Aliens verses Christians

5 03 2012

So as I was waiting for my staff meeting having water cooler conversation (without the water cooler) among 3 pastors, a youth group student, and a college student, the topic of aliens arose. So being a student of Apologetics myself, I posed an apologetic question, a question that I used to ponder back in middle school when I had no more manga to read and was bored out of my mind. If aliens really did exist, would Christianity still be true? Why or why not? OR to put it more personally: If, one day, you encountered an alien, would you denounce your religion (assuming Christianity but other religions are welcome too!)? Why or why not?

So before taking comments, which is what I would like people to do, there are some parameters that need to be agreed upon, and they are:

1) We assume that these extraterrestrials are intelligent beings, if not more at least just as much as humans.
2) We assume that there is no way of knowing whether ‘image of God’ applies for them.

Let the arguments commence! Comment away!




3 responses

5 03 2012
Scott Bryant

Okay. First, let me say this question is important. 10+ years ago, around the time the film “Signs” came out, I was at lunch in a college town (Athens, Georgia)with a church staff which included a pastor, a campus minister and a biblical counselor. We started talking about the question of whether aliens could exist or not. I’m going to skip some of the variety of views, but when I said maybe it’s not all that important, the pastor said, “Wait a minute”; he got up and went around the restaurant, stopping at every table; he came back and said, “Yep.” We said, “What?” He said, “Every person here said they think aliens exist.”

So at least for this reason–insofar as our society around us thinks or entertains that aliens exist–questions about aliens are important.

But even more important is how such questions pertain to fundamentals of biblical faith (i.e., Christianity). (I also owe these views to that restaurant discussion.)

So, cutting to the chase, I can’t answer your question, Paul. I know that’s no fun. But, honestly speaking, I can’t even entertain it–because God “is” and He is who He has revealed himself to be (which is a potentially confusing way of saying “Christianity is true”).

But reversing the question–“if Christianity is true, could aliens exist?”–I say “no.”

Genesis 1 points to humankind–made in God’s image, as you point out–as the pinnacle of His creation; they expressly appear at the center of his creation purposes. The Creator’s self-revelation is human oriented. The Bible portrays humans as distinct in their understanding and moral, relational capacity; and they are to have dominion over all the other creatures. The human being is unique; he and she have no peer.

And as the history of the cosmos plays out, God the Son became a man; he didn’t become anything else. Jesus didn’t come to save aliens. And his work is said to be cosmic in scope. (Consider, for example, John 3:17: “For God did not send his Son into the world [Greek, “cosmos”] to condemn the world [cosmos], but to save the world [cosmos] through him.”)

Okay. So there are these other intelligent and moral agents–created beings–in Scripture…the strange serpent in Genesis 3, for example (Satan, as John 8:44 and Revelation 12:9 and other passages indicate)…plus angels…creatures that worship God in his heavenly court…strange beasts. The Bible doesn’t tell us a ton about them. They come across as inhabiting a spiritual and unseen realm, even while they really do interact somehow with humanity and this cosmos. All told, they always are clearly FOR God and His purposes or AGAINST God and His purposes.

They are: 1. ancient, and 2. well aware of us. They aren’t portrayed as something God means for us to “discover”–nor even have as the subject of our pursuit or fascination in this world (cosmos). So they don’t really fit what people usually mean by “aliens.” (If you like: they’re not aliens; they’re already here.)

That may not seem like a very fun answer to some. But if that’s the case, maybe this it’s because you’re like me: I’m often downgrading the goodness of God’s creation right in front of me. This world–and our hearts–are so fallen now, that it’s easy to bypass appreciating blessings and to neglect that the God of life has always purposed fullness of life (and “fun”) for people made in His image. I’m often going after my own notions of “fun” that only amount to empty idolatry. New creation has begun in Jesus. God beckons us to join in. And the Bible promises that the great completion of it will be far beyond what we can imagine.

6 03 2012
Paul Park

Thanks Scott. Your reply is end game. I particularly like your premise, “God the Son became a man; he didn’t become anything else. Jesus didn’t come to save aliens. And his work is said to be cosmic in scope.” I think it is very convincing.

But just to add, I think these questions are actually good and beneficial to entertain, particularly for those who already believe. I think it is generally good to challenge our faith, it forces us to know what we really believe in. And it’s a plus if those questions are fun, but fun isn’t primary. Plus, I like to hear where people stand, without pressures of ‘having to be correct’.

6 03 2012
Scott Bryant

Yeah. I do agree the questions are good to entertain.

And yeah, I admit to succumbing to the pressure of “having to be correct” when I wrote. Writing (especially if it’s going to be on the internet) does that to me. I enjoyed the in-person conversation I referenced much more!

Btw, I like many alien stories. My son spends half the day on Star Wars stuff, and when I’m with him, I’m usually playing along, too. I think they can be a good thing–like talking-animal stories and stories about hobbits, among other things.

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