This is an excerpt from the plenary discussion with Jennifer Wiseman, Stephen Freeland and Deb Haarsma at the 2019 BioLogos Conference, featuring Deb Haarsma addressing human’s significance to God.
You can see the entire discussion here.
Would the discovery of aliens reduce human significance? So, some people are quite worried about this. There’s a feeling that if we discover other intelligent species, well, now we’re one of many, and that makes us less significant. The interesting thing is, I’ve also heard it argued the other way. People say, “We seem to be alone in the universe, we’re just this very small people, and we’re so small, and we’re just insignificant and we’re alone.” So people argue it both ways, okay? So, does our aloneness make us insignificant or being one of many make us insignificant? So science is just not a good tool for thinking about significance. That’s not what we do. What we do is we measure the ratios of elements in the universe and how atmospheres change in response to life. We don’t measure significance—that is a bigger question. So, we need to go beyond that. And I love David Wilkinson’s summary of this. This is a wonderful book by him—if you want to delve more into it, this is a great place to start.
“While sharing much with other life-forms—even perhaps intelligence and self-consciousness—human beings are embedded in the story of God’s particular acts. This is not an appeal to human superiority. It is about an exceptional relationship but not an exclusive relationship. Human beings can be special without denying God’s love and concern for other intelligent beings.”
Whether or not there are intelligent aliens, we’re significant in God’s eyes. How do we know? Well the incarnation is a huge clue—God came and lived here as one of us. Christ died for us. Christ sent his Spirit to live within us. These are the things that make us significant in God’s eyes—our relationship with him.