Editors note: Voices of Faith is a Kansas City Star syndicated column in which Kansas City pastors and theologians answer questions about religion and faith.
Q: Would your faith support the idea of life on other planets?
A: From the Rev. Betty Hanna-Witherspoon, pastor of Ebenezer A.M.E. Church:
My quickly given answer was “But of course.” Then I paused to ask myself why the certainty. What are the teachings of my faith that give me such assurance? First, African Methodists repeat an affirmation of faith that declares “I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.”
Secondly, in our instructional guide for new members, we teach God is the creator and preserver of all things as described in the poetic language found in the biblical books of Genesis (“In the beginning when God created …” Genesis 1:1 ) or the Psalms (“You stretch out the heavens like a tent. You set the earth on its foundations” Psalm 104:2, 5).
The same new members guide teaches that God is ageless, transcending time and space and that God is everywhere and all knowing. It also teaches that God is a spirit and not visible to the human eye. Despite our describing God in male and female terms, God is not like any being that we can know. Therefore, I cannot put limits on what God is doing or shall do.
Scientists tell us that the universe is expanding. Can the God of my faith possibly be both my personal comforter here on Earth and the creator of countless other solar systems with intelligent life? Yes, because in my faith God is not confined to human ideas of time and space. Therefore, it is easy for me to believe that God could make as many forms of life as s/he desired.