Christianity and Aliens

I was more than a little surprised the first time someone asked me (prior to my career change to the ministry) whether I believed in extraterrestrial life and what the Bible has to say about it. My response then is more or less my response still – the Bible doesn’t preclude the possibility of intelligent life elsewhere in the cosmos, but nor does it lead us to expect it. The person who first asked me this was convinced that John 10 and Jesus’ talk about other sheep was a veiled reference to alien life. I disagree with his interpretation of that passage as I’m pretty positive Jesus is talking about peoples here on earth beyond just the Jewish people rather than aliens.

At the end of the day, as a Biblical Christian if it were demonstrated that there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe, it wouldn’t alter my faith in any way as it would not in any way contradict Scripture. NASA found similar responses recently from representatives of the major religions of the world.

Actually it was Ray Bradbury who first got me to think about this topic. He wrote several short stories dealing with the possibility of alien life and the theological implications of such a discovery. Would such aliens need salvation? His short story The Fire Balloons considers what that might mean. In the short story The Man Bradbury suggests that Jesus would – if there were life on other planets – visit those planets as well. C.S. Lewis also prompted consideration of this theme with the first two books of his Space Trilogy.

It’s good for NASA to ask these questions and invite formal discussion on the topic, just as it’s good NASA continues to scan the skies. I just don’t think the biggest problems of any discovery of extraterrestrial life are likely to be theological in nature.

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