There is so much we don’t know about the solar system, our galaxy, and the universe. What all else is out there? Are there aliens we should be afraid of, or instead concerned for? All we can be sure of is that God has created it all, and he won’t violate his own nature. So drawing from scientific observations and Scripture, what are the Biblical possibilities about alien life?
- There’s a certain amount of levity that comes naturally with this topic.
- But it’s increasingly important to think soberly and biblically about it.
- We are being inundated with UFO news from mainstream press (not tabloids).
- NASA researchers (not just a few SETI believers) are actively searching for alien bio-signatures and techno-signatures.
- With a widespread decrease in organized religion comes an increase in “spirituality.”
- Much of this overlaps with alien beliefs, even alien cults, especially when they speak of other dimensions.
- We will look at three possible views about alien life from a Biblical perspective.
- Christians have different views about extraterrestrial life. Some of these conflict with the Bible.
- One such view is that God has not yet created life elsewhere, but he will in the future.
- Others wonder if life elsewhere does not yet exist yet, but speculate that it could evolve.
- Here we’ll not explore the UFO phenomenon, which we’ve already explored in episode 22 and episode 47.
1. God did not create life on any other planets.
- Christian fundamentalists and skeptical scientists both share this view.
- So far as we know, it’s the correct view, because there is no evidence to the contrary.
- It’s based on a very literal reading of Genesis 1:
Then God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night. They will serve as signs for seasons for days and years” … God placed them in the expanse of the sky to provide light on the earth.
—Genesis 1:14 and 17, CSB
- Many Christians believe all the stars and galaxies have neither life nor the possibility of life.
- These only exist to provide starlight on the Earth, and to inspire our calendar system.
- Or God may have made worlds to support human life in the future, but reserves Earth for life today.
- Christians may quote Scriptures about the centrality of Earth and its lands in God’s plan:
For this is what the Lord says—
he who created the heavens, he is God; he who fashioned and made the earth, he founded it; he did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited—he says: “I am the Lord, and there is no other.”
—Isaiah 45:18, NIV
- Christians who believe this would be instantly disproven by the discovery of life on one planet.
- After such a discovery, Christians who don’t hold this belief loosely could have severely damaged faith.
2. God created other life, but nothing intelligent.
- God may have created life on other planets, during his six-day creation.
- That creative act wouldn’t be mentioned in Genesis (like angels are not mentioned)
- In this view, however, none of this life is intelligent. It’s just more plant and animal life.
Then God said, “Let the water swarm with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky.” So God created the large sea-creatures and every living creature that moves and swarms in the water, according to their kinds. He also created every winged creature according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them: “Be fruitful, multiply, and fill the waters of the seas, and let the birds multiply on the earth.”
—Genesis 1:20–22, CSB
- This brings up a fun possibility: if humans are the only intelligent species, the galaxy is ours to colonize.
- What about Jesus’s words about gathering his elect from “the ends of heaven” in Mark 13?
He will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.
—Mark 13:27, CSB
- If this happens, would this be before or after Jesus returns?
- See Stephen’s article at the original SpecFaith blog: “Will Christians Colonize the Cosmos?“
3. God created other intelligent species, but with a different plan than humanity.
- In this view, we peer out into the galaxy and expect to find more of God’s handiwork, including other intelligent beings.
- This view is governed by biblical assumptions, such as the truth that God is free to do whatever he wants.
- At the same time, we know God will not make certain choices, such as allowing Christ to die again.
… We know that Christ, having been raised from the dead, will not die again. Death no longer rules over him.
—Romans 6:9, CSB
- We already know that God has created other intelligent beings: angels (a name that describes many spiritual beings).
- Could we find other intelligent biological beings? If so, would they have the image of God on them?
- If they exist, maybe they were never tempted, so they never fell. Perhaps they are like angels and cannot sin.
- Or, if they exist, maybe they were affected by the Fall (or chose to sin). Perhaps they are like demons and won’t be saved.
- Or, if they exist, they are fallen and also have some means of redemption by Christ. Perhaps they are like humans.
I have other sheep that are not from this sheep pen; I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. Then there will be one flock, one shepherd.
—John 10:16, CSB
- Most likely Jesus refers to the Gentiles. But what would alien humans be, but the ultimate Gentiles?
- Either way, if we ever had the chance to share the gospel with a sentient alien, we absolutely should, just in case.
- Old-earth creationists would say that God created intelligent life elsewhere, but it’s too far away to reach us.
- Young-earth creationists (if they accepted alien existence) would say that God created intelligent life elsewhere, but it’s too young to reach us.
- Zookeeper: God might have other intelligent species and is protecting them from us (see C. S. Lewis’s Ransom Trilogy).
- Guardian: God may have created other intelligent species, but is keeping us isolated and protected from them (for now).
- Creatures described in Revelation 9:1–12 may indicate that God created other intelligent species, and will deploy them as means of judgment.
Robin wrote about episode 61, about edgier science fiction:
Great episode. I appreciated the mention of Chris Walley’s Lamb Among the Stars series. Although I found the writing a little weak at points, overall I loved that series for its melding of science fiction and a Christian worldview. Didactic Christian fiction repels me because it doesn’t seem to accept questioning and doubt as an integral part of faith, and secular SF fascinates me but often leaves a bleak taste in the mind as it rejects any notion of deep mystery in existence. SF remains my favourite genre, but I especially enjoy SF that considers the role of faith as we explore the universe on both the micro and macro levels.
Another Christian SF writer who pushes the boundaries of “Christian” fiction is John C. Wright. Would you discuss his work sometime?
Next on Fantastical Truth
“Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch.” That’s been the mantra of many during the coronavirus pandemic. It’s also the regulations the apostle Paul dismisses in Colossians 2. Now that even federal agencies are saying it’s okay to unmask if you’ve been vaccinated, why do some folks insist they must still follow moral masking regulations or else “someone could be tempted to sin”? And why did many Christians reject protective measures before even earlier? This topic could be dangerous. But it’s necessary for Christians to understand one another, and to ask how our own backstories with legalism and grace, and our secret imaginations, often influence our choices in what we do and wear.
Explore the best Christian-made fantasy, sci-fi, and beyond, and apply these stories' meanings in the real world Jesus calls us to serve.