‘Prometheus’: Did God or Aliens Create the Human Race?

Ridley Scott’s film Prometheus hits theaters Friday, June 8. It has the feel of a prequel to his Alien trilogy movies. The premise of the film is simple:

“[A]n Earth-based crew is sent on a long journey to a near-by star system to explore a planet believed to host an advanced civilization. The film asks not just how realistic such a premise is, but more complex questions: Did aliens create the human race? If so, does that negate the existence of God? Or, did God create the aliens?”

People looking for a way to fill the spiritual vacuum left by atheistic materialism want to do it on their own terms, even if what they advocate is more fiction than true science. The materialists are still trying to prove that God does not exist. If they could only find another highly evolved civilization among the multitude of unexplored galaxies, then such a discovery would prove that no god is needed to explain how life came to Earth.

Actually, Francis Crick, co-discoverer of the structure of the DNA molecule, for which he received a Nobel Prize, proposed a theory called “directed panspermia.”1 Crick thinks “that life on earth may have begun when aliens from another planet sent a rocket ship containing spores to seed the earth.” The most natural question is, “Where did the aliens come from?” Was there an alien race that seeded the planet of aliens that seeded Earth? Crick’s hypothesis only pushes the argument back several steps with no final resolution. “This scenario still leaves open the question of who designed the designer [aliens] — how did life originally originate?”2

Crick and other advocates of “directed panspermia” have no way to account for the original seed bearers. Crick’s extraterrestrial quest, even though it has the trappings of science, is ultimately religious. He is searching for ultimate meaning in terms of what the stars might reveal about how life might have originated on Earth.

The 50-year SETI project, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, has not netted a single intelligent bleep from space. Physicist and astrobiologist Paul Davies has called it The Eerie Silence. In the 1950s, Italian-born American physicist Enrico Fermi (1901–1954) wondered, if the universe is teeming with life, “Where is everybody?”

A sizeable number of people consider traditional religions to be narrow minded, quick to dismiss anything that does not fit into their rigidly constructed worldview. They want more, and they are willing to reach toward the heavens to get it. “Many flying saucer buffs are believers precisely because aliens may offer hope, much like a deity. . . . Americans are desperately searching for hope in an increasingly cynical age.”3 Carl Sagan made a similar point:

The interest in UFOs and ancient astronauts seems at least partly the result of unfulfilled religious needs. The extraterrestrials are often described as wise, powerful, benign, human in appearance, and sometimes they are attired in long white robes. They are very much like gods and angels, coming from other planets rather than from heaven, using spaceships rather than wings. There is a little pseudoscientific overlay, but the theological antecedents are clear.4

Prometheus will ask a lot of questions, but it won’t put forth any answers. It’s amazing to me that atheists and skeptics are so willing to believe in alien life forms with not a blip of empirical evidence but are unwilling to accept the premise that “In the beginning God created the heavens and earth” (Gen. 1:1).

  1. Francis Crick, Life Itself: Its Origin and Nature (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1981). []
  2. Michael Behe, Darwin’s Black Box (New York: The Free Press, 1966), 249. []
  3. Quoted in Bill Hendrick, “UFOs and the Otherworldly: Do You Believe?,” Atlanta Journal/Constitution (June 25, 1997), B1. []
  4. Carl Sagan, Broca’s Brain [67]. []