An orbiting infrared telescope found no clear signs of life in 100,000 galaxies.
If the universe is billions of years old, evolutionists believe, then sentient life should have arisen many times as they believe it did on Earth. Since many of them should have evolved for millions or even billions of years longer than humans have, their technology should have made them capable of colonizing their entire galaxy, giving off tell-tale signs of their presence.
There’s a lot of could’s and would’s in that line of thinking, but NASA decided to run a first-order investigation. Using data from the orbiting WISE telescope (which was not launched for that purpose), astronomers at Penn State ran a check for elevated mid-infrared wavelengths at 100,000 galaxies. Why infrared?
“Whether an advanced spacefaring civilization uses the large amounts of energy from its galaxy’s stars to power computers, space flight, communication, or something we can’t yet imagine, fundamental thermodynamics tells us that this energy must be radiated away as heat in the mid-infrared wavelengths,” Wright said. “This same basic physics causes your computer to radiate heat while it is turned on.”
Freeman Dyson had speculated that a sufficiently advanced civilization would be able to harness all the energy of its star into a “Dyson Sphere” of collectors. Enough of these would be detectable over astronomical distances. The researchers did find 50 galaxies with higher than average levels of this mid-infrared radiation, but are not ready to attribute it to signs of intelligence over natural processes. Science Daily says, “It was not until space-based telescopes like the WISE satellite that it became possible to make sensitive measurements of this radiation emitted by objects in space.” Jason T. Wright, co-author of the study, is an astronomer at Penn State’s Center for Exoplanets and Habitable Worlds.
In any case, Wright said, the team’s non-detection of any obvious alien-filled galaxies is an interesting and new scientific result. “Our results mean that, out of the 100,000 galaxies that WISE could see in sufficient detail, none of them is widely populated by an alien civilization using most of the starlight in its galaxy for its own purposes. That’s interesting because these galaxies are billions of years old, which should have been plenty of time for them to have been filled with alien civilizations, if they exist. Either they don’t exist, or they don’t yet use enough energy for us to recognize them,” Wright said.
The survey did turn up some interesting objects, but they are most likely natural, like nebulae in the Milky Way that had escaped earlier surveys. Co-author Steinn Sigurdsson says, “When you’re looking for extreme phenomena with the newest, most sensitive technology, you expect to discover the unexpected, even if it’s not what you were looking for.”
This kind of first-glance survey is not definitive. It relies on many assumptions, including the notion that we know what aliens would build, and the hope that our instruments would be capable of detecting them. Believers can still find refuge in additional assumptions, such as the speculation that sufficiently advanced civilizations would cloak their presence. Anything is possible when speculation lacks an observational foundation.
SETI has faced a long string of disappointments for over 50 years now, despite a few false positives. According to the evolutionists’ own assumptions, advanced civilizations should be out there. There “should have been plenty of time” for Darwin to work his magic, they think, producing intelligences that are so far beyond us, they would seem like gods. Well, where are they? The Fermi Paradox (the idea that if they were there, they would have visited Earth by now) remains.
Is it unreasonable to think that humans are alone in the universe? To many, it would be a waste of space to have so many uninhabited galaxies out there. But why should that be surprising? It’s only surprising if you are an evolutionist. If God created life on Earth, as the Bible says, it’s not surprising at all, since “The heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalm 19:1). He made a vast universe for His glory and pleasure (Revelation 5:12). It wasn’t hard for him to do; He spoke the stars into existence. So why not create lots of them? They are a beautiful sight from Earth, giving humans endless possibilities for discovery. A far lesser universe, with only a few stars nearby, would decrease our appreciation of His majestic omnipotence.
But then why are humans so small? Given the physical laws the Creator set up, it’s a physical necessity that we be the size we are. We have to live on a planet the size of Earth, at the right distance from a stable star, to have the kind of life and fellowship that we enjoy. If we were as big as stars, we would crash into each by gravity if we approached one another. No matter where God put us, we would ask the same questions: Why here? I say it’s a pretty nice place where He put us. It’s not too close to the center of our beautiful, majestic Milky Way, where radiation would be a problem (and we would see far less of the universe), nor too far out, where our planet might be deprived of the heavy elements needed for life. We’re right in the Galactic Habitable Zone of one of God’s most beautiful galaxies.
Our smallness is not a function of God’s concern for us. In a real scientific sense, humans are about halfway between the scale of a galaxy and the scale of quarks. That’s a fact that we should take into consideration when pondering our significance in a vast universe. A being at the level of an atom would look at us as incredible giants. And according to the doctrine of omnipresence, all of God is present at every point in space and time. So God is not partly “out there” and partly here; He is everywhere fully present.
The Bible is almost completely focused on human life. It’s amazing to think that the Creator of such a vast array of stars would be passionately concerned with the sins and deeds of puny humans on a tiny planet, but it’s true. The thought fascinated David in Psalm 8: “When I consider the heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained, what is man, that Thou art mindful of him?” Yet David goes on to wonder at the glory and honor God bestowed upon human life, putting him in charge of the other life forms on Earth.
God’s concern for humanity is also seen in the book of Amos. This rancher-turned-prophet spoke against rebellious Israel, showing God’s intense concern for the plight of the poor whose rights the rich, idolatrous leaders had trampled. Look how Amos vindicated God’s judgment against them: “He who made the Pleiades and Orion, and turns deep darkness into the morning and darkens the day into night, who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out on the surface of the earth, the Lord is his name; who makes destruction flash forth against the strong, so that destruction comes upon the fortress” (Amos 5:8–9). In other words, meting out justice to sinners who may appear strong from a human perspective is nothing for the Creator of the stars.
Scientifically speaking, it should not be surprising to Bible believers that we are small relative to galaxies. There’s only a limited range of sizes that allow for complex life. At the scale of atoms, everything is made of just a few particles and elements. At the range of stars, most objects are spherical orbs interacting by gravity. There’s only a narrow range on the size spectrum that allows for beings like us – beings who can have fellowship, speak sound waves through an atmosphere, write books, compose and perform music, climb mountains, and gather into families and congregations. Don’t disparage our size. We are small relative to galaxies, but huge relative to atoms. And all of God is right here.
Do Bible believers allow for extraterrestrial life? We cannot rule it out; our observations are limited, and the Bible doesn’t say (Deuteronomy 29:29). There are also innumerable companies of angels, the limits of whose reaches are unknown to us. An omnipotent Creator could adorn extrasolar planets with grass and grasshoppers if He wanted to. But it’s not surprising no sentient alien beings have ever been detected. The ones who are surprised are the evolutionists who so long to point to aliens as proof that what evolved here has evolved elsewhere. So far, it’s been a longing, not a fulfillment.