Are Encounters with Aliens True?

You may know someone who has been abducted by aliens. Since the late 1940’s tales of personal encounters with alien beings have circulated across America. Some accounts are entertaining, some strange, some disturbing and some terrifying. The widespread accounts of meeting aliens challenges the conclusion of those who deny the existence of intelligent, extra-terrestrial life. What is happening to these people? Can the accounts of alien encounters be explained? 

Since aliens do not exist they cannot be appearing to people, hovering overhead in strange craft or kidnapping hapless humans. Explanations of these events are possible without involving creatures from other planets. The possible explanations are as varied as the tales. Without doubt some of the stories can be written off as intentional lies intended to profit the teller in someway. Whether it be to sell a story or to impress friends some people have created alien abduction stories for their own purposes.

Another probable answer to some of the alien encounter stories is simply mistaken identity. Bright lights, weird shapes and strange noises can all be misintepreted as seeing an alien creature or vessel. A steady stream of alien stories, television shows and movies has primed minds to assume any strange or unexpected sight is an alien. Even those who don’t believe in aliens look at strange sights in the sky and wonder if they are seeing a UFO. Many alien sightings are nothing more than the result of someone leaping to the wrong conclusion. 

Other answers are not as simple to address, but are nonetheless plausible. Some stories of alien abduction have to be chalked up to various mental problems. Hallucinations, vivid dreams, mental handicaps and mental health disorders  explain some of these stories. The use of mind altering substances can have sufficient impact on a person’s senses that it creates false sensations- visual and auditory hallucinations or the inability to distinguish dreams from reality.

Mundane phsyical possiblities are not the only explanations for alien encounters. Satan is actively working on this earth to deceive people. Nothing says that Satan and demons cannot appear to people like strange alien creatures. Satan hates mankind. He desires to keep people blinded to the truth of the gospel. (2 Corinthians 4:4) He delights to add to humanity’s sorrow and confusion. (1 Petre 5:8) Satanic manipulation through demonic manifestation is a possible explanation for some experiences with aliens. This is not to say that all descriptions of alien encounters are demonic. Nor does this mean that those who see aliens are demon possessed devil worshipers. However, the spiritual realities of this world cannot be ignored. Satan is a crafty enemy of man who will stop at nothing to bring additional misery and trouble upon mankind. Any lie will suffice if it causes people to question the truth of the Bible. (Genesis 3:1-5)

Man does not know all there is to know about the heavens or the earth. Discoveries will continue to be made that will astound humanity. Though the universe is filled with strange wonders, theological and practical considerations lead to the conclusion that man is the only intelligent physical creature inhabiting the universe.

Finally, we must remember how easily the senses are deceived. Hunger, fatigue, stress, emotional disturbance, mental problems, drugs and alcohol all affect the perceptions of individuals. Experience should be supported by verifiable, reliable evidence. All experience must be examined and interpreted by the truth of God’s revealed Word. 

Are there intelligent alien races in the universe?

Most people who ask about alien life are not talking about microbes, bugs, flowers or animals. Most people are talking about intelligent alien life. What if a space ship landed on earth and a Cygnutian stepped out wanting to meet with earth’s leaders? How does the Bible teach us to think about such a possibility? While I am willing to grant the unlikely possibility of non-sentient life in outer space, intelligent life is an entirely different matter. A Biblical worldview would seem to strongly suggest that humanity is the only intelligent race in the universe (not including angelic creatures, which are not material beings and not properly of this universe).

The most compelling reason intelligent life is impossible has to do with morality, sin and redemption. Intelligent creatures must also be moral creatures. The capacity to think involves the capacity to understand right from wrong. In my estimation this is part of what it means that man was created in the image of God- God gave man the ability to reason and the ability to chose between right and wrong. As mentioned in a previous article, all creation has been cursed by man’s sin. Not only are inanimate objects and non-sentient life froms affected by the church, all moral creatures in the universe must also be under the curse of sin. They would suffer death and sorrow because of man ‘s sin. Cursed, moral beings of a race other than humanity have no possibility of redemption. For example, Satan and the angels that rebelled with him cannot be redeemed because Christ did not die in their place. When Jesus died on the cross He took on Himself the nature of humanity and took mankind’s place in punishment. Jesus’ is the Savior of men because Jesus took upon Himself humanity and bore the penalty of sin in His own human flesh.

Why couldn’t Jesus take upon Himself the essence of alien beings and suffer their punishment? This possibility is removed by the singular nature of Jesus’ death. Hebrews declares most emphatically that Jesus died only once for the redemption of all men and all creation. “For Christ was once offered to bear the sins of man.” His single sacrifice is sufficient for the salvation of all mankind. Because of His sacrifice, He will redeem a people to Himself and will restore creation to it’s original perfected order. The Bible makes much of the fact that Jesus died once for all sin. His death was only for the redemption of humanity. If there were any alien races they are not redeemed by the death of Jesus.

If there were moral, sentient beings elsewhere in the universe they would suffer under the curse of sin with no hope of redemption. Such a fate is in direct opposition to the mercy and grace of God so plainly revealed in the Bible. This has nothing to do with an arrogant anthropocentrism that imagines man to be the center of the universe. Rather, it has everything to do with the Biblical statements of God’s special creation of mankind, the effect of man’s sin on the entire universe and the results of Jesus’ redemption.

What would happen to Christianity if alien life is discovered?

Assume for a moment that life is discovered somewhere else in the universe. How does extraterrestrial life fit into a Biblical framework? If alien life is found, would it completely undermine the reliability of the Bible? A proper answer to that question would depend in part on the kind of life discovered. Before beginning to answer the question it is important to remember this is all hypothetical. No life of any kind, no matter how tiny, has ever been found anywhere else in our solar system. Some claims of evidences of life or the existence of materials necessary for life have been made, but those claims are notoriously difficult to test and verify. At this point no evidence exists that could reasonably lead one ot conclude there is life out there.

Popular science fiction focuses on alien life that intelligent or semi-intelligent. Of course, a movie about alien bacteria floating around in alien pond scum growing, dividing and floating around some more is about as entertaining as an elementary school biology film about the habits of earth bacteria. Science fiction entertainment requires alien life that is intelligent enough to produce conflict and drama. Intelligent life is not the only kind of life on earth. Consequently, to answer questions about alien life and the Bible one must consider the many different kinds of life.

From a Biblical perspective, alien life is not necessary. The purpose of God in creation is the revelation of His own glory. Life on other planets or in distant galaxies is not strictly necessary for the accomplishment of God’s eternal purpose. Of course, one could argue that life in the bottom of caves, under the Arctic ice and in the darkest depths of the ocean is not strictly necessary for the revelation of God’s glory. Regardless, from a Biblical perspective alien life is not neccessary to understand what God has revealed or for the accomplishment of what God has promised.

If life were to be discovered in the universe, it seems to me that microbial life is the most probable. The tiny bacteria that breakdown and recycle the elements of this earth might be found somewhere else fulfilling the same basic role they fulfill on the earth. Such a discovery would offer no proof of evolution, would not contradict any teachings of the Bible nor would it undermine any Biblical principles. The discovery of microbial life outside of earth would have no real impact on the Bible, creation or a Biblical worldview.

The discovery of a slightly higher order of life, like plants and animals, does not seem to be that likely, but granting the possibility for the sake of discussion what impact would such a discovery have on the Bible and Christians? Imagine in some future generation scientists develop a space ship capable of making the journey between the stars. During one an exploratory trip astronauts find a jungle planet, teeming with animal life. What impact would such a discovery have on Bible believers? As with microbial life, the presence of lower orders of alien life does nothing to undermine or destroy the teachings of the Bible. Life on another planet offers no more conclusive proof for evolution than does life on this planet. All such a discovery would mean is that God created other planets teeming with life that show off His power, majesty and eternal Deity.

Unfortunately, space has run out for this answer, so we’ll have to take up the matter one more time in the next article and consider a Biblical theology of intelligent alien life.

What about Aliens?

It seems that every few months there is another announcement of evidence of water on extra terrestrial bodies. The most recent one being the discovery of what appears to be an ancient lake bed on Mars. This announcement has more or less coincided with the release of a major movie about an astronaut stranded on Mars. The prospect of life somewhere besides earth is tantalizing. Astronomers spend huge amounts of time looking for evidence of life on other planets. Since water is key to life on this planet the search for life similar to that found on earth starts with the search for water. Many hope we will find life out there somewhere, many are convinced life exists elsewhere in the universe and a few believe extra terrestrial life has found us.

With the widespread allure of alien life, what is a Biblical framework from which to think about life originating somewhere other than earth? The Bible’s creation account must still guide the Christian’s life and thinking. Many who accept evolutionary explanations of life think there must be life elsewhere. The sheer magnitude of the universe and vast number of stars has convinced some that extra terrestrial life is a certainty. The Biblical perspective is silent about any physical life outside of earth. The Bible is not silent about the origin of all life. The creation of all life happened because of the decree of God. Any life in the universe exists because it was created by God during the six days of creation. All Biblical references to the creation of life only describe the creation of life on earth. Admittedly, this is not conclusive that God did not create any kind of life anywhere else, but the only creation of life that God reveals to man is that of life on earth.

The Bible also declares the entire universe has been cursed by man’s sin. Romans 8 says “For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.” This means that any life found in the universe is going to be suffering under the curse of sin. Utopia and the salvation of civilization will never be found off planet. This also means that man has a very unique position in the whole of creation. Genesis 1 and 2 announce this with the declaration that man was created in the image of God and given dominion over the earth. Romans 8 shows just how far that uniqueness extends. Because of man’s sin, all 32 billion light years of the universe are cursed. If there is life elsewhere, it labors under the curse of sin and longs for the time when Christ will make all things new. If there is life elsewhere, man still has a unique position among all creation. In the next article we’ll consider some questions of what effect the discovery of alien life would have have on this Biblical world view.