Does God Believe In Aliens?

The Bible on Extra-Terrestrial Life.

Our secular world is fascinated by aliens.

The Guardian news website – not exactly a hub for right-wing conspiracy theorists – posted an article recently that was shared over 9,000 times on FB. It said the following:

A Russian radio telescope scanning the skies has observed “a strong signal” from a nearby star, HD164595, in the constellation Hercules. The star is a scant 95 light years away and 99% of the size of Earth’s own sun. It has at least one planet, HD164595b, which is about the size of Neptune and has a 40-day year.’

Is it ‘life, Jim, but not as we know it’?  

Not quite. In less time than it takes to watch a re-run of E.T. on Netflix,  scientists threw cold water over the party, by claiming the signal is probably nothing more than natural interference.

So much for a close encounter.

(Oh, and science has grown more pessimistic about the likelihood of other life in the universe).

And yet, the whole idea of alien life raises questions for Christians: is alien life compatible with the Bible? Or would the discovery of alien life be the death knell of Christianity – the extraterrestrial equivalent of finding the bones of Jesus Christ?

photo-does-god-believe-in-aliens

Photo courtesy canva.com

Here are some of my thoughts:

1) The Bible is Silent About Alien Life

So we need to be cautious about coming to any conclusions.

God hasn’t spoken about alien life in the Bible. So we can’t come to any firm conclusions. (Of course, if alien life is ever discovered, we’ll have more to say!).

Presumably, God doesn’t think the ‘alien’ question is important. And yet, the absence of evidence isn’t necessarily evidence of absence. Christian scholar Martin Thompson puts it this way:

It is not the burden of the Genesis narrative to deal with other life forms on other planets (should they exist), but the absence of that concern does not necessarily imply that the issues raised are ‘non-questions’ (though they may be) […] Alien life is not a concern in Scripture but it would be a mistake to read any significance into the absence of reference to the existence and significance of life on other worlds. Arguments from silence are notoriously weak.’ [1]

However,  the Bible does have something to say about other non-human intelligent life forms:

2)  The Bible Says There Is Other Intelligent Life In This Universe

Namely, Spiritual Beings: Angels and Demons.

According to the Bible,  humanity is not the only created intelligent life form. Intelligent, but spiritual, beings – angels and demons – are also present. These beings are different from humans, in that they’re not made in ‘God’s image’. They’re a different kind of intelligent being, a part of the creation, but with a different relationship to God than us image-bearers.

And so, theologically speaking, just as there are intelligent spiritual beings in the universe – who don’t bear God’s image – in theory there could be other intelligent physical beings – who don’t bear God’s image.

But what about other ‘image-bearers’ – beings like us with a unique relationship to God? Is the Bible open to their existence?

3) The Proverbial Wookiee In the Room: If Chewbacca Was Real, Would He Also Be Made in God’s Image?

This is where things get a little more complex.

Without trying to confuse anyone, the key questions we need to ask are these:

a) Human beings, as creatures made in ‘God’s image’, occupy a unique place in the universe (Gen 1:26-28). Does that uniqueness automatically entail alone-ness? Are we the only image-bearers in the entire cosmos?

b) After the God-man Jesus Christ died on the cross, he was resurrected as a (divine) man (Luke 24:39-43). And he’ll remain a man – a God-man – for the rest of eternity (Heb 1:3-13). Does Christ’s eternal, resurrected human nature show that we are alone in our uniqueness – and therefore the only image-bearers in the universe?

After all, if there are other aliens made in God’s image, why would Christ have chosen to become – and remain – a human for all eternity, and not a proverbial Wookiee from Kashyyyk?

4) Another Possibility: Christ Dying For the Entire Cosmos

Including for other fallen alien image-bearers of God.

As if we haven’t speculated enough, here’s another option: the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Christ has a saving impact on all of the cosmos, including fallen extraterrestrial image bearers.

On thinker, John Davis, – drawing on the impact of Christs death and resurrection on the whole universe, from passages like Col 1:15-20, Romans 8:20 – puts it this way:

[T]he Pauline Christology of Col 1:15-20 makes it unnecessary to postulate additional incarnations or atonements in order to conceptualise the possible reconciliation of any alienated extraterrestrials elsewhere in the universe. The once-for-all incarnation and death of Christ on the Cross has already provided the basis for such a reconciliation (vv. 19, 20).’ [2]

To translate from academic speak, Davis is saying is that Christ’s death is so cosmic in its effect, that it could, in theory, be sufficient for all fallen image-bearers – not just humans.

Again, it’s speculative (to say the least!).

But it does provide a possible way of reconciling the existence of extraterrestrial life with the Bible.

The Best ‘Close Encounter’ Ever

People are clearly fascinated by the idea of extraterrestrial life.

Why is that?

Most likely, it’s because we all want something bigger, better,  more “out of this world” than our mundane, ordinary lives. And what better than an encounter with E.T. to give us that?  

And yet, there’s something even more life-changing on offer than a close encounter with an alien race: it’s a close encounter- not with mere creatures – but with the Maker and Lord of the Universe Himself. ‘

And better yet, we don’t need to find Him. He came to us, turning up on our doorstep: 

John 1:14  14  And the Word [Jesus] became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Jesus – the God-man –  is so much more glorious than any alien ever could be.

And He gives us life – real life, eternal life. A spiritually resurrected life now;  and a physically resurrected life when He returns to fix this universe.

That’s good news, which is ‘out of this world’.

That’s good news  worth sharing.

 

 

 

[1] Martin Thompson, ‘Extraterrestrial Life and the Cosmic Christ as Prototype’, SBET, 18/2 (2000):  162

[2] John Davis, quoted in Thompson, ‘Extraterrestrial Life’, 177.

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8 thoughts on “Does God Believe In Aliens?

  1. Jesus is our kinsman redeemer, we can only be redeemed by a kinsman – a perfect kinsman human redeemer who must also be Yahweh himself because only Yahwey is our redeemer, related to us by blood, descended from the first Adam and known as the second Adam. As such only humans, descended from Adam, qualify for Biblical redemption. “At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow and every tongue confess him as LORD” – that is Yahweh himself, considering it is a direct quote from the Old Testament. Hence intelligent physical aliens appear unlikely to exist or to be in need or even eligible for redemption.

    For those interested in delving further, I recommend the book “Alien Intrusion: UFOs and the evolution connection” by Gary Bates. This Christian book was an Amazon top 50 best seller. It appeals to UFO freaks but packs a solid gospel message and equips Christians with what they need to know to minister to UFO/new-age interested people.

      • I would also recommend the Bates resources. Excellent apologetics of scripture in regard to this issue. I would also comment that scripture, in one way or another, has the answers for every area of life, leaving no room really for the “silence” of scripture comments. One of the comments from Bates is that although you won’t find extra-terrestrial or ufo in scripture, it’s because it’s quite a modern /contemporary phenomenon easily aligned with the age of movies and the pursuit of non-christian religions.

        • Hi Dave!

          Thanks for chiming in, brother!

          I’ll check out the Bates resource, as it sounds interesting.

          As to the ‘Silence of Scripture’ comment, to clarify, I believe Scripture has answers to all the ‘important’ areas of life. But Scripture is silent on many other issues:

          E.g.

          – Should our country’s government be a republic, or a constitutional monarchy?
          – Should our country even be democratic? And if so, how much?
          – What’s the best form of church government? Baptist? Presbyterian? Congregationalist? Anglican? (Admittedly Scripture has more to say about church government than our country’s government, but the form it should take is still not definitely laid out).

          While answers to these questions might be inferred from the Bible, such inferences make them contestable, and therefore debatable, in a way that ‘God is Trinity’ is not debatable.

          And so, I wonder if the existence of aliens might fall into that category?

          Sure, the existence of alien image-bearers seems less likely the more I think about it, but non-image bearing physical beings? Who’s to say that God in His glory hasn’t placed some in the remote reaches of the Andromeda galaxy?

          Just some random thoughts, bro!

          Hope all is well,

          Akos

  2. Ellen B White one of the Seventh Day Adventist founders went on a galaxy trip.
    Mrs. White makes this reference to life on other planets, in Early Writings, pp. 39, 40:

    The Lord has given me a view of other worlds. Wings were given me, and an angel attended me from the city to a place that was bright and glorious. The grass of the place was living green, and the birds there warbled a sweet song. The inhabitants of the place were of all sizes; they were noble, majestic, and lovely. They bore the express image of Jesus, and their countenances beamed with holy joy, expressive of the freedom and happiness of the place. I asked one of them why they were so much more lovely than those on the earth. The reply was, “We have lived in strict obedience to the commandments of God, and have not fallen by disobedience, like those on the earth.” Then I saw two trees, one looked much like the tree of life in the city. The fruit of both looked beautiful, but of one they could not eat. They had power to eat of both, but were forbidden to eat of one. Then my attending angel said to me, “None in this place have tasted of the forbidden tree; but if they should eat, they would fall.” Then I was taken to a world which had seven moons. There I saw good old Enoch, who had been translated. On his right arm he bore a glorious palm, and on each leaf was written “Victory.” Around his head was a dazzling white wreath, and leaves on the wreath, and in the middle of each leaf was written “Purity,” and around the wreath were stones of various colors, that shone brighter than the stars, and cast a reflection upon the letters and magnified them. On the back part of his head was a bow that confined the wreath, and upon the bow was written “Holiness.” Above the wreath was a lovely crown that shone brighter than the sun. I asked him if this was the place he was taken to from the earth. He said, “It is not; the city is my home, and I have come to visit this place.” He moved about the place as if perfectly at home. I begged of my attending angel to let me remain in that place. I could not bear the thought of coming back to this dark world again. Then the angel said, “You must go back, and if you are faithful, you, with the 144,000, shall have the privilege of visiting all the worlds and viewing the handiwork of God.”

    I don’t agree with anything above

    I think the bible is really clear on that their is only one lot of beings that is humans that fall under Gods chosen people its echoed from the beginning to the end of the bible.

    Vanity & Conspiracy lay deep in the human heart

  3. Matthew 24:24-25 (ESV)

    24 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you beforehand.