Extraterrestrial life

I’m intrigued by the extraterrestrial intelligent life. How do we explain the increasing frequency of reports on UFOs? Does the Bible, the Spirit of Prophecy, or science say anything about this? —Frank Mangabeira, Siqueira Campos, Sergipe, Brazil.

Extraterrestrial intelligent life is hinted at in the Old Testament when God asks Job, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth,… when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” (Job 38:4-7, RSV). It is also mentioned several times by Ellen White in her comments on “unfallen worlds” (see the Index to the Writings of Ellen G. White under “Worlds [planets]”). We know that there are innumerable celestial bodies in the universe, and believe that some of them are inhabited, though we do not know how many.

You also wonder whether any beings from those worlds have visited our planet. According to the Bible, angels visit this earth regularly and are active in human affairs (see Hebrews 1:14), but we have no direct evidence that any beings from those unfallen worlds have done so. Rather the reverse will occur, for the redeemed will visit those worlds after the Second Coming to give their testimony for the wonderful God whom we serve, telling what He has done for us.

With respect to the unidentified flying objects (UFOs) and similar phenomena, we have no direct information from the Bible or Ellen White. To venture a personal opinion, I would suggest that different kinds of visual phenomena may fall into this general category. In some instances, the individuals who have seen them may have sighted advanced military aircraft during test flights. In other instances, these may be the result of atmospheric conditions that produce unusual sights. Still other cases might be delusions or actual sightings caused by Satan to prepare the world for his part in the final great deception (see 2 Corinthians 11:14). As far as we know, however, they are not spaceships that carry unfallen beings from other planets.

An American humorist has given this subject an amusing twist in a talk she entitles, “The Search for Intelligent Life in the Universe.” And she includes the earth in that search! Christians should be both intelligent and wise with regard to the great temptations and deceptions that will soon come upon this earth. That is a preparation that we all need. No being out of a UFO is going to provide that discernment to us. It is found in another place and in a relationship with another Person. That place is the Bible; that Person is Jesus Christ.

William Shea, M.D., Ph.D., is associate director of the Biblical Research Institute at the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. His address: 12501 Old Columbia Pike; Silver Spring, MD 20904, U.S.A.