“The thought that aliens might be living on other planets may sound innocent enough. But lurking underneath are some deep theological dangers.”
This little blurb begins Dr. Danny Faulkner’s article, “Is Belief in Alien Life Harmless?” in the Oct/Dec 2015 issue of Answers magazine. It lets us know right from the start where the article is heading. No surprises. Little green men are bad for the Bible.
Dr. Faulkner’s conclusion is just as starkly bleak for Christians who love science fiction:
“So while alien visitations might have a fun place in frivolous fiction, the heart-felt belief that life really does exist elsewhere can have eternal ramifications.”
As a science fiction author, I had to know what he had sandwiched in between these statements to support his claim.
Dr. Faulkner begins by referring to a 2012 Kelton Research survey of a random sample of 1114 Americans adults. Of those surveyed, 36% said they believed that aliens have visited the Earth, 17% said that aliens hadn’t, and 48% were undecided. This survey is consistent with similar polls done in the past. The takeaway message is that more people believe in the plausibility of the premise of the X Files than those who don’t, but most of us aren’t sure enough to risk looking like total idiots by speaking up in favor of either extraterrestrial dogma. This data does not support Dr. Faulkner’s non sequitur that “With ET believers outnumbering non-believers nearly two-to-one, the intense fascination with aliens is obvious.”
The survey speaks nothing to society’s fascination with ETs, but pop culture certainly does. We’ve got toys, blankets, games, books [both fictional and nonfictional], models, TV shows, movies, and a whole lot more featuring aliens, both benign and terrifying. West Virginia is partly responsible for this craze. While we didn’t give the world Roswell, we certainly contributed in other ways. Wild and Wonderful West Virginia has gave the world Gray Barker. After making an alleged extraterrestrial called the Flatwoods Monster from his native Braxton County known in FATE magazine, Gray went on to add to UFO culture by writing magazine articles and books like They Knew Too Much About Flying Saucers , which introduced the world to the Men in Black. He also wrote a book about the Mountain State’s most famous cryptid, the Mothman of Point Pleasant, whose fame has been fanned various monster hunter/myth buster type shows, by a horrible movie starring Richard Gere based on an even worse book by John Keel, and also an annual Mothman Festival.
Having said all of that, it is well known that Gray Barker was a notorious UFO hoaxer and that he fabricated and embellished many of the sensational saucer stories he published.
Which is to say, Dr. Faulkner’s questions, that “Given all this hype, should Christians care? Does the Bible have anything to say?” are legitimate questions that all Christian sci-fi enthusiasts need to know the answers to. As both a preacher/apologist and a sci-fi author, I’ve certainly explored these questions. My first novel, Johnny Came Home actually features a stereotypical 1950s flying saucer crash landed in front of a church on the cover. The scene actually occurs in the book.
I’m gonna be honest. Christian sci-fi and fantasy authors are kind of the black sheep of the evangelical ghetto. We write about aliens and elves, magic and super-powered mutants, things that make some Christians very uncomfortable. I can tell you that Christian sci-fi and fantasy authors, take our craft and our faith very seriously. A lot of us see ourselves as exploratory apologists or, more specifically, anticipatory apologists. We anticipate how technology and future discoveries might impact traditional Christianity because [A] we love a good sci-fi story and [B] it’s a great medium to ask the sort of uncomfortable questions that nevertheless allow us to anticipate ways to be ready always to give an answer to those who ask in the spirit of 2 Peter 3:15. Yet when people start asking these questions, no one ever bothers to ask the guys who’ve invested a ton of time in asking science fiction’s “What if?” in regards to Christian doctrine. Maybe it’s because apologetics fiction has only recently been on the rise.
So does the Bible say anything about aliens or flying saucers? In case, you’re wondering, Dr. Faulkner says it doesn’t. Technically, that’s true. As he mentions, there is a difference between a flying saucer and a UFO, the latter of which is quite literally something you see in the sky that you can’t quite identify.
Oddly, he doesn’t mention that UFOlogists often cite Ezekiel’s wheel as a UFO. In the strictest sense of the word, Ezekiel’s is certainly a UFO. And the description certainly resonates with folks who obsess over strange lights in the sky that change direction at sharp angles:
“And when I looked, behold the four wheels by the cherubims, one wheel by one cherub, and another wheel by another cherub: and the appearance of the wheels was as the colour of a beryl stone.
And as for their appearances, they four had one likeness, as if a wheel had been in the midst of a wheel.
When they went, they went upon their four sides; they turned not as they went, but to the place whither the head looked they followed it; they turned not as they went.” Ezekiel 10:9-11.
Of course, unlike a classic saucer sighting, these wheels were accompanied by angelic beings [cherubim]. Furthermore, the wheels followed the cherubim, mimicking their flight exactly. It should be said that Ezekiel was a prophet and he was likely seeing a supernatural vision akin to the valley of dry bones rather than reality [Ezekiel 37:1-14]. If Ezekiel’s wheel is the Biblical equivalent of a modern “saucer” sighting, one wonders if people are seeing the wheel but not the accompanying cherubim, rather like Balaam was unable to see the angel sent to kill him [Number 22:31] and Elisha’s servant was unable to see the heavenly hosts [2 Kings 6:17] until their respective eyes were opened to the spiritual reality. It’s certainly the only compelling Biblical parallel we have to the modern phenomenon of UFO sightings.
UFOlogists also tend to mention the Nephilim of Genesis 6, insinuating that sons of God who procreated with humans to produce these mighty men of renown were actually aliens. One here objects that angels and aliens aren’t really the same thing. Are we sure about that? Technically speaking, angels are created beings who are not indigenous to Earth. As such, we could, tentatively, properly classify angels and even God Himself as extraterrestrials. I say this with due reverence and only in the interests of fairness, because I think the dichotomy between angels as supernatural and aliens as scientific [albeit paranormal science] is completely artificial. If we believe God is real, then we ought to dust off our definitions and consider him and his heavenly hosts a bit more scientifically [albeit with reverence for Someone who is in a larger degree beyond our ability to put in a box]. The very Biblical fact of angels [fallen or otherwise] in God’s court implies that Earth may not be unique, except possibly where it concerns beings created in His image. Of course, it’s probably better to say angel when we mean angel and alien when we mean alien because folks have very, very different images in their heads of what those terms mean.
This brings up the problem of what we mean by the term alien or extraterrestrial. While some folks thinks of aliens as interdimensional beings, most folks think of ETs as being from other planets.
As a sci-fi author, I’ve noticed that extraterrestrials tend to come with the assumption of an evolutionary worldview. That is, there is the assumption that life on other planets must be pretty common and that it developed by purely natural means.
By contrast, Dr. Faulkner notes that:
“From the Bible, we know that this is not how life came about on the earth. Rather, God specially created life on this planet. It would be inconsistent to believe that God created life on earth but that life arose naturally on other worlds. So if life exists elsewhere, God must have created it too.”
Actually, I don’t have to use logic to figure that one out. I have revelation for that:
“For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.” Colossians 1:16.
God made everything. He made plants. Animals. Microbes. Angelic beings. Mankind. And if they exist, He made aliens.
Now Dr. Faulkner asks a pretty interesting question in his article:
“How would ETs fit into God’s greater purpose? God certainly could have created life on other planets, but is this consistent with what we know about the purpose of God’s works?”
How would ETS fit into God’s greater purpose? Is an amazing question. It’s probably unanswerable because, well, God’s thoughts are higher than ours and, frankly, we don’t have enough information. What is the purpose of all the stars and infinite worlds that are only detectable by telescopes as powerful as Hubble if they were solely meant to serve mankind by being objects to light the night sky, to mark off seasons [Genesis 1:14-19]? One might here object that such far flung heavenly bodies fulfill the revealed purpose of proclaiming the omnipotence and majesty of God [Psalm 19:1], but I can’t help but feel we’re being reductionist by stating that these revealed stated purposes of heavenly bodies necessarily implies that there are no unstated purposes to said bodies. Furthermore, even if I do not know how ETs fit into God’s greater purpose, I can assure you that if they do in fact exist, they do fit into God’s greater purpose somehow.
I digress. Dr. Faulkner’s thesis is that:
“Isaiah 45:18 makes a distinction between God’s role for the earth and the heavens (the rest of the universe). It says that God did not create the earth in vain, but that He made it to be inhabited. While the Bible is not geocentric (placing the earth at the physical center of the universe), the earth is the center of God’s attention. Humans—and not ETs—are God’s primary concern in the universe.”
Creationists tend to posit a sort of theological geocentrism. We believe that the Earth is special and that God is actively involved in the affairs of its inhabitants. It may be true that the Earth is the center of God’s attention. He did created mankind in His own image after all. I won’t argue with that.
I can and will argue with the idea that just because Scripture says that God did not create the Earth in vain [empty] that this is meant as an iron-clad contrast with the heavens. We have three statements: God created the heavens. God created the earth. God did not create it in vain but to be inhabited. This does not necessarily imply that He by contrast made the heavens in vain to be uninhabited. Yet we have creationist organizations making absurd statements like this one made in Chapter 18 of the New Answers Book, “But where does the Bible discuss the creation of life on the “lights in the expanse of the heavens”? There is no such description because the lights in the expanse were not designed to accommodate life.” That, my friends, is a bona fide argument from silence, the weakest and most inadvisable of all arguments. The Bible is equally silent about microbes and Black holes. We cannot say that the heavens were not designed for life simply because the Bible fails to mention this as being the case [especially since it may be that it does, as we will see]. It may simply be that the Bible’s revelation is, well, geocentric and does not concern itself with the affairs of God’s creations “in a galaxy far, far away.” The Bible’s silence regarding extraterrestrial lifeforms would not invalidate its inerrancy. We might simply note that extraterrestrial life was not really germane to the discussion as it were.
The context of Isaiah 45:18 is that God is assuring Israel that He is in control and that there is a purpose to everything He’s doing; there is a plan. God here is saying nothing more than He did just a few short verses before when He declared, “I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded.” Incidentally the word “hosts” means “army or armies.” I believe the term is being used here to refer to the heavenly bodies in a figurative way, but an argument could be made that God is referring to angelic or alien beings as well!
In any case, in this passage God is saying, “I created the heavens. I created the Earth. I created the Earth with every intention of creating man. I had a plan when I created the universe, just as I have a plan for Israel and I did not make my promises to Jacob in vain.” To say that Isaiah 45:18 precludes the possibility of alien life is simply overstatement, especially because it may actually imply its existence.
Interestingly enough, most translations include a semicolon in this verse. For example, the King James Version reads:
“For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else.”
This means that the “it” in “He created it not in vain” may refer not only to the earth but everything in the section preceding the semicolon, including the heavens.
Something to keep in mind if we ever find aliens.
It is unlikely that man will discover life from beyond our solar system, given the prohibitive nature of space travel. All science fiction writers employ black boxes to overcome this obstacle [warp engines, inertial dampeners, wormholes, hyperspace], but the physics and distance make the whole venture wholly impractical. Impossible really. If we discovered extraterrestrial life at all, it would likely be because said life came calling. I can’t imagine that being a good thing
The trouble is that Creationists have come up with this argument that the Scriptures demand an absence of alien life as a proof of the specialness of earth. As Dr. Faulkner argues elsewhere:
“The creation worldview is very different, because, as usual, we start with very different assumptions. We believe that life exists on earth because God created life here, but He first had to fashion the earth to be a suitable habitation for life. The evolutionist must believe that life is inevitable wherever conditions are suitable for life, but creationists understand that even if conditions on another planet could sustain life, life there is not possible–unless God created life there or permitted life somehow to travel to that planet from earth.
While we cannot prove biblically that God did not create life elsewhere, the strong implication of Scripture is that He did not. These very different predictions of the special creation and evolution models mean that the search for life elsewhere amounts to a powerful test between the two theories of origin.”
Categorizing the idea that alien life does not exist as a prediction of special creation is the worst sort of overstatement. We are in real danger of setting up a Galileo debacle here. In Galileo’s day, folks had found proof texts in the Bible that could be seen as supporting the geocentric Ptolemaic cosmological model. One of the major arguments for geocentrism was the idea that the Earth was special in God’s sight. Now we know that we are neither the center of our solar system nor the center of the universe, except from a relative perspective.
The fact of the matter is that the Bible is not silent on alien life. Aliens are extraterrestrial sapient beings. They were created some time before man. Scripture reveals that there are different forms of angels, seraphim, cherubim, archangels, living creatures… and some of them are quite bizarre. They recognize that they are not the Creator God; for example, the angel who speaks to John in Revelation tells him not to bow before him because they are both equally servants of God. Spiritually speaking, some are fallen and some are not, definitely suggesting free will on their part.
Which brings us to a point any serious Bible student must consider regarding alien life: How did Adam’s sin affect other sapient beings in the universe? Are all sapient beings fallen in Adam? Or are there unfallen sentient, moral non-humans who must endure a fallen universe?
Keep in mind that the question of non-sapient alien life isn’t really a threat to anyone’s doctrine. They would be subject to this fallen world in much the same way animals and plants and microbes are on this planet. They could even be as intelligent and social as bees or dolphins and still not qualify as sapient. Oh, I’m sure evolutionists would hail it as a victory for their theory, but that’s what they do with every new discovery anyway. Biblicists would simply be forced to recognize that their understanding of the specialness of Earth had nothing to do with the presence of life here, but rather that God created beings in His own image here. Just as we had to adjust our view of the specialness of Earth when geocentrism was disproven.
The problem for Christianity where geocentrism was concerned was not so much that the Bible taught it – there were verses which appeared to coincide with this idea, but which never demanded such a view – but that this science had been erroneously hailed as a truth of the Christian worldview. Interestingly enough, my grandfather told me that there were once preachers who said that man would never reach the moon because God had stopped mankind from building the Tower of Babel. They said that Psalm 115:16 made it clear that man would not be allowed to trespass into the heavens. With all due respect to conspiracy theorists who believe the moon landing was fake, those preachers were wrong. The Bible wasn’t wrong, but they mislead folks into thinking it was by overstating what it actually said.
Grace for Other Worlds?
My fear now is that is that creationist will have erroneously canonized this idea that our position, the Biblical position, predicts an absence of alien life. It is a great leap from strong suggestion to actual prediction. We need to refrain from such dogmatism where we cannot yet be certain in the absence of a clear Scriptural revelation. Inference isn’t quite enough in these cases.
By way of further example, Dr. Faulkner states:
“John Adams observed in his diary on April 24, 1756, that if many other worlds were inhabited as people then thought, then Jesus would have to die on each of those worlds.”
John Adams’ April 24, 1756 diary entry actually says the following:
“Astronomers tell us, with good Reason, that not only all the Planets and Satellites in our Solar System, but all the unnumbered Worlds that revolve round the fixt Starrs are inhabited, as well as this Globe of Earth. If this is the Case all Mankind are no more in comparison of the whole rational Creation of God, than a point to the Orbit of Saturn. Perhaps all these different Ranks of Rational Beings have in a greater or less Degree, committed moral Wickedness. If so, I ask a Calvinist, whether he will subscribe to this Alternitive, “either God almighty must assume the respective shapes of all these different Species, and suffer the Penalties of their Crimes, in their Stead, or else all these Being[s]must be consigned to everlasting Perdition?””
The following day’s entry comments further upon the subject:
“The Reflection that I penned Yesterday, appears upon the review to be weak enough. For 1st. we know not that the Inhabitants of other Globes have sinned. Nothing can be argued in this manner, till it is proved at least probable that all those Species of rational Beings have revolted from their rightful Sovereign.—When I examine the little Prospect that lies before me, and find an infinite variety of Bodies in one Horizon of perhaps two miles diameter, how many Millions of such Prospects there are upon the Surface of this Earth, how many millions of Globes there are within our View, each of which has as many of these prospects upon its own surface as our Planet—great! and marvellous are thy works!”
You see, a sapient unfallen alien race that is subject to the fallen universe is not really a problem for Christina theology… because they don’t need saved. And thus far we must admit that astrotheology has the same basic dilemma that astrobiology has: a lack of subjects.
Nevertheless, the sci-fi author in me asks the dread What If? What If we found sapient aliens who were fallen? Would they require God to come to send His Son to sacrifice themselves for their sin? Well, no. Not unless they were also made in God’s image.
If they fell in their own right and not because of Adam’s sin, that is between them and their Creator; not Adam and their Creator. The angelic beings who fell have not, to our knowledge, been offered a hint of salvation and no one cries foul over that! Why is not God unjust to offer them grace…?
The preacher in me smiles. Oh, wait. It is grace that we preach, isn’t it? Doesn’t the notion of grace come with the unspoken acknowledgement that God is not impugned if He does not provide a remedy for our sin; that He didn’t have to do anything; that He did so out of love and mercy and for the sake of His own good Name? We do not impugn God for condemning fallen angels to hell without a mention of redemption because we know that we’ve no right to impugn God’s justice over the matter when it is a matter of grace and grace alone that it is offered to mankind at all. It is NOT a matter of God’s justice, for if we all got what we deserved, if we all got justice instead of grace, we’d be in hell tonight!
When we ask, “What about the angels? Or what about salvation for fallen aliens?” we echo Peter’s question to Jesus regarding John: “Lord, what about him?” Jesus had just told Peter that he would die a martyr and Peter wanted to know if the same fate awaited John. Jesus’ response was “If I want him to live until I return, what it that to you? You follow Me!”[John 21:18-22]. Like Peter, we want everything to be fair we think it should be, but God alone is sovereign and God alone is omnipotent.
Some will perhaps think I am sidestepping the issue, but I assure you I am addressing it in the only way a Biblicist should.
If aliens require salvation, will not the Lord of Heaven deal justly?
Of course, we must consider the fact that death entered the universe by Adam’s sin. Yet Luke 20:36 tells us that angels do not die. There seems to be an exception to the death penalty where these created beings are concerned, and this apparent immortality of angels seems to still apply to the third of the hosts who are fallen! They are eternal in the sense that man’s soul is eternal. We die physically, but heaven or hell awaits us eternally. This seems to present the solution to the dilemma: Mortality as a consequence for Adam’s Fall may only apply to creatures who are, for lack of a better term, corporeal. Or perhaps the effects of the Fall only apply to denizens of this dimension of reality and not those whose natural realm is extradimensional.
I’m of the opinion that all life in this dimension is subject to the Fall’s death penalty, because the Bible explicitly said that death entered into the world by man’s sin [Romans 8:18-22]; therefore, we need to discuss to what extent the Fall affected any sapient aliens God may’ve created.
We know that they die as a result of the Fall, but do we know whether they inherited man’s sin nature? Creationists tend to view both death and depravity as part and parcel to the Fall, because that is precisely the case for man. It is not the case for animals, who only die and have no sin nature. Of course, animals have been affected in other ways. Originally vegetarian creatures became carnivores or parasites, or else developed harmful and even lethal defenses. We can reasonably expect non-sapient life forms from other worlds to basically parallel what we see on Earth because the Bible says that plants and animals were cursed as a result of the Fall [Genesis 3:14, 17-18].
What of sapient life forms then? Does their cursed state make the concept of an unfallen sapient alien nothing more than a hypothetical thought exercise, but ultimately impossible? Perhaps. Animals are affected by the Fall by they are not fallen in the sense of requiring salvation. Animals do not sin; they are amoral. Nevertheless, ever since the Fall, the lion placed in a pen with a lamb does what its cursed nature compels it to do. Animals do not require salvation, so much as redemption from the corollary effects of the curse: death and corruption.
Would ET find this situation unfair? First, we have to ask if they have enough information to think it’s unfair. They die. They know why? I believe so. I have no reason to believe that God would not send his angels as messengers or give them revelation of some sort. If they are unfallen and die, they would not criticize their Creator for making them subject to the penalty He placed on the creature to Whom God had given Dominion. A king falls and his kingdom suffers. A man’s sin always affects more than just himself. An unfallen race would praise God for His grace and mercy in providing a means of redemption for the universe. As unfallen xenosapients, they would require no salvation. If they lack immortal souls, they would thank God for their lives, however long or brief. If they had immortal souls beyond their corporeal bodies, they would not be in danger of hell beyond death; death would simply be what it is for the Christian: a joyous reunion with their beloved Creator!
So the question becomes: Would sapient aliens require salvation or would they merely require redemption from physical death and the other effects of the curse?
The Bible’s scant revelation regarding angels may once again give us insight. We know that there was a war in heaven [Rev 12:7-13]. We all know war is bad. Satan rebelled against God and was cast out of heaven with a third of the heavenly hosts who followed him BEFORE the Fall. The punishment God has meted out for them and the timetable He has decreed for this future judgement are completely independent matters from Adam’s Fall and mankind’s subsequent judgment. They knew rebellion and war before we knew sin and murder! Our punishments were not identical. Angels do not die. There is no indication that they suffer from any of the corollary effects of the Fall. They have not been given, to our knowledge, any Gospel such as mankind has been given by God’s grace. It would seem then that the God who is revealed in Scripture would deal with sapient non-human races according to their own merits and situations. If angels are our example [and not some exception to a rule we’re as yet ignorant of], this strongly implies that sapient races may be exempt from the corollary effects of the Fall, though they live in a universe very much cursed by the Fall of Adam. That is, if a sapient race is fallen, it is fallen on its own response to its Creator and not Adam’s Fall. If this is the case, the question of sapient alien life, fallen or unfallen has no effect whatsoever on Christian doctrine.
But What IF? What If all sapient aliens were fallen along with Adam in exactly the same way mankind is? The root cause of their sin would be an imputed [as opposed to inherited] sin nature. They would sin, as all human do, because they are sinners. You see, sin is something of a spiritual computer virus. It corrupts the program and corrupts the code of everything that program produces. By analogy, we require a completely new operating system to rid ourselves of the virus, but we are completely helpless to affect that sort of change; we require the Programmer to remedy the situation. If sapient aliens were imputed the same spiritual virus we humans have, they would still be guilty of sin because they would sin according to their nature. Would they then require salvation? Yup. Would God’s justice be impugned if He didn’t offer it to them when they didn’t commit the original sin that gave them this imputed nature? Yes and no. Scripture makes it clear that we have all sinned in Adam, yet we are also personally accountable for the sins we commit. I can’t imagine aliens getting a pass on the second count. Still, God being God, we have to suppose He would give them the Gospel on account of that borrowed sin nature alone. So as in Adam all die, so in Christ all shall be made alive, right [1 Cor 15:22]? We need Christ to come die on an alien world, right? That’s what John Adams thought. That’s what Dr. Faulkner thinks:
“In order to secure their salvation, Jesus would have to be born, live, die, and rise again on countless planets. Even skeptics have noted that this is the logical consequence of believing in human-like beings on other worlds.”
Is it true? Well, not necessarily. In fact, that seems a bit wasteful. And it may even be Scripturally prohibitive if the several passage that state that Christ died once for all includes aliens as well. Logically, the Gospel to ET would have to come from Earth or, more likely, through revelation and refer to earth and its history with Adam’s Dominion and later Fall and Christ’s sacrifice for sin and the resurrection as the promise of eternal life.
But wait! Don’t we have to be of Adam’s bloodline in order to enjoy the blessings of salvation? Isn’t that why Christ came and became a man and shed His own blood for our sins? That’s how it works for humanity; however, if depravity is imputed to ETs as it must be for them to be fallen in Adam [rather than on their own], then salvation may be imputed as well.
Trivializing the Gospel?
Dr. Faulkner objects that “A gospel message that begins, “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away . . .” trivializes the gospel.
To which I respond, in Appalachian, “Bullroar!” What is the difference between giving folks the Gospel today and saying, “A long, long time ago, Christ was born in a country far, far away, lived a sinless life, and died a cruel death to redeem mankind from the sin of a man who lived an even longer time ago?” What special pleading is this? Some of you have heard the tale of New Tribes Mission’s efforts to reach the Mouk Tribe of Papau, New Guinea. These missionaries tried traditional evangelism methods with almost no success. In order to reach a people with absolutely no Bible knowledge, they began with two months of Old Testament Bible stories. Only after this foundation was laid did they begin teaching about Christ. After teaching them about God and the Bible, NTM missionaries taught them about “Creation, and Adam and Eve, and man’s choice to sin. We explained how God promised a Savior would someday come to deliver us from sin.” How is this situation substantially different than delivering the Gospel to ETs? And as I ask this, keep in mind that God may’ve given them revelation and perhaps even a Law to act as a schoolmaster in preparation for said Gospel [Galations 3:24].
Skeptics may suppose that the logical consequences of sapient alien life that Jesus would have to incarnate upon and sacrifice Himself for each and every one, but this Santa Claus view of the Gospel is the product of a superficial consideration of the subject. This is true of skeptics. This is true of creationists who associate the ET question with an evolutionary worldview.
If life is common in the universe, we’ve certainly seen no evidence of it. The Fermi Paradox asks, “If the universe is teeming with life, where is everybody?” The Star Wars universe, the Star Trek universe, the Marvel Cinematic Universe and similar fictional worlds where the ether simply teems with alien civilizations are based on an evolutionary worldview. Sort of. If we’re fair about it, we have to ask ourselves why most of these aliens look pretty much like us and can interbreed with us with fertile offspring. Because that makes biological sense, right? Just about as much sense as various worlds independently developing humanoid intelligent life that looks pretty much like us in the first place, huh? Science fictions aside, there’s no way to know whether life is rare or abundant in the universe.
If life is common in the universe, there’s no reason to conclude it’s just as probable there is no God. After all, abiogenesis and molecules-to-man evolution are so statistically improbable as to rate impossibility. Multiplying zero by infinity doesn’t really add up to better odds. I tend to think if the all-natural Just-so story they’ve concocted were true, they’ve used up all of their odds on Earth alone and the chances of it happening again become less likely not as likely or more likely. In other words, if life were common in the universe, this invokes the supernatural, for it proposes that nature must overcome do impossible things. It actually makes it more probable that God does exist!
Dr. Faulkner asks that we accept the false dichotomy that “If the God of the Bible and the gospel are real, then ETs are not.” This is completely unnecessary. God and the Bible are real regardless of whether ETs exist or not, and they certainly don’t require Jesus to repeat His sacrifice on multiple worlds.
An Alien Agenda?
I should say that just because ETs are not prohibited by the Bible, it doesn’t make UFO sightings extraterrestrial in origin. There are several ways we might account for UFOs.
- A good number are misidentified objects of a much more mundane nature. Common things that are already there like clouds, weather balloons, comets, commercial or known military aircraft, et cetera. Any UFO nut who insists that ALL or even most UFO sightings are the real McCoy is an unrealistic true believer.
- There is the possibility that some are secret government projects. No, I’m not using “the reverse engineered from UFOs” line here. I think that type of thinking is rather circular. [OK, we’re not seeing real space craft, but we are seeing government UFOs based on the real UFOs we’re not really seeing… huh?] These would just be real government aircraft like the stealth bomber, et cetera. [For example, the Flatwoods Monster [Flatwoods, WV], believed by many to be either an alien or a UFO, is allege by many to be a test launch of the lunar lander that went awry and was subsequently misidentified!]
- We could be seeing some of the “signs in the heavens” promised by Christ Jesus as a sign of the End of Days. If this is the case, then we are projecting a bit when we see these lights and presume they are manned. In this case, we would be looking at as yet unexplained natural phenomenon [like ball lightning] or angelic messengers flying about as a sign to earthly man. The point we should recall here is that heavenly signs [as unexplained natural phenomenon], things like the darkening of the sun, the moon turning the color of blood, comets, celestial oddities and possibly some sort of natural phenomenon which causes the “UFO” lights could simply be warnings – celestial wake up calls if you will – that the End is approaching.
- We may be looking at actual extraterrestrial aircraft and/or phenomena. You know, textbook UFOs and ETs. This seems entirely unlikely to me. While the Bible does not exclude the Creator from having created other beings to inhabit our cosmos, it does seem unlikely that they would visit this planet for so many years with no evidence of their approach to our solar system. It seems unlikely that we would not know they were here. There seems to be no motive for their being here, unless they were trying to grab our resources or the planet itself. Space travel [across light years] seems a prohibitive venture for any group of beings, so why would they string out their conquest of a technologically inferior race by hiding for years in the background, positioning themselves as some sort of vast subversive alien conspiracy? I think you see my point.
- We may be looking at interdimensional beings, which would explain how they can vanish and appear so suddenly. The idea of angelic beings departing and re-entering the spirit realm for brief excursions into the Prime Material plane come to mind. This phenomenon is consistent with Biblical accounts of angels. As I discussed earlier, the dichotomy between angels and aliens may be a cosmetic devise for distancing Christianity from the paranormal and other weird nonsense.
So there we have it:
1. Misidentified everyday things.
2. Unpublished military/scientific research assumed as extraterrestrial in origin. [i.e. – government UFOs or unpublished man-made terrestrial aircraft]
3. Natural but as-yet-unexplained celestial phenomenon; aka biblically foretold “signs in the heavens” [i.e. – UFO lights]
4. Actual extraterrestrial craft [however unlikely]
5. Interdimensional beings [such as angels, fallen or otherwise]
Of the two more exotic explanations [#4 & #5], I lean toward the latter. Genuine extraterrestrials simply lack a motive and a feasible means. On the other hand, centuries of sightings and the conspiracy that implies makes more sense if they’re really already here, only separated by the material/spirit [i.e. – a dimensional] boundary and can make excursions into the material dimension.
In any case, the issue of the identity of UFOs and the belief in alien visitations to this planet is quite independent of the question of whether extraterrestrials might exist and whether they contradict the Bible’s revelation. I would caution creationists against using emotional appeals based on the former to condemn consideration of the latter.
The Present Danger
I strongly believe that a knee-jerk rejection of the idea of alien life somewhere in the universe based on fearmongering will only serve to increase the effectiveness of the Satanic deception surrounding belief in ETs. Especially if influential creationists organizations continue to insist on creating a false dichotomy between Biblical Christianity and the possibility of alien life. Telling folks that the Bible says what it has almost nothing to say on at all places a potential stumbling block to the Gospel if the thing we deny turns out to be true after all.
So the conclusion of the matter is this:
- Non-sapient alien life poses no threat to Christianity. Its discovery would merely confirm the notion that the Bible is a geocentric revelation to humanity.
- The possibility of unfallen sapient aliens exists because unfallen angels exist; such aliens would be affected by the curse but would not require salvation.
- Fallen sapient aliens who fell apart from Adam’s fall would not necessarily receive the grace offered to mankind for salvation; God is not impugned for meting out justice rather than granting grace.
- Fallen sapient beings who fell with Adam would not require Christ to die for them on each fallen world; Christ died once for all, so if man’s depravity is imputed to them, it follows that Christ’s righteousness could be imputed to them as well.
The only circumstances in which alien life would truly be a problem for Christianity is if well-meaning Christians falsely conflated an absence of alien life as a prediction of the Bible.