Each Sunday morning at Disciples Road Church I take about five minutes and answer any Bible question someone has. My folks really enjoy this part of our service, and they ask some good questions. Yesterday the question was, “Does the Bible say anything about life on other planets?” (By the way, the person who asked it was very careful to say, “We’re talking about E.T. phone home here, not just a living organism.”)
The short answer to the question is: No, the Bible doesn’t say anything about life on other planets. Some people have tried to make the case that the four living creatures of Ezekiel chapter 1 are aliens. Clearly, however, they are angels. Other people read the stories of how Enoch (Genesis 5:21-24) and Elijah (2 Kings 2:1-11) were taken up to heaven and say, “Maybe they were carried away by spaceships.” No way. Each story makes a point of saying that it was God who did the taking. A handful of others run wild with the fact that Jesus said, “And other sheep I have which are not of this fold” (John 10:16). But there’s absolutely no doubt that the “other sheep” were the Gentiles, not aliens on other planets.
Rather than hinting that there is life on other planets, the Bible lays out a pretty clear case that there isn’t. Let me give you a few thoughts to consider on this issue. Mull these over in your mind and just let the Bible say what it says.
First, Genesis 1:1 says: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” That word “heavens” covers all the other planets out there in space. This means then that all those other planets were created on the same day (day 1 of the creation week) as the earth. So much for aliens being more advanced than us because their planets have been around so much longer than the earth.
Second, Romans 8:22 says: “For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.” This verse tells us that all of creation, not just the earth but also the other planets, was affected by Adam’s sin. Sin now had to be accounted for in God’s perfect creation. When God said to Adam, “Cursed is the ground for your sake” (Genesis 3:17), evidently that curse extended to all creation. Therefore, it seems unlikely that there are any pristine planets out there that are even more life-sustaining than the earth. Along these same lines, a friend of mine once pointed out to me that in view of all creation being fallen, it wouldn’t have been fair for God to punish other intelligent life simply because Adam sinned.
Third, Jesus became a human and died in a human body. He arose from the dead in a resurrected, glorified human body. Even after that resurrection, He bore the marks of the death upon that body (John 20:24-29). Thus, Jesus is the eternal “God-man.” He is not the eternal “God-martian” or whatever. He has chosen to eternally align Himself with mankind by eternally existing in a glorified human body.
Fourth, the church, which consists of humans, is Christ’s eternal bride (Ephesians 5:22-32). If He has another bride, one that comes from some other planet, that makes Him a bigamist and an adulterer (Matthew 19:1-6). In light of this, if there are alien civilizations, are they without sin and without need of Christ’s redemption? To believe they are sinless is to believe that God gave them a better shot at remaining sinless than He gave Adam and Eve. Come on, do we really think that God played it that way?
You say, “But Russell, you just don’t know all the evidence for life on other planets.” Oh, yes, I do. You aren’t talking to a sci-fi novice here! I go all the way back to Leonard Nimoy’s “In Search Of” back in the 1970s. I know all about: Roswell, Area 51, flying saucers, alien abductions, men in black, USOs (unidentified submerged objects), time travel, the loss of time, the Bermuda triangle, crop circles, and livestock mutilations. I’ve seen Star Trek, The Outer Limits, The Twilight Zone, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The X Files, Stargate, Ancient Aliens, etc. Yes, preachers are allowed to watch that stuff.
But my problem is simple: I can’t honestly make all the talk about aliens match up with the Bible. I’ve read the Book, and aliens just aren’t in there. It disappoints a lot of people that they aren’t, but I can’t help that.
What I try to do is come up with reasonable explanations for all the sci-fi stories. For example, it’s absurd to think that every last one of the thousands of people who claim to have seen alien spaceships is lying. Many of them really did see something. But what did they see? While I don’t claim to have all the answers, I feel extremely confident in saying that we don’t know half of what our government’s military complex has in the works. I’m sure that secret, government aircraft can explain some of the “spaceships.”
As for the sightings of actual aliens, again I don’t claim to have all the answers. But I don’t discount the activity of demons (fallen angels). Ephesians 6:12 says: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Likewise, Ephesians 2:2 calls Satan “the prince of the power of the air.” Who knows what appearances fallen angels can take? Revelation 12:9 says that Satan “deceives the whole world.” Could demons appear as aliens and deceive people into thinking those demons come from another planet? I’m not saying they have, but I’m sure saying they could.
But what about all the stories from ancient cultures of how the gods came down from the sky and advanced their cultures? Every time I hear one of those stories my mind immediately races to Genesis 6:1-4. There we find the record of how a group of fallen angels (called “the sons of God”, see Job 1:6 and Job 2:1) once interacted with mankind, even to the point of taking wives for themselves and producing human offspring through them.
I’ll guarantee you those fallen angels didn’t show up on earth one day and say, “Hi, we are demons who have been banished from our place in heaven. We’re here to perpetrate all kinds of wickedness and evil upon you. Let’s get started.” No, those demons would have been more than happy to let those people believe the demons were either gods who came down from the sky or aliens who came from far across the galaxy.
At the end of the day, I guess I would sum up my feelings by saying that if irrefutable evidence of life on other planets was ever presented (an alien spaceship landing on the White House lawn, etc.) I would revise my thinking and say, “Okay, aliens do exist and God, for whatever reason, just didn’t want them mentioned in the Bible.” But I don’t think that’s going to happen. If it does, I promise that I’ll write a follow-up blog. If I were you, though, I wouldn’t be racing to the computer every morning to look for it. That’s a little too sci-fi for even me.