Some people think that the Big Picture of the Bible makes the existence of intelligent aliens life impossible. They charge that the discovery of extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI) would make nonsense of the Gospel and make God a polygamist.
For example, Creation Ministries International’s Facebook chief exotheology expert, Gary Bates, wrote the following in an article entitled, Did God create life on other planets? (March 2007):
“Christ’s atoning death at Calvary cannot save these hypothetical ETs, because one needs to be a physical descendant of Adam for Christ to be our ‘kinsman-redeemer’ (Isaiah 59:20)… Since this would mean that any ETs would be lost for eternity when this present creation is destroyed in a fervent heat (2 Peter 3:10, 12), some have wondered whether Christ’s sacrifice might be repeated elsewhere for other beings. However, Christ died once for all (Romans 6:10, 1 Peter 3:18) on the earth. He is not going to be crucified and resurrected again on other planets (Hebrews 9:26). This is confirmed by the fact that the redeemed (earthly) church is known as Christ’s bride (Ephesians 5:22–33; Revelation 19:7–9) in a marriage that will last for eternity. Christ is not going to be a polygamist with many other brides from other planets.”
During a Twitter discussion someone voiced a similar opinion: that if ET exists, it would be like God not mentioning that He had another wife somewhere else.
On the surface, this is a serious problem; however, there are several faulty assumptions at work here.
First and foremost, we must ask ourselves if aliens are fallen and need salvation at all. All of Creation suffers the universal effects of Adam’s Fall but only mankind suffers the spiritual effects that resulted from Adam’s sin debt. Anti-alien arguments tend to gloss over this distinction. Everyone agrees that Adam’s sin debt was passed down his bloodline, requiring a kinsman-redeemer for mankind; however, no one can tell me why aliens who are not of Adam’s bloodline should have incurred this sin debt.
The underlying assumption seems to be that intelligent, moral-decision-capable beings all suffer this sin debt, but this was not true of the only other created beings we currently know of with these qualities, angels, so this appears to be a case of special pleading.
In any case, if aliens incurred this sin debt, then Adam’s sin was imputed to them apart from Adam’s bloodline; rather than excluding them from salvation, this logically infers that by grace through faith Christ’s righteousness can also be imputed to them. Thus, aliens fallen through Adam’s sin can be saved and Christ would not have to be multiply incarnated and crucified on each alien world to accomplish this salvation. All that’s required is a little supernatural revelation to point them to Christ’s salvation “once for all,” which God is more than capable of.
This is not a new solution to the extraterrestrial question. After suggesting that Gid could create other worlds beyond Earth, William Vorilong (1392-1463) wrote the following:
“Now doubt arrives. By what means are we able to have knowledge of [another world]. I answer by angelic revelation or by divine means. If it be inquired whether men exist on that world, and whether they have sinned as Adam sinned, I answer no, for they would not exist in sin and did not spring from Adam. But it is shown that they would exist from the virtue of God, transported into that world as Enoch and Elias in this earthly paradise. As to the question whether Christ by dying on this earth could redeem the inhabitants of another world, I answer that he is able to do this even if the worlds were infinite, but it would not be fitting for Him, to go into another world that he must die again.”
So Vorilong basically noted that since they did not spring from Adam, they did not exist in sin. In other words, being apart from Adam’s bloodline, they did not inherit his sin nature and therefore they did not need to be saved. In answer to the separate question of whether Christ’s death once for all could save extraterrestrials, he answered in the affirmative and denied that it was necessary for Christ to be born and die on multiple worlds.
Having established that if aliens have been imputed with Adam’s sin, they can be saved by grace through faith in the once-for-all sacrifice of Christ, and that it is not necessary for Christ to be born and die on multiple worlds, this brings us to the charge of polygamy.
This is an exceedingly simple matter to answer. There is no Biblical warrant to limit the Bride of Christ to the earthly church, as Bates attempts in the quote above. That’s simply his anthropocentric bias. He’s begging the question. Scripture has an anthropocentric focus but it does not say the Bride of Christ is limited to the earthly church. In fact, if the existence of aliens were confirmed, Christians would naturally extend the meaning of John 10:16’s “other sheep” beyond Gentiles to beings created on other planets. We would also likely point out that 1 John 2:2 says that Christ died for the sins of the whole cosmos.
More to the point, it is a theological fact that anyone who is saved becomes a part of the Bride (singular) of Christ. Polygamy is simply not possible under these circumstances. It just doesn’t work that way, it’s special pleading to suggest that aliens saved through Christ’s imputed righteousness would suddenly constitute a separate Bride, and Gary Bates should know better than to suggest otherwise.