November 17, 2011

Are There Christian Aliens Out There?

The popularity of science fiction has really grown. What used to be the beloved past time of nerdy guys in their parent’s basement has become much more mainstream. But the belief in extraterrestrial life is hardly confined to science fiction. The SETI (the search for extraterrestrial intelligence) project, the Hubble telescope, and a myriad of other things are all trying to answer one question, ‘Are we alone in the universe?’

I am not really in a position to answer that question. In truth no one really is. The best we can say is, maybe we are alone but maybe we are not. There seems to be two strands of thought about the possibility of extraterrestrial life out there. One says something to the effect;’ The universe is so big, there are so many galaxies, with so many stars, and so many planets there must be life out there somewhere.’ The other line of thought goes something like this, ‘life is so complex and unlikely to form the fact that it is even here on earth defies all odds. The likelihood of it being anywhere else is all but impossible.’

You may notice both of these lines of thought are purely natural in origin. They are only concerned with the evolutionary difficulties of life forming or the shear vastness of space but they say nothing about the possibility of what God might do.

The short answer is God might have decided to create life elsewhere. And if he did that would in no way invalidate Christianity. The bible really is silent on this question. And there is good reason for this. The bible is about God’s interaction with humanity mostly thought the people of Israel and the surrounding nations. The bible never talked about England, France or North America but that didn’t mean there were no people living there. Likewise just because the bible doesn’t talk about aliens living on Alpha Ceti Prime doesn’t mean there is no life on other planets.

However I think there is a more interesting question tucked within the idea of life existing on other planets. If life does exist elsewhere did Jesus have to go to their planet to die for their sins as well?

Did Jesus Die For His Sins As Well?

As far as I can see there are two possibilities here. One possibility is that unlike humanity somewhere out there on some other planet there is a planet full of people who never sinned. They were created much like us to be in a close and special relationship with their creator but unlike us they maintained this relationship. This would make humanity sort of the black sheep of God’s family. We were the ones who sinned and rejected God, and we are the ones that needed to have that relationship restored through Christ. 

The second possibility is that like humanity this group of people also sinned and are in need of salvation. If this were the case that would mean that this other planet must have some kind of parallel history to our own. Some nationality would have been specially chosen to reveal God’s will, and eventually bring forth a saviour to die for their sins, who was also the second person of the Trinity. If this were true that would certainly put a whole new understanding on Jesus' words, “And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.” (John 10:16 ESV)

In the end all of this is supposition. There is no way to know if there is life beyond ours out there. But one thing I know for certain is that God loves what he has created. If there is life out there beyond our own I know God would be making sure that they know him as well.