It just kills me how many people conflate the modern UFO phenomenon with the separate question of whether alien life exists beyond Earth at all.
A couple weeks ago, I took the time to respond to creation astronomer Dr. Danny Faulkner’s article, “Is Belief in Alien Life Harmless?” in the Oct/Dec 2015 issue of Answers magazine. In that article, Faulkner’s thesis was 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.”
The trouble was that he took the anthropocentric focus of the Bible which could be taken to suggest that extraterrestrials do not exist a bit further to make the dogmatic statement that aliens do not exist. Worse still, he made the concept of no extraterrestrial life a “prediction” of the Bible in contrast to the evolutionary worldview. Put simply, he was making dogmatic statements about something the Bible is silent on, based on “Biblical principles” that turn out to be based on logical fallacies. Faulkner’s article then gives us an appeal to consequences coupled with an appeal to equality: (those poor aliens would be under the effects of the curse, without a remedy for their fallen state, and how fair would that b?…so aliens are impossible, right?). The trouble is that this isn’t really the case; as I demonstrated on my author website, if Adam’s original sin can be imputed apart from his bloodline then the Last Adam’s righteousness can likewise be imputed by faith apart from that bloodline. If only Adam’s bloodline was affected with the sanguine effects of the fall [eg., depravity], then any intelligent aliens we encounter would either be unfallen [but affected by the universal effects of the fall like everything else in creation] or fallen on their own [meaning their salvation is a matter between them and God.]
This post’s title singles out AiG, but I’m only mentioning them by name because they are the ones pushing this anti-alien agenda heavily right now. I have been a friend of AiG and will likely continue to do so; I am not a fan of overstatement when it makes claims for the Bible based on probabilities that could turn out to be harmful to the authority of Scripture and the become a stumbling block to the Gospel if their gamble doesn’t pay off! Answers in Genesis is not alone in making this potentially harmful error. Every major creationist organization I surveyed makes the same claims. No one states the facts appropriately by saying that the Bible strongly suggests that Earth alone is inhabited, but instead they dogmatically insist that the Bible says aliens do not exist based on “Biblical principles” propped up on logical fallacies.
For example, his translation of Isaiah 45:18 reads more into the text than actually exists.
Christians 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. 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.” It is certainly true that from an Earthbound perspective, the stars provide light and signs for season and a sense of awe at God’s creative power, but it may be that the Bible does not mention any other purpose for the heavens simply because it doesn’t concern us. 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. He 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, because in order to do so one has to force a contrast that doesn’t really exist in the text. The text does say that God created the earth to be inhabited; it does not say He created the heavens to be uninhabited.
Even so, 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. We may all agree that reports of alleged extraterrestrials visiting Earth are unlikely to be true, but what of aliens we’ve never encountered living somewhere out there in the heavens? I would caution Christian leaders against using emotional appeals based on the former to condemn consideration of the latter, because this is comparing apples to oranges. It’s tantamount to saying, “Aliens never visited Earth; therefore aliens don’t exist in space.”
Let’s ask ourselves: Who benefits from respected Christian organizations stating dogmatically that aliens do not exist as a prediction of Scripture if extraterrestrials truly exist? While I believe that they mean well, making dogmatic statements about things the Scriptures are silent upon is potentially bad for Bible authority and the credibility of the Gospel message it contains. All it takes is for one extraterrestrial to be discovered to destroy this ill-advised argument from silence. Think about it.
After a bit of reflection, I’ve decided to release a book on the subject of UFOs, the Bible and Aliens. Look for Strangers and Aliens: A Christian Sci-fi Author Explores the Argument for Extraterrestrial Life on Amazon.com.