I have an idea about the possible explanation for how distant, habitable, yet lifeless planets fit into a Biblically Christian framework of cosmic history. It’s based on the three points I mentioned already—the distance, the habitability, and the lack of any evidence of other sentient life among them. I’ll unpack them. First, why should there be any planets that could be habitable by humans, other than Earth, if humans were only planted on Earth initially? It seems like a simple conclusion that, given enough time, we were expected to live on them as well. Otherwise there would be no point in them being habitable, from a purposeful-universe-by-design perspective. But why should they be so far away? Well, the universe itself is vast, so if there were no habitable planets in distant reaches of the universe, then large parts of it would by definition be uninhabitable. And how then could mankind fulfill its role of exercising dominion over all creation?—assuming, with reason, that the Dominion Mandate would be extended from just the Earth to encompassing all of the universe, at some point. It does appear to be the intention that humanity would have,upon fully developing the Earth, have been given dominion over the stars as well, and told to spread out to distant planets so as to govern the entire universe that God created. But something prevented this from happening.
The reason that other planets don’t have life is very simple. It’s not just that we haven’t found it, or that it’s sparse throughout the universe, but that it isn’t there. There are very good reasons for believing that no intelligent aliens exist, or life of any kind beyond the Earth for that matter. Here are a few:
* Sentient aliens would either have spirits or not. If they did not, they would have no hope of life after death. Why would God create self-reflective beings like humans but make them otherwise just like an animal, denying them eternity? And if they did have a spirit, then are they perfectly sinless or sinful? If they are sinless, then they suffer from the Curse which is over all creation, which is unjust to them—what did they have to do with Adam’s sin? And if they are sinful, then they are also fallen, and according to the developed concept of a kinsman-redeemer, needed God the Son to be born as one of them, live a perfect life on their behalf, and die in their place for their sin. So Jesus would suffer and die an untold amount of times for an untold amount of aliens. But the Bible said He died once for all. Is this reasonable? Alternatively, if the Bible doesn’t only restrict the Atonement to humans, (though none of the language implies this to be true), then how would aliens learn about it so as to believe and be saved? And why should humanity have been the one place where Jesus came to be incarnated, and not one of the multitudes of other alien races? These are all important questions to consider before accepting that alien life can coexist, even as a concept, with orthodox Biblical Christianity.
* The Bible strongly implies that everything that was created is for the benefit of mankind. If there were unknown lifeforms on other planets, what good would these do for Man if he couldn’t even know that they were there, much less utilize them? If this doesn’t sound convincing, then what do you make of the utter lack of any mention of other planets or life forms in the creation account in Genesis? The Earth is the only place described where plant, animal and sentient life were created, and at the end, the record concludes with the declaration that ‘thus was (the heavens and the earth, that is, everything) created, in all its vast arry,’ which means that no other life was created elsewhere afterwards. The circumstantial evidence is strong that there are no aliens anywhere. And it is such a strong implicit case, like the Trinity is also, that a scientific test to prove or disprove Scripture would come down to the question of whether alien life will be found outside of earth. If our faith can’t be disproven, it isn’t meaningful. A faithful Christian can with confidence say that the discovery of sentient alien life, such as that in Star Wars, Halo, Star Trek, etc, would invalidate the Bible. And that same Christian would have no fear because of his confidence that that will never happen, because of the strong Scriptural case against it, and his preeminent trust in the Bible as the word of God.
So what prevented mankind from being given the commandment to spread out among the stars and have dominion over them? It’s the same reason Mars is red. Key to the understanding of the universe as it is today, is the knowledge that “all creation groans and travails in birth pangs together,” and the knowledge that that is happening because of Adam’s sin as recorded in Genesis 3. The entire universe is wearing down and breaking to pieces. There is some aspect in which this has to do with the second law of thermodynamics, since it concerns the increase in entropy, that is, disorder, which means that energy tends from more usable forms to less usable forms over time. Stars become dust. Buildings become rubble. It takes energy to maintain things in a specific condition. It takes no energy at all for things to fall apart. It happens on its own. There is one form for a wineglass when its molecules are all ordered together, but an infinity of ways for those molecules to be arranged if the glass is destroyed. Pure statistical probability, then, guarantees that, given the opportunity, things will randomly break down rather than remain in “high energy conformations.” But please note that the second law of thermodynamics describes things like friction and the release of energy due to food digestion. It would be incorrect to say that the law was not in effect at all in the initial creation that God made. But there appears to be some aspect of the universe now—a general trend of decay—that wouldn’t have been the case before.
What’s my point in saying this? Fairly simple. Mars is red because it is rusted. The whole planet is rusted, which means that the whole planet at some point was covered in water. It is an amusing irony that astronomers are willing to posit a global flood on Mars, a planet with nearly no surface water, and none in liquid form, but unwilling to accept the claim of a global flood on Earth, a planet 75% covered in water, to depths of several miles in places. Mars has almost no atmosphere, and it’s posited that it was blown away by solar winds that were undeterred by the planet’s weak magnetic field. Earth’s field reflects charged particles from the sun all the time, which “keeps the atmosphere safe,” and intact. Water evaporates and becomes part of the atmosphere, given temperatures above freezing point. The Red Planet’s water would then have blown away also, and any water that now remains would be the amount that had not yet evaporated when the temperature permanently plunged below zero degrees Celsius.
What’s the point, you ask again? Simple—Mars is red because its magnetic field decayed and its atmosphere was blown away by the intense radiation given off by the sun. And why should the field have decayed rather than maintained at its primeval initial state? May I suggest that God is the one who ‘holds all things together,’ and that while He keeps everything material in existence to this day, has as one consequence of Adam’s sin chosen to remove, partially, His activity of maintaining the creation in pristine conditions? Mars used to have more water than it does today. How much, we can’t be sure, but the channels on its surface are considered evidence of gouging by large amounts of fast-moving surface water. We could have eventually settled on that planet, but even if we can now, it seems like it’s going to be much more difficult on a frozen rock with nearly no atmosphere.
Because of the Fall, the universe is in decay. Because of the Fall, we no longer have the opportunity to settle the universe this side of eternity. We could try, but the end of history as described in Revelation will come long before we get very far at all. What remains is the evidence of the planets that could have been colonized if we had been obedient to God. What remains is a faded picture of what could have been, and what one day may be the reality yet again, for those who repent of their sin (since sin is, after all, why our universe is so uninhabitable and generally messed up) and put their faith in Christ—they will one day live in a new universe, one that won’t see decay. Maybe we can have fun playing a game of galactic colonization with the other saints. Who knows what God has in store for us. But make sure you don’t miss the boat. The Ark was the ‘door of salvation’ to those who survived Earth’s global flood. Now it is Jesus who says, “I am the door…” and will save you from the second and final time that God destroys the Earth. Mars is red, because we sinned. Who would have thought?
Is the Bible Falsifiable? And Would a Real Live ET do it?
Did God Create Life on Other Planets?
Will We Have Any Work to do in Heaven?
What is a Kinsman-Redeemer? - GotQuestions
The Creation of Planetary Magnetic Fields - CRSQ