I was enjoying some of your writings and responses this morning, and I am provoked in thought. Does any passage in the Bible discredit the existence of living planets beyond Earth? If not, what are your thoughts on the possibility of other "living" planets? You wrote somewhere that intelligent design cannot be proved experimentally, that it must be taken in a spirit of rationality or derived from obviousness. The distribution of planets, stars, galaxies, and the existence of earth, I believe, make the existence of other "living” planets obvious and rational.
Good question. Science can only establish the laws of nature and make observations. At this time, there is no direct evidence of life anywhere in the universe, with the possible exception of some suggestive evidence of former life on Mars (this NASA claim in the early 90s is quite controversial). So, as a scientist, all I can say is that it is extremely likely that conditions conducive to at least simple life forms (bacteria-like) almost certainly exists elsewhere in the universe—probably on billions of different planets on various stars in the hundreds of billions of galaxies in the known universe. Whether or not life actually exists in these places is impossible to say with certainty. Attempts to calculate the probability of such things is so extremely problematic that it is probably not even useful to look at such calculations.
Personally, I believe that living things would not self-assemble. This violates several well known laws. My conclusion is that the existence of life itself is the result of the creative work of a supernatural power/being which I call God. This being true, then life would not spontaneously appear without divine intervention. Of course, I have absolutely no idea if God has started the spark of life elsewhere, so this really does not change the equation all that much anyway. Whether life in one planetary system could seed life in another is an open question. Bottom line, I, and other scientists and rational religious believing scientists say this: I do not know.
The answer is that there is no passage in the Bible which discredits the existence of life elsewhere. The Bible gives credit to God for creating life on the earth, but does not discuss life elsewhere. Even if God had wanted to discuss this, the Jews did not have the proper vocabulary. They did not have the concept of other earth-like planets, or other stars like our sun, or other galaxies and solar systems. It is not at all surprising that the Bible does not discuss life elsewhere.
John Oakes, PhD