Recently, NASA astronomers were giddy with excitement as they announced the discovery of seven new planets. A Wall Street Journal headline read, “Seven Earth-Size Worlds Discovered Orbiting Nearby Star.” The article then reported:
“Seven alien worlds about the size of Earth have been discovered orbiting a tiny nearby star, and six of them appear warm enough that liquid water—necessary for life—could exist on their surfaces . . . Called Trappist-1, the dwarf star, located about 40 light years away from Earth in the constellation Aquarius, is so small that it is barely bigger than Jupiter, the largest planet in our own solar system. Yet it is home to the largest collection of Earth-sized planets found in the galaxy so far.”
One of the scientists involved in the study said, “The star is so small and cold that the planets are temperate, which means they could have liquid water and possibly life on their surface.”
The article concludes, “The discovery adds to mounting evidence that billions of such worlds may exist in the Milky Way galaxy. The new findings indicate that these planets are even more common than previously thought. All told, astronomers have confirmed the existence of more than 3,500 exoplanets.”
For the disciples of Darwin and the heralds of humanism, discoveries like this hold out the hope that one day mankind will find an answer to one of the deep mysteries of the universe—are we alone?
The secular scientist is searching for the answer to this question for several reasons. For one, they are committed to an evolutionary worldview. As such they believe that life came about in the universe without God’s help. If extraterrestrial life was found on another planet this would confirm their assumption that on a cosmic scale what happened here on Earth wasn’t really all that special. Statically speaking, they reason, with all the trillions of stars and planets in our universe there’s bound to be another like ours teeming with life.
Another reason why astronomers are so enthralled with finding other life-sustaining planets is because many believe that humanity will likely need an insurance policy in case we are threatened by a rogue asteroid or we destroy our planet by nuclear war. Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX, who has promised a Mars colony by the year 2030, explained, “We’ve got all our eggs in one basket, and that’s a terrible risk-management strategy. We should diversify our planetary portfolio to insure against the worst—and soon. The dinosaurs became extinct because they didn’t have a space program.”
The problem with discoveries like the seven planets orbiting Trappist-1 is that they are so far away. The seven sisters of Trappist-1 are 40 lightyears away from earth, meaning that even if we had a Millennium Falcon that could reach the speed of light we couldn’t get there for 40 years! This is simply not a trip we are going to make anytime soon.
The Bible offers good reasons to doubt that intelligent life exists on other planets. Scripture points out the absolute centrality of the Earth and gives us no hint that life exists elsewhere. Just look at the creation account in opening verses of Genesis. God made the earth habitable on days 1-3 before He created the rest of the planets and stars on day 4. The rest of the universe exists as a support system for the main stage of Earth where God’s Divine drama takes place.
Admittedly, the Earth is but an astronomical atom among the whirling constellations, only a speck of dust among the ocean of galaxies, nebulae and stars.
So this begs the question, why did God make the universe so big? Why so much extra space if it’s just us? Atheist astronomer Carl Sagan famously said, “The universe is a pretty big place. If it’s just us, seems like an awful waste of space.”
However, Christian astronomer Hugh Ross points out in his mind-bending book, The Creator and the Cosmos, that the universe must be as big and as dense as it is for life to exist anywhere. According to Ross, “for life to be possible in the universe, that is to obtain the stars and planets necessary for life, the value of the mass density must be fine-tuned to better than one part in 1060.” Ross goes on to explain, “An analogy that does not even come close to describing the precarious nature of this cosmic balance would be a billion pencils all simultaneously positioned upright on their sharpened points on a smooth glass surface with no vertical supports.”
This incredibly precise ratio of space to matter must be balanced for the building blocks of life to be present. I’m not sure I understand all of this but, simply put, given the laws of physics in our universe, we need a universe as massive as it is for the construction of the materials that make life possible on our planet. If the universe were much smaller or bigger, we would not exist. It turns out the universe is not full of wasted space. In fact, if the universe were not this massive, Carl Sagan and the rest of us could never even have been here to reflect upon it. Thank God we live in such a big universe.
And of course, the massiveness of the universe is a testament to the greatness of our God. When we consider the power of the Lord who made all this, we cannot help but feel humbled. Truly, the God who created this universe is glorious and worthy of praise. As Palm 19:1 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands” (NIV). -DM
 Robert Lee Hotz, “Seven Earth-Size Worlds Discovered Orbiting Nearby Star,” The Wall Street Journal, 22 February 2017 <https://www.wsj.com/articles/seven-earth-size-worlds-discovered-orbiting-nearby-star-1487786401>
 Jason Dorrier, “Elon Musk Is Right: Colonizing the Solar System Is Humankind’s Insurance Policy Against Extinction,” Singularity Hub 15 October 2014, <https://singularityhub.com/2014/10/05/elon-musk-is-right-colonizing-the-solar-system-is-humankinds-insurance-policy-against-extinction/>
 Hugh Ross, The Creator and the Cosmos (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2001), 151.