Extraterrestrials and the Bible?

Question
Do aliens and extraterrestrials exist?
Answer

Hollywood has made a fortune on extraterrestrial type shows (The Lowe Files; Alien; ET; Star Trek; Stargate; Prometheus, Space Odyssey, X-Files, etc.). Then there is great speculation about Area 51 (Groom Lake), a U.S. government facility run by the United States Air Force for testing experimental aircraft and weapon's systems. Because of alleged UFO sightings, State Route 375 in Nevada near Area 51 was renamed Extraterrestrial Highway in 1996. Added to this there is the idea that some ancient sites were built by aliens (Sacsayhuaman; Nasca Lines; Egyptian Pyramids; Stonehenge; Teotihuacan's Pyramid; Easter Island, and the Face on Mars). Aliens and UFOs seem to be very commonplace in today's thinking.

Exotheology is the term used by some for the examination of doctrinal issues as they pertain to alledged ET intelligence. What does the Bible says about aliens, Extraterrestrials, or ETs? While the Bible does not directly address ETs, it does explicitly state that uncreated Creator, God created three types of intelligent beings: (1) angels (Job 38:7) - many of them (Rev 5:11); (2) humans (Gen 1:26-28); and (3) animals (Gen 1:20-25). When it comes to God's crowning achievement - humanity - the Book of Acts states, "And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place" (Acts 17:26). This seems to leave out intelligent alien life forms - said to be creatures having a will and capable of making moral choices - as ever living upon the earth, or elsewhere.

The heavens are the Lord's (Psa 115:16), but where does he discuss or even mention aliens in them? And no they were not the Nephilim mentioned in Genesis 6:4 and Numbers 13:33. See "Nephi-What?" below. The sun, moon, planets, stars, and the whole host of heaven were created by God (Gen 1:1, 14-19; Psa 8:3, 6). They were created to glorify him (Psa 19:1) and so he could make himself known to his creation in a general way (Rom 1:20). They are a display of God's power, might, sovereignty, and genius (Psa 8:1, 3, 9; 147:5; Isa 40:26). They were created for mankind - for signs and for seasons, and for days and years (Gen 1:14, 16) - and exist as part of God's secondary causes (gravitation, etc.) to facilitate the earth's continued existence in time and space. Scientists state that the earth is held together by some mysterious force - what they refer to as some sort of nuclear, atomic or cosmic glue. Christians say, 'God's glue' (Col 1:17; Heb 1:3). Neil Armstrong's walk on the moon - "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind" - is trivial compared to the small words spoken by God to make Creation out of nothing (Gen 1:1-2:3). Wahayah - that is Hebrew for 'and it was, and there was, and it came to be, and there came to be'!

However, Earth is the center stage of God's creation. It is here he created the first man in the Garden (Gen. 2) and makes himself known through his Spirit, Word, creation, history, and his names and attributes, etc. The most significant event in history took place upon the earth - the birth, life, and death of Jesus Christ the Son of the living God (Luke 2:1-20; Mark 1:1-16:20; Matt. 27; cf. John 21:25).

As marvelous as the universe (sun, moon, stars, galaxies, planets, etc.) is, it is linked with God's timetable for Earth. Not only did God create and sustain it, he will also end it. Peter writes, "By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly" (2 Pet 3:7) and "the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare" (2 Pet 3:10). See "Does the earth abide forever?" below.

When Adam sinned (Gen. 3) the entire universe was affected - "all creation" was subjected to futility (Rom 8:18-22). So, everything fell in Adam. Scientists say the universe is in a state of entropy - stars that populate countless galaxies are slowly burning themselves out. Every living thing was affected by the Fall of man - even aliens, if they exist. But since aliens are not mentioned in Scripture and "all creation" is affected by the Fall of Adam in original sin, I find it difficult - impossible - to believe that alien life actually exists, as they would have fallen in Adam too. What purpose would this serve? It fits no place in redemptive history.

If ETs fell in Adam, where is their alien Redeemer? Is it some fictional Q, Cardassian, Vulcan, Klingon, or the Borg or the Dominion? Jesus came in the form of a man (Rom 8:3; 2 Cor 5:21; Gal 4:4; Phil 2:7; Heb 2:17), to redeem his elect and his creation (Rom 8:21; Col 1:20), but no mention is made in the Bible of a - the - Redeemer for aliens. Jesus' death won't be repeated for alien after alien on various planets - his atoning sacrifice was "once for all" (Rom 6:10; 1 Pet 3:18; Heb 7:27; 9:26). Moreover, Christ's atoning death for his people could not save these hypothetical ETs; one needs to be a physical descendant of Adam for Christ to be their Redeemer (Isa 53:11; Rom 5:12-19; Phil 2:8); and their boundaries were set upon this earth (Acts 17:26).

Additionally, there seems to be no room for an alien creation in Scripture. Man was made a little lower then the angels (Psa 8:5; Heb 2:7) and animals below man - as man was given authority over them (Gen 1:26, 28). Where are ETs in the pecking order? If aliens are as most assume - similar to man in that they are intelligent beings with a soul, will and emotions - then when were they created? The "first" Adam - intelligent life being - was created by God (Gen. 1-2; 1 Cor 15:22). Christ is "the second" and "the last" man Adam (1 Cor 15:45, 47). What comes between "the first" and "the second". Nothing! What comes after "the last"? Nothing! This leaves absolutely no room for any other intelligent life form, like man having an intelligence, will and emotions, in the entire universe.

So, the implication of Scripture is that there are no other intelligent beings besides angels, man, and animals. There are no ETs. The character from the X-Files, Fox Mulder, said, "the truth is out there." I would agree, but it is not in the existence of aliens. Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6). Its time to be grounded in this truth!

Related Topics:

Does the earth abide forever?
Nephi-What?
What are the Attributes of God?
What are the Names of God?

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (IIIM).