Barnes, Ernest William (1874–1953)

Ernest William Barnes

Ernest Barnes was an English theologian, Bishop of Birmingham, and accomplished scientist who pondered how to relate Christian doctrines to the possibility of extraterrestrial intelligence (see Christian doctrines and pluralism).


In his Gifford lectures, given in Edinburgh between 1927 and 1929, Barnes expressed the opinion that God created the universe "as a basis for the higher forms of consciousness" and deduced that this purpose is best served by a multiplicity of inhabited worlds. Noting that there appeared to be nothing "exceptional either in mass or in size or in any other way" about our Galaxy and endorsing the view that life on Earth originated as a result of natural biochemical processes, he concluded that there are probably billions of planets in the observable universe supporting intelligent life, some of it far in advance of our own.