A Brief Look at the Bible and Extra-Terrestrials
Well, here on Tuesday’s we are going to get into something honestly a little fun and off the beaten path when it comes to worship, prayer, and the Christian faith. After having completed about twenty weeks on ARP distinctives I was asked by a member of our church to write on a subject that is both fascinating, and odd, yet eminently contemporary to modern concerns and public life. Before we get into that I want to say that it is helpful in my opinion for ministers of the gospel to read widely, deeply, and without fear. If, as we say we believe, that God is Lord over all creation, then there is nothing in that creation that we should not in some sense have more than a passing knowledge thereof. That doesn’t mean we need to be polymaths, but if folks in our churches are curious about an issue popping up in the news we should be able to at least give an answer for the way that matter affects the hope that lies within us. Historically pastors were often the most well-educated person in a small town. They’d be the man to see to teach young folks Latin, Greek, even Hebrew, yet they’d also be able to give lessons on philosophy, history, etc… I fear something has been lost in the degradation of the ministry over the last hundred or so years. That’s not of course to say ministers should be held on some kind of pedestal, be haughty, or be so out of touch as to be worthless to real life. What it does mean is that our clergy should have a higher expectation for their own curiousness about the Lord’s world. With that in mind over the next couple of months we’ll be asking questions and looking for biblical answers to subjects like extra-terrestrials, ghosts, apparitions, demons, angels, and all those things that go bump in the night. I hope you find this interesting, if not totally helpful.
To that end let’s go ahead and jump into it.
What is an extra-terrestrial? Some use terms like aliens, or space creatures to describe sentient life which has originated on another planet or celestial place. We here are not primarily interested in an amoeba which may exist on Europa or Triton. Our focus is on organisms which would be able to interact in some formal way (communication) with human beings. Where I graduated from high school in West Virginia was located near the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, or NRAO for short. My dad worked there and one of the on-site missions was SETI, or the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Life. They sent radio waves into deep space and listened for non-inorganic frequencies being sent our way. The technical aspects of megahertz and gigahertz might be above my paygrade, but I was always fascinated with the possibilities available through the science of electromagnetic radiation. The Ph.D.’s I talked to when I was seventeen would get excitedly animated when they spoke about the universal nature of these processes. They were not only convinced they could hear something back, which was a given considering not only their vocation, but the fact they forsook much more lucrative careers to read spreadsheets with wavy lines on them and listen to the feedback received by the 140ft radio telescope testified to their belief that “we were not alone”.
The reason why this has come up now is that it was reported recently that a United States government official supposedly confirmed the existence of aliens. Every time something of this nature pops up it renews interest on the question of what the Bible has to say on it. When speaking about the universe we would be wise to go back to the beginning.
In Genesis 1:1-8 the Scriptures say:
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day. Then God said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.” Thus God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament; and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. So the evening and the morning were the second day.
In what Moses writes it is made clear that our Lord made the Earth, and everything which surrounds it in the cosmos. There is nothing in the expanse of the universe that does not have the mark of His work upon it. We learn much of the nature of God from the God of nature. (Ps. 19). Yet it cannot be forgotten that the third rock from the Sun is the center of all of it. That is not an argument for geocentrism in an astronomic sense, but it certainly is one from a theological point of view. We are spiritually with Ptolemy and biblically with Copernicus. All things were made for God’s glory and the Earth is where He chose to place the Garden where man was made to be glad and enjoy Him forever. Of course, man ran into a problem. He sinned. The Fall necessitated a Redeemer. That Redeemer came in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Redeemed man then was given a promise. In the future God would provide a second coming of the Savior where He would enthrone the New Heavens and the New Earth as the Savior’s place of reigning for all eternity.
We know that the location of this was the same as the Garden, as Rev. 21, etc… notes for us.
Something else to consider, to be more precise, as Genesis 2 is in comparison to Genesis 1, is in the nature of man’s creation specifically. In v. 7 and v. 15 we read of specific instructions given to man by God by virtue of the events of 1:26-31. Only humanity is given the image of God, and thereby, the ability to reason, make things, and discern the nature of the creation itself. I’m sure you can probably think of examples in the Animal Kingdom of tools being used. However, let me know the next time a kangaroo builds a nuclear reactor. Taking a rock and breaking a crustacean open is not exactly the same thing. Our minds are actually the best argument we have as to why we have not seen real, actual, proof of extra-terrestrial intelligent life. God has not granted that privilege to any other creature other than man. We in effect deny our own Scriptural importance to the Lord when we posit the actual existence of Futars and Jawas. The Second Person of the Holy Trinity did not come in the form of a Xenomorph in order to provide salvation for the organisms made by Michael Fassbender.
This incredibly brief testimony is key to understanding why the Bible teaches that not only can there not be intelligent life on other planets, we actually waste our time in looking for it. To be engaged in that kind of labor is similar to alchemy. You ain’t getting gold out of lead anymore than the Romulans will be visiting Deep Space Nine in 2370. There is likely a lot more to be said on the subject, but we have reached the end of space for today. More to come later.
By His Grace,
Rev. Benjamin Glaser
Pastor, Bethany ARP Church