Does the Bible say anything about intelligent life on other planets? The short answer is: No, it doesn’t. But let’s talk about it.
Some people try 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, they weren’t. 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 open-and-shut case that there isn’t any such life. 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 that all those other planets were created on the same day (day 1 of the creation week) as the Earth. That directly contradicts the idea that hypothetical aliens would be more advanced than us due to the fact that their planets supposedly 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. This means that 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 — if such life was out there somewhere on another planet — by cursing that planet simply because a guy named Adam sinned on a faraway planet called Earth.
Third, Jesus became a human and died in a human body. Likewise, He arose from the dead in a resurrected, glorified human body. Even after that resurrection, He bore the marks of His 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 align Himself eternally 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 consists of a group of intelligent beings from some other planet, that makes Him a bigamist and an adulterer (Matthew 19:1-6). In light of this fact, the question then becomes, “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, and it’s hard to give any real credence to that possibility.
Fifth, the Bible calls Adam “the first man” (1 Corinthians 15:47). While it can be argued that an alien from another planet wouldn’t necessarily have to be classified as a “man,” it is worth mentioning that Adam was without doubt the first human. The point is, if aliens are the “humanoids” that many people purport them to be, that is getting awfully close to contradicting the fact that Adam was creation’s original human.
Sixth, according to the Bible’s teaching about how life began, the theory of evolution is a lie. And how is this relevant to the possible existence of aliens? Well, you show me someone who believes that intelligent life originated on a planet besides Earth, and I’ll show you someone who believes that it happened by means of evolution. Obviously, then, if the whole notion of evolution is a crock, there’s no way that life began on another planet by means of what evolutionists call “spontaneous generation” (life springing forth from non-life substances) and then evolved over millions of years to a state of intelligence enough to produce a flying saucer by which to visit Earth.
Seventh, Genesis 1:14-19 says that God created the sun and the moon to serve the three-fold purpose of giving light to the Earth, dividing the day from the night, and functioning as the engines for the cyclical process that allows the inhabitants of the earth to experience different seasons. In other words, the sun and the moon were created to make life on Earth better. They were part of the “detail work” that God exclusively did for the Earth, a planet that was covered in darkness and deep water when originally created (Genesis 1:1-2). It was all this “detail work” (Genesis 1:3-31) that differentiated the Earth from all the other planets and made it and it alone suitable for life.
You say, “But Russell, you just don’t know about all the potential evidence for life on other planets.” Yes, I do! You aren’t talking to a sci-fi novice here. My interest in science fiction goes all the way back to the mid 1970s when I was watching Leonard Nimoy’s “In Search Of” and reruns of The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits. Trust me, I know all about: Roswell, Area 51, alien abductions, men in black, USOs (unidentified submerged objects), time travel, the loss of time, the Bermuda triangle, crop circles, livestock mutilations, etc. I’ve seen Star Trek, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The X Files, Stargate, and literally every single episode of the t.v. series Ancient Aliens. I myself even once witnessed a flying “something” in the nighttime sky, and to this day I can’t explain what it was that I saw.
Still, though, my problem in believing in intelligent life on other planets always comes back to the same thing: I can’t honestly make such life match up with the Bible. You see, I’ve read the Book, and aliens just aren’t in there. That omission disappoints a lot of people, but I can’t help that.
So, what I try to do is come up with reasonable explanations for all the stories of spaceships and aliens. For example, it’s absurd to think that all the thousands of people who claim to have seen unidentified flying objects are lying. No doubt, 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 flying around up there. In other words, secret military 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 wouldn’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 is to say what appearances fallen angels can take? What I do know is that Revelation 12:9 says that Satan “deceives the whole world.” As part of that worldwide deception, could demons (fallen angels) appear as aliens and deceive people into thinking those demons come from another planet? Yes, 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 and say, “Hi, we’re fallen angels who have been banished from 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 foster the belief that they were either gods who came down from the sky or aliens who came from far across the galaxy.
Of course, chronologically speaking, if that type of thing did happen in those days of Genesis 6:1-4, all evidence of it would have been wiped out in the great flood when God purged the Earth and started civilization all over again with Noah and his family. That doesn’t mean, though, that other fallen angels couldn’t have similarly deceived post-flood ancient cultures into misidentifying them as “gods” who had come down from the sky. As I said earlier, it’s perfectly plausible that demons could deceive humans into thinking the demons are aliens.
At the end of the day, I guess I would sum up my feelings on the topic of aliens 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 specifically mentioned in the Bible.” And if that ever happens, I promise that I’ll write a follow-up post to this one. With that said, though, I doubt that I’ll be writing such a post anytime soon. To describe that possibility in terms relevant to this post, I think that’s a little too sci-fi for even me to believe.