Would the Discovery of Alien Life Undermine Christian Theology?

by Pastor Brian Chilton

On Thursday, July 23rd, 2015, NASA announced a major discovery. NASA announced that scientists had discovered another Earth-sized planet “orbiting a sun-like star brings us closer than ever to finding a twin of our own watery world” (Brennan 2015). Astronomers have named the planet Kepler-452b. What is especially interesting about the planet is that it is in the so-called “Goldilocks Zone” which is an area from the sun that is just right to allow water on the planet.  Too far away from the host star and any potential water would freeze. Too close to the star and any potential water would burn out.  NASA said nothing about alien life except that Kepler-452b receives “about 90 percent of the energy we get from the sun. That’s a point in favor of life, if the planet’s atmosphere is something like ours” (Brennan 2015).

From the previous point, many sensationalist websites proclaimed that alien life had been found. But a further reading of NASA’s statement indicates that such an announcement is premature since “The planet’s true size and density remain unknown, however, which means it could still turn out to be a gas planet, hostile to like as we know it. And powerful magnetic fluxes also could mean periodic drop-offs in the amount of energy reaching the planet, by as much as 40 percent. These drop-offs could last for months” (Brennan 2015). In addition, the planet is around 500 light years away which would take us around 2,932,848,000,000,000 (2 quadrillion, 932 trillion, 848 billion) years to arrive at Kepler-452b. While life on Kepler-452b is highly unlikely, many have posed the question, “What if alien life is discovered in the universe? Would it affect or destroy Christian theology that holds that human life is made imagio dei (in the image of God)?” While it is highly unlikely that one would discover alien life in the universe, it is not impossible. Such a topic is, at least at the time of this writing, a theological exercise. But if alien life were to be discovered, obviously it would affect everyone—much as Columbus’ discovery of the New World sent shock waves to Europe. However, I do not think that the discovery of alien life would destroy Christianity or religion in general, for the following reasons…


Would the Discovery of Alien Life Undermine Christian Theology? | Pastor Brian Chilton