This is a great question that a student asked me: What happens when the aliens land? Being the third generation evangelical that I am, I told him that we would just need to keep preaching the gospel because aliens need Jesus, too. (obviously)
But seriously – is this even a possibility?
Dr. Frank Drake wrote an equation in 1961 that has been coined “The Drake Equation”. The Drake Equation attempts to determine how many possible civilizations could arise in our Milky Way galaxy by macro-evolutionary means (started from the bottom now we’re here…oh wait, different Drake). It should be noted that The Drake Equation has so many variables with such wide factors that many call it at best a “guesstimate”. But for our purposes today, we will roll with it.
Some middle of the road estimates suggest that the nearest habitable planet that could give rise to intelligent life is 21 light years away*.
In 1962, SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Life) began beaming the message of Earthlings into the universe. It took about 25 years or so for our message to get 21 light years away. Assuming the aliens got our message and shot one back at us, we should be hearing from E.T. any day now…
But I’m not holding my breath.
There are a number of problems that arise when looking for life outside of our solar system.
1) Macro-evolution has never been observed. Is it possible?
2) Even if macro-evolution is possible, the odds of two intelligent life forms arising at the same time and surviving long enough to meet each other in a many billion year old universe are slim to none.
3) If intelligent life could survive thousands, millions, or billions of years, we would have heard from E.T. by now. Life would have arisen in the first billion years of the universe and found its way to us.
4) The fastest an alien UFO could theoretically travel is the speed of light**. How many E.T.’s do you think want to sign up for a 30,000-100,000 earth years space journey?
It is possible that God has created other life forms – maybe even in our universe. After all, angels are also intelligent beings created by God. It isn’t beyond the realm of possibility that God has other intelligent creation in this universe or perhaps in another dimension or universe of His creation.
With that being said, it seems exceptionally unlikely that E.T. will be checking in with us anytime too soon. Which is unfortunate, because I was really looking forward to leading ALF to Christ. I suppose the Christian mission to preach the gospel on this planet is more than enough to keep believers busy.
*a light year represents the time it takes light to leave our sun and reach a distant destination. For example, it takes about 10 minutes for light to travel from the sun to earth. This means when you look at the sun, you are seeing the sun as it was 10 minutes ago, not as it currently is. In his theory or relativity, Albert Einstein established the universal law that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light.
**with the exception of a wormhole…which is not fully understood.