The Bible addresses humanity.
In the Bible, God’s audience is the human race. It’s chiefly concerned with the glory of God in the redemption of a particular people through the Son of God incarnate. Scripture speaks of other worlds only to refer to the authority of God in universal creation (Heb. 11:3). The Bible never speaks on other forms of life in distant corners of the universe.
Paul does exhaust those in possible positions to deliver us information in addition to or alternative to the true gospel of Christ (Gal. 1:8). So, we do know that no one, not even aliens, can produce truth contrary to that which is contained in God’s Word.
But, what if?
This article is for all of my sci-fi nerds, my eighties geeks, and some of my closest friends and family.
What if it Happened?
Perhaps the better question is whether or not it could happen. We can answer the “what if” question for fun later, but we need to deal with the question of possibility. Let’s take a trip to the first book of the Bible, Genesis.
Whatever one thinks about Genesis, the length of the “days,” the age of the earth, the universality of Noah’s flood, one thing is for certain; Genesis 1-2 contains a cosmic-scope creation account. God, as in Yahweh, created everything. He created the universe and all it contains. Because Genesis begins here, I have to conclude that aliens do not seem to have a place in the universe. It appears as if God created man as the apex of creation.
You may respond, “Well, there could be, like, alien dogs on some other planet. Some type of other animals which are still inferior to the order of man,” and I would reply, “That would be pretty sweet! I’d pay money for an alien dog so long as I could potty train it.” What, then, is ruled out by Genesis 1-2? Creatures that are equivalent to or greater-than humanity were not created by God.
Genesis 1-2 seems to frame man as the climax of God’s creative activity. In both ch. 1-2 the Scriptures climax at man in terms of creation. The Bible says:
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth (Gen. 1:26).”
Man has been created in the image of God Himself. Now, notice that God only gives man dominion over various things near or on earth (i.e. cattle, fish, birds, etc). However, this dominion is universal and the ancient near-east (ANE) context must be taken into account at this point. Persons who lived in the ANE perceived the entirety of creation in the earth, sky, and sea. For the ANE person, those three areas of creation encompassed all that God created. The sky subsumed the “expanse” which is a summation, really, of the entire universe external to our planet and its atmosphere. ANE people couldn’t speak in terms of modern cosmology and we need to recognize that.
For the author of Genesis (presumably Moses), man was placed in authority over all created things under the Lordship of God Himself of course. So, not only was man created as the apex, or climax, of creation, but he was created to take dominion over it, without exception to geographical location.
If God created the universe, and if man was the climax of creation, then there is no chance that there exists some order of being equal to or higher than man on other planets throughout the galaxy or any further reaches of the universe. That is not to say, however, that there can’t be other forms of life. Bacteria of various forms, very simple forms of aquatic life, perhaps even primitive land-dwellers exist somewhere out there (like snakes and rats).
But Really, What If?
Okay, okay, you asked, “What if?”
Let’s say I’m completely misunderstanding Genesis and there happens to be some unknown intelligent species out there. These life-forms are smarter than man and capable of traveling at light speed. The Christian just needs to give up his faith, right?
Well, heck no!
At worst I’ve misunderstood Genesis. I have accidentally assumed that since God only mentions man in Genesis that man must be the only intelligent, self-aware species in the universe. I think that is what Genesis is getting at, but again, my assumptions could be incorrect.
If this were to happen, all the Christian would really need to do is admit (without compromise to Scripture, really) that God made other life-forms and that those life-forms are smarter (and perhaps stronger) than humans. We would have to conclude that God revealed His Word to humans because it was human people He was chiefly concerned with.
Of course, I think there are good reasons to reject such a possibility. I think Genesis clearly teaches that God created the whole universe and that the most rational, intellectual creatures He created were humans. I think these properties (intellect, etc) are just included in the fact that we have been created in the image of God (imago Dei).