Are there people beyond earth’s atmosphere? Or organisms?
The short answer to your question is that we do not know. Philosophers and scientists—plus regular people like you and me—have been asking this question probably for all of human existence. So far we have no proof of life beyond earth’s atmosphere, but that does not mean it doesn’t exist. NASA has a fun website called Exoplanet Exploration that you might want to visit. You’ll especially want to explore The Search for Life on the site.
In college, I took a class called “The Search for Extraterrestrial Life,” and we explored this question using something called the Drake Equation. The Drake Equation gives us a way of trying to gauge the probability of whether or not we might ever discover life on other planets within our own galaxy. (Keep in mind that astronomers estimate there are 100-200 billion galaxies in the universe; we’re just talking about one, our Milky Way!) The Drake Equation involves coming up with estimates for:
- the average rate of star formation in the Milky Way
- the number of those stars that might have planets
- the number of planets per star-with-planets that could support life
- the number of those planets that would actually go on to develop life at some point
- the number of those planets that would develop into intelligent life
- the number of those civilizations that could develop technology we could detect (such as radio signals that go out into space)
- the length of time such civilizations would exist
Multiply all that together, and you come up with a potential estimate for the number of civilizations in our galaxy that we might be able to communicate with someday.
Some Christians believe (or perhaps they fear) that if we were to find life on other planets, it would somehow lead to a crisis of faith because it would call into question the creation stories in Genesis. I do not share this concern. The creation stories found in Genesis 1:1-2:3 and 2:4-25 both proclaim God as the Creator. For me, discovering life beyond the bounds of earth would merely mean that God’s creative work extends beyond what we know. But I believe that already! Of course God’s creative work extends far beyond what I can possibly imagine or even comprehend! Finding life on other planets would become for me just one more indication of God’s magnificent, creative power.
I believe and proclaim that God is the Creator of the universe—the heavens and the earth; the moon, the sun, and all the stars in the sky.
O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars that you have established.
Psalm 8:1, 3