The Gospel and Little Green Men

By Alan Ludwig

According to a recent article in The Guardian, the discovery of life on other planets is just around the corner. The author asks how institutional religion – specifically, Christianity – will be able to cope with this. He answers that religion will deal with scientific discovery as it always has: It will adapt itself for its own evil gain.

The article is open to criticism on several grounds. It assumes that evolutionary theory is true, and that with the ongoing discovery of planets potentially friendly to life, life will certainly have evolved somewhere out there. From this it makes the questionable leap to the existence of intelligent life. It also displays a deep lack of understanding of the Scriptures.

The imminent discovery of extraterrestrial life is not nearly as certain as the article claims. Yet in itself such a find would not prove troubling to Christians. The Bible is certainly geocentric (earth-centered) in its perspective. The creation of the stars, which we now know to be countless galaxies, receives only a passing mention in Gen. 1:16. From the standpoint of science, the earth seems to be only a speck in a vast universe. Yet, just as God chose to save the world by a humble cross, so He chose the place of redemption to be the humble ball we call planet earth. Thus, by God’s design, the bit of cosmic dust we all live on is indeed the center of the universe. In Scripture He has revealed to us only what we need to know for our salvation, not all His creating and preserving wonders in the entire universe. When science discovers anything out there the Bible doesn’t speak of, this is to the glory of God, and it in no way compromises our faith.

The events recorded in Scripture are actually of cosmic significance. They have deep consequences for the whole of creation, no matter how large the universe proves to be. Adam’s fall into sin corrupted not only himself and his descendants, but the entire planet and the entire cosmos. Human sin is so deep and destructive that it has set God’s great universe on a course of decay. By the transgression of our first parents the whole creation is subject to futility and waits in travail and groaning (Rom. 8:19–22).

Scripture also teaches that by the cross God has reconciled the whole creation to Himself, and when the sons of God are revealed, the creation too will be set free from bondage (Rom. 8:21; Col. 1:20). When Christ returns, the heavens and earth will melt away and be renewed; there will be a new heavens and a new earth (Is. 66:22; 2 Peter 3:5–13).

Are there green and purple extraterrestrials out there? Likely not. Whatever life may exist in outer space, this we can say for certain: It too somehow suffered from Adam’s fall. It too somehow shares in the redemption of Christ on earth.

Aliens or no, we are certainly not alone. Besides created life on earth, we have the Triune God and His myriads of angels. There is the Church Triumphant in heaven with Him, together with whom we already praise and worship our Savior for what He has done for us. When He returns, we will see with our eyes what we know to be true by faith: the horror of the corruption of sin, and even more the vastness of Christ’s redemption of what God has created.

The Rev. Dr. Alan Ludwig is a theological educator serving with the LCMS Office of International Mission in Novosibirsk, Russia.

8 thoughts on “The Gospel and Little Green Men”

  1. As the writer said, the Bible is earth centric as Genesis barely mentions the universe. IF there is intelligent life on other planets that have a soul, no doubt in my mind that Jesus Christ would also go there to bring eternal salvation to them as well. Would He go as a human, or as whatever species of intelligent life he’s trying to reach? There’s no way for us to know how or what God in His Infinite Wisdom would do? Frankly, it’s none of our business. Luther wisely called some things mysteries and this is one of those. I don’t believe we as Christians should fear finding other intelligent life or it finding us as that has no bearing on our salvation or beliefs in the Risen Christ who paid the price on earth for our salvation. That’s all we really need to know.

  2. July 2023 media “news stories” are talking about a government “whistleblower” claiming to have proof that the US government has been reverse engineering extraterrestrial spacecraft for weapons development. Some reports include comments about the pilots of these craft. This opens the door to a new round of “Exotheology” speculation, and I’m wondering if there are any new updates or comments to article and remarks above?

  3. From Romans 5:12, we know that the Fall infected the world (kosmos) with sin. Scripture does not state anywhere else God has placed souls needing the Gospel, other than in humans.

  4. In addition to the obvious life-hospitable factors, such as a temperature suitable for liquid water and a suitably-sized sun, there are many more factors required for a planet to be fit for human-like intelligent life (with more factors likely to be discovered):

    Suitable gravity for atmosphere, with appropriate pressure, to retain oxygen and water vapor but not hydrogen; suitable axis rotation rate; appropriate tilt of planet axis for seasons; suitable orbital distance from star to prevent tidal locking; magnetic field from planet molten core to shield atmosphere from cosmic radiation; sufficient planetary plate tectonics for crustal mineral recycling; suitable distribution and shape of continents to sustain deep ocean currents; sufficient actinide radioisotopes in planet interior for decay heat; suitably-sized moon to create needed tides and stabilize planet rotation; giant outer gas planets to prevent large asteroids and comets from frequent collisions with planet; suburban galaxy location providing sufficient distance from recent supernovas; far enough away from gravitational disturbances by higher density of stars in inner area of galaxy; only minor orbital variations caused by small chaotic gravitational interactions between nearby planets.

    With these factors the number of planets in our galaxy capable of sustaining human life is much smaller than the media and grant-seeking astronomers imply in their articles. The estimated probable number is likely very close to the experimentally known value of one.

  5. I’m thankful this topic has now been addressed but, I’m wondering what is meant in the fifth paragraph by “…sons of God…”! I believe in Jesus Christ, The Only Begotten Son of God. So…, what’s up?

    1. Ken, thanks for your comment. The reference is to Romans 8:19, which says: “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.” Who these are is explained by St. Paul in another place: “But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:25-27 ESV).

    2. Throughout scripture the sons of God refer to the Fallen Angels. Just as it does in Genesis chapter 6 and elsewhere. That is the view of the early church for the first 300 years. And has support in scripture elsewhere such as in the book of Jude and Peter.

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