Not all Christians may believe in the prospect of discovery of alien life, but all Christians should offer reasonable responses to honest questions. One such question is whether discovery of alien life would hurt Christianity.
The following information about aliens is in our domain:
(1) Many scientists confidently predict the existence of aliens. Discovery of Kepler 78b, an earthlike exoplanet (not conducive to life), announced by NASA in October 2013 lends credibility to the hope to the presence of habitable planets sustaining life.
(2) Some believe that aliens are kept in “Area 51” – a classified sector in South West Nevada, USA.1
(3) “Allen Array,” an array of small dishes for the purpose of simultaneous surveys for SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) projects, funded partly by Paul Allen the co-founder of Microsoft, is in operation.2
(4) In 2008, Vatican proclaimed that it is ok for Catholics to believe in Aliens.3 It is also speculated that Pope Francis could announce the presence of extraterrestrial life.4
(5) Thomas Aquinas alluded to the possibility of extra terrestrial life.5
Disregarding the above without adequate thought is to remain ignorant. Just as much as a new neighbor could impact our social life, discovery of aliens could impact human life.
But to what extent would discovery of alien life impact Christianity? Could a Christian rationally and reasonably posit that discovery of alien life would not destroy Christianity?
A relevant presupposition in this context is that aliens, if they exist, are ontologically similar to human beings – with a soul and a highly developed brain for articulate speech and abstract reasoning.
Plausibility of Alien Life
Some Christian thinkers believe that there cannot be alien life, on account of two reasons: 6
(A) The Bible is silent about aliens.
(B) It is impossible for Christ to die again for the fallen aliens.
Postulating nonexistence of alien life on the premise of Bible’s silence could disprove Christianity through the following:
(1) The Bible does not mention the existence of aliens.
(2) If the Bible does not mention aliens, there should be no aliens.
(3) If aliens are discovered, the presence of aliens would entail that Bible is incorrect.
(4) Therefore, Christianity would be a false religion (since Christianity’s sole foundation is the Bible).
However, in defense of historic Christianity, premise (2) could be disputed, for the Bible NEED NOT mention the existence of alien life. The Bible is not intended to be an encyclopedia of the universe. The Bible reveals everything necessary for man to coexist with God. Therefore the Bible need not be held responsible for the existence or nonexistence of anything that is irrelevant to man’s spirituality.
On the other hand, the Bible states that God is sovereign. If God is sovereign, HE can do anything without contradicting HIS nature. It is plausible that creation of aliens would not contradict God’s nature. So God’s sovereignty entails a possibility of God’s creation of aliens. Since God is the creator, and since every effect has a cause, if alien life is discovered, God should have created aliens.
If aliens exist, why would God not have revealed HIS creation of aliens to man?
The Bible reveals everything necessary for man spirituality (salvation), so Bible’s silence on alien life could be minimally explained on the basis that God may not have considered it necessary or relevant to mankind. (God did not reveal the exact time of Christ’s second coming. HE did not reveal that to us because it’s unnecessary for our knowledge or salvation.)
Alternatively, God would not have revealed anything about alien life in the Bible, since HE never created them.
Salvation of Alien Life
If aliens exist would there be a different plan of salvation for them?
Salvation presupposes sin and an immortal soul. So, could aliens be fallen beings as humans?
Discussing about aliens is to argue from silence, for their existence is unknown. On the other hand, their sinfulness need not create any problems for Historic Christianity, for the Triune God in HIS love and foreknowledge has created a program of salvation for sinfulness.
Since God is love, HE will offer freedom to anyone to either believe or reject HIM. Those who believe in the Triune God will live with HIM forever, and those who reject God will live outside of God forever. This could apply to alien life as well.
Some may ask what if aliens find nail prints in Christ’s hand in heaven. Perfect knowledge will be the hallmark of our heavenly existence (1 Corinthians 13: 9-12). Since perfect knowledge eliminates possibility of doubt or lack of knowledge, aliens finding nail prints in Christ’s hand in heaven would not matter.
However, the possibility of aliens finding nail prints in Christ’s hand presupposes a different program of salvation for aliens. But there need not be another program for salvation when belief in the Triune God is adequate for the salvation for everyone. Even if aliens are created ontologically different, belief in God could be adequate for their salvation.
It does seem implausible for Christ to die again to save the alien life. Christ added human nature to HIS divine nature and remains permanently incarnate as a man (Colossians 2: 9), so Christ dying another death in the nature of aliens seems implausible. But faith in the God of the Bible is the only way to heaven, so God would reveal HIMSELF in an adequate manner to aliens, for them to believe in HIM.
Evangelization of Alien Life
What if aliens arrive with a notion of a different God? This seems to be the simplest of all problems to contend with. We do have many different notions of God in today’s world, and these notions emerge from various vantage points.
The Hindu notion of God is pantheism. The Jewish or Islamic notion of God is Monotheism. Historic Christianity believes in a Trinitarian Monotheistic God. The atheist denies God’s existence.
If aliens arrive with a different notion of God, we merely add another notion of God to these prevalent notions. But the truth of the God of the Bible is irreversible and immutable.
If aliens are discovered, Christians should focus on reaching out to them. If God provides us the alien life, HE will also provide ways and means to reaching out to them with an endeavor to make them disciples of the Triune God.
Significantly, the exact twin of the sun is yet to be discovered. Astrophysicist Dr. Hugh Ross of “Reasons To Believe,” states that unless an exact twin of the sun is discovered, we do not need to believe in the likelihood of life outside earth. 7 He also postulates that possible alien life should be 500 light years away, which is a distance almost impossible to traverse in the interstellar space. 8 So we could reasonably posit that the odds of discovering alien life is extremely low.
Christianity is the most scrutinized or critiqued religion; there is no denying this fact. The Bible continues to outlive its pallbearers is another fact. If nothing has destroyed Christianity in 2000+ years, be confident that nothing will ever destroy Christianity in another 2000+ years, for the God of Christianity is the truth.
Alien life is in the realm of imagination and prediction. As much as we try to answer honest questions, let us consider and engage abstract as abstract and not as an existential reality.
Websites referenced were last accessed on 15th December 2015.
1 Area 51 has been off public realm since 1950. Activities performed before 1974 has now been declassified. It is reported that U2 reconnaissance aircraft was tested here and that the U2 was responsible for half of UFO sightings in this vicinity.
6 Carm.org states that alien life is unlikely for the Bible doesn’t say so and it is impossible for Christ to die again to redeem fallen ET (http://carm.org/bible-extraterrestrial-life-aliens) (http://carm.org/does-bible-tell-us-if-there-life-other-planets). Also read http://fervr.net/bible/what-does-the-bible-say-about-aliens-and-ufos and http://www.prodigalmagazine.com/would-aliens-disprove-christianity/
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