Billions of dollars have been spent searching for life outside of Planet Earth. What have we found so far? Is man alone in the universe?
[Darris McNeely] Welcome to Beyond Today Interviews. Our guest today is Dr. Steven Britt. Dr. Britt is a Ph.D. in advanced mathematics and a former Fulbright scholar at the Tel Aviv University. Steven, we’re glad to have you with us today.
[Steven Britt] Thank you.
[Darris] Steven wrote an article for us on “Beyond Today” magazine recently. “The Search for Life. Are we Alone?” Steven, why does this matter and why should it matter?
[Steven] From our perspective, it matters because there are a lot of people out there talking about this issue, about aliens, fervently believing in it, and desperately reaching out for something out there. And so to be able to speak to that as important for us.
[Darris] Is anyone out there?
[Steven] Is anyone out there? So, the way you put that, that’s very interesting. We do believe that God is out there. I don’t believe that the evidence shows we’re going to find any kind of intelligent life out there comparable to our own or advanced beyond our own or even close to our own.
[Darris] You see no evidence of that in any of your studies whatsoever.
[Steven] No, no. And that’s a widely documented and recognized scientific fact that there has been no evidence of alien life found. If there were to be, it would be major news and everybody would know about it.
[Darris] Now, you took your title of your article here, “Are we Alone,” off of an article that you’d read in the “National Geographic” where they dogmatically said we are not alone. And you raised the question. So, I think for us and our audience, let’s kind of establish…you’ve mentioned it, but let’s establish it. Really who is out there?
[Steven] Who is out there? The God of the Bible is out there. We look up. We obviously can see the heavens that He created. You know, today we just call that space, and people have been looking at it for thousands of years. You know, I came across an interesting statistic a couple of days ago that looking up at the night sky on a clear night, you know, the way people who would have done before we had all of our electricity and everything, you can only see about 2,500 stars. And that was all it took for thousands of years to inspire people to look up and know that there was a God and that there was something out there. Whether they understood the true God or not, they could know. And today we’ve got our telescopes. We even have been to the moon and into space and we’ve seen it in far greater detail than any other point in human history.
We can image all of these galaxies and start to see that there are not just, you know, 2,500 or several thousand stars, but there are millions, billions, even trillions of stars. And every time we get some new estimate of how many stars there are, it turns out that there are way more than that, and the number only keeps going up it seems. And yet we’ve got this contrary behavior to what happened in the past before when we could only see a little bit and only know it from a distance. Now that we can see a little closer, see how much more vast it is, it seems like fewer and fewer people are believing in a God who created it, which is almost upside down from what it should be.
[Darris] What’s the real need for someone watching us, talking about this, and as they are a viewer of and reader of “Beyond Today” programming, you know, they’ve dabbled in “National Geographic” and, you know, it makes a nice coffee table publication there. But what’s the real need for this in terms of knowledge for the average person?
[Steven] Sure. So, I would say that one important one is not to be swept away by these fantasy ideas that we’re going to find alien life out there or that they’re already here or among us or anything like that because it amounts to a distraction away from what life is really about. And that’s what the Bible talks about, what life is really about. It’s about a relationship with a loving God who created us for a purpose and for a reason like you said.
[Darris] You know, you say in your article that the National Geographic” statement on their, “We are Not Alone,” they say here, you have the audacity to say they’re wrong.
[Steven] Yeah. Well, if you read closely, they express their uncertainty within there. They’ll use the word “almost certain” in various places or “it’s a sure bet that.” And yet, on the other hand, they make this bold claim on the cover. Where do they get the audacity to go from saying, “Probably this is the case,” to saying, “We are not alone,” on their cover? I think that for their journalistic integrity, that’s not the most honest way to present it. But that’s another matter.
[Darris] If we look at this and, to date, nothing has been found, why do scientists persist about this?
[Steven] People expend their energy towards things they believe in and they believe in evolution. For example, they have a belief that we came to beyond this planet by natural means, by evolution, that life just started at some point. And if you follow that logic out and you say, “Okay, now that we’ve discovered that our planet is not unique in the universe in the sense that there are other stars with other planets, some proportion of them are going to have conditions similar to ours.” If the universe is big enough, that ought to be true. And so, if they see our emergence as a species as a roll of the dice, then, well, if the dice is rolled enough times across an entire universe, then it will happen necessarily in many other places.
[Darris] So, it’s rooted in the evolutionary theory?
[Steven] Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. And that’s part of the almost desperation within the scientific community is to validate the theory of evolution. You know, like I said, there’s been no evidence whatsoever of life on any other planet, not even simple biological life forms, like algaes or any trace of anything like that yet. And yet they are so certain it’s going to be out there because it is here and their explanation of it here is based on these natural causes. And so, they see that it must be somewhere else if their theory and understanding of what happened here is true, but it’s not. And that’s why they’re not finding it.
You know, if we talk about fact versus opinion in the scientific realm, the facts are the measurements. Okay? So, if I measure something that’s an inch long, it’s an inch long and nobody can really argue with that. But the second I start trying to explain why it’s an inch long and how it got to be an inch long, well, those become matters of opinion in a way. And if someone is heavily biased in a particular direction, as all people are… You know, everybody has their own biases. I think that’s widely acknowledged. So, if someone’s heavily biased against God, there isn’t any kind of explanation, and heavily biased in favor of evolution, they already have that idea seated down deep within them and can’t get away from it, that becomes their explaining tool. And so whatever data they do see out of something that may be chaotic, in that sense, they impose order on it in a way that fits their worldview.
[Darris] Your study of probabilities, statistics, mathematics, can you give us a little bit of a clear probability equation of what that might be translated out to?
[Steven] Well, sure. There’s actually several different perspectives to look at. You know, one is the fine-tuning of the universe for life and within that, just the fact that there are stars at all comes down to some constants of the universe being set within a range that’s so narrow that we can’t even visualize how small of a chance there is that it settled on something perfect for us to be here. But then even the origin of life, so forgetting if you just take for granted the fact that there are stars and don’t even try to think about the probabilities involved with having a universe that could sustain life, getting life started on a planet is something that hasn’t been explained scientifically in any way.
And all the experiments that have been done. In fact, I wrote another article in the “Beyond Today” magazine about a year ago speaking to this, how science came to understand that the universe did have an origin, the Big Bang Theory, and the way that came about in the last 150 years or so. And along with it, Evolutionary Theory kind of cropped up at the same time. And yet when they’ve tried to verify the idea that these non-living chemicals, under the right conditions, that might’ve happened in the early Earth’s atmosphere in some warm little pond as Darwin imagined it came to be and came to start self-replicating, they haven’t been able to come anywhere close to replicating something like that to demonstrate that this can actually be done.
Another important point I think is often ignored as we leave here on the Earth where we’re teaming with life. Everywhere that we look, we find it. Just last week I saw a news story about a borehole in Canada where they reached down a couple of miles into the Earth’s surface and found an underwater lake and it had all these exotic life forms that don’t look anything like they do up here. They’ve been isolated from the surface.
[Darris] In the dark.
[Steven] For, you know, billions of years they say in the dark eating rocks and doing other weird things that other life forms don’t do. And yet they have the same, how do I say this? They function in the same way as organisms up here. They have the same language of DNA. They use the same amino acids. If life really were emerging spontaneously and it was that easy and everything, then we ought to have seen life started from scratch on Earth many times and in many more varieties. I mean, we think of life as having a lot of variety, and it does, but you can see the fingerprint of the same creator. If you look at just amino acids, for example, living organisms on our planet use about 20 amino acids and there are millions of possible amino acids. So, why only these 20, you know? If life was just forming left and right in different places, if it was that easy, we ought to see radically different life forms that didn’t do that.
[Darris] Ancient man looked into the skies and they saw the heavens, you mentioned, you know, with the unaided naked eye, without all the light from a modern world. They saw, how many was it?
[Steven] Like 2,500.
[Darris] Twenty-five hundred stars. And out of that, they devised a cosmology of gods and goddesses that that was their view of what was going on up there, that create, that they imagined this divinity, which, again, a modern mind debunks and that the Earth was the center of all of that, which again, it wasn’t. And I guess I’m coming to the point of view of if Psalm 19 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God,” why has it been so difficult for man to move from a geo-centered universe to a God-centered universe?
[Steven] Well, one thing I would point out, if we’re going to turn away from Psalm 19, it does go on to talk right after this. The heavens declare the glory of God. In Verse seven, it follows that thought up that, “The law of the Lord is perfect reviving the soul.” So, it implicates moral life here on Earth with the creation as a whole, right, and what we see in the heavens. It shows that the two do have this relationship together and the fact that there’s order. You know, we look up and we see order in the sky. When we look out into the stars and hear the Psalmist expresses that same viewpoint, it goes from talking about what’s up there and then talking about the order that God imposes on human life through his law, which I think is really remarkable when you look at it from that perspective.
But I was going to turn to Romans 1 because Paul talked about exactly this issue. You mentioned how people would look up to the sky and they would see the motion of say, planets. Jupiter’s a great example because it’s a planet that we all learned about in school. It also gets his name from a Roman God, right? So, they see this big light that appears in the sky sometimes and they imagine that light to be a God. And that’s what’s described in Romans 1. Now, this type of thinking has been going on for a long time.
Starting in Verse 18 it says, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth for what can be known about God is plain to them, for God has shown it to them. His invisible attributes, namely His eternal power and divine nature have been clearly perceived ever since the creation of the world in the things that have been made.” And then in Verse 21, “Although they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks to Him, but became futile in their thinking.” Essentially, it says they came to worship the creation rather than the creator. So, they can… People for thousands of years going back, again…
[Darris] Worship the creation, worship the stars.
[Steven] Worship the creation. And that’s more or less…
[Darris] People still worship the stars today.
[Steven] More or less, what we’re seeing now is through science and people who have that fully secular worldview, the materialist view that there’s nothing but the material stuff. There’s nothing spiritual beyond what we have perceived, that there is no God. They’re essentially worshiping the creation in a different way. They say that matter has always existed. The energy can neither be created nor destroyed. How has that…?
[Darris] That’s the first law of thermodynamics.
[Steven] Yeah. Right. So, how is that not something like God that they’re expressing belief in but calling it something different? In fact, they’re saying that this matter is our creator. You know, it’s formless. It’s lifeless. It has no intelligence of its own. It just is and always has been. So, even these people who would denounce a God who, as I said, supersedes existence the way that we understand it, they have to believe in something that supersedes existence in the sense that it’s existed forever. It existed in a way that we don’t understand. That’s how there’s something rather than nothing.
[Darris] You know, I read a lot of, yeah, again, I’m an armchair cosmologist in this way, but I do read a number of books that I try to keep up with on the subject of cosmology. Even, it’s just what you said, I read honest astronomers, physicists who look at the facts and they are able to remove a measure of bias and recognize that there is some type of design behind it. There is a…some of them even say a creator or a divine mind, a purpose. They use these terms that normally are used by a theologian. And you, Steven, were trained first as a mathematician logic and that field, that discipline. And you came to this understanding, the theology behind all of this, the meaning or the answers to the why in sort of a secondary way. I wonder if you could explain that, how that kind of happened with you for the benefit of someone who’s watching and listening to us talk today who may be like you were and wants to be like you are.
[Steven] Whether people like it or not, and this is something I realized, they have to venture into philosophy. They just have to because…
[Darris] And many of these men do.
[Steven] Right. And then they can’t help it because there just isn’t scientific measurement and observation for many of the things that we want to talk about and discuss. We haven’t been able to gather the data that we feel like we would need and probably won’t be able to anytime soon or maybe ever if human civilization goes as long as you want to drag it out. Some things we just won’t be able to answer because of our limitations as beings. So, why that matters is this. The second you go into start trying to explain the universe, like explain where matter came from, that for me was one of those really foundational issues.
What I was being taught in university classes on physics and even to a lesser degree within mathematics classes, it would come up was this idea that matter has been in existence forever. And I thought that to be able to make a statement like that and at the same time deny that there could be a God who existed forever, the two statements are not that different from one another fundamentally. What separates them as a philosophy that goes deep into a person’s being? If you have a… And that’s what I really realized, that so much of what is called science today is based on a false philosophy of people who have already chosen not to believe in God.
[Darris] Can we call it a fake philosophy?
[Steven] We can call it a fake philosophy. You know, if someone has already decided that there is no God and that that is off the table for explaining what we see in the evidence we can collect scientifically, then, of course, they’re going to come up with all kinds of things like we talked about that process of logic. You can chug right along trying to explain just like those geo’s interests, trying to explain what they saw. They can come up with an explanation and it might even fit the data pretty well. That doesn’t mean it’s not wrong because it’s based on wrong assumptions whereas if we look at that same evidence, none of the actual evidence that has been gathered by science in any field, to my knowledge, contradicts the idea of a creator that we read about in the Bible. It’s just a matter of how one looks at that evidence. We’re told oftentimes by those defending their own opinions who decided against God, why our belief in God conflicts with their evidence, but it’s really their explanation of the evidence, not the evidence itself. Anytime you labor in logic, you always find something, right? If you start with the wrong assumptions, you’ll come to wrong conclusions, but it can still feel very right because you’re using a process of logic.
[Darris] There’s a lot more that we really want to get into out of your article and some of the other thoughts that we’ve talked about. Those of you that are watching, come back for part two of our interview with Dr. Steven Britt. You’re going to want to hear what he has to say about how this can apply to your life and impact you for the good in your relationship with God.