Mark Strauss surveys the various ways Christian theologians have considered the possibility of life on other planets, which ranges from panic to an affirmation that God extends his love even to aliens. Here’s one way to explain how the latter might work:
Assuming other beings are self-aware and capable of free will, the very idea of denying them salvation is at odds with the concept of a God who deeply loves his creations. Thomas O’Meara, a theologian at the University of Notre Dame, writes in his book, Vast Universe:
Could there not be other incarnations? Perhaps many of them, and at the same time? While the Word and Jesus are one, the life of a Jewish prophet on Earth hardly curtails the divine Word’s life. The Word loves the intelligent natures it has created, although to us they might seem strange and somewhat repellant. Incarnation is an intense way to reveal, to communicate with an intelligent animal. It is also a dramatic mode of showing love for and identification with that race. In each incarnation, the divine being communicates something from its divine life….Incarnation in a human being speaks to our race. While the possibility of extraterrestrials in the galaxies leads to possible incarnations and alternate salvation histories, incarnations would correspond to the forms of intelligent creatures with their own religious quests.
Meanwhile, Tina Nguyen notices that creationist Ken Ham, of debating-Bill Nye-fame, doesn’t think aliens exist, but that if they did they’re definitely going to hell. He explains his, uh, logic in a recent column:
Now the Bible doesn’t say whether there is or is not animal or plant life in outer space. I certainly suspect not. The Earth was created for human life. And the sun and moon were created for signs and our seasons—and to declare the glory of God.
And I do believe there can’t be other intelligent beings in outer space because of the meaning of the gospel. You see, the Bible makes it clear that Adam’s sin affected the whole universe. This means that any aliens would also be affected by Adam’s sin, but because they are not Adam’s descendants, they can’t have salvation. One day, the whole universe will be judged by fire, and there will be a new heavens and earth. God’s Son stepped into history to be Jesus Christ, the “Godman,” to be our relative, and to be the perfect sacrifice for sin—the Savior of mankind.
Jesus did not become the “GodKlingon” or the “GodMartian”! Only descendants of Adam can be saved. God’s Son remains the “Godman” as our Savior. In fact, the Bible makes it clear that we see the Father through the Son (and we see the Son through His Word). To suggest that aliens could respond to the gospel is just totally wrong.
(Photo of night sky at Yosemite by Waqas Mustafeez)