Over the past few years there has been consistent and growing talk in the media (and elsewhere) about the probability of there being intelligent life forms elsewhere in the universe. Much of this is due to grainy video footage and some Congressional hearings on the topic of UFO’s (but they don’t call them UFO’s any more).
If these UFO’s are not equipment that was launched by the USA, China or Russia, and if they are not some odd optical illusion of sorts, then by default they must be a special aircraft that was created by some advanced lifeform from another planet or galaxy. This of course would be at odds with Biblical teachings and Church history regarding mankind’s special place in Revelation.
That said, it is a critical question and dilemma.
British scientist Alfred Wallace sheds light on the topic
To that end, I recently read a nonfiction book (published in 1906) by famous British scientist Alfred Wallace. His book is titled, Man’s Place in the Universe: A study of the results of scientific research in relation to the unity or plurality of worlds. The “plurality of worlds” was a phrase back in the 19th Century which essentially meant that what we have here on Earth is of course existing on other or unknown planets.
Wallace was not a Christian (nor Jewish) man. He was, however, one of the preeminent scientists in the world in the mid-1800’s until his death. He was a naturalist, explorer, geographer, biologist and astronomer. Wallace is known as the co-author of the theory of evolution. His 1858 paper on evolution was a key precursor to Charles Darwin’s famous “On the Origin of Species”.
Over the past 50-60 years in the United States, I believe all or most public school students study evolution and also Charles Darwin. But very few people know of Darwin’s counterpart, Alfred Wallace.
A detailed and pragmatic study
Late in his career, Wallace decided it was critical for him to analyze and determine the likelihood of there being intelligent lifeforms elsewhere in the universe. His 211-page book is the culmination of that effort, and it is quite detailed and pragmatic.
Wallace talks about the various advances in astronomy which completely changed the study of the galaxy, starting in the mid-1800’s. This includes the progression of the telescope, among other developments.
Essential characteristics of living organisms
Wallace knew a lot about biology and chemistry, and he speaks in depth about the essential characteristics of living organisms.
One chapter of Wallace’s book is on “The physical conditions essential for organic life”—and here he describes what is needed in a way that a non-scientist can understand.
Upon reading his entire work, I would state that he was very thorough in his methodology.
Wallace’s remarkable conclusions
In the end, what is Wallace’s conclusion about intelligent (or high-level) life existing somewhere else in the universe? (The following are quotes from the last chapter of his book.)
- That no other planet in the solar system than our earth is inhabited or habitable.
- That the probabilities are almost as great against any other sun possessing inhabited planets.
- Man, the culmination of conscious organic life, has been developed here only in the whole vast material universe we see around us.
I welcome anyone to read this book; it is a fine lesson in scientific reasoning and data analysis.
Wallace was not “religious,” and it doesn’t appear that his work on the subject was political in nature.
As the book was written more than 100 years ago, some people may claim that it is not up to today’s scientific rigors, but I would argue that there is nothing he claimed then that would be disproved in 2023. Not being a professional scientist, I could be wrong on that. But I believe the topic is well worth the debate.