Are we alone?

The stars are such a beautiful thing. Each star in and of itself is a marvel, a big ball of gas burning up there in that big, bluish-black thing, but taken together the stars are more than the sum of their parts. The universe is so big and we are so little, everyone we know and love squeezed onto this pale blue dot that is just one of an unknown number of planets in orbit around a star. Who of us haven’t been awestruck as we gaze up into the clear night sky and are swallowed by the enormity of the cosmos?

On the night I remember here, I wasn’t just awestruck, I was terrified. Our mobile home was situated east to west, my bedroom was on the east end, and I had been looking out the window from the top bunk as I waited to drift off to sleep for the night. The stars were clear and bright, and I watched as one drifted across the sky from south to north, made an abrupt 90 degree turn, fell several hundred feet, made another abrupt 90 degree turn and then continued on to the edge of what I could see from my window. It was out of sight in seconds.

That isn’t how airplanes fly, I told myself, they can’t turn that quickly or move that fast.

Surely it had to be a plane, right?

The light hadn’t been flashing like the airplanes I was used to seeing.

What was it? What could have possibly made that turn so quickly, appear to fall for hundreds of feet, and then resume course so quickly it seemed like nothing had happened?

Are we alone here? Are we alone in this universe?

Terrified, shaking, I trembled in fear until finally I fell asleep.

I don’t think I told anyone the next morning, but if I did I wasn’t believed. Slowly that moment has slipped further and further into the past, but the memory is clear to me. I saw something I can’t explain that night. Even as I think about it now, I can not explain what I saw. Satellites look like a moving star, like this did, but it would be impossible for one to make such a dramatic shift in it’s course so quickly. A falling star or meteor is discounted for the same reasons. There was no airport along the flight path that would have necessitated a landing light being turned on for an airplane, and it couldn’t make that turn. A helicopter could have flown as this did with straight angles, but at nowhere near the speed I witnessed. We live in a world that obeys the laws of physics and whatever I saw that night seemingly ignored inertia. There was no curve to it’s path. Straight, falling, then straight again in a matter of moments. Out of sight in seconds.

I’ll suspect I’ll never forget that night.

In the past few years, the United States government has been increasingly open to saying “we can’t explain this” when confronted with evidence of what are now called Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena or UAP’s for short. Whistleblowers have released stories this week of a massive conspiracy to hide the retrieval and reverse engineering of objects of non-human origin across the globe over the course of decades. With the preponderance of the internet and cameras we all carry in our pockets at all times, more and more is added to the body of evidence that seems to indicate we are not alone in this universe.

Am I telling you there is irrefutable evidence intelligent beings from another place are real? No, I am not telling you that.

What if we aren’t alone, however? How does that change what we have believed about our place in the world, in the galaxy, and in the universe?

As a Christian, I must ask myself how does this change my faith? Can faith exist in a universe with more than one home of intelligent life? Does your faith fall apart if we aren’t God’s one and only special creation?

Will you allow me to share a few thoughts that I’ve been slowly ruminating on since the night I saw the impossible?

Let me begin by saying that if there is other life out there, God is not surprised. If we truly believe in a good and loving God who is omnipotent and omnipresent, when confronted with evidence of other life in the universe, we must conclude that God not only knew about it, but created it intentionally with a purpose to fulfill. Will we understand that purpose? I’m sure we won’t understand it immediately. Will it be the same purpose as that entrusted to the human race? Maybe, but maybe not. Will there be a purpose? Yes! Will this life bear the image of God? Yes! Will it look anything like us? Probably not!

If this other life exists and God is not surprised, I would argue that he has left us instructions on how to interact with it. I think we may find a deeper level of truth in the entire Bible that we have simply not been aware of. Love thy neighbor as thyself and do unto others as you would have them do to you can be deepened and broadened to include our celestial neighbors. Biblical instructions in Leviticus to treat the foreigner as you would a native born become even more meaningful in light of visitors from another world. If we are to follow the will of God, we should be prepared to welcome the stranger, to clothe the naked, and to heal the sick, as by doing this we are doing it unto the Lord.

Heaven help us if this be the case, but we are even to bless those who persecute us.

I have always gravitated to the verse in John 10:16 that says “And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.” Ostensibly this verse is about Jew and Gentile, but couldn’t the Bible have a deeper current still than the one we see on the surface? In James it speaks of us Christians as a kind of firstfruits of all that God created. Are we to lead other sheep to God’s fold?

In Genesis, God promises Abraham descendants as numerous as the stars. What if God has always planned to take us to new planets so that descendants of Abraham could truly be as numerous as the stars in the sky? By mathematical predictions we estimate that there are nearly 200 billion trillion stars in the sky, and mathematical predictions suggest that only 117 billion people have lived on the earth thus far. As Roy Scheider famously said “We’re gonna need a bigger boat!”

I don’t say all of this to say “This is what is truth.” Instead I am simple trying to say, “There is room for this, in the truth.” The truth hasn’t changed, it won’t change, but our understanding of it will grow. Even if we have no celestial neighbors, we can certainly stretch ourselves to better love those we have here on this planet with us. Perhaps as we think of someday meeting intelligent life on or from another planet, we can learn how to love and cherish the life of this one in a way that truly honors our creator.

Perhaps tomorrow all of this hype will be revealed to have been a hoax. Perhaps someone will come out from behind a curtain somewhere and say “Gotcha!”.

Either way, I believe in a God that is big enough for either possibility.

I also know that we are not alone.

Disclaimer: All thoughts are my own, and are in no way reflective of any statements or stances of my employers, associates, or friends. I stand alone in these statements, although we may not be alone in the universe.