What Would Life on Venus Mean for the Christian Faith
HIS week news outlets have featured a recent discovery of the possibility of life on Venus. Don’t get too excited though, they haven’t found anything close to intelligent life. The temperature and toxic atmosphere make that highly improbable. But scientist have discovered a pocket of gas through a telescope that they feel might be best explained as caused by some sort of life.
Other scientists think it’s more likely just a unique feature of this mysterious planet covered with clouds that rain drops of sulfuric acid. Yes, it appears Venus, named for the romantic Roman goddess, has gas. More tests are being done, but it may simply require some sort of cosmic Tums.
C.S. Lewis responded to similar possibilities in his day when an accomplished astronomer, Fred Hoyle, suggested such discoveries could be catastrophic for the Christian worldview. In his essay “Religion and Rocketry,” Lewis remarked that often novel discoveries have a tendency to be weaponized by enemies of the Christian faith, and worse yet, cause for poor argumentation from over zealous Christian apologists.
Lewis’s response to Hoyle is very similar to the narrative of his science fiction trilogy. Lewis often responded to challenges with a multi-front attack, speaking and writing to them in a defense of the Christian worldview from different angles: essays, sermons, works of theological reflection, and fiction. Lewis encouraged readers that after the novelty of the alleged discovery wears off, both sides pretty much go back to life as normal, the massive theological and philosophical consequences once projected quickly dissipating.
What can we do if they find some sort of gas producing life form on Venus? I have three sons, so I really don’t need any more gas producing anything in my life, to be totally honest. But as Lewis said many years ago, such a discovery would have little to no impact on the Christian view of reality. If it was an intelligent being, there would be theological issues to be considered, but nothing that would prove insurmountable. I would imagine Lewis’s advice will prove true for Venus and her gas, it will air out soon enough.