The Bible and… Aliens?

Thus says the Lord: Heaven is my throne and the earth is my footstool; what is the house that you would build for me, and what is my resting place? All these things my hand has made, and so all these things are mine, says the Lord… – Isaiah 66:1-2b-

Well, there’s certainly been no shortage of congressional hearings and whistleblower testimony lately on UFO’s, aliens, or UAP’s (a new term to me). It’s great coffee-talk for everyone, even the theologian. So, it might be fun just to ask the basic question which, my television and reading habits, and study of the Bible may well have been preparing me to answer.

What if we were actually visited by intelligent life that came from another planet?

Would that present a conflict to the core tenants of the Christian faith?

Starting with the Bible

Speaking in a very general overview, the Bible is almost completely unconcerned with life on other planets. This, however, is not a big deal because the Bible is almost completely unconcerned about a lot of things. Seriously, we don’t have any of the following in the Bible:

  • We don’t have the full tale of any civilization other than Israel. We only learn about other civilizations as they interact with or are relevant to the the story of God-and-us.
  • In the same vein, we don’t have the creation story of, or the tale of the fall of the angels. We only learn of angels and demons as they interact with or are relevant to the story of God-and-us.
  • The beliefs and cultic practices of the idol worshipping nations, including the names and descriptions of other idols are not explained or shared unless they interact with or are relevant to the story of God-and-us.
  • The records of wars, kings, and conquests across Ancient Near Eastern history and first century Roman history are only recorded as they interact with or are relevant to the story of God-and-us.
  • While the Bible does speak of creation and cosmology (how the universe works), it is this author’s opinion that the Bible does not provide enough detail to derive scientific theory from. What it does tell you are the aspects of creation and cosmology that… please join me in the refrain… interact with or are relevant to the story of God-and-us.

Are you picking up a theme? The Bible is of singular purpose, and if that purpose is not aliens… then we shouldn’t expect the Bible to say much about aliens, and it doesn’t.

The Bible’s specific goal is to tell the story of God-and-us. The Bible documents the revelation of God, the interaction/relationship between God and God’s people, the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ, and the sacrificial atonement of God in the grandest act of love ever. The Bible contains every piece of information you need in order to establish a relationship with God, through Jesus Christ. That story, which we call the good news, can bring you to a point of salvation, redemption, and the promise of heaven.

That’s what the Word of God is concerned with. That’s the kind of information you’ll find within its pages. So… because of that we can infer a few things:

  • Because aliens are neither confirmed nor denied in the Bible, you can strongly argue that they are not relevant to your salvation, or your relationship with God. This is a good thing, we have plenty to deal with already, I am thankful that the Bible has a laser focus on helping us build a relationship with God.
  • Also, because aliens are neither confirmed nor denied in the Bible, you could argue that there is room for them to exist in a Biblical world view. Although to be fair, some argue that this is proof that they cannot exist, or that if they do, they are fallen angels.
  • For me, God can do whatever God wants to do, and the Lord is under no obligation to tell us everything about everything… we got in trouble the last time we wanted to know everything about everything (Genesis 3:4-6).

If there was a Scriptural conflict, where would it come from?

In my opinion, if the Bible were used to challenge the existence of “outer space aliens” then you’d have your strongest argument from here: …Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image’… – Genesis 1:26 – Though, honestly, this would be a better argument for not accepting an alien, or challenging the word of one. That language is historically familiar and a bit unpleasant, which marks this as very tricky territory, and a reminder that in all things we should seek the Lord and not rely on our own understanding.

To counter that argument, if you wished to do so, you’d have to dive in and ask some deep questions of this passage: What does the Bible mean by the Image of God?

  • While this creation story is clearly exclusive to the planet Earth, is it exclusive to the cosmos? Could another planet have a creation upon it that is also in God’s image?
  • What is meant by “in the Image of God”? Does God have two legs, two arms, one nose, two eyes, and such, just like us? or is “Image of God” a set of natures or qualities that, on earth, are uniquely human?

It’s worth noting that the work of discussing these questions, in any detail, before meeting an alien is essentially pointless and could lead down some dangerous theological trails. I expect that these questions would be better discussed after meeting said alien, which would both force the question and present another set of data to focus the discussion (and the prayer).

Now I don’t say this next part to sound paranoid, but because I respect that this next point of view “has a point”. There are those who would argue that aliens could (or must) be fallen angels. While I might not completely agree with this reasoning, I cannot deny its plausibility. So, perhaps, some healthy level of discernment to determine whether or not one is talking to an authentic alien wouldn’t be a bad idea. And that is a sentence I never thought I would write or say in my lifetime. Wow. Anyway, as to how you would go about authenticating an alien beyond prayer, seeking the Spirit, and scripture study? You got me, I left my alien detector in the car, sorry.

But even then, you wouldn’t be done, because after that initial round of inquiry… and alien validation of some kind – maybe there’s a sticker? – then you’d have the significant challenge of discussing what it means for the cosmos that God incarnated as a human being through Jesus Christ.

Once again I restate how pointless (and potentially spiritually dangerous) an ‘in depth’ discussions would be before meeting an alien. There’s just too much information missing from the discussion, and sooooo many assumptions would have to be made.

All those challenges considered however, I think I can say that the mere presence of an “alien from outer space” would not shake my faith. Because…

What would really matter the most is what they had to say…

Is their story, message, and purpose (assuming they’re a nice kind of alien) compatible with a Biblical world view? And if it is, how cool would that be!?! What is their understanding of and relationship with God? What claims or commentary do they make on our understanding of and relationship with God? Those items would be vital places of theological inquiry and hopefully places of joy and wonder. In all those things I would use scripture as a primary guide for exploring whatever message was presented, but I would also consult colleagues, and the church, and tradition, and seek the Holy Spirit for guidance in discernment. But if I am honest, there will probably be some hopefulness in that exploration.

On the other side though, I will also own this about my point of view: Any extra-terrestrial message that presents a direct attack on the scriptures, or the faith will find me immediately skeptical of it. Not only does the Bible have plenty of warnings about “cosmic powers of this present darkness” and “spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:10-20), but our own human history is absolutely full of examples where two cultures meet, and one exploits the other. I would not allow an extra-terrestrial message to challenge a thing I know to be true, no matter how cool their spaceships were. While I would still be responsible and research, I would do so with significant skepticism.

Until then…

The best thing to do is simply trust in the Lord. If aliens are out there, they are no surprise to God, the Lord made them a long time ago. The entire universe belongs to the Lord, God’s got these things well in hand. If you need to speculate, might I recommend C.S. Lewis’s Space Trilogy as a fun and challenging bit of sci-fi Christian speculation about what life on other planets might just look like? The first book is called Out of the Silent Planet, and is followed by Perelandra, concluding with That Hideous Strength (easily the most challenging one of the batch).

So what did I miss?

Join in the comments section below if you have anything to add to this topic, it’s certainly fun to talk about and I’d love to hear from you.

2 thoughts on “The Bible and… Aliens?”

  1. Very interesting read. I’ve gone down this rabbit hole for years and for me I’ve come to the conclusion that anything alien or even supernatural is directly related to fallen angels. You might ask why? The majority of stories and anecdotal evidence that I have seen that I believe…. Have a common theme, and that is… These entities do not like the name of Jesus or God. So I ask myself the question why would that be….?

    1. Well, I certainly wouldn’t want to deny that as a possibility, especially since I believe a faithful read of scripture does acknowledge the existence of angels. That’s also why I included that paragraph about skepticism regarding messages openly hostile to the faith. Perhaps it’s all the phasers and lightsabers in the home movie library that skew me toward keeping the other alternative open as well, but that’s obviously not scripture. At the end of the day scripture would be my primary tool for evaluating anything in this arena.

      Thanks for the comment Joe!

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