Take the 2-minute tour ×
Christianity Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for committed Christians, experts in Christianity and those interested in learning more. It's 100% free, no registration required.

What, if anything, does the Bible say either supporting the theory of life on other planets, or suggesting that there is none?

share|improve this question
3  
At the time of the Bible's authorship, the notion of "other planets" would not have made sense - even the true nature of this planet was barely understood. I'm not sure that the question can really make sense in a Biblical context. Just my opinion. –  Marc Gravell Sep 1 '11 at 8:50
1  
@Marc Gravell: A fair point, however, I would submit that a) the Bible has provided wisdom on topics that were not understood at the time, b) the Bible might make a claim that would exclude the possibility of ET life without knowing about it or explicitly mentioning it. –  Flimzy Sep 1 '11 at 9:28
2  
good point, a statement in the negative would be a good answer to the question; any speculation on Biblical text to the positive would be more subjective / interpretive, I suspect –  Marc Gravell Sep 1 '11 at 9:39
    
@user additionally, you might want to look at the thinkings of the "flat earth society". I won't remark on their views, but they, of anyone, have done the most Biblical study on the topic. –  Marc Gravell Sep 1 '11 at 18:23
2  
@Marc: Flat earth theory? Really? You do know that that has nothing whatsoever to do with Christianity or Biblical beliefs, don't you? The belief doesn't appear anywhere in the historical record until the 19th century, where it was created out of whole cloth by a writer and applied retroactively to a work of historical fiction with the purpose of slandering Christians. –  Mason Wheeler Sep 2 '11 at 18:05
add comment

5 Answers

The Bible really doesn't have anything to say on the subject one way or another.

Historical writings suggest that some of early Christians believed that this world is only one of many that God has created, and particularly among Gnostic sects there were all sorts of interesting ideas on the subject, (for example, that the many worlds that God had created all had free interactions with each other, but not with us because this world was under quarantine, as no other people out of all God's creations were evil enough to murder their own Lord), but whatever the source of these ideas is, it's not found in the Bible.

share|improve this answer
1  
Interesting information I'd never heard before... can you provide some references? –  Flimzy Aug 30 '11 at 5:21
    
@Flimzy: It's been quite a while since I read about that. I'll see if I can find the source again... –  Mason Wheeler Aug 30 '11 at 5:25
    
So according to the Gnostics, did (1) Christ die multiple times (one for each planet), or (2) somehow they did not sin and thus did not need redemption, or (3) God decided to not save those other planets? :-) –  unregistered-matthew7.7 Dec 29 '12 at 14:51
add comment

The Bible makes no obvious reference to aliens, and most people (including myself) think it makes no reference at all to aliens.

I think it is unlikely that God created life outside Earth for two reasons:

  1. Scientific: because of the Fermi paradox which says essentially that if there is extra terrestrial life we should have seen evidence of it by now.
  2. Theological: because Jesus died once only (Hebrews 10:10). So if there are aliens, would they need redemption? Apparently the answer is "Yes", if they have freewill. However, since Jesus has already died here on Earth, He couldn't die again for them. Therefore aliens with freewill cannot exist (though animal life might).
share|improve this answer
6  
The Fermi paradox is a bit more subtle than "we should have seen evidence of it by now", and is a topic of active research (indeed, as a race we have been capable of such for only a tiny fragment of time). It would seem questionable to suggest this as overly strong evidence in either direction. Or at best, it only makes sense to do so when the audience is well-versed in the science and able to make a professionally-based reasoning of it (i.e. in discussion with astrophysicists) –  Marc Gravell Sep 2 '11 at 18:48
    
For once I agree with Marc here. If I understand correctly, it was only a few months ago that we detected the first potential evidence of the existence of another planet sufficiently Earth-like to be capable of supporting life as we know it. And that's very, very far away, and the scientists aren't sure yet if it's a real Earth-like planet or not. –  Mason Wheeler Sep 29 '11 at 17:44
    
Don't animals have free will? –  user729 Sep 29 '11 at 18:19
2  
I disagree with this. Deuteronomy 14:21 (KJV) specifically mentions that the Israelites may sell meat to aliens ;) (maybe this was to protect them from their mis-interpretting the alien book: "To Serve Man"). –  Steven Sep 30 '11 at 15:55
1  
@user729 anamals may have free will in a sense, however they are not free moral agents. They are incapable of making a moral decision (ie, killing another animal would not be considered murder). –  aceinthehole Dec 10 '11 at 3:59
add comment

The only verse I have ever heard being taken to mean this is John 10:16 - and that was humorously, not seriously.

And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.

share|improve this answer
    
Interesting interpretation... and I think I agree... it's best used humorously in the context of ET life :) –  Flimzy Oct 5 '11 at 21:34
2  
Seems the obvious interpretation is non Jewish people, although mormons may beg to differ –  aceinthehole Dec 10 '11 at 4:03
add comment

As far as I can tell, the Bible is silent on the question of life that lives somewhere other than earth, with one exception -- angels.

Several passages in the Bible refer to the stars of heaven and the angels interchangeably, and other passages discuss angels in heaven or cast out of heaven to the earth.

Genesis 28:12, Judges 5:20, Job 38:7, Psalm 8:4-5, Psalm 147:4, Matthew 18:10, Matthew 22:30, Matthew 24:29-30, Mark 13:25-26, Revelation 1:20, Revelation 12:4

Revelation 12:9 (KJV)
And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

My understanding is that such passages have led to a popular belief that every star (especially the "morning star" and similar stars later redefined as "planets") has an associated angel, much like Matthew 18:10 leads to the popular belief that every child has a guardian angel.

(This idea -- that each planet has at least one angel associated with it -- and other ideas that Mason Wheeler mentions -- is a big part of C. S. Lewis's fictional trilogy beginning with "Out of the Silent Planet").

share|improve this answer
    
This is actually a great and relevant answer, but I think it could be improved by noting that what official position these ideas have in relation to major Christian traditions. In other words, are these folk religion ideas, are they official in any specific sects or do they have a place in orthodox Christianity? –  Caleb Oct 1 '12 at 7:05
add comment

I think Pastor Doug makes a great case for life on other worlds: http://www.amazingfacts.org/news-and-features/news/id/528/bible-answers-with-pastor-doug.aspx

He highlights the idea that perhaps were the one fallen planet of many: “What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?” (Luke 15:4).

I wanted to respond to Wikis comments as well: --------"I think it is unlikely that God created life outside Earth for two reasons: - Scientific: because of the Fermi paradox which says essentially that if there is extra terrestrial life we should have seen evidence of it by now. - Theological: because Jesus died once only (Hebrews 10:10). So if there are aliens, would they need redemption? Apparently the answer is "Yes", if they have freewill. However, since Jesus has already died here on Earth, He couldn't die again for them. Therefore aliens with freewill cannot exist (though animal life might)."-------------

  • Scientific - The universe is vast - in our Milky Way Galaxy there 1 million x 1 million star systems, then there are 1 million x 1 million galaxies - we're talking near infinite numbers, and with the speed of light we are seeing 'evidence' from millions of years ago (if a star is 1 million light years away we're seeing light from it 1 million years old, so considering the massive scale of the universe we're only seeing 'recent' events from stars nearby that are say 50 years old (50 light years away). Basically if anyone exists right now but they're on the other side of the galaxy, it's impossible to see what's happening let alone another Galaxy right now, and they can't see us either (if they exist). Even if you could see evidence of galactic scale engineering, if they're building it now and they're 100 light years away (a relative neighbour) or 1 million light years away, we won't see that evidence for another 100 or 1 million years respectively. Of course for them to travel here, means a colossal expenditure of resources and time (unless they've invented the Warp Drive). But they'd have to know we were here in the first place...if somehow they did find out about us, then it's still doubtful it would be worth the trip. So I kind of agree with Paster Doug that perhaps there's a galactic restriction around us, or God may well have placed us so far away from any other life that the sheer impracticalities of travel and discovering each other places nearly insurmountable barriers between us all so no 'mystical' barrier is needed.

  • Theological - we are taught in the Bible that each of us is special, as pastor Doug points out perhaps he's come after the lost people. There's nothing to say each and every race isn't special. It's quite possible Jesus died only once for each of us, or that they didn't need redemption because by one method or another they don't have free will (though it may not feel like that to them). Working on a lot of science fiction projects it's easy to imagine many worlds where this could be the norm. A society of machines with the rules hardcoded in not to break them, yet still with the apparent 'free will' to worship God and his creation. Let's try not to go around in circles though. In Jesus's teaching we learn that he has died for us, you, me - personally for us, so I feel in a sense that on a galatic scale he too could have singled out our world as a sacrifice, perhaps as a demonstration to the rest of the universe (if they know) of his all powerful love. Imagine billions of worlds full of life (and not necessarily intelligent, there could be millions with just unintelligent creatures) perhaps trillions of worlds of life, billions of trillions of living souls, how great his love for us then, how great his sacrifice to save this one sheep amongst the enormous flock in the heavens.

So to imagine just our world, just our few billion people, seems to diminish God's power in the universe and just increase my sense of self worth, when I would rather imagine a God who is unlimited in his creation.

And finally, am I the only Christian who would grin stupidly if the first friendly aliens we met turned out to have red skin, horns and a tail? And were ever so holy! :-) I'd love God to turn our terrible preconceptions on their heads!

share|improve this answer
    
Welcome to C.Se. When you get the chance, please check out our about and specifically How we are different than other sites. This is a good start. It's very chatty and "forum-like," almost to the point of not answering the question (ahem), but by linking to a sermon and trying to brinng it back to theology, I can definitely see that you are trying! In the future, I'd suggest a little more heft in the sources you use, and better explanation of what denomination "Pastor Doug" would speak for. All in all, it's ok –  Affable Geek Sep 24 '13 at 18:40
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.