Is Anybody Out There?

The July, 2014 issue of National Geographic poses the question on its cover: “Is Anybody Out There?” In the background is a picture of the planet Jupiter with Europa, one of its moons, in the foreground. The article is entitled “The Hunt for Life beyond Earth.” The subject is the (foolish and unbelieving) search for extraterrestrial intelligence, which today goes by the acronym SETI, and refers to the various projects involved.

Astrobiology is their area of expertise. Wait, astrobiology?! We all know that astronomy, the study of the stars, is a real and legitimate science. But astrobiology? The study of life among the stars? Yes, today it is an actual area of study in modern science. But it is a pseudo-science, because no such life exists “out there” and therefore, none is available for observation.

The fact that no life of any kind has ever been discovered beyond earth is the reason SETI “was essentially taboo in astronomy” before the 1960s, according to astronomer Frank Drake. But in 1961 Drake called a meeting of

astronomers, chemists, biologists, and engineers, including a young planetary scientist named Carl Sagan, to discuss what is now called astrobiology, the science of life beyond Earth. In particular, Drake wanted some expert help in deciding how sensible it might be to devote significant radio telescope time to listening for alien broadcasts and what might be the most promising way to search. How many civilizations might reasonably be out there? he wondered. So before his guests arrived, he scribbled an equation on the blackboard (32).

The “Drake Equation” purports to estimate “the number of alien civilizations we could detect” (33). Since the 1960s this pseudo-science has morphed from science fiction into a serious area of study, due in part to the discovery of some 1,771 planets beyond our solar system since the 1990s. The article reports that scientists have their eye on the moon Europa. “Europa certainly seems to have the basic ingredients for life. Liquid water is abundant, and the ocean floor may also have hydrothermal vents, similar to Earth’s, that could provide nutrients for any life that might exist there…” (40, 43). A mission to Europa is currently in the works.

But why are they so intent on searching for extraterrestrial life? What is the motive? An article in the November 10, 2014 issue of Time looks at a recent Hollywood movie called “Interstellar” that attempts to persuade viewers of the possibility of life among the stars. The author of this article writes,

Big cosmology has become our secular religion, a church even atheists can join. It addresses many of the same questions religion does: Why are we here? How did it all begin? What comes next? And even if you can barely understand the answers when you get them, well, you’ve heard of a thing called faith, right? Like religion, cosmology has its high priests: Einstein and Hawking…. It has its lesser priests as well: Carl Sagan, Neil deGrasse Tyson…. It has its storytellers too, none more powerful than those in Hollywood. And no moviemaker is currently more influential than Christopher Nolan, director of the coming-soon, don’t-miss, shrouded-in-secrecy Interstellar (44).

The search for life “out there” is a new religion for secularists. It is an attempt to answer all the big questions while leaving God and the Bible out of the picture. Big budget movies like “Interstellar” are not merely for entertainment, but are religious productions. SETI is the religion of many, if not most, secular atheists in the world today.

Creation scientist Jason Lisle probes into the motives of SETI. He asks, “But why is there such hype surrounding the notion of extraterrestrial life?”, and “Why does SETI spend millions of dollars searching for life in outer space?” He answers:

The discovery of intelligent extraterrestrial life would certainly be seen as a vindication of evolution; it is an expectation from a naturalistic worldview…. In some cases a belief in ETs may stem from a feeling of cosmic loneliness: “If there are aliens, then we would not be alone in the universe.” In many cases it comes from an academic desire to learn the mysteries of the universe; a highly developed alien race might have advanced knowledge to pass on to us. Perhaps such knowledge is not merely academic; the hypothetical aliens may know the answers to fundamental questions of existence: “Why am I here? What is the meaning of life?” and so on. An advanced alien race might have medical knowledge far exceeding our own—knowledge which could be used to cure our diseases. Perhaps their medical technology would be so far advanced that they even hold the secret of life and death; with such incredible medical knowledge, perhaps human beings would no longer have to die—ever. In a way, a belief in extraterrestrial life has become a secular replacement for God…. It is not surprising that the unbelieving scientist would feel a sense of cosmic loneliness, having rejected his Creator. But, we are not alone in the universe; there is God….1

The idea of extraterrestrial life does not fit into a biblical worldview. The silence of Scripture in regard to life anywhere else but on earth is deafening. Scripture teaches that God brought forth living creatures in the earth. God made man in the earth and gave Him dominion over the earth. Man sinned in the earth and God became a man in the earth. Christ will soon return to the earth. And God will create a new heavens and earth. The search for life, especially intelligent life, beyond earth is a foolish and unbelieving project.

Astronomy is a wonderful and intriguing science. Astrobiology is not a science at all.

“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork” (Ps. 19:1).

So is anybody “out there”? Yes, God is “out there.” Our Lord Jesus Christ is “out there.” But apart from God, on the basis of Scripture, there is no life “out there” beyond the earth. Soon every knee will bow to Jesus as Lord and every tongue will confess this truth.

Persecution of Christians by ISIS

On the cover of the November issue of Christianity Today we found the question, “Is this the end of Christianity in the Middle East?” The featured article was entitled “On the Edge of Extinction.” The author, Philip Jenkins, who has a much broader view of what constitutes true Christianity than most of us do, nonetheless reveals the horrific persecution of those professing Christ in the Middle East today. He writes:

For Christians in the Middle East, 2014 has been a catastrophe. The most wrenching stories have come from Iraq, where the nascent Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL in news reports) has savagely persecuted ancient Christian communities, including Assyrians, Chaldeans, and Syrian Orthodox. Iraqi Christians have declined rapidly in number since the first Gulf War in 1991, but survivors long believed they could maintain a foothold around Mosul. This past summer, that hope collapsed. In a ghastly reminder of Nazi savagery against Jews, Christian homes were marked with the Arabic letter ن for Nazarenes— Christ followers—or R for Rwafidh, a term for Protestants, and inhabitants were targets for abuse or murder. Islamist militants have controlled Mosul since June 10. Even if the total extermination of each and every believer is not the goal, those ancient communities and churches face the prospect of utter ruin. To that extent, the end of Christianity in Iraq is within sight (37).

We hear about persecution, but it often strikes us as something from long ago or far away. But we must remember that Christians today are suffering and dying for Christ’s sake. Christians today are experiencing what Jesus prophesied when He said, “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake” (Matt. 24:9). Christians today are putting their hope in the promise of Jesus: “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven…” (Matt. 5:11-12).

Are we also prepared to suffer persecution for the sake of Christ? Such persecution may not be very far off. We are tempted to fear and tremble, especially at the prospect of our children suffering. But let us remember what Paul said to the Philippians: “For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake.” And to the Colossians about his own sufferings he wrote: “Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church” (Col. 1:24). And with regard to our children, we must not forget what Jesus said: “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matt. 18:6). The same goes for those who persecute one of His little ones. But for our covenant children, great will also be their reward in heaven.

Another sign of the imminent coming of our Savior.

What Is Rob Bell Doing Now?

Have you been wondering what Rob Bell is doing now? The former pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville, MI and author of the book Love Wins resigned as pastor in 2011 due in part to controversy ignited by his book. He moved to southern California to look for a bigger platform and it turns out he has found one. He is now working with Oprah Winfrey. He accompanied her as a speaker on her “The Life You Want Tour” this past fall.

Oprah interviewed Bell on November 3, 2013 on her show “Super Soul Sunday.” Among other questions, she asked him, “Your definition of God?” Bell’s answer: “Like a song you hear in another room, and you think, boy that sounds beautiful but I only can hear a little bit and so you start opening doors and rearranging furniture, cause you have to get in that room to hear that song. And when you get in you find the nobs and turn them all to the right, cause you’re like, I gotta hear more of that. And then you open the windows cause you want the people in the next houses to hear it.” Another question: “What do you know for sure?” Bell’s answer: “That you can say yes to this moment and experience a joy that can’t be put into words. That is actually possible. I know that for sure.” One more: “My favorite thing to do on Sunday morning is….” Bell’s answer: “Um, my thirteen-year-old son and I will often go surfing, and we’ll be sitting in the water, and it’s quiet, and sometimes a dolphin will go by, and we’ll talk, and…it’s perfect, perfect…yea.” 2

On Sunday, December 21, 2014 “The Rob Bell Show” was scheduled to premiere on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN). Bell has found his higher platform to deceive the masses.

One wonders whether it is even worth mentioning Rob Bell anymore. This man is far beyond the pale of orthodox Christianity, to say nothing of Reformed Christianity. But our Lord told us, “Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many” (Matt. 24:4-5). And He warned, “And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many” (v. 11). Rob Bell is a false prophet. And he is deceiving many. Let us take heed to ourselves.

1 Ken Ham, Ed. The New Answers Book, Book 1. (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2006), 243.

2 Oprah Winfrey, “Super Soul Sunday: Oprah Goes Soul to Soul with Rob Bell,” November 3, 2013, http://www.oprah.com/own-super-soul-sunday/Rob-Bell-and-Oprah-Go-Soul-to-Soul-Video.