Board index Extraterrestrial Life and Aliens

Life on other planets, visitations from outer space, and theology.

What is God's relationship to sentient, alien life?

Postby Non-Primary » Mon Apr 15, 2019 12:19 pm

Thought-experiment: what is God's relationship to sentient, sapient, conscious, intelligent alien life?

Consider the following thought-experiment: sentient, sapient, conscious, intelligent alien life exists outside of the Earth. By this, I am referring to life that is analogous to humanity in its capacity for intellect, reasoning, emotion, self-aware consciousness, etc. For the sake of this thought-experiment, assume that these creatures really do exist, and that they are biologically exactly like humans, and they live on a planet that is capable of supporting such life. Also assume that we have not discovered this alien life, and they have never discovered us, and that they are evolutionarily concurrent with humanity. Finally, assume that these creatures behave similarly to humans, and engage in actions Christianity would consider to be sinful, but that they have no religion or religious knowledge.

What relationship would such life bear to God, and to the core teachings of Christianity? Do these creatures have souls? Are they capable of sin? Do they require salvation? Is heaven attainable to them?
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Re: What is God's relationship to sentient, alien life?

Postby jimwalton » Mon Apr 15, 2019 12:32 pm

Wow, that's a lot of assumptions to ask a rhetorical question based purely on speculation. We have a tendency to jump to full and intelligent civilizations elsewhere, but from a scientific perspective, we are most likely to find microbial life if we find life elsewhere.

Since it's total speculation, and the Bible says absolutely nothing about such things, we can elaborate on some principles.

1. The discovery of such beings would not make the Bible irrelevant. The Bible is about God's revelation of himself to Earth's population, but the reach of Scripture is cosmic in scope (Col. 3.16). Whether or not there are intelligent aliens, the Bible's claims are cosmic in scope.

2. Nor does it show that Genesis is untrue. The traditional view of Genesis is geocentric, and the writer wasn't speaking of life anywhere else. The functional view of Genesis is theocentric, and God ordered the entire universe to function well. Neither interpretation insists that there is only life on the earth.

3. The discovery of such beings would not reduce human significance. Science is not a good tool for evaluating human significance. Human beings are embedded in God's story as significant. The discovery of other population groups would not change that truth.

4. The discovery of intelligent aliens would not change our view of God's incarnation in Jesus. It happened in our history; we know that God took on human form on Earth, regardless of what other life may exist elsewhere.

5. The discovery of intelligent aliens would not change our view of Jesus's death on the cross. Christ died to redeem human sin. We trust that God would deal with aliens in appropriate ways: (a) maybe they are not sinful and don't need redemption; (b) maybe they sinned and God revealed to them a way for them to have relationship with Him; (c) maybe they sinned, but God revealed to them Christ's redemptive work on Earth; (d) maybe they sinned, and God appear in their worlds to deal with it. In any case, none of it changes what Jesus did for us.

6. The discovery of life elsewhere in the universe wouldn't have any effect on my faith. It neither shakes my faith nor disproves the Bible. We have to follow truth wherever it leads. If there's life elsewhere in the universe, then there is. I would have to assume that God has provided some mechanism to reveal himself there as He has here.
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Re: What is God's relationship to sentient, alien life?

Postby Non-Primary » Mon Apr 15, 2019 1:44 pm

> Wow, that's a lot of assumptions to ask a rhetorical question based purely on speculation. We have a tendency to jump to full and intelligent civilizations elsewhere, but from a scientific perspective, we are most likely to find microbial life if we find life elsewhere.

I didn't ask any rhetorical questions, and the questions I asked are not based on speculation, but rather the thought experiment that I described. A thought experiment can be built on any number of scenarios, and they needn't be actual or even possible. Even so, my thought experiment stated that we have never discovered this alien species. Just because we haven't or may not ever discover them, that certainly does not indicate that other equally intelligent life cannot or does not exist elsewhere in the universe. In fact, we know that it is possible because we exist. For the sake of the thought experiment, it is only to be assumed that they exist somewhere in the universe, not that we will ever know about them.

Besides all that, I'm not here to argue, otherwise I would have posted in a debate sub - I just wanted to hear the thoughts of different Christians on the idea. It's not as though I've hidden my atheism. I enjoy engaging in dialog with people who have different views from my own, in addition to debate, so that I don't put myself into an echo chamber of ideas. Anyways, thanks for replying, I appreciate you taking the time to write that out.
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Re: What is God's relationship to sentient, alien life?

Postby jimwalton » Mon Apr 15, 2019 1:46 pm

Yeah, I got that it was a thought experiment. I hope that the things I said addressed the curiosities of your experiment.
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