A Word of Caution: or Why There’s No Single ‘Biblical View’ on Extraterrestrial Life

Ken Ham at Answers in Genesis often says things like this regarding the possible existence of “intelligent beings on alien worlds”:

But there’s another reason you shouldn’t be fooled by the hype: when you start with God’s Word, you can confidently say there are no intelligent beings on other planets. You see, God formed earth to be inhabited (Isaiah 45:18)—not Mars, Venus, or some other far-flung planet. Also, when Adam sinned, his sin affected all of creation (Romans 8:22). Jesus came as the last Adam to save those of Adam’s race who will repent and believe. If there were intelligent aliens out there, they would suffer the effects of sin but couldn’t be saved because Christ died for mankind, not for aliens (1 Peter 3:18Hebrews 9:27–2810:10). So, theologically, we know that aliens can’t (and don’t) exist.

Ken Ham, Will the Pentagon Report Prove UFOs Are Real? (June 21, 2021) AnswersinGenesis.org

The implication is that there is a *single* viewpoint on the possibility of extraterrestrial life that is THE Biblical view. It’s almost always the No Aliens Allowed viewpoint that is touted as THE Biblical viewpoint by Ken Ham, Gary Bates (for clarity’s sake, that’s the knockoff WISH version of Ken Ham who wrote Alien Intrusion) and others from the fundamentalist and charismatic parts of Christendom.

And they are historically and fundamentally wrong about that.

Historically speaking, we’ve been discussing exotheology, the theological study of the possibility of extraterrestrial life, since the Middle Ages. Christendom has been optimistic about that possibility more than not and answered all of Ken Ham’s “problems” with the possibility of intelligent alien life with a soul even back then. Ham, WISH Ham and others who falsely tout that the only faithful interpretation of the Bible teaches No Aliens Allowed are (to paraphrase  arch-UFO skeptic Mick West) presenting weak evidence as strong evidence.

In fact, when they’re being a bit more transparent on the subject, they readily admit that the Bible is silent where it concerns alien life, yet they feel the “strong implication of Scripture” or the “meaning of the Gospel” prohibits the possibility. Again, the Gospel “problems” were sorted out even in the Middle Ages, despite the willful ignorance of the No Aliens Allowed crowd. Lots of Christians, even fundamentalists and creation scientists have believed the Bible allowed for the possibility of alien life

Breaking Down Ken Ham’s Weak Argument from Repetition (Again)

But even if we don’t consider history, Ken Ham’s broken record argument here fails (as always).

  • Isaiah 45:18 never even implies that God made the Earth ALONE to be inhabited. That’s a non sequitur.
  • Roman’s 8:22 nor any of the other verses he cites relating to Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice ever says that the sanguine/spiritual effects of the Fall (i.e., man’s need for salvation rather than the entrance of death, suffering, decay, predation, etc, into the universe) extended beyond humanity or even to creatures with a soul. And if Adam’s sin was imputed to them even though they’renot of Adam’s bloodline, then logically Christ’s righteousness can be imputed by grace through faith. All it takes is special revelation of Christ’s once-for-all substitionary atonement here on Earth for all of creation,  which is no big deal for a God who can reveal things by dreams, visions and angelic messengers. I mean , seriously,  what small God do these guys serve that His arm is so short that He cannot save that which He created?

And of course, theologians in the Midfle Ages came to this exact conclusion.

Scriptures Which Support Alien Life

On the flipside, the Bible would not be falsified by any position that was overstated at the “strong implication” of Scripture. And honestly, major creation ministries have begin softening their position on the possibility of the existence of plant and animal life, likely because that position is looking more and more likely to blow up on their faces.

Furtgermore, there are a few verses we would doubtlessly cite if alien life were discovered.

  • Psalm 8:3-8 would doubtlessly be cited to note that our apparently small place within the grand scheme of creation in no way diminishes our actual significance in God’s sight and His plans.

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? Yet you have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor. You have given them dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under their feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea,whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

Psalm 8:3-8

  • Colossians 1:16 would be cited by creationists to affirm that they were in fact created by God during the Creation Week of Genesis.

For by him all things were created, lin 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
  • John 10:16 would likewise be cited as evidence that Jesus alluded to alien life, especially when contrasted with the human sheep of men (Ezekiel 34:31).

And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.

John 10:16 (ESV)
  • Verses stating that the hosts of heaven worship God and declare His glory (Nehemiah 9:6Psalms 19:1, etc.) would be used to note that the Bible hinted at the existence of extraterrestrial life that worships Him.
  • Romans 8:19-22, oft-cited by creationists, would be viewed as having much further implications than previously thought, as the creation which “waits in eager expectation” and which “has been groaning” suddenly stops being entirely figurative and alludes to an intelligence besides our that is aware of the universe’s fallen state and need of redemption.

The creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself would be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 

Romans 8:19-22 [NIV]

The Answer

So is there a single interpretation of the Bible regarding extraterrestrial life which we might call THE Biblical viewpoint on the subject? No, there isn’t. The Bible doesn’t make any explicit statements about the existence of extraterrestrial life. Nor is there an alleged “strong implication” of Scripture which stands up to logical scrutiny and which has not been addressed since the Middle Ages.

The reason for this is simple. In trying to make the Bible prohibit 🚫 the existence of intelligent extraterrestrial life from other planets, Ken Ham, knockoff WISH Ham, and all the rest are trying to force Scripture to say something it does not say [Proverbs 30:6]. Rather than having the humility and wisdom to take the Wait-and-see approach of Gamaliel [Acts 5:34], they are used to giving out pat answers even to questions for which they lack sufficient support. Too, they are prone to framing these questions myopically as part of a dichotomy between evolution and creation, even when its really just knee-jerk bifurcation (a logical fallacy).

The dogmatic makes money in circles where people are seeking sure answers; however, the Bible dies not claim to be an Encyclopedia Galactica containing every answer to every question. Thus, they are forced to overstate their position, which actually undermines the authority and veracity they seek to achieve.

Put simply, they need to be cautious where the Bible is silent lest they be found guilty of adding to the Word of God [Proverbs 30:6]. Better to say, with humility, I don’t think they exist because the Bible doesn’t explicitly mention them and the focus of God’s revealed plans seems to be on us, but neither does the Bible rule out their existence. Certainly, they should stop implying that the “meaning of the Gospel” rules our that possibility when theologian have loooong ago worked out those problems. The meaning of the Gospel is grace. Read that again, Ken Ham.

Meanwhile those of us who do believe that the Bible allows for the possibility of extraterrestrial life should not be dogmatic. Our position is safer for the No Aliens Allowed position does seem to suggest that the Bible can be falsified by their discovery, while ours simply suggests its possible and no more. Even so, dogmatism based on scientific speculation is unwise for it too comes with the danger of adding to God’s Word [Proverbs 30:6].

Sometimes the answer is just, “I don’t know. Let’s just wait and see. But either way, the Bible’s truth will endure” [1 Peter 1:25]. And there is nothing wrong with that.

Yes, Billy Graham affirmed the possibility of alien life but cautioned that we ought to be concerned with the Gospel than speculation. That’s wisdom.

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