Recently, a space exploration milestone has been achieved with NASA passing the 5,000 mark in terms of discovering exoplanets (planets orbiting stars other than our sun). Of course, these are only the exoplanets whose existence has been confirmed.3 Could there be millions, or even trillions more such planets?
“Surely,” some might say, “with all those exoplanets there will be some harboring life.” No, not really. Fervently believing that life exists on other planets is based on the unscientific assumption that organic (carbon-based) life could spring—through time—from inorganic non-life. Such a process is called abiogenesis (the origin of life) and has never been documented.
One of the co-discoverers of the DNA molecule was Sir Francis Crick of England. He was a brilliant scientist and avowed atheist. Crick knew the futility of abiogenesis and looked beyond Earth for life’s origin. He was driven, along with British chemist Leslie Orgel, to put together a bizarre hypothesis that life on earth could have sprung from interstellar seeds! Such unknown seeds were spread from unknown spacecraft sent by an unknown distant civilization several billion years ago. This ironically is called directed panspermia and it is entirely theoretical, there is no scientific evidence this occurred.
In November 2013, Tanya Lewis of space.com wrote, “Habitable Earth-Size Planets Common Across the Universe, Study Suggests.”4 But six years later, another writer stated, “a new study…dramatically reduces the number of worlds where scientists will have the best luck finding ET.”5
Indeed, scientists listened for aliens among the billions of stars and came up empty-handed.
The array used to conduct the search is made up of 4,000 antennas in the Western Australian desert. The researchers listened in for any kind of alien “technosignatures”, or any kind of sign of alien life out there. Because the array can pick up low-frequency radio waves, they hoped it could give some kind of evidence of intelligent life on other worlds. During the seven hours of listening, the group focused on the Galactic Center. The center has been a prime target for astronomers in the past because of all the stars it houses. More stars mean more chances for worlds capable of living and intelligent creatures. However, after 7 hours of listening in on the Galactic Center, the researchers turned up absolutely nothing.6
Life as we know it requires liquid water, but a tiny minority of these 5000+ exoplanets have water or water vapor.
Consider the conditions necessary for a large, permanent ocean of liquid water to form on a planet. An ocean world must move in a nearby circular orbit around a stable star. The distance of the planet from the star must be just right to provide a temperate environment in which water is liquid. Unlike most stars, a water planet’s sun must not be a double or multiple star, or the orbital year would have irregular periods of intense heat and cold. The material that accreted [coming or bringing together under the influence of gravitation] to form the planet must have included both water and substances capable of forming a solid crust.7
But just having water may not be a significant factor as once thought.
Many are starting to argue that the standard definition of habitability—having liquid water on a planet’s surface—is not the factor that should guide exoplanet exploration. Instead, the scientists say, the field should focus on the chances of detecting alien life, should it exist. “Planets can be habitable and not have life with any impact,” [Steve Desch, an astrophysicist at Arizona State University] told researchers at the meeting.8
Exoplanet research is, of course, fascinating, but having all the many parameters needed to support organic life on them is unknown. There is no evidence in either Scripture or science that life—especially intelligent life—exists on these exoplanets.9
The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord’s;
But the earth He has given to the children of men.10
1. Sherwin, F. 2004. 21 Years Until Alien Contact? Acts & Facts. 33 (3).
2. Thomas, B. Poll: Half of Humanity Believes in Aliens. Creation Science Update. Posted on ICR.org December 26, 2017.
3. Seo, H. NASA’s official exoplanet tally has passed 5,000 worlds. Posted on popsci.com March 22, 2022, accessed March 24, 2022.
4. Lewis, T. Habitable Earth-Size Planets Common Across the Universe, Study Suggests. Posted on space.com November 4, 2013, accessed March 22, 2022.
5. Geggel, L. Alien Life Could Be Hiding Out on Far Fewer Planets Than We Thought. Posted on livescience.com June 10, 2019, accessed March 22, 2022.
6. Hawkins, J. 2022. Scientists searched for aliens among the billions of stars, and the results will surprise you. Posted on news.yahoo.com February 24, 2022, accessed March 21, 2022.
7. Garrison, T. and R. Ellis. 2016. Oceanography, 9th edition. Brooks Cole. Boston, MA, 17. This is all the more unique because “According to models of Solar System formation, Earth, as an inner Solar System planet, should have little to no water.” Peslier, A. 2020. The Origins of Water. Science. 369 (6507).
8. Witze, A. 2017. Exoplanet Hunter Rethinks Search for Alien Life. Scientific American. November 21, 2017.
9. Creation Ministries International has an excellent discussion regarding the Christian response to aliens and UFOs.
10. Psalm 115:16.
*Dr. Sherwin is Research Scientist at the Institute for Creation Research. He earned an M.A. in zoology from the University of Northern Colorado and received an Honorary Doctorate of Science from Pensacola Christian College.