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I recall reading a book by Hugh Ross many years ago, in which he claimed that life, or at least intelligent life, on other planets was a Biblical impossibility. I believe the argument hinged on the Biblical claim that Humanity is the "crown of God's creation."

Ross is an Old Earth Creationist; that is, he believes in an old earth (billions of years), but that humanity was a "special creation", not evolved from lower life forms.

Theistic Evolutionists tend not to depend on a "special" intervention, which, at least on the surface, seems that it would lend itself to the possibility of life, possibly including intelligent life, having evolved in various places throughout the Universe.

My question is:

Do any Theistic Evolutionists hold the view that life on Earth (or at least intelligent life on Earth) is unique in the universe, for Biblical reasons? And if so, what is their Biblical basis?

I stress for Biblical reasons, because I'm not interested in the types of arguments that might be made based on the Fermi paradox, or other views that are equally valid among non-theists. Naturally, Biblical reasons are bound to coincide with naturalistic and/or philosophical reasons, and that's fine. I'm not looking for the absence of naturalistic/philosophical reasons; I'm looking for the existence of a Biblical basis.

And to scope the question away from "My uncle is a TE, and believes this", please focus on Theistic Evolutionists which have published their views in a book, magazine, or journal (peer review not required; self-published blogs and the like discouraged).

  • Are you including the multiverse in your question's scope? – Joseph Hinkle Oct 22 '19 at 17:07
  • @JosephHinkle The scope is "examples of Theistic Evolutionists that deny the possibility of intelligent life on other planets for biblical reasons". How does the multiverse come into play here, seeing that the perceived issues probably stay the same? – kutschkem Apr 24 at 9:17
  • Are you saying that this Ross person is evolutionist in regard to some, or lower, life forms? – Walter S Jun 28 at 19:27
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Intriguing question, although I do not subscribe to theistic evolution, nor have I ever given a second thought to the possibility of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe. Curious, I went searching for information. I found one published paper about the implications of the discovery of extra-terrestrial life for religion, which I partially quote below. However, it said nothing about theistic evolutionists.

The implications of the discovery of extra-terrestrial life for religion

Abstract: This paper asks about the future of religion: (i) Will confirmation of extra-terrestrial intelligence (ETI) cause terrestrial religion to collapse? ‘No’ is the answer based upon a summary of the ‘Peters ETI Religious Crisis Survey’. Then the paper examines four specific challenges to traditional doctrinal belief likely to be raised at the detection of ETI: (ii) What is the scope of God’s creation? (iii) What can we expect regarding the moral character of ETI? (iv) Is one earthly incarnation in Jesus Christ enough for the entire cosmos, or should we expect multiple incarnations on multiple planets? (v) Will contact with more advanced ETI diminish human dignity? More than probable contact with extra-terrestrial intelligence will expand the Bible’s vision so that all of creation—including the 13.7 billion year history of the universe replete with all of God’s creatures—will be seen as the gift of a loving and gracious God.

Conclusion: Despite the conventional wisdom, it is not reasonable to forecast that any of Earth’s major religious traditions will confront a crisis let alone a collapse should we confirm an encounter with extra-terrestrial intelligence. Theologians will not find themselves out of a job. In fact, theologians might relish the new challenges to reformulate classical religious commitments in light of the new and wider vision of God’s creation. Traditional theologians must then become astro-theologians. Perhaps in preparation of this eventuality, the time now is ripe for some speculation. What I forecast is this: contact with extra-terrestrial intelligence will expand the existing religious vision that all of creation—including the 13.7 billion year history of the universe replete with all of God’s creatures—is the gift of a loving and gracious God.

(Ted Peters Published: 13 February 2011) https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rsta.2010.0234

My search unearthed a Wikipedia article on “Cosmic Pluralism” which has to do with speculation on extra-terrestrial life. Here is a brief extract:

In the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries the term "cosmic pluralism" became largely archaic as knowledge diversified and the speculation on extra-terrestrial life focused on particular bodies and observations. The historic debate continues to have modern parallels, however. Carl Sagan and Frank Drake, for instance, could well be considered "pluralists" while proponents of the Rare Earth hypothesis are modern skeptics.

What I found fascinating was a reference to the Qur’an and a suggestion that Allah may have created life forms on other planets:

Modern Islamic scholars like Abdullah Yusuf Ali point to the Qur'an (42:29) to argue for life on other planets: "And among His Signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the living creatures that He has scattered through them". The verses uses the word da’bbah, which denotes living creatures on the surface of a planet. Two Qur'anic verses support the idea of God being Lord of multiple worlds: 1:2 and 41:09. Qur'an 16:8 says "He has created other things of which ye have no knowledge." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosmic_pluralism

I have no reason to think that Muslims agree with theistic evolution, but it is interesting to note that the Qur’an could be used in support of extra-terrestrial life on other planets.

Whilst I have been unable to find any published paper that suggests theistic evolutionist deny the possibility of intelligent life on other plants for biblical reasons, that does not mean to say that no such paper has ever been published. Personally, my view is that since the Bible has nothing to say about life-forms on other planets, then I conclude it is not necessary for me to know. If God thought we needed to know, He would have mentioned it. Indeed, we have more than enough problems of our own making here on Earth right now to spend time speculating on “what if’s”.

As you said in answer to a question asked in September 2011:

“God does not lie, and that creation reveals Him. Therefore, whatever good science says about the Universe must, IMO, be true, as a true reflection of God through his creation.”

As the Psalmist said:

<The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the works of his hands (Psalm 19:1)

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I would describe myself as an Old Earth Creationist, and I am largely lurking here to avoid pointless controversy with opposite viewpoints.

That said, what we can say that the issues raised as a result of Genesis 3 & alluded to in Job, chapters 1 & 2 were first raised on earth, and therefore God chose to settle them here.

Speculation is free. I would accept that mankind is the pinnacle of creation on earth. I reject Ross's argument that 'Humanity is the crown of creation.' Exodus 33:20 makes clear that humans can't see God. Others who inhabit heaven as Created beings can see God. Philippians 2:15,16.

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  • You feel pinnacle differs from crown because pinnacles can't see God? – Walter S Jun 28 at 19:32
  • Re your rejection of mankind is the pinnacle: Do you know then any other being that was created in the image and likeness of God in heavenly and terrestrial? Are you forgetting, God walked with Adam and Eve in the garden before the fall, far higher than what in Exo. 33:20 & Phil. 2:15-16 ? Did not God put Adam/Eve to subdue and rule over His creations? For who Jesus died on the cross other than human being? In the new heaven and new earth we will cohabit with God. To believe in the Scripture or not is the question for all of us. God is God, and we are "not." – Sam Jul 3 at 21:59

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