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Aliens and the Bible

Should we leave room for the possibility of sentient aliens?

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Published: 29 September 2018 (GMT+10)

Should we leave room for the possibility of aliens? The closer we look at biblical theology, the clearer it becomes that the Bible conflicts with the existence of sentient aliens. Even the history of science is evidence against aliens. M.F. writes:


I’d like to comment on Creation Magazine Live! episode S07E07 with Richard Fangrad and Matt Bondy. I really appreciate the show produced by CMI. You guys are careful with some big topics and do a good job in navigating the issues. On this episode, Richard and Matt did very well at explaining how the pro-UFO biblical interpretations are faulty.

However, I see a problem with episode S07E07. It is a matter of interpretive overreach. I should confess up front that I hold no biblical position on the existence of alien life, yet scientifically I lean toward a “no aliens” conclusion. Among the many stories and photos and video footage of supposed alien encounters, there is simply too much leeway for interpretation and too little means of verification. With any evidence confirming the credibility of the bible to skeptics, those skeptics typically object for reasons of contamination, fraud, mistaken interpretation, wishful thinking, etc. These objections apply to the idea of extraterrestrial life as well. Scientifically, our culture tends to ignore the scientific standard when suggesting alien life could exist. After all, skepticism is touted as the mark of a thinking person (at least on matters of religion), yet there is often the antithesis of skepticism when speaking on matters of extraterrestrial life and evolution. Given the total lack of empirically verifiable evidence for extraterrestrial life, one might get the impression science has nothing to do with it.

Before I address the overreach on the topic of aliens, I should first recall an historical example where the Church has caused itself problems by this sort of overreach.

The ancient Greeks invented the geocentric view of the universe centuries before Christ. Much later, while there was still no better scientific explanation yet available, the Church tried to interpret scripture in light of the geocentric view. In general there is nothing wrong with this approach, as the “book of God’s works” (as some call creation) should match up with the book of God’s words. Both stem from Almighty God for his glory and his purposes. When understood properly, there is never any contradiction between the two.

However, when the heliocentric view became accepted, the marriage of scripture to the geocentric view became a problem. For those who believe and trust in the Lord, it was simply a matter of adjustment to biblical interpretation to account for new knowledge. But this incident has the unfortunate side effect of creating a weapon for skeptics. Granted, skeptics often have intellectually dishonest objections to scripture and theology. This is an example, as some have such an historically ignorant perspective as to blame Christianity itself for inventing the geocentric view in the first place. Setting up a straw man argument to make it easy to knock it down is easy for all of us, not only anti-theistic skeptics. My point is, the Church to this day suffers a stereotype of being anti-science. This is partly due to historical examples of overreach such as the geocentric view of the universe, and modern examples of bad science masquerading as truth which conflicts with the scriptures.

I want to caution CMI against overreaching on other matters, such as the topic of extraterrestrial life. In episode S07E07, Richard and Matt mentioned some important details I want to bring attention to.

For one, they mentioned bacterial/microbial life is biblically possible, but intelligent extraterrestrial life is not. We should realize the very possibility of God creating life of any kind on alien planets could easily be taken as evidence for evolution, something which CMI is devoted to refuting rather than supporting. Even this possibility is riddled with scientific problems I’ve already mentioned. And of course if microbial life were actually discovered (no easy task) it would widely be interpreted as evidence that intelligent life could exist elsewhere in the cosmos - because of the evolutionary mindset.

Another point mentioned addressed the possibility of superior alien intellect, since if they have reached Earth from distant stars, this would clearly indicate superior technology. However, it is entirely possible delays in the development of human civilization (such as the global flood) could explain our lack of advanced space travel today. To my knowledge, we still don’t know how the ancient Egyptian pyramids were built (despite Erich von Daniken’s claims). Does our inability to explain this suggest superior intellect of ancient peoples or does it suggest lost knowledge?

I think the biggest problem raised in interpreting the scriptures as to suggest there is no intelligent life elsewhere rests on the question of how this could affect the Gospel message. As Romans 8 tells us, all creation is cursed because of sin. But on the matter of salvation, we should also address biblical teachings of grafting in and adoption.

As Richard and Matt rightly pointed out, John 10:16 mentions the “other sheep” included in God’s kingdom were Gentiles, since the Jews thought salvation belonged only to them. Romans 11 describes this using the term “grafted in”. Why this analogy? We should leave room for the possibility that Christ as our “kinsman redeemer” could mean something similar, that Gentiles are NOT kinsman of Christ, but are grafted in and made children of God. Likewise, in Ephesians 1 and Romans 8 it is explained that the Christian is an adopted child of God, not a kinsman like the Jews. This leads us to Romans 6:10 where the bible teaches Christ died once for all.

While I don’t think alien life exists on other planets, since we don’t know for a fact, I want to leave room for it in my interpretation of scripture. After all, if intelligent alien life is discovered elsewhere, how then should we interpret scripture? What would that do to the perception of biblical teaching (among believers and non-believers alike)? I think we should leave room for spiritual adoption and grafting in.

To avoid overreach on matters where we really don’t have enough information (such as the geocentric view in centuries past), I urge CMI to carefully parse the scriptures so as to leave room for new discoveries on the topic of aliens. Having an opinion is one thing, claiming scripture backs that opinion is a different matter. It’s much easier to refute bad science and faulty claims of evolution and an ancient universe because there is empirical scientific evidence we can refer to. This is not the case with aliens.

Thank you for your ministry and the effort you devote to it. Please be sure to be careful in all things you guys address.

CMI’s Shaun Doyle responds:

Aliens and evolution

First, you raise the distinction we make between intelligent alien life and alien bacteria (or even bunnies). And yes, if any form of life were found elsewhere in the universe, evolutionists would regard it as evidence for evolution. Why? They think that if it evolved here, it could evolve elsewhere. Thus, they would interpret the existence of life elsewhere as evidence that it did.

But that’s clearly not the only way to interpret the evidence. We’d simply say that it’s evidence God created life elsewhere in the universe. Why? Our supposition is that wherever life appears, it needs a divine hand to create it. So, the question is: which assumption is better: chemical evolution or design? It turns out that more instances of life in the universe doesn’t change the debate. Design is still the only causally adequate game in town, in our experience. Thus, design would still be the best explanation of life’s origin, even if it originated multiple times in the universe.

Technology and aliens

Regarding technology, there’s a steeper problem: physics is not friendly to interstellar space travel (let alone intergalactic space travel): Alien visitors to Earth?, More space travel problems: g-forces, and Warp drive. So, even in terms of physics, we have sufficient reason to be highly suspicious of any claims to interstellar visitors to Earth.

But, I don’t think interstellar travelling aliens is likely, even if physics were friendly to the idea. Why? There are good historical reasons why scientifically driven technological development only arose in the last 500 years or so. First, it began in Christian Western Europe. Belief in the biblical God was practically necessary for science to arise at all. And science only blossomed after God’s Messiah came. Why, when biblical faith (which grounds so much of science) had been around for a lot longer than Christianity? There are many reasons, but I suggest that the end of the ritual purity codes of the Mosaic covenant was a crucial factor.

In the Mosaic covenant, since people became unclean by touching certain animal carcasses (e.g. Leviticus 11:4–8), it would’ve discouraged them from studying their anatomy. Indeed, the whole ritual purity system oriented people toward a categorization of nature centred on social/religious order, rather than towards an investigation of the physical order God put into the cosmos. Why? To teach people about God’s holiness, our sin, and the divide that makes between us and God (Hebrews 9:6–10). Learning such a lesson is more important than learning about the physical structure of the world (Is God obscure and arbitrary in what He wants from us?). And the physical world was the most convenient tool available to teach us about our sin and God’s holiness. Thus, so long as physical objects were used to teach about God’s holiness, people were barred from accessing many objects of scientific inquiry.

So, would alien cultures need a ritual purity system to relate to God before Christ came? If they’re sinners with any hope for redemption, surely they would. But if that’s true, that would block scientific access to physical objects for them just as it did for us. But since Christ was only incarnated once, and only died once (Romans 6:10, Colossians 1:20), their ritual purity system must have lasted as long as ours did. And for science to rise after that, we must allow time for the spread of Christianity, for it to take hold of the minds of the right sorts of people, and for those people to organize themselves appropriately (e.g. in ways like the university system of Europe in the middle ages) and work together to start investigating the world scientifically. The point? There are good historical reasons why it took so long for science to blossom, even after Christ came. This would likely apply to any alien race, as well. Indeed, it may even take longer for aliens, precisely because Jesus died here!

Salvation and aliens

Now, can aliens fit into the biblical scheme of salvation? We need to be careful about using analogies to drive our theology. Paul’s ‘olive tree’ analogy could be pressed into service against the possibility of alien salvation. For instance, while Gentiles are wild olives, they’re still olives. Aliens, though, would be figs or ferns in this analogy. If they could be grafted in (which itself is rather odd), the olive tree would no longer be a pure olive tree. Analogies, when pressed beyond their bounds, may not prove helpful for our cause.

And the interesting thing is that my extension of the analogy does track quite well with more direct Scriptural teaching. While Gentiles are not Jesus’ Abrahamic family, we are Jesus’ Adamic family. Indeed, salvation is explicitly extended in Christ to all the Adamic family (Romans 5:12–21, 1 Corinthians 15:20-22, 45–49) because Jesus is the last Adam. And that is a crucial limit put on the redemptive family of God in Hebrews 2:14–17:

Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.

Of course, this passage contrasts angels with “the offspring of Abraham”, but there’s plenty of biblical precedent for including Gentiles in that category in New Testament terms (Romans 4:11–12, Galatians 3:29). However, Hebrews 2:16 contrasts “the offspring of Abraham” with a class of moral agents Jesus does not provide redemptive help for: the angels.

The question, of course, is whether aliens can be excluded from the angelic ‘no help’ category and included in salvation with us. But the passage makes it very tough to include any moral creatures other than humans within the scope of salvation. Why? Hebrews points out the need for the Saviour to share in the flesh and blood of his brothers. In fact, it says that “he had to be made like his brothers in every respect”. This is more than simply taking on flesh; it includes taking on human flesh. Indeed, it involves taking on Adamic flesh. The ‘brothers’ language, combined with ‘flesh and blood’ and ‘in every respect’, especially in light of the salvation of Gentiles being Paul’s ‘mystery’ (Colossians 1:27, Ephesians 3:1–6) and Jesus’ ‘other sheep’ (John 10:16), and the church being the body and bride of Christ and thus the central focus of God’s redemptive plan, makes aliens fundamentally alien to the NT scheme of salvation. The logic is simple: since Jesus is a descendant of Adam, only descendants of Adam get access to salvation.

Thus, we do believe that we have good biblical as well as scientific reasons for rejecting the possibility of intelligent aliens in this world. For more information, please see Did God create life on other planets?, Is the Bible falsifiable? And would a real live ET do it?, and Is the Bible falsifiable? And would a real live ET do it? (Round 2), Does denying the existence of alien life ‘limit God’?, as well as our resource Alien Intrusion.

M.F. responded:

Your well considered response is appreciated. I’m willing to wait for that.

While I actually concur with your argument, there is still one significant omission in it, on a question I asked before: how would we interpret scripture IF intelligent alien life WERE discovered? While I also interpret scripture based on scripture (as scripture interprets itself), since it doesn’t directly answer the question of alien life, shouldn’t we work out two different interpretations to allow for both possibilities? I would encourage you to avoid a “not worth considering” attitude here. I have an argument as to why atheism is not only intellectually lazy, and not only intellectually fraudulent, but anti-intellectual. That argument begins with the “not worth considering” attitude so many atheists share. It is their guiding light, since their pursuit of knowledge is so often a veneer meant to mask their true goal: the rejection of the one true God. This “not worth considering” attitude often shows up with the atheist touting scientific evidence for this or that, but when pressed to actually investigate that evidence, they are typically reluctant to do so. This laziness/reluctance itself is a tool I use to urge the atheist to open their mind.

Your explanation as to why science developed so late is very close to my own view as well. However, on the matter of alien life, you raise an intriguing point that could work FOR alien scientific development. Your point about the alien need for a means of dealing with sin I agree with. That system may even be similar to the method we find in our Old Testament. But there is a question on this: where would aliens get such a system? You’ve alluded to it already: “a ritual purity system to relate to God”. Obviously, to have that system God would have revealed himself to those aliens. But since Christ died once for all, this seems to imply God would have revealed the future history of Christ to those aliens as well (as prophesy). That would mean aliens would have been introduced to the notion of alien life long ago, giving them ample reason to investigate nature and learn how to travel to a distant world to find the home of the Christ. If aliens showed up at earth, for me it would be both eerie and comforting to find them (once the language barrier is broken) preaching the gospel to us.

Keep in mind, I’ve already admitted I don’t believe there is alien life out there (not even bacterial). But IF alien live WERE discovered, especially intelligent life, I think it best to be theologically prepared. However, part of that preparation would also be preemptive. There is so much cheating in modern science, and intellectual laziness in our culture, allowing them to treat speculation as fact (given so many people think aliens are actually out there despite ZERO scientific evidence) is a battleground in itself. But IF intelligent alien life WERE discovered, we should be ready for it.

Having to keep two tracks of thought shouldn’t be that difficult for you and me. Don’t we already do this? We already work to understand the secular view of nature (which is deeply flawed and biased) as well a biblically consistent view of nature. I just don’t want Christianity caught hitching its teachings to a natural matter scripture doesn’t really address and we find ourselves in a similar situation as the geocentric view of the solar system.

CMI’s Shaun Doyle responds:

A theological ‘contingency plan’ for sentient aliens?

Scriptural silence on a matter in terms of what it directly states/teaches is not enough reason to avoid drawing a doctrinal conclusion on a matter. If there are logical implications of biblical teaching that conflict with an idea, that is also sufficient reason to reject it. For instance, we embrace the Trinity and reject deviations from it not because the Bible gives an explicit summary statement of the Trinity, but because the Trinity is derived from the overall witness of Scripture to the personal nature of the one true God (Our Triune God). In like manner, because the Bible says that Jesus saves us because He is the last Adam, only Adamites can be saved. That rules out any supposed aliens, since they’re not Adamites. As such, I see no point in developing a theological ‘contingency plan’ for something I’m confident Scripture conflicts with. In other words, Scripture itself counts as (authoritative) evidence against sentient aliens. Please see Is the Bible falsifiable? and Is the Bible falsifiable? (Round 2).

And on these potential conflicts between science and the Bible, each ‘conflict’ must be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. Geocentrism within the Bible was indeed an interpretive overreach, since the Scriptures underdetermine commitment to a geocentric cosmology. Many people think the conflict between Genesis and deep time is likewise merely apparent. We disagree. Why? Unlike the geocentrism issue, there is no other proper way to read the relevant biblical texts, and much of the Bible’s theology of redemption hangs on the historical chronology and event sequence of Genesis 1–11 (The Galileo excuse). We’re saying that the same applies to the existence of aliens. Indeed, many of the biblical theological themes that rule out pre-Adamic people (a major issue in the origins debate) also rule out the existence of sentient aliens for the same reasons. Salvation is in the last Adam, meaning that salvation only pertains to Adamites. That rules out both pre-Adamites and sentient aliens. Thus, it’s not that we regard aliens as “not worth considering”; it’s that we have considered them, and regard them as conflicting with Scripture.

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Aliens and prophetic revelation

On the aliens receiving prophecy about Jesus’ coming, what sort of ‘prophecy’ would they need to have? It seems like they would need the entirety of biblical redemptive history handed to them on a prophetic platter right from the start! This would not be the sort of prophecy typically seen in the OT and referenced in the NT, filled as it is with images and types. But rather something at least as complete and clear as the whole Bible. Why? Jesus makes no sense apart from the OT, so if they don’t have that knowledge alongside knowledge of Jesus, then they won’t grasp the true import of Jesus.

And, along with that would of course come knowledge of sentient alien life (from their perspective, we would be the aliens, of course). So, not only do they get the entirety of our history of redemption handed to them on a prophetic platter, but they also get a significant scientific thesis handed to them on that same platter! In other words, they receive more revelation from God than we do in our entire history of redemption. It’s essentially as if they get to watch the movie that we had to live out over thousands of years.

But that raises the question: why didn’t God use this method for humans who never had a chance to hear the Gospel preached? The only justification that comes to my mind is that they weren’t the ones to mess creation up; that was our fault. But in that scenario, why operate at the level of species? A 2nd century Amerindian had no more access to evangelists than aliens would’ve, and he was no more circumstantially responsible for Adam’s sin than aliens would’ve been. If God gave the prophetic equivalent of the whole Bible to aliens, I don’t see why He wouldn’t also have done it for humans who couldn’t otherwise hear about Jesus. Since He clearly didn’t, that seems to me to count as evidence against your prophecy idea.

Aliens and Pentecost

But prophecy isn’t all the aliens would need. They would also need access to the Holy Spirit along with this ‘Bible download’ prophecy. After all, one of the distinctions between the Mosaic and Messianic covenants is the promised Holy Spirit indwelling all God’s people, strengthening them for true obedience. But Jesus said, “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you” (John 16:7). For us, Jesus had to return to the Father before the Spirit would come, since Jesus would only send the Spirit once His ‘first coming’ work on Earth was complete. Not so with aliens, apparently. This doesn’t work; Jesus must be at the Father’s right hand as the God-man for the Spirit to come. Nor can this be avoided by any ‘they didn’t fall’ gambit, either: Jesus must come, go back, and then send the Spirit. If Jesus’ ‘first coming’ work wasn’t complete, sending the Spirit had no objective basis to it (Does God judge sinners?). So, if aliens got the Spirit before that fateful Pentecost in Acts 2, Jesus didn’t send Him.

Sentient aliens: ruled out by the biblical history of redemption

The more I examine Scripture and the mechanics of the history of redemption, the more I see that it really does all revolve around us as a storied species (Why did God choose just Israel?). Angels serve us (Hebrews 1:14). Christ became one of us. He’s the Last Adam. He became like us to make us like Him. All of this implies that the humanity of Jesus is why only humanity can be saved. Aliens don’t fit in that redemptive history anywhere, as your ‘prophecy’ scenario makes abundantly clear. My objections to sentient aliens, thus, bear much the same flavour as CMI’s objections to deep time and evolution: it conflicts with the redemptive history of Scripture.

Helpful Resources

Readers’ comments

Joel L.
This exchange of e-mails is, I think, a great example of ‘iron sharpening iron’. I think you both came away with a deeper understanding of what - and why - you believes.

The one - possible - chink I can see for the finality of your position is the ‘open-handed’ nature of the question of _how_ Jesus’ death and resurrection effected our salvation, and more pertinently how that might relate to the general curse and eventual restoration of creation. Consider that our broken relationship with God brought suffering on all creation, that the disciples are commissioned to go into all the ‘kosmos’ and preach the good news to every ‘creature’, and the sacramental imagery of the birds of the air called to eat at the ‘great supper of the Lord’ at the ‘battle’ of Armageddon

One might even suggest a ‘maybe’ from scripture itself; Balaam’s(sp?)Donkey! The psibillity that the Donkey’s conciousness was enlightened, and it physically enabled to voice it’s new awareness is not disallowed by the by the text( though perhaps by the silence of history elsewhere of what came after), and if once - possibly - for God’s own purpose, from a creature as much heir to suffering, death and an instinct distorted from it’s original design as any other creatures’ why not elsewhere? God’s birthing of new moral agency into a fallen order, with humanity a special role in the dispensation of His grace, is surely no less within God’s perogerative than the open-handed questions of total depravity an double-predestination?

Granted this is all one long, HIGHLY spuculative limb - but I think it’s still more than absolutely nothing - enough to read of Narnia or Hobbits without checking Scripture at the door, at least. ;-)
Shaun Doyle
Thanks for the comments. First, why keep looking for loopholes? Why even worry about this? Exoplanets and sci-fi. Sci-fi fills our imaginations with aliens. And what are all those exoplanets for in the big, wide universe, if not for life? They're there to declare the glory of God (Psalm 19:1), but they don't do it with speech we can hear (Psalm 19:3). The size of the universe isn't a testimony to the possibility of aliens; it's a testimony to the enormity of God compared to us. See Did God create life on other planets? Otherwise why is the universe so big?

Now, to the specifics of your comment. On the use of passages like Colossians 1:23 and Mark 16:15, please see Is the whole creation fallen?

Second, whatever we do with Balaam's donkey, it's in a different class to aliens. It's mouth was opened once for a specific purpose; it wasn't made to be that way, as would be the case with sentient aliens. There's no indicator that the donkey had any sort of sustained sentience needed to trust God for salvation (which is more than a mere one-off decision, but rather a sustained relationship of trust), unlike supposed aliens. The donkey had a clear relationship with humanity, the main subject of the history of redemption. Aliens don't and can't. The donkey played a role in the history of redemption; aliens haven't and can't. It's one animal; aliens are a whole class of supposedly sentient beings. Balaam's donkey and aliens are apples and oranges regarding gospel issues.

Finally, fictional worlds like Narnia or Middle Earth wouldn't necessarily work according to the same redemptive historical logic as the real world. Could we imagine a redemptive history that would allow multiple separate sentient species to all have access to salvation? Maybe, but that's irrelevant for redemptive history as it actually happened. And that's the issue: sentient aliens are impossible given Scripture as it stands.
King T.
From a theological point of view I do not think we need to have any contingency plans for aliens. The reason as I see it is quite simple.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth and all that in them is. Then there was rebellion in the heavenly realms and a third of the angels (the rebels) were cast out of heaven and specifically forced to come to earth. Thus if we are going to look for aliens, they are here already - known as demons. We know that angelic beings real and are very powerful - as witnessed in their overwhelming interactions with armies in the Israelite history.

Now since the sinful nature was activated by Satan's presence on earth, and since one can assume the bible is true in what it says regarding the angelic rebellion, it follows that sin was only spread on earth and nowhere else in the universe. Hence it would be a reasonable assumption that even if there were other living beings elsewhere in the universe they would not have been misled by Satan and hence they would not need any redemption from sin.
Sin is confined to earth because the presence of Satan and his hordes is confined to this planet only. So there is no need to be concerned about any possible aliens who might need redemption elsewhere in the universe.
That's just my twopence on this issue.
Shaun Doyle
We became sinners through Adam's sin, not Satan's presence on earth. Adam and Eve could choose to sin before the Fall, regardless of Satan's presence. If God gave Adam and the angels the possibility to sin, then surely the same would apply to any aliens. And the effects of Adam's sin were cosmic in scope: The Fall: A cosmic catastrophe. Aliens wouldn't have escaped the effects of Adam's Fall. See Did God create life on other planets? and Is the whole creation fallen?
Mark W.
In a time of booming exoplanet discovery, I think this is an important topic for which Christians are to be ready with answers. Even if the exoplanets turn out to be uninhabitable, the sheer number are generating lots of questions. As a group, we believers seem to be spread across various opinions. My own is that if there were/are sentient (actually, sapient) aliens then God would simply enter into their lineage and save them as required. Jesus died once for all (all Adamites that is) and the Word could surely be made flesh into any other lineage he chose. Yes, we are special because we are in the image of God. Looking of the variety of human construction we know this quality must be more than a single physical appearance, it is something much deeper. If the aliens had the same deep quality they would simply be our brothers and sisters but by a different physical appearance, or mode, if you will. This does not make us any less special, especially to God. Now, the Bible does not say such cosmic relatives exist, but I for one am not going declare that God has limits in this area. In summary, I would be surprised if there was life on other worlds, and I would be extremely surprised, even shocked, if it was sapient life - but for the reasons I've given, such a discovery would not trouble my faith in Jesus in the slightest! To God be the glory.
Shaun Doyle
Colossians 1:20 directly contradicts the idea that Jesus died, or will die, multiple times for multiple races: Colossians 1:20 (ESV): "through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross [emphases added]." Jesus didn't die once for each race; He died once for all creation. And we know he will never die again (Romans 6:9). But only Adamites have the privilege of accessing salvation based on Jesus' death (Hebrews 2:16). The rest of creation will be liberated from its bondage to decay, of course (Romans 8:19-23). But that's not salvation from the personal condemnation of sin (Romans 8:1), which is a problem only for moral agents. And it's a problem for moral agents whether they are divine image bearers or not. In denying the possibility of sentient aliens, we're not limiting God; we're drawing out the implications of Scripture.

Discovering exoplanets only seems important for this issue because our culture is saturated with ideas about aliens. It's not as if the more exoplanets we discover, the more likely ET life becomes. Life only exists where God created it. What happens, though, is that people start wondering: doesn't it seem like a waste of 'real estate' for God to have just us in the universe?

But why not instead be informed by Psalm 19 about the size of the universe? Though it doesn't itself speak audibly (v. 3), it's there to proclaim God's glory (v. 1). And as Solomon declared of God "heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you" (1 Kings 8:27). The bigger the universe is, the greater the impression that leaves on us about the sheer enormity of our God. It also should amaze us that he pays us so much attention: "When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?" (Psalm 8:3-4). The size of the universe should humble us, not set us buzzing about imaginary aliens that would conflict with the history of redemption. See Did God create life on other planets?
Jeff P.
"I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?"
--John 3:12
Shaun Doyle
That doesn't concern aliens. Just because it says "heavenly things", that doesn't mean Jesus is talking about aliens on other planets. He's clearly talking about the heaven He came from, i.e. God's presence. And no, Jesus was not an alien.
Paul S.
In the lengthy discussion of the possibility of alien life the "no need of [salvific] help" option is mentioned merely in passing, and apparently dismissed without serious consideration. This appears to me to be a significant error. We know from Scripture that angels sometimes appear to men, and may do so in various ways (cf. the Heb 13:2 warning that one may have entertained angels unawares). It is at the least plausible that some encounters with angels could be interpreted, from the standpoint of the human party to the meeting, as an encounter with an "alien." Strictly speaking, this would be a correct interpretation since angelic beings are certainly "alien" to the human form, not to mention that their respective habitats differ. It is not at all implausible that aliens, in the form of angels, have been in contact with members of humanity in recent times as well as in Biblical times.
Shaun Doyle
By 'alien', I clearly mean 'extraterrestrial'; i.e. biological creatures with sentience akin to ours that come from another planet in the physical universe. Angels are not 'aliens' in that sense. Indeed, angels are spirits, and so are not under the bondage to corruption curse that the physical creation suffers under. Aliens, however, would be; hence the biblical problem with their existence. See Did God create life on other planets? And on angels as ETs, please see Alien Intrusion and Alien Intrusion: Unmasking a Deception.
John V.
We would have to simply ask them and then decide if it is truth or deception.
Shaun Doyle
How do you plan to interview things that don't exist? And if you're referring to alien abduction experiences, please see Aliens, evolution and the occult and How to deal with experiencers.
Dale S.
Christian greetings!
To believe in aliens from other planets or solar systems is a lie. We need to take heed as born again Bible-believing Christians that God created the earth and put man (Adam) and woman (Eve) on it for His purpose (Revelation 4:11). We are in the image of God. The aliens you see in books and movies don't even come close to looking like us. The UFO's and aliens people think they see are from the "darkness in high places" (Ephesians 6:12). These spirit (devils) beings are here to blind the minds of people ( 2 Corinthians 4:3-4)) to the truth of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and the redemption story (Acts 4:12),(Romans 6:23), (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)),(Ephesians 2:8-9).
Sincerely in Christ,
Dale S.
Richard C.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 reminds us that all Scripture is God-breathed and thoroughly equips the man of God for every good work. It explains our relationship to God, angels, evil spirits, people, the animal and mineral creation. It does not tell us how to relate to aliens. Are we to show hospitality? Can we eat them? Should we consider ourselves to be their inferiors or equals? Will we participate in a war of the worlds? Will it be ok if I submit to their experiments or dining upon me? I think biblical silence on this matter is evidence that I will never encounter a true alien and need not worry about it.
Deborah F.
It is funny how you religious set agendas want to sick so closely to your beliefs that you tell God and oh yes even Lucifer himself how they are to do things and what the Bible Has to say about things of this kind of nature. If you see you believe. lol Sounds a bit like the doubting Thomas and lack of faith in the ONe true God you say you believe in. The God in the Bible allowed the Fallen Angles to choose human Wive and they made EVIL GIANTS>> What makes you think Satan Would not use our fascination to put his Demons into so-called Aliens Bodies. Do you even believe in the God of Abraham, and Jaboc? My God Has ALWAYS SURPRISE ME AT EVERY TURN OF MY LIFE. And I imagine he will again. I will never Tell God what he is to do or what is ok with me, I say instead" ok my KING WHAT"S the Next ADVENTURE you are GOING TO allow me to See or Go through. Just like Mosses and David. God NEVER did anything that did not surprise them either. I can just see you guys at the Red Sea. Still questioning if this is GOD. lol In the days there were MANY, MANY FALSE PROPHETS. and I believe that you would be included in this. Stop questioning God and Have faith that Of Mosses.
Shaun Doyle
It's not about us telling God what He is. It's about His word telling us what He is, and believing that rather that speculating about beings that cannot be fit into the Bible's history of redemption. We trust God as He has revealed himself; not as we speculate He might have been. See By faith ... we understand!
Caroline M.
There is the possibility that what we would call Alien life on other planets were all exposed to Satan and his attempt to deceive and show how unfair God really is - and they chose NOT to disobey and thus did not sin. It was Earthlings who were weak and fell and thus needed the intercession of Jesus death and Resurrection. The Universal people were/are witness to what Satan and his angels did and continue to do - try and destroy God's true Character. That is the Great Controversy. The Universe needed to witness the true character of satan and how his plan to rule the universe would play out and when he killed the son of the living God they truly knew satans real character and Gods true character. That is where free will comes in. Everyone has the choice to accept or reject God - including satan and the angels who went with him. If God had destroyed satan right away, then the universe would follow God out of fear instead of love. The premise of alien life is always the assumption that they to sinned and that is not the case. Only us humans did. Thank you
Shaun Doyle
The scope of the Fall's effects were cosmic, not simply planetary. See Was the whole creation fallen?
Jannie S.
A very interesting discussion. In answer to the question "how would we interpret scripture IF intelligent alien life WERE discovered?", the Bible is clear. There IS alien life "out there". They are called angels. The created beings that resort under the category “Angels”, comply with all definitions of "aliens".

The Bible is also clear on the uniqueness of human beings. Creation was made for man's sustainment, enjoyment, leadership, and instruction (e.g. the stars to speak of God's glory, creativity, power, etc – they are removed finally in totality according to Scripture, because their purpose would have been fulfilled in eternity).

Human were notably created in the [mental] image of God. No other creature can claim this unique identity. The reason why we were created in the image of God is a bit more obscure, but a full understanding of Scripture in context reveals the reason as being that God created in His image for the purpose of true fellowship.

God, being the pure essence and definition of love, created mankind to love, and for mankind to love Him back (the primary demand of the Law of Moses, and in fact, the whole of Scripture). To be able to love, mankind had to be endowed with true freedom of will, as real love cannot exist without such freedom.

However, true freedom of will was the biggest creative risk of all, for if man had the freedom to love, he also would have the freedom not to love; and if the freedom not to love was real, it follows that it would necessarily be exercised. Hence the plan of salvation that was formulated even before creation. The final outcome of God's magnificent creative act according to Scripture, is an eternity in complete and ever-increasing fellowship with man, for those that chose to trust Him.

Aliens necessarily excluded.
Graham P.
Genesis 1 tells us that God created the earth and then the heavens, explicitly for Mankind to inhabit. (He created the stars also, but several days after creating the earth.) That being the case there is no revealed-in-the-bible basis for any aliens to exist: they would require their own universe to inhabit, with their own creation story, but in doing so would put themselves beyond our ken.

To travel any further on the biblical-alien-existence path is akin to thinking that perhaps sausages might be sentient, that cured meats might need to be saved, that whales need to be ministered to for their sins: it would be extra-biblical.
Robert O.
Shaun Doyle writes: “While Gentiles are not Jesus’ Abrahamic family, we are Jesus’ Adamic family. Indeed, salvation is explicitly extended in Christ to all the Adamic family (Romans 5:12–21, 1 Corinthians 15:20-22, 45–49) because Jesus is the last Adam. And that is a crucial limit put on the redemptive family of God in Hebrews 2:14–17:”

The main point here is important: That as Adam was our Federal representative to death, now Christ is our Federal representative to life, for those that are called, chosen and faithful. Christ took on the form, and nature of Adam, so that as Adam was our Federal representative to death, now Christ is our Federal representative to life. Therefore aliens and angels, not having Adam as their Federal representative, have no place in the atoning work of Christ.

But there is a second, very important implication that is raised in the statement “While Gentiles are not Jesus’ ‘Abrahamic family.’” Believing gentiles are, in fact, members of Jesus’ “Abrahamic family.”

Due to space constraints I can only list the textual references: Heb 2:16, already referenced: “he helps the offspring of Abraham.”. And an abbreviated list of similar reinforcing verses: Rom 9:6-8, 10:12,13; Eph 2:13,ff; Phil 3:3; Gal 3:8,9.

The offspring of Abraham are the children of Faith, the children of faith are the offspring of Abraham. Believing gentiles are included in the family of the children of faith; unbelieving Jews are not. There is only one family of faith, i.e. "Jesus' Abrahamic family."
Vicki H.
Thanks for all that information, Unfortunately it was too intellectual for my understanding, I didn't manage to read everything as you can understand .
I'm also on another site where this is being spoken about, and a relative of mine who has said he has seen spaceships and believes in them but he hasn't an answer himself in connection to God .

I've found in my narrow Christian learning that Aliens are just plain Demonic and if they come to people,,,, same as a Demon coming to a person,,, we as a Committed Christian have authority over them in the name of Jesus.

They can look real and even prove to the touch, but they will disappear just like a puff or smoke,,,, same a a demon does when you say the Blood of Jesus..
But myself I haven't proved about the Aliens but to me it fits the bill, if it looks like a dog and acts like a dog and barks like a dog then it is pretty clear it is a dog.
Many People to-day must think Aliens are the saviour to their messed up world..
Shaun Doyle
I encourage you to take a look at our recent Alien Intrusion movie; it gives a good biblical framework for the aliens issue.
Russell N.
Shaun,
Excellent responses! You have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt by Scripture that Jesus "died once for all"; that this payment for sin was for all of us sinful people on Earth only. We are all descendents from our human parents Adam & Eve, so all of us are involved corporately in Adam ("the first Adam") because we are all his descendents. Romans 5:12 also talks about Jesus being "the last Adam & Jesus' eternal life, how in Jesus every sinful human can be made alive in Jesus if they so chose.

On the other hand, angels were created individually, so Jesus would have to die for each one of them individually at a time. But Jesus didn't do that; their fate was forever sealed when they chose to rebel against God.

God loves us so much (John 3:16) He created only one planet to put all of us humans on, and it is the only unique and inhabitable planet for life we find in all of the universe! We are all unique compared to each other: different personalities, talents, likes & dislikes, etc. And Jesus died on the cross for each & every one of us! This should make us feel totally unique, loved & valued foever by our loving & infinite God! It should also reassure us that aliens are not on any other planet--nor this one. As Christians we just have to fight a spiritual battle with the devil and his fellow fallen angels on this planet. Like you said Shaun, the idea of aliens is just science fiction. And...when we look up into the night sky, yes, we can see the glory of God everywhere!
Gert P.
Definitely a hot topic! May I ask you to please shed some light on the following question as I don't find it being addressed anywhere. This article and the "Did God create life on other planets?" article all speaks about sentient,intelligent, moral-decision-capable beings and their existence to be incompatible with scripture, but how about non-intelligent life? Is "possible bacterial life on Mars" compatible or incompatible with scripture?

And on a side note: God DID create intelligent ET's and they have no problem with physics, space travel, technology or salvation and they do often visit us. There make-up is not like ours, they are spiritual beings, called angels and demons by the Bible :-) Just a thought. But I know for evolution purposes ET's MUST be material beings and that's why in general people never think of angels as ET's, but in reality they are! They are not from here and they are sentient, intelligent beings, they are from a different dimension.

And another thought, on the great day of judgment when Jesus return with all the angels people will think we are being invaded by aliens, people will be hiding in caves and tremble with fear as the Bible describes it in Isaiah 2:19. And the funny thing is that they will be partly right, but unfortunately they will fail to see the spiritual side of things. So some food for thought is to evangelize by tapping into the popular beliefs of aliens and alien invasion, but with the explanation that this coming of a new order have a spiritual twist to it and the only way to survive this invasion is to repent. Thus embracing ET's as spiritual beings which Gary Bates has been teaching us all the time we can actually find common ground between alien believers and the gospel and possibly reach people!
Bridget M.
I've read much on CMI's view on the possibilities of alien life and agree to a point, but your final analysis does raise a question for me that I have not found an answer to in all the articles I have read here, and its why I am personally inclined to agree more with M.F. - one article's author even stated that discovering aliens would cause him to doubt the Bible completely, which is something I didn't understand as theoretically speaking, God can do whatever He wants for His own glory. I know that CMI's stance is that the angels were created during the 6 day creation week, and that because they are not of Adam's race, the angels which fell are not eligible for redemption. Many of your articles have also made it abundantly clear that your stance is that all of creation was cursed for Adam's sin, which is also part of the reason for excluding the possibility of alien life - that it would be unjust of God to condemn innocent sentient beings based upon Adam's sin and to exclude them from the hope of salvation.

My question is this: since we know that the holy angels are sentient creatures apart from Adam's race, if they were created during creation week, and all of creation was cursed due to Adam's sin, why are the angels in heaven thus not cursed and condemned with the rest of creation? We know they are affected by Adam's sin as they interact with humanity in service to God, and we also know they are untainted by personal sin as the Bible calls them holy and sin cannot dwell in the presence of God. The Bible makes it very clear that the angels will be part of the new heavens and new earth, so if they are part of the creation that is cursed, why are they not included in that curse's affects - how can they be excluded from the ramifications of Adam's sin?
Shaun Doyle
Angels are excluded from the effects of the curse because the curse was in essence a 'divorce' of God's heavenly presence from the realm of our dominion; the visible creation. And since the angels' natural residence is in God's heavenly presence (they are spirit, not flesh), they ended up on the 'God' side of the 'divorce'. Indeed, that's why Jesus coming to earth as man to bring man back into the heavenly presence unites all heaven and earth (Ephesians 1:10, Colossians 1:20): there are no other divine image bearers in the visible creation.

I also think that the angels having a natural residence in heaven also helps explain why they don't get any redemptive help: they get greater access to God than we do. We will only be on par with them in that respect in the resurrection (Luke 20:36). But with that greater access to God for the angels comes far greater personal responsibility for sin than even for us.
Edmond C.
Recently in my own thoughts about life and what life is I have come to a realization that what is considered life by science certainly may not be considered life by God. What I mean by this is that God seems to have created classes of creatures, that we call life, that can be thought of as more or less biological robots. For example bacteria is necessary for life. It maintains conditions or transforms conditions that are necessary for higher lifeforms. Bacteria does not think, have a spirit or mind, and its death is no more evil than a robot that is scrapped. I think there are other organisms that are multi-cellular that also fall under this classification. For example insects. The world of insects would be a cruel and unusual world, and certainly like bacteria, the fall has probably altered that world as well. But if Adam would have stepped on an ant and crushed it before the fall, would that have been death? In my opinion no. Insects seem to be robots in that they serve a roll in maintenance of the biological ecosystem. So I believe that part of God's design of our biological realm are "maintenance robots", like pollinators. And of course plants also have no mind or spirit. While I do not believe that its likely that this even this level of life exist elsewhere, it does not necessary contradict the Bible if it does. In fact, I only see contradiction if we rise to the level of beings consisting of both physical bodies and eternal spirits on other planets. And while I would consider something like dogs as lifeforms because they have a mind, the absence of a spirit still makes it simply different than human life.

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