by Dr. William B. Knippa
My sixth-grade son asked me recently if there is life on other planets. This came from news reports that scientists have discovered water on the moon. I know it’s more of a scientific question than a “Family Counselor” question, but what can I tell him about what the Bible has to say?
Many people, including Christians, have no doubt asked the question your son raised. The Bible does not say specifically whether there is or there isn’t life on other planets. What we have for certain are the opening words of the Book of Genesis: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Everything that exists, therefore, is the result of God’s creative power. We affirm in the Apostles’ Creed our belief in “God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.” He fashioned the entire universe—planets, solar systems, and every particle of matter—as He desired.
That scientists have found water on the moon, then, is truly a discovery—an uncovering of something previously unknown, but that has always been there as part of the creative act of God. We cannot begin to comprehend the height, breadth, depth, complexity, magnificence, and mystery of all He created.
Your son’s question about life on other planets shows a healthy human curiosity. Out of such inquisitiveness have come many great discoveries. His question also is a prime opportunity for ongoing conversation. He has opened the door to the wonder of his sixth-grade mind, as he “sorts out” his faith; his invitation is for you to walk through the door with him. I would encourage you to share his curiosity; ask him what he was thinking about when he asked the question. What was important for him to know? He is at an age where he might be trying to understand how he fits into the universe—is he merely one of countless other created beings, or is he uniquely made by a personal God who places great value on him?
Assure your son that he is the Lord’s child through Baptism. Regardless of the chaos and uncertainty of this world and of the vast universe, he can be secure in knowing the God of the universe chose to relate to him intimately in the gift of a baby, His Son, Jesus, whose birth we just celebrated. In Him, “we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28 NIV).
Questions for “Family Counselor” come from readers and, after steps are taken to assure confidentiality, from contacts made with Lutheran Hour Ministries. Send your questions to “Family Counselor,” The Lutheran Witness, 1333 S. Kirkwood Road, St. Louis, MO 63122-7295. Please include your name and address.
About the Author: Dr. William B. Knippa is pastor of Bethany Lutheran Church, Austin, Texas, and a licensed psychologist.