The Evidence Is In: We’re Alone in the Universe
Are we alone in the
universe? Are other
beings like us out
Nearly everyone has contemplated
this question, including many serious
scientists. But after spending billions
of dollars and devoting whole careers
to the search, scientists refuse to
admit there is no evidence.
The problem isn’t a lack of data—we’re
awash in it. And the problem
is not that we don’t have any good tests. Several great scientific
minds have already suggested some solid ways to test
for the existence of extraterrestrial life.
Let’s examine the three most famous tests, and we’ll discover
that something more than cold, hard science is preventing
them from reaching the logical answer.
Why Aren’t They Here? (The Fermi Paradox)
One of the most famous scientists to speculate on this
topic is the physicist Enrico Fermi. Around 1950, he was having
lunch with two colleagues when the topic of extraterrestrial
life came up. At the time, most people realized that our
civilization would soon be advanced enough to venture into
space. But Fermi noted that, if intelligent life were common
in the universe, it is unlikely that we are the most advanced
He reasoned that if there were alien civilizations, many of
them would have already conquered space. If so, eventually
those civilizations would have ventured through space, colonizing
as they went. But none of these alien civilizations
have shown up on earth yet. So where are the aliens?
After 70 years, the Fermi paradox, as this observation has
come to be called, remains an enigma to those who believe
that life is common in the universe.
Where Are Their Radio Signals? (SETI)
A decade after Fermi, the astronomer
Frank Drake took a different tack
to test whether intelligent life exists
elsewhere in the universe. By Drake’s
day, humans had been broadcasting
radio waves for several decades.
Many radio waves pass through the
earth’s atmosphere and into space, so
it should be possible for alien civilizations
to pick them up and become
aware of our existence. Drake turned
this process around—he reasoned that
if other civilizations could detect our
broadcasts, we ought to be able to pick
up theirs as well.
In 1960, Drake conducted Project
Ozma. He monitored the radio signals
from two nearby solar-like stars, Tau
Ceti and Epsilon Eridani. One hundred fifty hours of monitoring
over a four-month period revealed no
detections. In the 1970s, astronomers
Ben Zuckerman and Patrick Palmer
expanded Drake’s work in Ozma II.
Over a four-year period, Ozma II intermittently
monitored 670 nearby solar-like
stars. Again, no detections of
intelligent radio signals.
In the 1980s, the pace of SETI
(Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence),
as this initiative came to be
called, expanded greatly. Advances
in technology made the search easier
and more efficient. Government and
eventually private funding increased.
One long-lasting program is SERENDIP
(Search for Extraterrestrial Radio
Emissions from Nearby Developed
Intelligent Populations). Since large
research telescopes are expensive,
SERENDIP piggybacks on existing
astronomy research programs, sifting
through their data to find possible
intelligent signals. To keep costs
down, their project [email protected] has
enlisted the help of hundreds of thousands
of volunteers who allow their
desktop computers to assist in the sifting
Another notable SETI project is
the Allen Telescope Array (ATA) at
the Hat Creek Radio Observatory in
northern California. Funded by Microsoft
cofounder Paul Allen, the ATA
became operational in 2007 and consists
of 42 6.1-meter radio telescopes.
Although it has suffered some
budget problems, it currently operates
12 hours per day.
These are just some of the major
SETI initiatives, and new ones are proposed
all the time. Over the years the
various SETI programs have generated
terabytes of data without any hint of
an alien transmission.
Where Are the Other Earthlike Planets? (Exoplanets)
Fascination with the possibility
of life elsewhere in the universe has
fueled a third test. Presumably, aliens,
if they exist as at all, must live on planets
orbiting stars. From what we have
learned about the other planets orbiting
the sun, it is clear that we are alone
in our solar system. But what about
planets orbiting other stars?
Until recently, we had no evidence of
planets outside the solar system. Most
people assumed that planets must be
common but we just couldn’t detect
them. That changed 25 years ago.
Since then, the number of known exoplanets
has swelled to nearly 4,000.
The driving force behind the search
for exoplanets has been to show that
planetary systems are common. And
not just any kind of planet will do: they presumably must be earthlike to
What has this treasure trove of exoplanets
revealed? The data has shown
that planets orbiting other stars, and
even planetary systems, are indeed
common. Moreover, reports claim that
some of these exoplanets (though not
many) are earthlike.
Yet when you look closer, there
are problems with each one. What
must be true for a planet to be truly
earthlike? First, it must be similar in
size. If a planet is too large, its strong
gravity is likely to retain the wrong
kind of gases to support life. But if a
planet is too small, its weak gravity is
unlikely to hold onto any appreciable
atmosphere. Therefore, only a very small range of mass can
claim the title “earthlike.”
Second, an earthlike planet must have a similar composition.
The earth has a lot of iron and nickel, much of which is
in its core. This produces a magnetic field, which is key for
protecting life from deadly particles emitted from the stars
they orbit and other sources in space. But other elements
are necessary as well, such as silicon. Without silicon, any
planet would likely be a gas giant like Jupiter or a watery
world without land for life.
Third, an earthlike planet must orbit within a narrow
range called the “habitable zone.” If an exoplanet orbits its
star too closely, the heat will boil away any liquid water
necessary for life. But if an exoplanet is too far away, all its
water will freeze, making it difficult for life to survive.
But this brings up a fourth problem: orbiting the right
kind of star. Even if a planet orbits within the habitable zone
of its respective star, what good is that if the unstable star
emits deadly radiation? Most of the “earthlike” planets that
show up in the news are orbiting very dim red dwarf stars.
These stars are notorious for their magnetic storms that
release huge amounts of charged particles. Any exoplanet
orbiting too closely will be bathed in radiation that is hundreds,
if not thousands, of times greater than the earth’s.
Because red dwarf stars are so small, the habitable zone is
very close to the star. That creates another problem: it likely
eliminates the possibility of a protective
magnetic field. How? Because
such planets orbit their parent stars so
closely, tidal forces probably slow the
rotation of these planets, which would
prevent any appreciable magnetic
fields coming from a fluid core. Without
a magnetic field, then charged
particles likely strip any atmosphere
from the exoplanet.
Fifth, such a strong tidal force would
probably lock these exoplanets into
synchronous rotation, with one side
of the planets perpetually facing the
star and the other side perpetually facing away. Half of the
planet would be too hot for life, while the other half would
be perpetually iced over. Only a narrow range along the
boundary could support life, assuming the other problems
weren’t an issue. At any rate, none of the supposed earthlike
planets are like earth at all.
If you had asked most scientists 30 years ago how many
earthlike planets they would expect to find among 4,000
exoplanets, few would have said none. Instead, most would
have opined that we would find many earthlike planets.
Why No Negative Conclusions?
The three lines of evidence are
compelling: all three point to the fact
that we are alone in the universe. So
why haven’t you heard any scientists
(before me) say this?
Many scientists would complain
that not all the data is in yet. But when
is all the data ever in? We can always
collect more data. Furthermore, scientists
frequently make conclusions
based upon far less data. So why the
reluctance to reach a conclusion in
this case? The conclusion that is warranted
by the data does not support
the evolutionary worldview of most
scientists. There’s a term for that: bias.
And extreme bias at that.
It’s not a matter of evidence or science.
If you believe in evolution, then
evolution must be common in the universe.
Period. And this negative answer
is out of the question, not because of
what scientists find but because of their
unwavering commitment to a belief.
If you believe in the Creator of the
Bible, however, you have no qualms
following the data to its logical conclusion.
Biblical creationists understand
that life doesn’t just happen (and good
science agrees with that conclusion).
God created it just 6,000 years ago.
The three lines of evidence presented
here—the Fermi paradox, the
null SETI results, and the lack of earthlike
planets—amount to scientific data.
And all three agree with the prediction
from biblical creation: we’re alone in
the universe. To reach the right conclusion,
evolutionary scientists do not
need more data about life elsewhere
in the universe, but the right starting
belief about life here on earth.
Playing the Probabilities
Almost all discussions about the possibility of life elsewhere rely on probabilities.
Perhaps the best-known summary of the probabilities is known as
the Drake equation, published in 1961, a year after Frank Drake ran his Project
Ozma to detect alien radio signals. The Drake equation includes the seven
factors we must consider when weighing the probability that life evolved on
another planetary system somewhere in our galaxy.
Here are the seven commonsense factors, written up in formal symbols:
N = R × fp × ne × fl × fi × fc × L
N = the number of civilizations in our galaxy that might be able to
communicate with us
R = the average rate of star formation in the galaxy
fp = the fraction of stars that have planets
ne = the average number of planets per star that could support life
fl = the fraction of habitable planets that develop life at some point
fi = the fraction of planets with life that develop intelligent life
fc = the fraction of civilizations that develop a technology that releases
detectable signs of their existence into space
L = the length of time for which such civilizations release detectable
signals into space
Notice the evolutionary assumptions. The equation assumes that life
arises spontaneously (fl). More than that, most scientists assume the
chance of this evolution is high. Why? Because if life developed naturally on
earth, then it must be common elsewhere too.
Since we have never observed life arising spontaneously, doesn’t good
science lead to the conclusion that fl is equal to zero? We really don’t know
any of these numbers, though information that we know so far about the
exoplanets can give us some idea of a few of these numbers. That data
seems to lead to the conclusion that ne is zero too.
Evolutionary scientists refuse to insert estimates that are vanishingly small
because that would make life unique to earth. That would make earth and its
life very special, supporting belief in creation. Most scientists reject the possibility
of creation out of hand, which would make fl not just small but zero.
Yet we know from God’s Word, which infallibly documents how life came
to be, that life didn’t evolve here or elsewhere. The product of the Drake
equation is zero. Ergo, life doesn’t exist anywhere else.
This simple theoretical approach matches what we see in the world.
Therefore, it’s time to call it: apart from God and angels, we’re alone in the
FOR MORE: See https://creationresearch.org/extraterrestrial-life/
Genesis after more than 26 years as professor of physics and
astronomy at the University of South Carolina Lancaster.
He has written numerous articles in astronomical journals
and is the author of Universe by Design.
https://answersingenesis.org/astronomy/alien-life/evidence-were-alone-universe/ This article originally appeared on answersingenesis.org