The “100-Year Starship Symposium” met in Orlando for three days last week to discuss ideas related to interstellar travel. Speakers discussed topics ranging from physics to philosophy. Protestant philosophy professor Christian Weidemannof spoke at a panel discussion about the religious issues raised by the possibility of intelligent extraterrestrial life.
DARPA—the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency—says it sponsored the symposium hoping “to inspire several generations to commit to the research and development of breakthrough technologies and cross-cutting innovation across myriad disciplines”1 to prepare for interstellar travel in the next 100 years. While DARPA and NASA ponder the question of how to best spend the $1 million allocated to the program, Christians are discussing whether interstellar seekers should expect to find any new life and new civilizations. And if so, how would those beings stand with God?
“According to Christianity, an historic event some 2,000 years ago was supposed to save the whole of creation. You can grasp the conflict.”
“Did Jesus die for Klingons too?” asked Weidemann, explaining the issue: “According to Christianity, an historic event some 2,000 years ago was supposed to save the whole of creation. You can grasp the conflict. . . . If there are extraterrestrial intelligent beings at all, it is safe to assume that most of them are sinners too. If so, did Jesus save them too? My position is no.”2
Christian apologist Lee Strobel in an interview with Fox News, disagreed, saying, “If there are other conscious, moral creatures on other planets, perhaps they would still be living in an innocent state.” He considers the possibility of extraterrestrial life highly improbable, though.
Answers in Genesis’ astrophysicist Jason Lisle, however, like Weidemann, says, “The discovery of intelligent life from other planets would be a challenge to the Christian worldview” adding that “no evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence has ever been detected.” Nevertheless, he says, “It was on Earth that God Himself became a human being -- not a Vulcan or Klingon.”
God created the entire universe. God’s Son Jesus Christ came to Earth as a human being, the “last Adam,” (I Corinthians 15:45-47) to die for all human beings who, like their real common ancestor—the first Adam—are sinners. We also know from God’s Word that the whole creation groans with corruption (Romans 8:21-22) under the curse of man’s sin. Thus the theological position of extraterrestrial intelligent life would cast aspersions on God’s character, as such beings would be reaping the guilty whirlwind of man’s sin without access to the grace of Christ.
Frankly, however, the issue of extraterrestrial life becomes somewhat moot if we consider the reason many people have for seriously thinking the sci-fi version of space is realistic. Despite the contention of some that God is great enough to have created many aliens on many worlds, we have no evidence either in God’s Word or in outer space that He did.
Furthermore, those who really expect to find E.T. often do so because they believe—contrary to God’s Word—that life evolved here from random chemical interactions and that in a huge universe it must have done so many times. In fact, constant exposure to the notion that the universe is billions of years old puts many in the mindset to consider intelligent aliens a reality.
Scripture teaches that life did not randomly evolve but was created by God over the course of one week. God spent the Creation Week preparing a place for Adam and Eve and created them in His image. Despite the fun of sci-fi, neither mankind nor the world evolved, so there is no reason to believe life evolved elsewhere either.
Furthermore, like our ancestor Adam we all have a sinful nature and need the salvation God offers. We are sufficiently special to our Creator that He sent His Son to earth to seek and to save lost human beings from the eternal consequences of sin. (Luke 19:10) Read more about it at Good News.
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