Why Does Billy Graham Have a Column? July 27, 2009

Why Does Billy Graham Have a Column?

I really would like to know why Rev. Billy Graham has a syndicated column. In his latest one, he spends most of the time talking about something that has nothing to do with the letter-writer’s question.

That question is actually a good one:

My 7-year-old son asked me to ask you this question: Do you think there’s intelligent life on other planets?

Does the Bible say anything about this? My son is very curious about things such as this.

Graham answers this in the first couple sentences:

The Bible doesn’t say anything about life on other planets; its focus is on this planet and its need for God. There well may be life on other planets, but the Bible doesn’t say one way or the other.

Not that it matters what the Bible says on this issue anyway… it didn’t have anything to say about DNA or HIV, either, but science has plenty to to say on those subjects. Why not place some trust in the process that produces results?

Anyway, Graham then spends another four paragraphs preaching about anything and everything and nothing all at once:

What the Bible does say about the universe, however, is very important, and I hope you’ll teach it to your son. It’s found in the first verse of the Bible, and it tells us everything in the universe was made by God: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). The galaxies and the stars and the planets didn’t happen by accident; they came into existence because God made them.

Be thankful for your son’s curiosity and ask God to help you use it to point him to Jesus…

If the lady’s son is genuinely interested in finding out whether or not there is life on other planets, asking God for help won’t get him any closer to the answer.

Reading a science book that discusses which environments could be hospitable to life may help. Or a book on the universe. Or a book that discusses what we need to look for, exactly.

But not the Bible.

I wonder what would happen to Graham’s faith if we ever did find evolved life on another planet, though. (And what if those beings didn’t believe in Jesus?!) Would we still be considered special?

(Thanks to Jason for the link!)

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  • ayer

    I’m not clear on what your complaint is, since you are in agreement with Graham that the Bible has nothing to say about life on other planets. If he then goes on in his column to point out the Bible’s teaching regarding the creation of the universe, so what?

    Regarding your last question, C.S. Lewis explored this very question in his “Space Trilogy” series of novels (Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength).

  • Is cancer an accident? Because the dichotomy seems to be, “If it has an intelligent origin, it’s designed, but if it has a natural origin, it’s an accident.”

    So, to me, this implies that dying of natural causes must be accidental, in the same way stars forming must be accidental.

  • I tried plugging in your question “Why Does Billy Graham Have a Column?” to the Graham-o-matic 2000, but it ended up in some sort of infinite loop.

  • Although I think the response is inane, typical theological gibberish, I can’t really complain that he didn’t answer the question.

  • You make a good point, that the topics are not related. The question was meaningless to them, just a vehicle to talk about what they feel they have to talk about, all else being of secondary importance to them.

  • Richard Wade

    The topics are related in Graham’s mind in this way: The seven-year-old boy is discussing the possibility of life on other planets with his parent. That means they might be talking about, uh-oh, science! So he immediately refers them to Genesis so that the godless science won’t sway them away from the “true faith.”

  • eL_sTiKo

    I recommend Billy read “The Fire Balloons” by Ray Bradbury. Deals with this very well.

  • Dan W

    I never cared for Billy Graham much. Just another Christian evangelist wasting his life preaching instead of doing something useful. People like him can turn any question asked of them into their sales pitch about God.

  • Thilina

    I wonder what would happen to Graham’s faith if we ever did find evolved life on another planet, though. (And what if those beings didn’t believe in Jesus?!) Would we still be considered special?

    To my knowledge (mostly from a south park episode 🙂 ) this already kind of happened with native americans. we ended up with Mormons…..so i’m not too hopeful about what will happen to religion if we find intelligent ETs.

  • Carolyn

    I can’t think of anything intelligent to add, so I’ll just link to this related SMBC comic.

  • grazatt

    Billy is just a foolish old man!

  • Randy

    I was channel surfing years ago and came across a show where another preacher was asked a similar question. His response was he didn’t know, but if there was intelligent life they would need/require salvation just like we poor Earthlings.

  • Bruce A

    “Why Does Billy Graham Have a Column?”

    You would prefer it if he were stripped of his first amendment right to free speech, or silenced somehow?

  • Mike H

    He just spouts jibberish and contradictions, like “God has no actual form in heaven,” whereas “He sits on a throne.”

  • You would prefer it if he were stripped of his first amendment right to free speech, or silenced somehow?

    Of course not. He has the right to say what he’d like.

    I’m wondering why others would give him the platform to showcase what he says — as if it’s something unique and thought-provoking — and why many people are reading it.

  • Bruce A

    My guess? Because someone out there values his opinion. It doesn’t matter how generic the pap is – it’ll have added weight because Billy Graham said it.

  • Ryan W.

    Humility is a good thing. Sometimes the right answer really is “We don’t know yet.”

    In contrast, Sagan calculated life to be very probable in the universe, but didn’t seem to take into consideration (at least in the calculation that I read) that the center of most galaxies would likely be filled with tremendously intense radiation. It may be no coincidence that the only intelligent life we know of is on the outer arm of our galaxy.

    I have no great faith in the ability of scientists to calculate the liklihood of intelligent life at this point.

  • Bobbie S.

    Good God, Ryan W., that was an excellent reply.

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