question still remains: if God can see all of history, then why doesn't He get more involved in His creation?
Part 14: Does God Care?
Let us consider this for a moment: If God is omniscient, then He knows everything. And if He knows everything, then He can foresee the future. And if He can foresee the future, then He knows who will end up choosing Him and who won't. So if He cares so deeply about "everyone coming to repentance," then why wouldn't He intervene in the lives of those people? With a little thought experiment, we can plainly see why God can know the future and still choose not to greatly intervene in His creation.
For a moment, suppose you were God. Naturally, we cannot know the mind of God, but let us assume that you knew the future. Now suppose you particularly knew that a certain person you created to have freewill was going to choose to insist you didn't create them. You might be greatly tempted to persuade them of your existence by inserting some undeniable evidence in their path. A vision, perhaps, or a stunning Revelation. But this might cause them to end up at a Biblical Seminary rather than a secular institution of higher learning, resulting in them becoming a Monk rather than a father of five children. So then, your choice to "save" one person by inserting irrefutable evidence into their life denies five others the chance to be saved. This thought experiment demonstrates the point we mentioned before, namely that "undeniable evidence" erases the ability of people to choose to love God.
If there is one thing we know about God, it is that He loves EVERYONE, and therefore wants EVERYONE to come to repentance so that we can spend eternity with Him. So He would not inject Himself into history so forcibly as to prevent others from having the chance to choose Him. He's only interested in our love, not our obedience. Otherwise, He would have created robots, not humans. While this makes logical sense, it seems to contradict portions of the Biblical account of history. You could reasonably assert that God has inserted Himself plenty of times into the course of history, even according to His very own admission!
It is indeed true that God's Word recounts many instances of His appearing to people, but it is important to note that all of those appearances fall into one, or both, of the following two categories: "saving" or "destroying" people. It is clear to see why God would want to jump in to "save" people by making Himself known to them. Of course, He would have already known that they would believe Him when He appeared to them or saved them, but no one can argue against God saving people via a special appearance. The far more difficult category is the second one. If God "wants all to come to repentance" and doesn't want to inject Himself too much into history, then why did He do all of those things in the Old Testament, like sending the Flood to wipe out all living things on land and later, authorizing the death of thousands in the Jewish invasion of Canaan?
Part 15: Does God Do Bad Things?
If you think back to our thought experiment earlier, you will realize how much God cares for each and every person. From the very beginning, God desperately WANTED to inject Himself into history. It was Adam and Eve's choice of sin that forced Him to back out, in hopes that we would choose Him of our own volition. But despite Him not being visible to our eyes, there remains evidence of His work all around us. It's a daily miracle that all of us are still still breathing, let alone alive in the first place. As I have pointed out before, a lot of the things that don't make sense to use now will all make sense when we can view the events of history from a more heavenly perspective--His perspective. At the same time, the Bible often explains exactly why God did what He did. We know that it breaks God's heart to see humans sinning and choosing not to believe in His existence and all that it entails. This hands-off approach to history is breaking God's heart. Since God wants to be involved but doesn't want to force us to believe and also "wants all to come to repentance," it makes sense, then, that God would only choose to destroy people when He knew the people involved would reject Him anyway. Now hang on for a moment--I haven't finish explaining myself. I certainly don't claim to be an expert on God, and this is just my personal understanding of Scripture. Let me finish explaining.
Since God has a perfect view of history, He knows who will and who won't choose to believe in and love Him. By killing those who have rejected Him, He's only speeding up their eventual destruction. And if some people who truly believed in Him also die as a result, their inevitable reunion with Him is also simply accelerated. But God isn't petty. He doesn't disregard the timeline or kill people just because the hard logic checks out. He does it so that "many more might come to repentance." In essence, He did what He did in the Old Testament and took credit for His actions because He was hoping it might CHANGE history for the better. Of course, He already knows how history will play out, but we can't see that from our perspective.
It's pretty extraordinary and impressive from our perspective that God would risk a change in the timeline just to save as many as possible. It hurt Him far more to kill those people than it does for us to lose a loved one, because He created them! Yet He was willing to make that sacrifice for the greater good of humanity--a better future. But why don't we see such sacrifices in the New Testament? Why isn't He wiping out entire nations of evil people nowadays?
There are two obvious reasons for this question: First, we are doing a pretty decent job at wiping ourselves out. Evil people rise up, get killed by other evil people, and eventually they die, too. No need for God to speed things along. But the second reason is far more important and far more serious: the events of the Old Testament hurt Him so much that He decided to send the ultimate solution, the final answer, the greatest sacrifice of all: His One and Only Son.
Part 16: What is God's Plan To Fix His Creation?
By this point, we have explored the problems with mainstream explanations for the origin of life, and we have closely examined the possibility that God intelligently designed life on Earth. This, of course, has widespread implications for all of life, because it increases the sanctity of life. If we are merely the latest branch of a millennia-old evolutionary tree, then we only matter as much as a chicken or an chimpanzee. However, if we were purposely designed by an all-knowing Creator, then each of us is uniquely valuable, and each of us has a definite reason for living, as we will soon discover. This impacts how we view abortion, gene editing, and all of science. Yet it is clear that God's intelligent design is no longer perfect; not because He is imperfect, but because He gave us the choice to choose Him, and we chose wrong. Thankfully, God has a plan to restore things to the way they should be. That plan centers around someone you might have heard about before: Jesus Christ.
Jesus was more than just a man who lived a long time ago. He was the Son of God, the perfect sacrifice who died so that we wouldn't have to die for our sinful choices. Jesus lived a blameless life so that He could take all of our imperfections on Him, so that His death would be sufficient for the forgiving of all of our collective and personal sins. Even more remarkable than His death, however, is His resurrection. By rising from the dead, Jesus proved that God has a plan for us after our eventual physical death. We are still subject to physical death because even after accepting His existence, received His forgiveness, and embraced His love, sin still has consequences. But through Jesus Christ, God was able to restrict that "death" consequence to our physical bodies, not our spiritual ones.
Now, instead of our souls living forever in Hell, we have the unprecedented opportunity to live forever in the New Heaven and the New Earth, which the Bible tells us will be created after God has destroyed the "Old" Heaven and Earth. Why do our souls live forever? Well, the Bible tells us that Adam and Eve were originally able to eat from "the Tree of Life" in the Garden of Eden, which they lost access to upon choosing to sin. What did Adam and Eve lose by sinning? Physical Immortality. Their souls were still immortal, but their bodies weren't. Although Adam and Eve and many of their ancestors lived for close to a thousand years, the curse of sin caused their physical bodies to eventually succumb to death, and all of their descendants to degrade as well, riddled with imperfection and impurities. Yet in our souls, we are still immortal creatures, which is why we care about meaning, and hope, and relationships, and why we wish that good times would never have to end.
The good news is that all of these good things DON'T have to end; God is working to restore the rightful order of things in His Creation. He is going to start over and this time, He is inviting all of the people who willingly chose Him to inhabit it. But before He does, He's giving as many as possible a chance to make that choice. This brings up one last important question: If God "wants all to come to repentance," then why wouldn't He allow history to continue forever, and simply let those who believe go to live with Him in a massive party in Heaven? Why set a time and date for the Second Coming, if more people are being born every day? These questions actually answer themselves, but let me explain.
Part 17: When Will God Show Himself?
This is the big question. Disappointingly, the Bible tells us that only God knows the time that He has set for His return. Not even Jesus knows! So this is again a matter of perspective: although from God's perspective it is clear that He will have to draw the line at some point and announce Judgement Day, the same is not so clear from our perspective. We must assume that every day could be our last, and thus avoid putting off the very best and most important choice we will ever make in our lives. If this answer feels unsatisfying, take heart! The Bible provides a slightly different, and more practical, reason for God's timing.
In Matthew 28, Jesus spoke to his disciples before ascending into heaven. He said, "Go into all the world and preach the Good news to every tribe, every tongue, every nation." This is know as the Great Commission, and it is a hint at God's plan. We may not know the day or hour of Jesus' Second Coming, but it is certainly not due to God's hesitation. He is simply waiting for the Great Commission to be fulfilled.
When every single person on the face of the Earth has had a genuine chance to make that choice between loving God and loving themselves, the Great Commission will have been fulfilled, and Jesus' command to His followers will have been completed. At that point, there will be no reason for God to wait any longer to make His presence and power known. The fulfillment of the Great Commission will be the catalyst for the Second Coming.
When Jesus came to Earth as a mortal man, humans had spread out all across the Earth. Was Jesus being unfair or prejudiced by only focusing on "the lost sheep of Israel" (see Matthew 15:22-28)? Certainly not! Jesus targeted his ministry in order to be effective, not to be exclusive. Jesus didn't speak to everyone; instead, He made disciples and tasked them with spreading the Good News around the world. He knew that He had created an infinite variety of people with different interest, preferences, backgrounds, and personalities. Reaching all of those people with the Good News of salvation will require a variety of communication styles. In other words, the message must stay the same, but the methods and style of communicating it will vary greatly.
We know we still have much work to do in order to reach the goal of the Great Commission. Although significant progress has been made, our laziness and our pride often prevent us from doing as much as we can. Just as sin has consequences even if the sin is later forgiven, so too do our delayed and reluctant actions have consequences. The longer it takes to fulfill our moral obligation to the Great Commandment, the more people are born to whom we must witness, and the more people die to whom perhaps we didn't witness sufficiently. Although we won't know all of the details and consequences of our actions until we obtain the same timeless perspective as God Himself, we must realize the urgency with which Jesus spoke of this matter.
Conclusion: What Must I Do?
Jesus constantly proclaimed that "the kingdom of Heaven is near," and he wasn't just speaking figuratively. Do you honestly think the disciples would have preached with such fervor and conviction if they didn't believe that time was short? Just because it's been two thousand years since Christ alone doesn't mean God's dragging His feet; we are! The time is short from God's perspective because there really is a finish line for our physical life as we know it, and we need to have made the right choice willingly before our time is up. The time is also short from our perspective, because there really is a measurable goal for completion of the Great Commission as we know it, and the longer we take to help people come to that all-important realization and make that all-important choice, the less chance we have of ushering God's Kingdom in during our lifetime. Sure, our souls will keep living after we die, but wouldn't it hurt to think that we were so close, and yet we didn't do enough?
In 2 Timothy, Paul says "I have finished the race, I have kept the faith," which is to say that he spent his physical time here on Earth pursuing the only goal which matters, and which scientists and psychologists all agree is the great question of life: "why are we here, and what are we supposed to be doing?"