Some of my favorite memories growing up are watching Sci-Fi Movies with my father. Star Trek, Star Wars, X-Files, Twilight Zone – the more outlandish and far-fetched – the better! As I grow older each year, I can't help but watch or read anything Sci-Fi and not think of my father with fond memories. For that alone, I am thankful for all things "aliens."
But what would a good and respectable theological response be to the question "Are there aliens out there?" or "If aliens exist, what does this mean for our understanding of the gospel?" I have a few thoughts on this below, some of which were fortified by this article on the observations of C.S. Lewis on the same topic.
Look to Scripture
Just like with all matters of speculation, we must go where Scripture goes and stop where Scripture stops. No verse directly implies God created other intelligent life apart from our own species. However, if there is intelligent life out there, we can agree with Scripture that God is their creator just as much as he is our own:
For in him, all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him (Col. 1:16).
If aliens do exist, the gospel would still be the gospel. Jesus Christ, who is fully God and fully man, was crucified on the cross for sinners who just so happen to be human. Therefore, the benefits of Christ's death and resurrection are benefits given to human sinners alone.
The gospel for aliens?
If there are other alien species like us, are they sinners too? And if they are also sinners, do they have a redemption plan from God? This is where things get a little sticky.
Since Scripture tells us that God chose to create man in his image, it would make sense that the redemption plan is only given to the species which mirrors this image. Therefore humanity, in light of this understanding, is set apart from the rest of God's creation. This would include any of God's creation that exists outside of our known universe.
The atoning death of Jesus would not be the same for aliens who are not human (unless there is some weird Sci-Fi twist that they are human). However, if God has given that promise to another species, he has not filled us in on that in his revelation of Scriptures, and such a promise doesn't negate what that revelation does tell us.
Additionally, if aliens are not sinners, then they need no redemption plan. Let's hope we never meet these imagined, sinless aliens, for we would surely either corrupt them or be at war with them. How could they, in their righteousness and sinlessness, not see fit to destroy us while we, in our contrived and false sense of righteousness, a part from Christ, not see fit to destroy them? But not to worry! Whatever their powers may be, none could rival the omnipotence of our God.
The Gospel for Us
I do not see how the existence of aliens would impact the gospel's validity for us in any significant way. The existence of aliens can not negate the promise given to us by God courtesy of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus is 100% God and 100% man. We are created in his image. He embodies an atoning sacrifice for man because he is a man. If aliens are real and if they ever show up on our planet, there will be a lot of details to figure out, a lot of philosophy to unpack and rethink, and definitely, some theological tenets to re-examine. But if that day ever comes, we can remain confident that the promise given to us and fulfilled for us through Christ Jesus remains as sure as ever.
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