The recent interest and disclosures about UFO's have brought up an old question again. The question is, "Are we alone in the Universe?" After all, the universe is a vast place with hundreds of billions of galaxies, each containing perhaps hundreds of billions of stars, many with multiple planets circling them. After all, out of the trillions and trillions of possible planets out there, surely, we are not the only living things that God created.
Or are we?
In the first verse of the Bible, Genesis 1:1, we read, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." Before that, only God existed. As the eternal, infinite, omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent God, God alone existed and had always existed. Then, for reasons of His own choosing, God desired to create beings that He could commune with and have fellowship with. To do so, He created the heaven and the earth as a place within Himself for those beings to exist and live.
The heaven apparently is a spiritual realm created by God, in which He created spiritual beings that He could commune and fellowship with. These spiritual beings are what we call angels. They exist primarily in the spiritual realm and have intellect, emotion, and free will. The Bible refers to them as "the morning stars" and "the sons of God" in Job 38:4-7:
"Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?"
Apparently, the angels were created just before the creation of the earth, on the first day of the Creation Week when God created the heaven. They would have, like Adam and Eve later, been created as fully aware and responsive beings. This is indicated by Job 38:4-7 where we read of "the morning stars" and "the sons of God" singing and shouting for joy as they watch God lay the foundations of the earth.
Consequently, by the end of the first day of the Creation Week we have the creation of the spiritual realm, heaven, populated with angelic beings created to have fellowship and communion with God, and the physical realm, consisting only of the earth, light, and darkness. All of these created by God, for God, and existing within the eternal, infinite being of God.
As I said before, the heaven created on Day 1 was the spiritual realm. However, we know from 2 Corinthians 12:2-4 that there are three heavens, the third heaven being the spiritual realm:
"I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter."
The other two heavens are the atmosphere of the earth, and the expanse of space. We can see the two differentiated in Genesis chapter one where birds are described as flying "above the earth in the open firmament of heaven" in Genesis 1:20 and the sun, moon, and stars are described as "lights in the firmament of the heaven" in Genesis 1:14-18.
The development of the first and second heavens, the atmosphere and space, are discussed in Genesis 1:6-21. I will not get into the specifics of their creation but suffice to say they and the earth itself make up the totality of the physical realm, which we call the universe. Also, please keep in mind that, although we have angels living in the spiritual realm on the first day, there are no forms of life of any kind in the physical realm until Day 3 when God creates plant life (Genesis 1:11-13) on the earth.
This brings up a problem for those who like to claim that life on earth was seeded from space. This idea, called panspermia, postulates that life forms, probably in the form of bacterial spores came to the early earth via comets and meteors. The problem with this theory, however, is that the Bible tells us that plant life was created on earth on Day 3 prior to the creation of the sun, moon, and stars on Day 4. If other forms of life were created in the material realm they could not have been created until Day 4, at the earliest, when the other planets would likely have been created along with the sun, moon, and stars. The Earth itself did not have other life forms other than plant life until after Day 4 when God created aquatic life and the fowls of the air (Day 5) and then the land animals (Day 6).
Also, it is not until Day 6 that we see God create man, the only other form of life that, like the angels, was created to have fellowship and communion with God. In fact, in the creation of Adam and Eve, we see that human beings were created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27) and given responsibility for and dominion over all other forms of life that God had created on the earth (Genesis 1:28-29).
Consequently, by the close of the Creation Week we see that God has created both a spiritual realm (the third heaven) and a physical realm (the universe). God populated both realms with intelligent, self-aware, and God-aware beings, beings that were created to have fellowship and communion with Him. Heaven was populated with angels and the earth, and by extension the universe, was populated with humans. Interestingly, while all the angels appear to have been created on Day 1 of the Creation Week, only two humans, Adam and Eve, were created on Day 6 but were given the command to "Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish [i.e. fill] the earth…" (Genesis 1:28). No mention is made of any other beings being created to have fellowship and communion with Him in either the spiritual or the physical realm other than angelic beings and human beings.
But does the Bible preclude the existence of other intelligent, self-aware, God-aware beings being created to have fellowship and communion with God elsewhere in the vastness of the universe? And if so, assuming they also had a similar opportunity to obey or disobey God like Adam and Eve did with the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, could they be involved in their own redemption stories? Of course, that creates its own set of problems.
One glaring problem is that the whole of creation appears to be earth-centric, meaning that the earth and what happens there appears to be central to the overall plan and purpose of the universe. After all, the earth was created first, the first life in the universe was created on the earth, and the sun, moon, and stars were created in space to "divide the day from the night" on earth, to "be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years" on earth, and to "be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth" (Genesis 1:14-15).
Another problem stems from God's command for Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply. Death was not In God's original plan. Consequently, Adam and Eve, as well as their offspring, would have continued being fruitful and multiplying with no one dying. Human beings would have soon filled the earth and would have had to either stop multiplying or eventually expand beyond the confines of the earth. However, when Adam disobeyed God and ate the forbidden fruit all that changed. Romans 5:12 tells us, "Wherefore, as by one man [Adam] sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:". Death and suffering are part of the curse God placed on the world (Genesis 3:14-19).
The curse of death and suffering placed on the world as a result of man's sin appear to have been universal and not unique to the earth. Otherwise, why would God tell us in 2 Peter 3:7 that, "…the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men." This passage clearly says that the actions of "ungodly men" have affected the "heavens and the earth" to the degree that they are "kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men."
2 Peter 3:10-13 makes it even clearer that the universe will one day be cleansed from the stench and stain of sin:
"But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness."
In fact, it is not just the physical realm (the heavens - plural - and the earth) that will one day be cleansed. Revelation 21:1 tells us that both the spiritual realm (heaven - singular) and the physical realm (earth) will pass away and be renewed:
"And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea."
Obviously, then, any form of life that might exist somewhere out in the vastness of the universe will be destroyed when "the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat". This would certainly be problematic for any other intelligent, self-aware, God-aware beings somewhere out there in the universe as their world would be destroyed along with the heavens and the earth.
No, it makes more sense to believe that God did exactly what the Bible says that He did. He created the spiritual realm and populated it with angelic beings to commune and have fellowship with Him. He also created the physical realm to be populated with human beings who would also be able to commune and have fellowship with Him.
Unfortunately, sin entered in and tarnished both realms. Lucifer and perhaps a third of the angels in heaven rebelled against God. Adam and Eve disobeyed God on earth. God's perfect creation, both spiritual and physical became contaminated with sin, necessitating its future destruction and complete renewal to restore it to its former state. Holy angels, the ones who did not fall into sin and rebellion against God, will once more populate the new heaven. Redeemed humans, the saved of all the ages, will populate the new earth and the new heavens.
There will, however, be at least three major differences. First is the presence of the Lake of Fire where the angels that rebelled against God and unregenerate men and women will be for all eternity (Revelation 14:9-11; 20:10-15; 21:8). The Lake of Fire will stand as a stark reminder throughout all eternity future of the awfulness and consequences of sin. The second is the New Jerusalem described in Revelation chapter 21 which is the place prepared for the Believers during the age of grace, which occurs between the resurrection of Christ and the rapture of the Believers prior to the seven-year Tribulation period. It also appears to serve as a doorway or portal between the spiritual realm and the physical realm, allowing the passage of humans and angels back and forth between the two. And third, there is no more curse:
"And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads." (Revelation 22:3-4)
So, to answer our question, "Are we alone in the Universe?" Yes and no. Yes, in the sense that there are no other intelligent, self-aware, God-aware beings created to fellowship and commune with God in the physical universe. No, in the sense that God did create angels as intelligent, self-aware, God-aware beings to fellowship and commune with in the spiritual realm of heaven. And, for those of us who know Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Saviour, we will be able to interact with other Believers, the holy angels, and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ throughout all eternity as we explore and enjoy the vastness of both the physical universe and the spiritual heaven.
"But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." (1 Corinthians 2:9)