The Carina Nebula as photographed by the Hubble Space Telescope (Photo: NASA)
I recently watched a video of the late NASA astronaut Edgar Mitchell discussing alien life. Mitchell, who passed away in 2016, was the sixth man to walk on the moon during America’s Apollo space program. In the video, Mitchell explained his belief in intelligent alien life and encouraged the United States Government to declassify all of its UFO data. Mitchell contended that aliens are already among us and have been in contact with humans for centuries.
There has been much speculation about the possible consequences for humanity if we should suddenly find out Earth is not the only place in the universe inhabited by intelligent beings. Some of the discussions focus on mass panic, loss in faith of political systems and global conflict. One discussions suggests that the discovery would either enrich our religious beliefs or completely destroy them. I tend to believe Christianity might ultimately be enriched once the initial shock subsided.
English clergyman and Bible scholar J.B. Phillips is probably best known for his epic book, “Your God is Too Small.” Published in 1952, it might have just as easily been titled, “Your Mind is Too Small.” Phillips encourages us to set aside the limits human reason places on God and instead embrace Him as the omnipotent, omnipresent creator of the universe. Rather than having God conform to our understanding of the universe, we should conform to His reality—the Creator who is unconstrained by our linear concepts of time, speed, distance and space. The publisher’s book review says:
“Phillips explains that the trouble facing many of us today is that we have not found a God big enough for our modern needs. In a world where our experience of life has grown in myriad directions and our mental horizons have been expanded to the point of bewilderment by world events and scientific discoveries, our ideas of God have remained largely static.”
One of the book’s chapters is titled “God-In-a-Box.” It discusses the absurdity of the narrow-minded belief that God favors certain churches and denominations. Scottish Theologian Oswald Chambers also cautioned against focusing on creeds instead of on Christ and the atonement. St. Paul discusses this in 1 Corinthians 2:1-5, saying:
“And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”
The respected American clergyman and theologian Ray Stedman said, “When religion becomes complex, it is a sign that it is departing from Christ.” I would like to think that the discovery of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe might end the squabbling between Christian churches and denominations, making us focus instead on the power and majesty of our Creator.
Who is to stay that Christ’s story of atonement has not already been played out on billions of planets in the universe? To think otherwise truly puts God in a box.
“Can you find out the deep things of God? Can you find out the limit of the Almighty? It is higher than heaven—what can you do? Deeper than Sheol—what can you know? Its measure is longer than the earth and broader than the sea.” Job 11:7-9 (NIV)