October 23, 2017

Is There Life On Other Planets?

So, scientists say they have discovered a planet that orbits a star in an Earth-like manner. And these scientists think that the newly-discovered planet may have both liquid water and an atmosphere, two things necessary to sustain life. Real estate agents have not put For Sale signs out on this planet just yet, but give them time.

The question I have for you is two-fold: Do you think there is life elsewhere in the universe? By “life,” I mean intelligent life, not just some microorganism.

And if there is, how will God relate to this life? Is sin the same for them as it is for us? Would the payment for sin cost God the same on their planet as it cost him on ours?

Before you answer, you might brush up on your Lewis. Review his Space Trilogy. And dig out your copy of The World’s Last Night: And Other Essays and read his essay titled, “Will We Lose God In Outer Space?” In it, Lewis thought that life elsewhere in the galaxy was at least a possibility. But at the same time he says that “those who do not find Him on earth are unlikely to find Him in space.”

Ok—your turn. Could there be life beyond our planet? Or are we alone in the universe?

Comments

  1. It’s a big, giant what-if that no one can determine one way or the other yet, but if we were to find another sentient race of beings on another planet, I suspect the YEC movement would have more than a few earthquakes go through it!

    For me personally, I don’t have a problem with possibly finding aliens out there some day.

    I suspect they too would have a sin nature like we do, and I am sure God would have a saving and loving relationship with them too.

    Would it look the same way that it does for us? Would God have become Barsoomian (or whatever) to pay for their sins like He did for us? Maybe not, but he would not reject them or love them less than he does us, and God would have some sort of relationship with them.

    • Actually, the non-ubiquity of alien life is evidence against an old universe.

      Check Wikipedia for the Fermi Paradox.

      • One science fiction writer – I won’t mention the book because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone – speculated that the reason we don’t see alien life is that there is an alien species that for reason I won’t go into has taken it upon itself to wipe out every race as soon as it looks like they will develop interstellar travel.

        They have their own reasons to stay hidden, too.

        I have no reason to believe he’s right but it’s an interesting solution to the problem.

      • I’m not sure what you mean. If you say the non-ubiquity is evidence against an old universe, then wouldn’t finding life be evidence FOR an old universe? That’s why I said finding aliens elsewhere in the galaxy would cause problems for the YEC groups.

        AiG and ICR have both put out articles firmly denying that there is life elsewhere in the galaxy or universe.

        • (Life being intelligent life – they don’t mind bacteria, mold, and animals)

          • And their position on angels and demons?

            That’s non-terrestrial intelligent life right there.

            Honestly, you can’t absolutely, definitely, one way or the other pronounce on “There is no other intelligent life out there anywhere” because it’s a very big universe and there’s no way we can see all of it in fine enough detail to find out.

            Maybe right this minute there’s an alien scout ship approaching Earth, but it won’t get here for another two hundred years – will we still be around to meet them seems to me to be the more pertinent question.

        • No, if the universe is old, they should be here by now (by way of being everywhere). Even if they had died off, their remains should be evident in the asteroid belt.

          • Is your first sentence a statement that the Fermi Paradox is a truth?

            And remains of what in the asteroid belt? Life in THIS solar system before man on earth?

            I’m missing your point.

          • I’m not sure if the Fermi paradox can be classified as true or false. It is problematic for those who believe in an old universe without special creation.

            Yes, the remains of solar collectors and replicator factories.

          • Uh huh.

            Because we all know that aliens go around to all the stars and strip them of resources and plant colonies on them.

            I think that was in Independence Day, wasn’t it? Or maybe District 9?

            And since it’s obvious that those sorts of aliens haven’t visited our solar system, aliens must not exist.

          • It’s a successful strategy. Those who don’t are liable to be eradicated or bypassed by those who do.

            It only takes one.

          • And you know it’s a successful strategy exactly … how?

            By watching Independence Day and District 9?

          • The alternative is having a rock dropped on you…

      • The Fermi Paradox is not a scientific theory. Much more an interesting thought experiment. And it is based on a LOT of assumptions. It is no where near a proof.

        Not that it isn’t a very interesting thought experiment. And I’ve read several good SciFi stories that are based on why the Fermi Paradox isn’t true.

        Anyway the non-ubiquity of alien life is just that. After all absence of evidence is NOT evidence of absence.

        David

        • I’ve read Baxter’s “Manifold: Time”, and Stross’s “Accelerando”. Those attempt to deal with it directly. Also, Saberhagen’s “Berseker” (and some related works).

          Any others you would recommend?

          • Not specifically. This is something that has been hashed over for years. Decades. And I haven’t been in those discussions for years. And it can’t be proven true or false. There are just way too many assumptions built into the discussion either way.

            As I said. It’s a very interesting thought experiment. But it’s not a provable theory.

            One part of it says that a civilization way more advanced than ours would be able to colonize other worlds even at 0.1 C speeds. That’s an interesting comment but life (as we know it) has a really hard time living off planet. Really hard. In more ways that most folks can imagine. And to pack up a required number of people for a 1000 year journey in a ship is a huge leap over us. Some what like speculating how long it will take ants to develop nuclear powered subs.

            If you want to look at the other side of the Fermi Paradox look at the thought experiments on how many people would it take to plant a group of people on Mars and have them survive. If you look real hard at the problem you’ll start coming up with a debate of can it be done with a minimum of 1000, 10000, or maybe 1,000,000. The 9 to 18 month supply chain with it’s incredibly tall costs is a killer. And we haven’t even begun to address what happens to people living in gravities much lower than earth’s for years. Or pregnancy in such situations. And on and on and on. You can posit very reasonably that putting a group of people on Mars and expecting them to survive more than just planting the flag and returning would take the GDP of the planet if done in the foreseeable future. Which is why a lot of us who support space exploration and have wanted us going to the moon on a regular basis have been so frustrated by the shuttle, the current space station, and all this talk of man on Mars.

            But back to the point. If it takes 100,000 to 1,000,000 people to start a 1000 year journey about a space craft will any civilization get to that point? And if so just how many of these ships can they launch? Remember you must take EVERYTHING with you. Everything. And recycle 99.9999999% of it. So you’re looking at a ship the size of NY State.

            All of this assumes that Stargates, replicators, transporters, inertial dampeners, and FTL drives will never be possible. Invention of any of these would change EVERTHING. Including a lot of our physics. 🙂

          • Obviously, it’s not something we could do right now (at least not well – we could blast a mountain into space Orion style).

            In the late 80’s and 90’s there was a lot of noise about nanotech assemblers (Drexler et al). Lately, the computer AI side of that is really not delivering, and silicon process seems to be petering out.

            Currently, the “big thing” looks to be custom DNA. Even without being able to custom engineer molecular machines, a lot might be done using simpler organism and robots (Manifold Time uses a sort of cuttlefish, which has good 3d sense and communication ability).

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Actually, the non-ubiquity of alien life is evidence against an old universe.

        Nedbrek has just indirectly stated why there’s been no high-quality Christian-background SF since Jack Lewis died in 1963.

        When all you have is a Young Earth Creationism hammer…

        • Have you read John Ringo’s “Looking Glass” series? I think it is compatible with a young earth (I don’t know what Ringo’s stand is).

      • “Actually, the non-ubiquity of alien life is evidence against an old universe.”
        “Check Wikipedia for the Fermi Paradox.”

        OK to drag this back to my point.

        For the FP to be evidence against OU you have to accept it’s various assumptions. If other life is out there it’s common. If it’s common there will be travel between the stars. And therefore we’d be overrun with aliens.

        But if you don’t agree with either of these two basic assumptions then the FP isn’t valid and it can’t be used as evidence against OU.

        Which was my point. You can’t use a theory based on some really really big assumptions as proof of something else.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      I suspect they too would have a sin nature like we do, and I am sure God would have a saving and loving relationship with them too.

      Okay, here we go with my statement on the subject (the preface for the middle third of my latest novella to see print). It’s an excerpt from a travel journal of a far-future Catholic priest and “troubleshooter” for Vatican Intelligence:

      “The Church’s First Contact contingency plans gave much thought to the possibility and danger of encountering an unfallen race. So far, we have not encountered any (though the [specific alien race name] did cause some worry at first). All the species of [interstellar civilization encountered] are as fallen and stained with sin as humanity, just in different ways. Apparently true sentience carries with it the potential for sin; the Imago Dei, expressed in whatever form, is always vulnerable. And if the potential for a Fall is there, someone, somewhere, sometime is going to try it.”
      — from “Dyads”, appearing in Infinite Space, Infinite God II (if the small-press publisher ever releases it…)

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Release date November 15, from Twilight Times Books. Got the news from my editor just this morning.

  2. “And if there’s life on other planets, then I’m sure that he must know. And he’s been there once already, and has died to save their souls.”
    — Larry Norman

    Nothing more to add here, but those lyrics are great.

    • Glad someone added these lyrics. Thanks, Keo!

    • Why would Jesus have to have died to save their souls?

      Following Lewis’s arguments just because there is life, doesn’t mean it has to be sentient. Even if it is sentient, that doesn’t mean it has to be moral. Even if it is moral, doesn’t mean it has to be corruptible. Even if it is corruptible, that doesn’t mean it has to be fallen. Even if it is fallen, that doesn’t have to mean it is universally fallen. Even if it is universally fallen, that doesn’t have to make it redeemable. Even if it were redeemable, that doesn’t mean it has to be redeemed in the same way we are redeemed.

      One should be able to look at the infinite variety of the planet we do have access to and conclude that God is unlikely to the same thing in the same way on a different planet. At the very least, there is no compulsion for him to do so.

    • My theory on this one, is that Christ did not merely take on humanity, but mortality. In taking on the form of his creation, any creation, and suffering for sin he did not commit, wouldn’t his sacrifice apply to ANY sinful being?

  3. All I can say is: “Klaatu barada nikto.”

  4. *grins*

    This is the perfect opportunity for me to use this wonderful recent quote from Br. Guy Consolmagno, one of the Vatican’s astronomers, on whether he would baptise an alien: “Any entity – no matter how many tentacles it has – has a soul.”

    Okay – is it possible that there is other rational life out there? Sure, it’s possible. It’s a big universe.

    What about the state of their souls? Well, that’s another question. If they had no conception of religion or spirituality, never culturally developed any such, and were pure materialists – does this mean that ha! there is no god or are no gods and us puny Earthlings are only deluded?

    Not necessarily; they might be intelligent creatures that are not ensouled (like dolphins, the alleged intelligence of which is much debated) and thus have no need of revelation.

    Or it could be a snare and deceit of the Devil, as in James Blish’s SF novel “A Case of Conscience” 🙂

    But yeah – it basically boils down to intelligent but unsouled, therefore a form of higher animal; intelligent, ensouled and fallen, like us, in which case working out how God has prepared their salvation is going to be fascinating (and our part in that as well, if we have a part) or intelligent, ensouled, and unfallen. I don’t necessarily think the existence (or lack of it) of other life means there isn’t a God.

    Besides, angels (for one) are intelligent non-human life, but that’s probably not the question you were asking.

    😉

    Michael Flynn (SF author) has a good post on this topic, from the point of view that for the mediaevals their equivalent of ET was the travellers’ tales of strange races in wild parts of the globe and what this might mean about, say, do dog-headed humans have souls or indeed are they human at all?

    http://m-francis.livejournal.com/78828.html

    • Bizarro! I’ve never heard of historical accounts of dog-people. I thought I had heard everything!

      • This is just part of why I love history. 🙂

        Humans are such a fascinating species, the way we tell stories to ourselves to make sense of our surroundings. If reputable sources told us that there were strange varieties of creatures out there in the unexplored wilderness, who were we to demur, particularly as we had no way of going there ourselves to check it out?

        Same thing applies to “Is there life on other planets?” Science Fiction is our version of monopods and cynocephali.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Cynocephali. There was a legend that St Christopher was one.

        Kicker is, in the space-opera I write, the main aliens I use the most look like upright humanoid foxes. They’re the closest in appearance and attitude to human you get in that universe.

        And the RPG Traveller has the Vargr — literally uplifted wolves scattered & planted by a forerunner race. Literally Cynocephali in Space.

        • Kitsune? (Near as darnit?)

          Headless, I may need to read your fiction.

          🙂

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Like to pass you some samples, but have no way to contact you off-blog. Neither of us has our email addy public on this, and you’re already probably also under spammer siege.

      • Eric Hinkle says:

        Bizarro! I’ve never heard of historical accounts of dog-people. I thought I had heard everything!

        That’s an old, old legend from the Middle Ages and earlier. The dog-men varied between savage cannibals and civilized nonhumans (living in towns, wearing armor and clothes, etc.). There’s also an Asian version telling of a valley in the mountains of Mongolia in which the men are dogheads (cynocephalae) and the women are gorgeous and (of course) walk around stark naked.

        And there’s Saint Christopher, who’s depicted as a doghead when he’s not being shown as a giant.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          There’s also an Asian version telling of a valley in the mountains of Mongolia in which the men are dogheads (cynocephalae) and the women are gorgeous and (of course) walk around stark naked.

          Like Laila here? WOOF!
          (Link/video safe for work.)

    • Where does the Bible teach the concept of “ensoulment”?

      Also, if these creatures, no matter how intelligent, weren’t created in God’s likeness and image, what need have they of salvation or baptism?

      • EricW, please don’t start on “If the version of the translation of the Bible I have in my hand right this minute doesn’t have the exact phrasing and use the exact terminology I demand as evidence to convince me, then it’s an invention of humans and is sinful!!!!!” game. It’s too early (or too late) in the morning/night to play that game.

        Okay, so if humans do not have souls, then what differentiates us from the animals, particularly any higher primates or other mammals that exhibit forms of intelligence? All the milestones – tool-using, language, memory and so on – seem to be falling (or at least highly disputed).

        Granted, I can’t off the top of my head think of the exact passage where it says “And the Lord God ensouled the evolved great ape Adam” but you know what I mean.

        • Also, please tell me the “created in God’s image and likeness” remark is tongue-in-cheek, or that it isn’t what it sounds like, viz. the plot of John Wyndham’s “The Chrysalids” where a girl with polydactyly (she had six toes) was condemned as a non-human to be destroyed since ‘humans made in the image and likeness of God have five toes and five fingers and anything else is an abomination’.

          An intelligent alien need not be in the need of salvation or baptism if he/she/it is (1) unfallen or (2) unensouled. Being in a humanoid shape does not mean you are in possession of a soul; being in the shape of a jellyfish does not mean you are not.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            …viz. the plot of John Wyndham’s “The Chrysalids” where a girl with polydactyly (she had six toes) was condemned as a non-human to be destroyed since ‘humans made in the image and likeness of God have five toes and five fingers and anything else is an abomination’.

            “BEWARE THOU OF THE MUTANT!”

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          EricW, please don’t start on “If the version of the translation of the Bible I have in my hand right this minute doesn’t have the exact phrasing and use the exact terminology I demand as evidence to convince me, then it’s an invention of humans and is sinful!!!!!” game. It’s too early (or too late) in the morning/night to play that game.

          It’s an old game, Martha. It’s called “Spiritual One-Upmanship.” Me Sheep, You Goat, Haw Haw Haw!

          And another divider excerpt from my latest novella to see print also touches on EricW’s attitude:

          “The reason the historic Church—both Catholic and Orthodox—not only survived the shocks of the Islamic Wars, Cyberpunk stagnation, First Contact, and interstellar society was that we had a past and a future. Many of the separated Christian communities had neither; instead of a past to draw upon, they had a mythological “holy history” ending with the Apostles; instead of a future, an imminent End of the Age. When the future came to pass regardless, they found themselves left behind.”
          — from “Dyads”, in Infinite Space, Infinite God II (if the publisher ever releases it…)

    • FollowerOfHim says:

      I think Martha’s point here about the encounter with the New World is very much to the point.

      Many a Jesuit missionary floating his misery-ridden way across the Atlantic must have pondered the theological difficulties imposed by there being humans in need of salvation who were geographically cut off any such possibilities for 1,500 years.

      Dog-headed people or not, solutions to such theological conundra have ranged from outright denial of natives’ humanity to Mormonism’s creative take. I suspect any encounter with aliens would be analogous and would include, in time, an accomadation within orthodox belief, as well as some form of Galactic Mormonism.

      • I posted a piece on my blog a while back on this topic and the first response I got was from a Mormon friend. I’m certainly not Mormon, but they are more ready for this eventuality than any evangelicals I know. In my mind it’s simply a matter of time before we must deal with this.

        • Irenicum, this is why we have the Vatican Space Programme.

          Okay, okay, it’s an observatory (in partnership with the University of Arizona) but still!

          That’s the cover story the secret team of Papal astronauts have to disseminate – why do you think it’s run by Jesuits?

          😉

          • There IS a Vatican space program, Martha. Read “The Sparrow,” by Mary Doria Russell. Really good, if harrowing.

        • “In my mind it’s simply a matter of time before we must deal with this.”

          I agree. But how much time? I suspect we’re talking 100s of years if not 1000s. Of course some end times folks will take issue with my numbers. 🙂

    • Are angels really “Life”? I think in this context life implies corporeal organic form. Scripture is pretty much silent on whether or not angels have bodies like us, and i feel the implication is that they do not.

      I think what’s being discussed here is life, as in beings evolved (or created… if that’s your thing) on another planet within our physical plane.

  5. I for one welcome our new alien overlords.

  6. “Do you think there is life elsewhere in the universe?”

    Maybe. Probably not, though. I went through a phase where I speculated “sheep in other folds” were aliens, though…

    “And if there is, how will God relate to this life? Is sin the same for them as it is for us? Would the payment for sin cost God the same on their planet as it cost him on ours?”

    This is the really interesting for me.

    I would say the mark of “sentience” (a big watch word in SF) is being created in the image and likeness of God. Otherwise, they would be clever animals, and fall under the care and husbandry role.

    Assuming sentience, there is the possibility of a whole parallel Biblical history for them (including a chosen nation, and Jesus – I think He could appear on multiple worlds, probably at the same time – adjusting for relativity!), and Bible (which would match ours, but in what language?).

    The other possibility is that they would need to be evangelized.

    • What if there was no fall? Presumably, Adam and Eve had the opportunity to not eat the fruit, right? Maybe on this alien world the life forms there never ate that fruit. Is that even possible? Or is it heresy to think so?

      • You should C.S. Lewis’ science fiction trilogy if you haven’t already. He deals with that exact question.

      • You’re right, I should have listed that possibility.

        Would they “walk with the Lord in the cool of the night”? Would we see Him?

        Would their planet be like antimatter, that our sinful natures are just instantly destroyed?

      • If God is infinite, which he must be to be God of all creation, then why couldn’t there be souls on millions of other planets?

        What if true, we were the only planet to know sin? What if for the health of the rest of the universe, earth is quarantined.

  7. I’m skeptical that intelligent life can be found on earth some days…

    Even if there is life in other parts of the universe, I think the chances of us ever knowing about it are very slim. The vast distances and amount of time at play make it almost statistically impossible. Really, unless someone builds some sort of spaceship that can actually overcome the speed of light, it seems like it would never be possible.

    • Actually, it just takes determination. The diameter of the galaxy is 100,000 ly (circumference = Pi * d). At .1 of light, you can travel half way around in <2e6 years. Even taking 10 years to set up replicators at 1 ly intervals (systems are much farther apart, so you would take the hit less often), you could do it in 2e7 (20 mil). Less than a dino-stomp.

  8. I think it’s important here to remember what Genesis tells us, that man was made in the image of God, and question whether both us and aliens could be made in the image of God. Of course, this only applies if such an alien were intelligent, since any unintelligent alien would effectively be equivalent to the many animals here on Earth (although, naturally, scientists would be much more fascinated by the alien life). However, while monkeys are not generally considered to be intelligent, they do show some amount of intelligence, so if it was claimed that life elsewhere were inteligent, we would have to question whether they were as intelligent as us, or if some scientists had just become overexcited by monkey-like intelligence.

    So, assuming that intelligent life similar to us were to exist elsewhere, we have to consider whether they were made in God’s image, whether they could receive grace and be saved, and whether or not they already know about Christ. I’ll go through these in turn.

    Firstly, would intelligent aliens be made in God’s image? I’ll start by stating that the Bible doesn’t give much information about alien life, however, we can consider what it means to be made in God’s image. I highly doubt it has much to do with appearance. Afterall, humans look quite similar to neanderthals, but I’m not sure I would consider neanderthals to be made in God’s image. This does however raise another question, since evidence suggests that all non-africans have a small amount of neanderthal DNA, so one could argue that non-africans could not be saved. In opposition, I would say that God’s image has little to do with DNA, because God clearly isn’t made up of DNA. I personally would say that being made in God’s image means to be able to know and love the Lord. If an intelligent alien could love God, then he is made in God’s image.

    Secondly, could an alien receive grace and be saved? This extends on my previous point, if an alien could know and love God, then I believe he could be saved, afterall, the grace of God extends to all nations, and “all” is not limited only to Earth. As well as this, Jesus tells us to go out and make disciples in all nations, and I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t therefore send missionaries into space to make disciples on other worlds.

    Finally, would an alien already know about Christ? Well I highly doubt that the death and resurrection will have occured on other planets, afterall, Jesus was the perfect sacrifice; why would he need to be sacrificed again if it was perfect the first time? Also, the death of Christ happened in one place on Earth, God could have had it happen at many places on Earth so more people could know about it and therefore be save, but he didn’t, one time was enough for everyone. So while an alien may not have witnessed Christs death and resurrection, there’s no reason why they can’t know about it. God used prophets in the past, he could very well use them elsewhere in the universe.

    In conclusion, aliens might exist, and if they’re able to love God then they might be saved. The existence of aliens wouldn’t affect my faith in Christ, since that faith comes from God and not from a lack of aliens. I think that’s everything I have to say.

  9. I do think there is intelligent life out there. I find it hard to believe that with billions of stars there is no other place on earth where the exact circumstances to create life didn’t also occur.

    As to whether the Almighty would be relevant to them? I don’t think so. When the ancient Jews referred to the Divine as melek ha olam I don’t think they meant olam to include the Americas let alone other planets.

    South Park did a hilarious take on this concept some years ago where you had the aliens and a handful of Ethiopians trying to avoid the missionaries and being in a constant space race to thwart their attempts to come run their lives.

  10. Dan Allison says:

    Anything’s possible. But I think that all of God’s purposes in Creation are focused right here, on earth, in the human race. Scripture says something to the effect that when Adam fell, the entire cosmos fell. If there’s ever what the “ufologists” call “disclosure,” I’m going to be very skeptical. Not to get too speculative, but I think many who’ve “seen” aliens or been “abducted” are deceived. There’s a church here in Florida that several years ago offered “ministry outreach” to UFO “abductees.”

    • Sort of like I said up earlier – if we ever do run across intelligent life, there are going to be some major earthquakes in various parts of Christianity. I suspect that the first reaction in parts will be the aliens-are-demons reaction. Probably be a few aliens-are-angels reactions too. A lot of that will depend on how the meetings come about.

  11. “I’m skeptical that intelligent life can be found on earth some days…”

    Brother, I hear you on that one. 🙂

    My personal viewpoint is that given the vastness of the universe there’s no reason to believe there can’t be intelligent (i.e. ensouled) life on other planets. And if so, I’m sure they have received the gospel message in a manner appropriate to their particular life-forms and circumstances. In spite of our earth-centric viewpoints there’s not reason to think God would have held off on giving people the good news one way or another.

  12. I think the only other intelligent life in the universe, besides God, is either demonic or angelic.

    • On what basis?

      • Since there is no Biblical answer to this question, my basis is like everyone else’s on this topic – my opinion.

        • ahumanoid says:

          Opinions are formed by reasoning. I was interested in your reasoning behind the statement.

          • I have yet to find any sound reasoning for either side of the argument on this entire page. 1 point for Christ

          • Buford Hollis says:

            What about Bigfoot? Does he count as intelligent or not?

          • ahumanoid,

            You had to ask.

            Obviously, this is pure speculation.

            If there is life other than that mentioned elsewhere in the universe, I think it would have had to have been created by the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob. This fits the monotheistic view.

            Since we were created in the image of God, I can’t imagine that God would do otherwise elsewhere.

            I also can’t imagine God creating a being in His image that had no will. There would have had to be a tree or something like it.

            Given that the “man” would have been like us, I doubt the result would have been different. Sin would have entered into that “world.”

            We know what the wages of sin is.

            We know the only answer for the forgiveness of those sins.

            I don’t see the Son of God going through what He did a second time. I’m not saying that he wouldn’t.

            An egocentric view? Maybe.

            I prefer to view it as an opinion of the value that God places on us. I don’t think any of us understands completely the love of God. Now, I am speaking about what happened through the crucifixion and not our special place in the universe.

            However, if we did understand the love of God fully, I think it would be more possible to understand our value. I’m not referring to the value that we place on ourselves, but the value that God places on us.

            The universe is vast…another thing that’s impossible to get our minds around.

            Did God create such vastness and chose this one spot to manifest himself to those in His image?

            I not only think it is possible, I think it is probable.

          • ahumanoid says:

            Thanks for explaining, Chris.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        On what basis?

        What else?

        “SCRIPTURE! SCRIPTURE! SCRIPTURE! SCRIPTURE! (TM)”

    • How do we know that angels aren’t from other planets?

      • Sarah,

        I have no idea what the complete capabilities of an angel are. Can they fly around the universe? Do they fly around the universe? I don’t know the answer to either of those. I don’t think the Bible speaks to it. Do they spend time in heaven? The answer to that question is “yes.” Revelation makes that clear. It’s also clear that they appear here at times.

        Are they “from other planets?” Can you be clearer about what you mean by “from other planets?” Are you asking about them living there? If so, I don’t know, but I don’t think so.

        • Just playing “what if”

          What if angels are from other planets or even other dimensions?

          I’m not suggesting I think such a thing is true. I’m only suggesting that an infinite God is capable of far more than we can comprehend.

  13. I think Lewis depicted some of the scenarios Martha described: “intelligent but unsouled, therefore a form of higher animal [Out of the Silent Planet?]; intelligent, ensouled and fallen, like us, [That Hideous Strength] in which case working out how God has prepared their salvation is going to be fascinating (and our part in that as well, if we have a part) or intelligent, ensouled, and unfallen [Perelandra]”

    I want to take a humble position on “working out how God has prepared their salvation” … When Paul brought the Gospel to Athens he said he was bringing knowledge of what they had previously called an unknown god. I think we tend to assume that in the scenario of meeting alien sentient beings, *we* would be the species in Paul’s position, but could it be the other way around? Perhaps they have, as a community, a closer relationship to God than we do? Just as the early Christians claimed a closer relationship to God than the Athenians. Just saying …

  14. Interesting artilce.

    only 20 light years from Earth LOL

    Surface temperature is a little less than desirable even in the “terminator” which has to be one of the more interesting terms in the article.

    • “only 20 light years from Earth LOL”

      Which would statistically imply there are a LOT of them out there.

      • Flintysooner says:

        Actually I think the system of the universe is probably too little understood for us to apply probability theory so I really don’t know if there might be many or few or any for that matter.

        And at 20 light years we will have to find some better way to travel there if we ever hope to know since we only conclude this planet exists from perceived gravitational changes.

        Probably a better chance that there is a greater variety of life quite different from what we know. Spectacular variety seems to be common in what we are able to apprehend.

        • Considering that there are somewhere around 130-150 stars within 20 light years of us, that would mean that we have two planets with life-bearing conditions among those stars.

          Either our little pocket of the galaxy hit the 1 in an octillion (roughly) chance to contain the only two life-friendly planets in the galaxy, or those planets are going to be pretty darned common.

          Even if those types of planets are so rare that we had to hit a 1 in a million chance to have gotten these two planets in the same batch of 150 stars, that still suggests there are over ten million planets like ours scattered around our galaxy.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Considering that there are somewhere around 130-150 stars within 20 light years of us, that would mean that we have two planets with life-bearing conditions among those stars.

            Actually, two non-gas-giants in Goldilocks orbits.

            With the limitations of today’s extrasolar planet detection technology, even the smallest we’ve found are significantly larger than Earth. Most likely you’d get a waterworld like one of the pre-Mariner theories about Venus — thick high-pressure atmosphere over an endless world-spanning ocean with no dry land anywhere.

          • I meant our own planet as one of the potentially life-friendly planets within our 20 ly sphere..

          • “Considering that there are somewhere around 130-150 stars within 20 light years of us, that would mean that we have two planets with life-bearing conditions among those stars.”

            I’d like to suggest that your statement is a bit too broad. This planet 20 LY away possibly maybe could have the conditions that might allow life. Maybe. When compared to all the others we’ve found. 🙂

  15. Josh Mueller says:

    Is it possible that God created intelligent life elsewhere ? Yes.
    Is it possible that these creatures may have self-awareness and God-awareness and the ability to make choices and judgments apart from God and against God’s design for them? Yes.
    Is it possible that they may need “salvation” in the same way we do? Yes.
    Is it possible that their way of salvation may require for God to incarnate Himself into their life-form and demonstrate self-sacrifice in order to communicate love and grace and to reconcile them to Himself? Yes.
    Is it likely that any of these possibilities actually occured? None of us knows and God apparently didn’t think we needed to know either.

    • “Is it likely that any of these possibilities actually occured? None of us knows and God apparently didn’t think we needed to know either.”

      Exactly. As I noted above, I personally think given the vastness of the universe it’s not only possible, but perhaps even likely that there is other intelligent life out there. And if there is, I’m sure God has worked that life into His plans as well.

      But am I going to be dogmatic about it? Not hardly. This is certainly good for idle speculation on an otherwise slow day. But lacking further proof idle speculation is about all it can be.

  16. Perhaps when Jesus said, “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.,” he wasn’t referring just to Jews and Gentiles? As Judy Tenuta says, “It could happen.”

    But I have a bone to pick with your wording, Jeff: “And if there is, how will God relate to this life?” Don’t you mean “And if there is, how does God relate to this life?” or maybe “And if there is, how has God related to this life?”

    And the only good answer is: We don’t know.

  17. P.S. – Everything else is arrogance on our part.

  18. There is (probably) life on other planets. Only God knows, and if it does exist, he created it. There are so many billions (trillions?) of other stars and galaxies that it just doesn’t add up for there not to be.

    Even here on Earth, life can be found in the harshest environments, at the bottom of canyons in the sea, with no light and under extreme pressure, and the diversity is just plain stunning. It’s evident that God loves life, lots of it, lots of different forms of it, and that he can put it just about anywhere.

  19. I suspect that the discovery of and communicative contact with superhuman (i.e., above humans in intelligence and other things) non-spiritual beings in the universe that have nothing like the Creation – Fall – Redemption story in their history would be a deathblow to Christianity and most other YHWH faiths, or at a minimum would cause a serious reworking of them such that the creation and fall and redemption only applied to this part of the universe and not to the whole supergalactic cosmos.

    • I don’t think so. There are faiths like the Reform and Reconstructionist branches of Judaism that have no real connection to a fall redemption type story. And I certainly know that the penal substitution is not the only paradigm in all of Christianity. Religions either adapt when faced with new facts or die. I suspect that many branches of Christianity would be just fine. Certainly Spong would be unphased by this development.

      • Well, the Reform and Reconstructionist forms of Judaism pretty much reject belief in the Biblical YHWH, so they’d be excluded from my grouping by definition. I grew up in Conservative and Reform Judaism.

        • cermak_rd says:

          I would disagree here if I could, however, your statement that they “reject belief in the Biblical” haShem, is of course, bounded by what your interpretation of the Biblical Almighty is. Do the Reform and Reconstructionists eliminate or highly downplay the concept of Messiah and eternal life? Absolutely. Is there reference to such in Torah? No, it was a later development. A deep yearning for a savior by a people oppressed and persecuted. Does the eviction from the garden signify a Fall needing Redemption? That concept does not seem to be present in Torah. The Almighty gives to His people a law, a system of ethics and states that they have the ability to keep them. That right there, indicates to me that there is no need of redemption aside from keeping the law and making sacrifice (or praying) for when we have failed to be righteous.

    • That’s an interesting statement. What morality are you supposing for them? Do they have concepts like “lying” or “stealing”? Greed?

    • EricW,

      It would be a deathblow, there is no doubt.

      If we do make “contact,” I think it will be with demonic influences masquerading as aliens.

      • That is why I strictly limited my comments to contact with “superhuman (i.e., above humans in intelligence and other things) non-spiritual beings.” I’m excluding angels and demons.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        If we do make “contact,” I think it will be with demonic influences masquerading as aliens.

        Note that this is one of the four ironclad tropes of Christianese attempts at SF.

        It comes from Christian Apocalyptic, where an “Earth and some lights in the sky” cosmos and “We Are Alone — except for God, Angels, and DEMONS” are necessary to retell the Book of Revelation by way of John Nelson Darby.

    • Not necessarily, EricW. A race that had no spiritual history need not affect our spiritual history – God has not (despite the popular image of St. Francis) sent a disciple to the sparrows or the whales or the gorillas.

      Saying that the creation only applied to this part of the universe seems to me to invalidate the rest of your point; indeed it is possible that the fall and redemption of Man only applies here.

      But lumping in creation with that sounds like you are saying that God only created humans here, and is not responsible for the super-aliens over there. Or that God only has dominion in one limited part of the supergalactic cosmos (therefore God is only a god). Or that God does not, after all, exist.

  20. Resistance is futile. Prepare to be assimilated.

  21. Hugh Ross gives good reasons for why we are the only organic life in the universe.
    “No” to another incarnation and death of God. Read Hebrews chapter 2. The Scripture argues that Jesus took on flesh to be like human beings, not angels. He did not die to save angels, so why would we conclude that he would desire to save any other rebellious beings?

  22. “And if there’s life on other planets, then I’m sure that he must know. And he’s been there once already, and has died to save their souls.” – Larry Norman.

  23. Let us all keep in mind that since the skies are made of water, we will probably find the same life in space as we do under the ocean. Fish, crabs, whales, things like that. All rotating around the earth, and all about 6000 years old.

    Looking to the Bible for guidance on a modern theological issue like this illustrates the very clear limitations of that book. Our theological thinking is handicapped by the ancient Hebrew’s lack of the revelation of science.

    I do think we can rest assured that God created those planets and knows when the smallest sparrow falls on Centaur. And we can hope that Earth is not a version of Canaan, prepared by God as the promised land for our new alien overlords.

    Frankly, I’m far more worried about the zombie apocalypse than I am about an alien invasion. Has no one ever realized that Lazarus may have been essentially the first zombie? I see no Bible verses that rule out the possibility that we’re all coming back as Jesus-loving zombies, munching on those Left Behind.

    • Science (from the Latin scientia, meaning “knowledge”) is an enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the natural world.

      If this is a true definition for “science,” it seems to me that the Bible lacks less than you think.

    • Buford Hollis says:

      Evangelicals needn’t concern themselves with the zombie apocalypse. No brains!

    • Fish, when it comes to zombies, I’m a Jacques Tourneur (“I Walked With A Zombie”) rather than a George Romero “Day/Dawn/Night/Tea-break of the Dead”) girl. I’m frankly cheesed-off by the recent modern re-invention of zombies as brain-munching shamblers, rather than the traditional undead who are both terrifying and pathetic, and would be much more likely to eat salt (which releases them from their unnatural state into true death) than human flesh.

      Besides, zombies have been overdone by this time, just as bad as vampires (and I’m a traditionalist there too). Werewolves never seem to attain the necessary level of mass popularity, so I’m willing to set up the next discussion here: what do you think will be the new monster of the month? Cyborgs? Reanimated á là Frankenstein’s monster? Something new?

      • Grey goo is a new favorite. Hasn’t gotten much play.

        • Mmmm – but it’s strangely uninvolving, somehow.

          Eeek! We are being destroyed by – a kind of sludgey thing that’s too small to see the individual units of. Kind of a boring way to go. If we have to have an apocalypse, it should at least be more exciting.

          Then again, if we’re talking horror (to switch genres for a moment) I prefer/get better scares from the supernatural element. Few years back I was reading a novel about a monster terrorising a small town and happily having the sugar scared out of me, as there were strong intimations of demonic (dum-dum-dum!!!!) influence, until about three-quarters the way through,the author pulled the ‘rational natural explanation’ bit and this was a (still murderous and dangerous) natural monster, with a scientific explanation,and that broke the mood immediately for me.

          The suspension of disbelief went “snap!” and though I finished the book, I didn’t get the enjoyment out of the rest of it. Because if it’s a physical, natural monster, all the Heroic Monster-Slayers need to do is to acquire sufficiently large guns (or sufficient quantities of high explosive) and that’s your problem solved, whereas when it was a seemingly-supernatural entity, what do you do? When guns or bombs won’t kill it?

          So yeah – can’t see grey goo becoming as iconic as Frankenstein, Dracula or the Wolfman.

          • Actually, I’m reading a book right now (“Bloom” by Wil McCarthy). It is SF, not horror, but he manages to make things pretty tense and interesting.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Few years back I was reading a novel about a monster terrorising a small town and happily having the sugar scared out of me, as there were strong intimations of demonic (dum-dum-dum!!!!) influence, until about three-quarters the way through,the author pulled the ‘rational natural explanation’ bit…

            i.e. what we call “The Scooby-Doo Ending.”

      • Zombie Christian says:

        ZOMBIE BEST MONSTER. JESUS SAY EAT FLESH. ZOMBIE FOLLOW JESUS.

        • This made me laugh much harder than it should have. 🙂

        • Oh, stop it.

          You’re reminding me of a vampire story by Alan Ryan called “Following the Way” in which vampire Jesuits subsist on the Precious Blood.

          🙂

  24. “We borrow the gospel image of the lost sheep. The pastor leaves the 99 in the herd for go look for the one that is lost. We think that in this universe there can be 100 sheep, corresponding to diverse forms of creatures. We that belong to the human race could be precisely the lost sheep, sinners who have need of a pastor. God was made man in Jesus to save us. In this way, if other intelligent beings existed, it is not said that they would have need of redemption. They could remain in full friendship with their Creator…Jesus has been incarnated once, for everyone. The incarnation is an unique and unrepeatable event. I am therefore sure that they, in some way, would have the possibility to enjoy God’s mercy, as it has been for us men.” – Father Funes, Director of the Vatican observatory.

    • The irony of this quote is striking. In most science fiction stories, the beings from other planets are the evil monsters. What if we are actually the alien monsters? Long before “Avatar”, Lloyd Biggle, Jr. wrote a science fiction novel titled “Monument”, about a paradise-like planet endangered by colonization and exploitation by human explorers.

  25. Has anyone read the second through fourth books in Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game series? One of the more interesting subplots in the later books is how Christianity and the Church relates to some newly-discovered alien races. One of the secondary characters becomes a missionary to the “piggies.” I think in the last or second-to-last book they make passing reference to one of the “piggies” becoming the first alien Catholic priest. I tell ya, Card does an amazing job at asking the right questions with these stories.

    • The funny thing is, Card is a Mormon…

      • Buford Hollis says:

        In “Speaker for the Dead,” the planet with the Piggies was established as having been settled by Brazilians, hence the prominence of Catholicism. (I believe that Card did his mission in Brazil.)

  26. Buford Hollis says:

    I assume that life elsewhere does exist, and that some of it is at least as complex as us. Now on to the question of saving their souls:

    1. What kind of creatures possess “souls,” whatever that means? Only “intelligent” ones? (Or potentially intelligent ones, such as human infants.) What IS “intelligence,” anyway–can we admit radically different kinds? And are souls possessed only by creatures with individuality, or could they be hive creatures like ants?

    2. The concept of “sin” presupposes a certain view of good and evil (i.e., ethics / morality / conscience) which is in turn based on certain peculiarities of our biology. (We die, we have children, we are social animals, etc.) Aliens might well turn out to be utterly different. What counts as “sin” for the tiger, or an intelligent creature like the tiger? Not to eat the gazelle…?

    3. The notion that the life, death, and (claimed) resurrection of Jesus could have any relevance to people–let alone nonhuman creatures–very far removed from the culture of Christianity is laughably myopic. Have we learned nothing from Copernicus? Or to look at it another way, suppose some alien pointed to the life and death of Zoltar the Arcturan as the axis mundi of universal history. Would that sound plausible to you?

    • I suspect that upon review we would simply find that Zoltar’s life and death on Arcturas took place at about the same time as the life and death of Jesus the Messiah.

      Now, with our earth-centric viewpoint a lot of people would still have a melt-down over the whole thing, But that would not change the reality that God chose a specific point of time in history to provide salvation to the universe.

      • “Specific point in time” and things like that aren’t possible statements when comparing dates and passage of time between things moving at vastly different speeds and accelerations.

        30 years here on Earth can stretch to cover centuries or millenia in Andromeda, and would take place at drastically different times in different places even here in our own galaxy.

        There isn’t a single, God-like reference frame from which to measure time for everywhere. The passage of time depends on the relatives speeds and accelerations. That planet that happens to be moving along at .8 c away from us in a different galaxy would see us moving at VERY different time rates than what he sees around itself..

        • Ah, but time moving at different rates in different locations does not invalidate the idea of having a single, universe-wide event, especially if that event is coordinated by One who stands outside both time and the universe itself. It just means that someone with a good understanding of such things, with a decent computer, would have to spend some time figuring out the relative timeframes to confirm all of the events in question did, indeed, take place at the same point in history.

          • You’re missing the point – God himself can’t say that two things happened at the same time for different observers traveling in different frames of reference. Or at least He can’t if He doesn’t mess with the laws of physics.

            If God messed with the laws of physics to change all of spacetime throughout the universe so that multiple events all over the universe happened at the same “time”, then everything we know of space and time didn’t apply at that point because of a miraculous intervention by God.

            Outside of such interventions, though, there is no such thing as simultaneous events for all observers in different frames of reference. If you haven’t studied Relativity, I know that sounds weird, but Relativity changes things like the order in which things happen for observers in different frames of reference.

            For one observer, A happened before B which happened before C. For a different observer, C happened before B which happened before A. That’s not just an effect of the time it takes light beams to travel – that’s the real existence of when things happened for the second observer.

            That’s a very well established fact, both theoretically and experimentally. In fact, your computer chips wouldn’t work if that weren’t taken into account. When designing computer chips, we have to take into account the fact that for some electrons, switches are not turned on and off in the same order as the chip sees them turned on and off. If we didn’t plan for that, your computers wouldn’t work.

            For an observer in Andromeda, Christ has born over a million years ago. That’s not an effect of how long it takes light to travel from here to there – it’s an effect of space and time itself.

            The only way in which even God could say something happened at the exact same time all over the universe is if He changed space and time to work differently than how they work now.

        • I’ll defer to those who are better trained in the math and physics of this issue but I don’t think you’re applying the rules of relativity correctly in your arguments.

    • “What counts as “sin” for the tiger, or an intelligent creature like the tiger? Not to eat the gazelle…?”

      No more than you or I eating a juicy steak counts as sin. On the other hand, if the intelligent tiger is eating an equally intelligent gazelle, then it may count as murder (not quite cannibalism, since they are different species). If the tiger is a pure carnivore, then his eating meat is a necessary part of his nature and not sinful. He can stuff his tiger face with as many gazelles – providing they are not equal creatures – as he can kill (but cruelty and malice in the killing are tendencies to sinfulness which he would do well to avoid) . He should also avoid gluttony, if it comes to that, so maybe not quite as many gazelles as he can kill.

      🙂

      To quote Chesterton from the Father Brown story “The Blue Cross”:

      “The taller priest nodded his bowed head and said:

      “Ah, yes, these modern infidels appeal to their reason; but who can look at those millions of worlds and not feel that there may well be wonderful universes above us where reason is utterly unreasonable?”

      “No,” said the other priest; “reason is always reasonable, even in the last limbo, in the lost borderland of things. I know that people charge the Church with lowering reason, but it is just the other way. Alone on earth, the Church makes reason really supreme. Alone on earth, the Church affirms that God himself is bound by reason.”

      The other priest raised his austere face to the spangled sky and said:

      “Yet who knows if in that infinite universe–?”

      “Only infinite physically,” said the little priest, turning sharply in his seat, “not infinite in the sense of escaping from the laws of truth.”

      …”Reason and justice grip the remotest and the loneliest star. Look at those stars. Don’t they look as if they were single diamonds and sapphires? Well, you can imagine any mad botany or geology you please. Think of forests of adamant with leaves of brilliants. Think the moon is a blue moon, a single elephantine sapphire. But don’t fancy that all that frantic astronomy would make the smallest difference to the reason and justice of conduct. On plains of opal, under cliffs cut out of pearl, you would still find a notice-board, `Thou shalt not steal.'”

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Ah, just before Father Brown lowers the boom on Flambeau, high-society thief posing as a priest!

        “You argued against Reason. It’s bad theology.”

        • I am manfully (womanfully?) resisting the urge to spam this thread with Chesterton quotes.

          I love the Father Brown stories to bits. Stop me before I get onto “The Queer Feet”:

          “”I don’t know his real name,” said the priest placidly, “but I know something of his fighting weight, and a great deal about his spiritual difficulties. I formed the physical estimate when he was trying to throttle me, and the moral estimate when he repented.”

          “Oh, I say–repented!” cried young Chester, with a sort of crow of laughter.

          Father Brown got to his feet, putting his hands behind him. “Odd, isn’t it,” he said, “that a thief and a vagabond should repent, when so many who are rich and secure remain hard and frivolous, and without fruit for God or man? But there, if you will excuse me, you trespass a little upon my province. If you doubt the penitence as a practical fact, there are your knives and forks. You are The Twelve True Fishers, and there are all your silver fish. But He has made me a fisher of men.”

          Oops – too late 🙂

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        No more than you or I eating a juicy steak counts as sin. On the other hand, if the intelligent tiger is eating an equally intelligent gazelle…

        As Dover Cheetah almost does in this classic strip from the online comic Suburban Jungle?

        I used this strip at a con panel many-many years ago about “Transcending the Animal.” And here’s the point I made then:

        If this were just a four-legger cheetah taking down a four-legger antelope on the Serengeti, it’d be just another scene from a nature documentary. (Only objection might be from PETA.)

        But these are two-leggers, in clothing, and though there’s no dialogue in this particular strip, they also speak. (Dover’s a computer geek burnout case — can only speak in C++ code — but he still speaks.) Now it shifts from a nature documentary to something like a serial killer ambushing a victim.

        The difference is the difference between animals and people.

    • “Have we learned nothing from Copernicus?”

      I’ll just remind you that Copernicus was the brother of an Augustinian canon, a nun, the nephew of a bishop, and a cleric himself, buried (literally) in the church, and does not seem to have any difficulty reconciling his mathematical researches and his Christianity.

      😉

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Have we learned nothing from Copernicus?

      You mean Father Kopernik?

      • Buford Hollis says:

        That makes him sound like some kind of Pollack.

        (In my best Archie Bunker voice: “Hey Meathead, the earth don’t go ’round the sun, that’s Commie talk!”)

        • According to the Wikipedia article, Melanchthon (Luther’s friend) was no more impressed than Mr. Bunker:

          “Some of Copernicus’ close friends turned Protestant, but Copernicus never showed a tendency in that direction. The first attacks on him came from Protestants. Wilhelm Gnapheus, a Dutch refugee settled in ElblÄ…g, wrote a comedy in Latin, Morosophus (The Foolish Sage), and staged it at the Latin school that he had established there. In the play, Copernicus was caricatured as a haughty, cold, aloof man who dabbled in astrology, considered himself inspired by God, and was rumored to have written a large work that was moldering in a chest.

          Elsewhere Protestants were the first to react to news of Copernicus’ theory. Melanchthon wrote:

          Some people believe that it is excellent and correct to work out a thing as absurd as did that Sarmatian [i.e., Polish] astronomer who moves the earth and stops the sun. Indeed, wise rulers should have curbed such light-mindedness.”

          Still, they did change their minds eventually and caught up with us progressive Papists 😉

          (Sorry, it’s just that I’m fed-up to the back teeth with the popularly-peddled notion of persecuting Popes setting the Inquistion onto the track of scientists in order to keep the masses ignorant and crush the scientific method, free enquiry, private conscience, and human freedom – presumably in between kicking puppies and drowning kittens).

          • Eric Hinkle says:

            (Sorry, it’s just that I’m fed-up to the back teeth with the popularly-peddled notion of persecuting Popes setting the Inquistion onto the track of scientists in order to keep the masses ignorant and crush the scientific method, free enquiry, private conscience, and human freedom – presumably in between kicking puppies and drowning kittens).

            I agree with this 100% Man does it get tiresome in the gaming and other fannish communtiies when you listen to some mouthbreather spewing not only bigoted but in many cases disproven anti-Catholic and Christian tirades: “The KKKatholics burned 100 millionGoddess worshippers in the Middle Ages! The Christians burned Galileo at the stake for saying that the earth was round! The Christians persecuted Darwinism for no reason!” The urge to choke the stupid out of some people can get overwhelming…

  27. I’m afraid if we decide that our faith does apply to aliens then we’ll end up with an interstellar version of the Crusades and such, with humans going out and forcing other species to convert. Maybe the question should be not whether God relates to them or not, but whether we have the right to decide that and impose our own beliefs on them. After all, we’re imperfect. And until we go to heaven and see God with our own eyes, our beliefs are just that – beliefs, not facts. So, do we have the right to decide how God and the Bible apply to alien life? And if so, do we have the right to impose that decision on them?

    • I especially like Buford Hollis’ third point. Seen from a galactic perspective, Christianity is only one point of view out of many. Who is to say that it is the right one (or that there IS a right one)?

  28. I think the odds are that there is intelligent life on other planets somewhere. The universe is just so big, it seems to be too odd to think that only earth has a developed species. Besides, there are too many stories through the centuries of people having seen things that appeared to come from some place other than earth. If so, then they would be a more technologically developed species than humans are, since we don’t know how to travel so fast to get to places that have intelligent life the way these aliens may have done. IF they exist, I hope they will be friendly to us. I hope they can help us.

    Wasn’t there a story about an astronaut (it may have been a Russian one) who claimed to have seen a large angel outside his spaceship (capsule?) window? Well, I just did a quick internet search and came across http://www.wedg.millenniumweekend.org/forum/archive/index.php?t-274.html That is the story I remembered. What do you think they saw? Angels? Aliens? Demons? Or was it their imagination? Or do you think the whole story was made up?

    I need more understanding of being “ensouled.” What is a soul? Do humans HAVE souls or are humans, in fact, souls? Do animals have souls? If not, why not? What is a ghost? Jesus seems to have accepted that ghosts existed because when some of his disciples saw him after the resurrection, at first they thought he was a ghost. He told them “a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”

    • Quick and ignorant reply: aha! Humans are spirits who have souls and are in a body. It’s not a simple splitting down the middle between soul/body.

      As for do animals have souls? Aha! again – my man Tommy A. following in the footsteps of Aristotle divides it up into the vegetative soul, the sensitive soul and the intellective or rational soul.

      Basically the formulation is “the soul is the form of the body”, that is, the soul is the element or principle which imposed upon physical matter makes a thing be the thing it is. Plants have vegetative souls (that is, the element that makes them alive, feed, grow, and reproduce in the simplest form); animals, being a higher form of life, have sensitive souls, and humans, being the highest form of life, have rational souls which have the power of exercising intelligence. This last is the one which is directly created by God and which we mean when we speak of “the soul”.

      http://www.newadvent.org/summa/1075.htm

      That’s probably left you more confused than when you began 🙂

  29. I think after creating us, he might be re-thinking his plans for the rest of the universe:)

    • mick…I went to your website by clicking on your name. Is the landscape photo at the top of the page a photo of where you live? How beautiful it is!

  30. If Yahweh created the universe and then eventually in time and space decided to intervene in a small corner of it called Earth through a process called Immanuel, God with us, then I don’t see any inherent problem with God working through other sentient organic beings elsewhere. Their “Immanuel” would have the same qualities as ours, though the imagery and lingo would obviously be quite different. We should also consider our Eastern Orthodox brothers and sisters who see the incarnation as saving the cosmos in toto. An important consideration in this conversation.

    • Buford Hollis says:

      If some Christians can accept multiple saviors in the universe–one for each world, intelligent species, whatever–then why can’t they accept Buddha and Christ as equals?

      On this understanding, if an alien decides to worship Christ instead of Zoltar the Arcturan (assuming this to be the “true” religion for his world or species), is that okay? And what if a human decides to worship Zoltar the Arcturan? (See http://www.rael.org )

      • Because Buddha’s message is incompatible with Christ’s.

        Buddha taught that through our own efforts, we can break the cycle of suffering (and be rewarded with annihilation). That there is no eternal justice, no price that can pay for sin.

        Christ taught that He paid the price for sin, and that it is available to all freely (a gift from God, not based on our efforts).

        • Buford Hollis says:

          All right then–how about if we found some other religious founder who taught more or less the same thing as Jesus, but his followers say that HE (i.e., the other guy) died for our sins. Would his claim be any less plausible than that of Zoltar the Arcturan?

          • In such a scenario, it sounds like a manifestation of Jesus being omnipresent (or at least in two places at once).

          • Maybe the Mormons already solved this one: Jesus was in Israel. And Jesus was in North America. Can’t take much to add Planet Q can it?

            The rub, of course, is that it seems fairly likely that Jesus / Zoltar, even if they were the same, would have their teachings interpreted differently owing to the different histories of the two, totally separate societies. If Presbyterians and Baptists or Roman Catholics and Orthodox can walk into a theological conference and come out cross and frustrated, imagine how the Christian / Zoltar cult dialog will sound!

      • I imagine that would depend if we were worshipping Zoltar the Arcturan as another Son of God (i.e. Jesus is not the Only-Begotten Son) or as the Second Person of the Trinity incarnate in another form (complete with tentacles).

        In the second case, I think that might be permissible but probably discouraged (better for each to venerate the saviour as revealed to his or its own world). In the first case, definitely no – no more than you can be syncretic about Christ and Krishna.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          I imagine that would depend if we were worshipping Zoltar the Arcturan as another Son of God (i.e. Jesus is not the Only-Begotten Son) or as the Second Person of the Trinity incarnate in another form (complete with tentacles).

          No tentacles in this example, just fur and a tail:

          What if you have a species (the upright foxies mentioned elsewhere) who scent-bond and mate for life? Who define the first two Persons of the Trinity not as Father-and-Son, but a Male-Female mated pair?

          Among humans, a God-and-Goddess godhead sooner or later drifts into a fertility cult and ends up worshipping sex. You can get some really crazy and ugly syncretisms if one species converts to the revealed faith of the other — the humans turn the alien revelation of the Trinity into God-and-Goddess sex-worship and the aliens end up substituting Mary for Christ in a Reformer’s nightmare.

          Because of this, in the story whose interludes I’ve already quoted in this thread, the Church and its alien equivalent (commonly called “The Foxy Vatican”) have instituted a mutual “No Sheep-Rustling/Foxhunting” policy. And then some Neo-Evangelical Neo-Prot missionary who doesn’t hold to this idea (but the one that the aliens have to be Altar-Call SAVED) gets desperate as his culturally-clueless “Witnessing!” bears no fruit and does something really destructive and stupid…

          • LOL, I love it! 🙂

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Oh, it gets better.

            The same aliens’ “Hymn of Creation” that starts out their liturgies symbolically implies they originated as an Uplift from a non-sentient predecessor species when their species has NO living close biological relative. Their skeptics and atheists had a field day with that, proposing (since this was before “missing link” fossils were discovered) Spontaneous Generation Ex Nihilo.

            “Imagine Genesis 1 implying uplift from a predecessor species if Earth’s only living primates were humans and lemurs…”

          • Ah, here is where we start getting into deep waters (and the perennial dangers of accidentaly stumbling into heresy; we might even invent a new one if we’re lucky!)

            Not so much the first two Persons of the Trinity, but taking the Third Person as the personified Love of the Father for the Son and the Son for the Father, the representation of Wisdom/Sophia as female, the relationship between the Spirit and Wisdom (as one of the gifts, signs or manifestations of the Spirit), the notion that as spirit God is neither male nor female, and the mediaeval mystics’ ideas of ‘Mothering Jesus’ –

            – we could, theoretically, come some ways towards meeting your intelligent foxes in the middle regarding a female element to the Trinity. Not necessarily a God/Goddes dyad, nor even Father/Mother/Son (or Father/Son/Daughter) but the female element of God-as-Mother.

            And get ourselves into a lot of hot water while we’re at it, too.

          • Seeing as how some people have the idea that Mary is somehow regarded by Catholics as the fourth member of the Trinity (or as a goddess, since they tend to hyperventilate over the title “Queen of Heaven” and invoke Isis and Ishtar), and since one formulation of Our Lady’s relationship to the Trinity refers to Mary as “Daughter of the Father, Spouse of the Spirit, Mother of the Son”, then there’s a very good chance of that type of confusion arising.

            Not replacing Christ, but elevating Mary to the Goddess/Spouse of God notion. And yeah, going the Tantric sex ritual route/fertility rites road while we’re at it.

            I can all-too-easily see a mixed syncretic neo-Catholic/post-First Contact fox cult with humans and foxes in the congregation doing the whole “Gerald Gardner-secret tradition of witchcraft-really made up out of whole cloth” thing.

          • Eric Hinkle says:

            Ken, listen to what Martha says, it sounds great for the foxies.

          • Eric!

            I will not be responsible for inspiring a mixed human-alien cult of heretical orgiasts!

            (Or at least, not unless I get a credit in the dedications if I am)

            😉

  31. The Lord Jesus would be their Lord as well (whether they have heard of Him or not) since He is the Incarnation of God and there can be no other.

    Also, Christ redeemed the entire Universe through His death, since He is physically part of the Universe. The Cross was not only a debt payment for sin, but a redemption of the entire Universe. In a sense, He has redeemed even our pets which He has power to resurrect on the Last Day if He pleases.

    Maybe the other creatures would be called to repent and be baptized (the Scripture says to preach the Gospel to all creatures) but I think they’d probably become angry for suggesting that they need to submit to a “dirty hairy human” as their Lord and God.

    • “Also, Christ redeemed the entire Universe through His death”

      I don’t remember the work universe in my readings. And I’ll be the first to admit I’m a bit ignorant here but UNIVERSE?

      • Assuming Gus means Romans 8:22 “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.”

        Do we interpret St. Paul as meaning “the whole of creation” = what we’d call the universe, or does he mean our local situation? I’ll let the exegesists fight that one out.

        • Martha, I am not an exegesist (I have a hard time even saying the word) but I will go with “whole creation” meaning universe.

          • I’d disagree. To say that “whole creation” means universe means that God must have been sticking in secret meanings into the Bible that are only able to be understood by humans who are technologically advanced enough.

            That’s a dangerous track to go down. You start having people who claim that the creatures in Revelation were really helicopters and tanks, and that imagery was describing nuclear war, and that 666 is actually referring to microchips.

            It is a solid practice for all Bible interpretation to maintain that statements do not mean different things than what they tried to communicate to their audience.

            Their audience may have missed the point of the communication (many people totally misunderstood Jesus’ parables, for example) but we can’t take things said in the Bible to mean something completely different than what could be understood to the people listening.

            The people to whom Paul was speaking couldn’t possibly have known of other galaxies and planets around other stars. Creation referred to everything they could see around them, and putting in secret meanings that we can only understand with advanced technology opens up the path to getting helicopters and tanks out of some of the creatures described in Revelation.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            That’s a dangerous track to go down. You start having people who claim that the creatures in Revelation were really helicopters and tanks, and that imagery was describing nuclear war, and that 666 is actually referring to microchips.

            Hal Lindsay, Late Great Planet Earth (original edition, early 1970s). Based on the assumption that in the Book of Revelation, God showed John a movie of what would happen when the world ended (in the 1970s at the latest) and left John to describe it as best he could.

            1) The “helicopters” were Lindsay’s interpretation of the Plague of Demon Locusts — not just helicopters, but helicopter gunships (shaped like locusts) armed with chemical weapons (their sting) and piloted by long-haired bearded hippies.

            2) Lindsay also interpreted ALL the plagues of Revelation as nuclear weapons effects — the “stars falling from the sky” being ICBM warheads on re-entry, the “sun darkened and moon turned to blood” from all the smoke of firestorms in the atmosphere, “Wormwood” and “seas turned to blood” being from radioactive contamination, “Sun scorching men with great heat” from ozone depletion by all the nuclear explosions… This “History Written in Advance” triggered a form of Grinning Apocalyptism of the time I called “Christians For Nuclear War.”

    • Gus writes, “In a sense, He has redeemed even our pets which He has power to resurrect on the Last Day if He pleases.”

      I hope so, Gus. We had a great cat…Furbish. I would like to see him again and watch him do his Furbish flop and hear him purr. Sweet kitty cat. More like a dog in some ways. Great hunter too. He even brought home a small rabbit one time!

      • I hope so too. Silly humans can claim to be living souls and more than animals if they want. But Our Resident Linguist Professor Tolkien, my African Gray Parrot, is a splendid fellow who would be perfectly happy to drop colored blocks off of tables in the great beyond. And, I dare say, force me to pick them all back up, again and again.

        Plus, he can fly, which is automatically makes him cooler than a mammal. Soul-smoul, its the feathers that count.

        • And if loving people unconditionally makes a creature something like God, dogs have got it all over humans in that arena.

  32. Perhaps when Jesus said, “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.,” he wasn’t referring just to Jews and Gentiles, but to other planets? As Judy Tenuta says, “It could happen.”

    But I have a bone to pick with your wording, Jeff: “And if there is, how will God relate to this life?” Don’t you mean “And if there is, how does God relate to this life?” or maybe “And if there is, how has God related to this life?”

    And the only good answer is: We don’t know. Any other answer (to me at least) seems to stem from arrogance and pride on our part.

  33. Contact with aliens and / or extended space travel by humanity would be wonderful. Think of all the novels about priests (or Mormons!) in space. Religion would do some interesting acrobats, but it would continue.

    On a more sober note, I think the themes we are already seeing in this conversation will prove very troublesome should we tomorrow meet another race we in the far reaches of space. The idea of human beings being ensouled (possibly in a unique way) and the earth being a center of God’s action in the cosmos brings with it all the idealogical tools you need to regard another intelligent race as in need of immediate cultural domination. And since they might not ‘have souls’ – whatever we mean by that concept – we might be tempted to think that we are properly superior and masters to them. Our most readily available cultural categories for describing the souless other is “animal” and of course we have a long and bad history with interpreting racial difference – let alone a non-human ‘racial’ difference.

    The other possibility, of course, is that the other race will be smarter / faster / more advanced than us, in which case we’d better hope they don’t think too much like we do!

    We also had better hope we do not taste like chicken. Entry in alien book: “Humans: A foreign species that are good for slaves. They taste good with ketchup. They are very creative, but they extraordinarily bad memories. Due to their cleverness and general unpredictability, it is unwise ever to house too many of them together, as aggression may result.”

    • Danielle writes, “We also had better hope we do not taste like chicken.”

      That’s funny!

      • I hear, from accounts written during the worst moments of the Crusades, that we taste a bit like pork.

        • Eric Hinkle says:

          That’s what cannibals usually say when asked. Human flesh tastes like fine, sweet pork. Sorry, I read some very strange books.

          • There’s a biological basis for this. We’re very close to pigs genetically at many levels. Which is why pigs and people pass diseases back and forth easily.

            Which is why pork is a bad food source if you can’t cook it thoroughly. And can be a bad livestock if you can’t keep it’s byproducts well segregated from the people’s water and other food supplies.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          I can verify that from experience:

          Two weeks ago, I burned the roof of my mouth pretty bad on some too-hot soup. My mouth lining sloughed off into white strips the color and consistency of cooked pork fat. A taste of roast pork filled my mouth, and could only have come from the sloughed-off mouth lining. (The roof of my mouth is now healed and back in action; just in time for me to burn it again on a bowl of sausage and baked beans last week…)

    • One of the sillier positions put out by various Christian groups is the claim that the Earth really is the center of the universe.

      One guy, a Dr. Lisle has even put out a paper to explain how light could travel to us in less than 6000 years – the Earth is at the center of the universe, and light travels infinitely fast TOWARD earth but only moves at half the speed of light AWAY from earth. And for some reason, light always travels infinitely fast directly toward the earth even as the earth orbits the sun and travels around the galaxy.

      He’s part of a group which I think would blow a collective gasket if we do come across intelligent aliens.

      • Buford Hollis says:

        I vaguely recall a sci-fi novel in which aliens were revealed to be demons who come from a black hole hidden within the earth. Their purpose was to trick humans into believing in evolution. There was a scene of a trance-channeler in Arizona or New Mexico being possessed by one and inviting the New Agers to join the United Federation of Planets. (There are real groups like this.) Oh yeah, and the hero and heroine co-author a novel together which has the same plot as the book that they’re in, which was also written by a husband-and-wife team. Anybody remember the name of the book?

        • Demons from a black hole in the center of the earth?!!?!?

          I’ve been witness to the junk that gets submitted to fairly mainline publishing companies, so I can’t say that it really shocks me that someone wrote something like that. What shocks me is that someone published it!!!!!

  34. My opinions on this are exactly counter-intuitive to the usual religion v. skepticism dichotomy. Usually one would imagine that the religious person would argue that intelligent life exists only on Earth while the skeptic of religion would insist that such life must also exist in many, perhaps countless, places throughout the universe. I would argue that if there is intelligent life throughout the universe, then that suggests most strongly that there must be a God who created that life. If there is no God and life exists only as a result of chance+time, then I think it is logical to assume that the existence of intelligent life is at best exceedingly rare and may well be unique to our planet.

    I think we seriously underestimate just how many variables have to come together at once in order to allow for the possibility that life would a) emerge to begin with, and b) evolve to the point where it becomes sentient. And if there is no God, then we must also sssume that even if all the variables came together, they may not necesssarily create life which evolves to a sentient state. However, if God does exist, then we may freely speculate that sentient life is popping up all over the universe like mushrooms after a spring rain if only He wills it.

    A lot of the speculation about intelligent life elsewhere in the universe, and especially most of the fictional representations of the concept seem to reflect a presumption that existence everywhere in the universe tends toward the emergence and evolution of life, and I do not think this is a necessary proposition. I find the “waste of space” argument entirely unpersuasive, especially when coming from an atheist perspective. If there is no God, there is no one to “waste space.” Space cares not for the waste thereof.

  35. Ouch – troublesome indeed. I hadn’t thought of it in this context, but consider the mechanism by which western Europe came to dominate much of the world: The Right of Christian Discovery. Very simply, if you were under the dominion of a “Christian prince” (i.e. a western European monarch), all was good. If you weren’t, then you were a pagan, often considered less than human, and you’re land came under the dominion of my monarch by the simple right of discovery.

    Could we do the same if we discovered other civilazations on other planets? I wouldn’t want to bet against it. And even if it could be shown that Buford’s Zoltar the Arcturan was another incarnation of The Messiah we would certainly be capable of rejecting belief in him as pagan in the name of conquest.

    • Oops, how did this get out there by itself? This was supposed to be a response to Danielle’s comment.

    • Surely we’ve made some progress since 1492?

      Sorry, I find it hard to believe that a human race where conquest and colonialism is largely regarded as undeniably backward and evil would automatically revert to conquest and colonialism upon contact with life on other planets. It seems far more likely that we will be the object of their conquest and colonialism at this juncture in history.

      • Let’s skip the words conquest and colonialism and just go with the following.

        In almost all (all?) of human history the more technology advanced group has eventually overrun the others. Some times it takes a while but it always seems to happen.

        And just note that advanced doesn’t have to mean they live in modern houses with running water. It usually comes down to who can better fight. And it cases where it hasn’t happened there was usually not economic reason to fight. At the moment.

      • Progress: I don’t know. I am ambiguous on this one. We certainly have the capacity to critique colonialism at this juncture in our history and I do have faith that many people would respond in a constructive way. There are certain mistakes that won’t be made again, at least not in exactly the same way. Then again, I find much of what goes on between nations in the realms of resource exploitation and foreign relations to be less than encouraging indicators about our collective virtue.

        My greatest hope is that, after a period of initial terror, cross-species contact would lead to completely novel questions being asked and maybe great gains in our view of ourselves and universe. My greatest fear would be that upon sensing a potential threat from the depths of space, every sort of paranoia would break out, and governments would immediately begin massive military build-up while insisting upon total political submission to the program. And Lord help them if they are sitting on top of a very valuable source of energy, just as we run out oil.

        I think we are capable of better behavior, but it will take every ounce of our collective commitment to stop the more opportunistic or paranoid among us from running the show.

        That said, the scholar and explorer in me wants to hope for the best and would love to see such a discovery take place. Or at least a space colony.

      • Progress? Since 1492? Okay, let’s fast forward to 1823, to the Supreme Court’s Johnson v. M’Intosh decision. We (that is, the U.S.A.) took upon ourselves the role of conqueror and the corresponding right of Christian Discovery, and took away equal nation status from the First Nations people and downgraded them to conquered tribes. And this decision still drives U.S. policy towards Native Americans today.

        And that doesn’t even begin to get into other issues of Manifest Destiny, and how that still drives America’s foreign policy to this day.

        So no, I’m not convinced we’ve made all that much progress since 1492.

        • I wasn’t aware that the only nation that could possibly come in contact with alien life is the United States of America. I was speaking of progress in the sense of humanity, and the fact that although conquest and colonialism was SOP for every civilization a few centuries ago, it is now generally considered to be a wrong thing to do.

          But don’t let me stop your U.S.-centric pessimissm.

          • I’m speaking from the perspective of that which I best know and understand, certainly. But one does not need to go too far, to places like Kosovo, or to African nations where active genocide is taking place while the world turns a blind eye, to realize that things have not changed as much as our “Enlightened” sensibilities (or is that rose-colored glasses) would have us believe.

  36. Jeff Dunn, look what you started. Please, please post responsibly.

    • Hey, I’m finding this much more encouraging than the Hell post 😛

      • Indeed. Maybe we need to have an imonk sci-fi read-in.

        The possibilities are endless, and surprising number of sci fi writers play with religious themes.

        You know you all want to read Hyperion by Dan Simmons …. (Think: Canterbury Tales in space, complete with a priest’s tale!) 🙂

        • Oh, Danielle. You don’t know what you’ve started. 🙂

          Off the top of my head: yes, I’ve read “Hyperion” and of course the Lewis Space Trilogy. Strangely enough, I’ve never read “A Canticle for Leibowitz”, possibly the most famous religious SF novel.

          Recommendations? “A Case of Conscience” by James Blish (even if the story does go a bit wonky in the middle).

          Arthur C. Clark’s “The Nine Billion Names of God” (for a quietly humorous take on the End of the World). “The Star” for a more serious version of taking the Christian story seriously (deals with the star of Bethlehem) even though I don’t necessarily agree with his conclusions.

          Anthony Boucher’s “Saint Aquin”.

          A ton more short stories from the Golden Age either jokey or serious with various elements of religion.

          Here’s a great starter list:

          http://www.adherents.com/lit/

          • Buford Hollis says:

            One of the best sci-fi novels with a religious theme is “The Sparrow,” by Mary Doria Russell (a Catholic who converted to Judaism). The title is a NT reference, in case you didn’t catch that. The novel is at once a meditation on the Columbian exchange and the Problem of Evil, in a setting that may remind readers of Pandora from Avatar (though the novel predates it).

          • Hooray for suggestions!

            Re: Mary Doria Russell — Buford, you are the fourth person who has recommended this author to me. Her books are definitely on my to-do list!

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Indeed. Maybe we need to have an imonk sci-fi read-in.

          No, a dedicated SF Convention — IMonkCon!

          (Or at least a specialty track at one of the major litcons…)

  37. A few points:
    First: All of our selfish attempts to limit the size and scope God’s creation have backfired: The solar system and universe are not Earth centric. The Universe is enormous. There are not millions of starts, but rather billions of stars and millions of galaxies. The earth and its inhabitants are much older than we can fathom. If we can learn from this, it seems likely that based on this trajectory of information that the discovery of life elsewhere is likely.

    That being said:

    Second: We may discover life, but never have the way of encountering it. We must also accept the possibility that we may never be able to travel beyond light speed or its equivalent.

    Third: Any physical contact between life that has evolved on another planet would result in germ warfare unlike we have ever seen before. Westerners nearly wiped out another branch of humanity when arriving at the new world, and invasive plants and fish and animals are wiping our ecosystems throughout the world as we sit here right now. Unintentional warfare will occur when we encounter any new lifeforms, despite our sci-fi fantasies, and there will be winners and there will be losers. So imagine our guilt after discovering life on a planet 20 light years away, only to completely wipe it out after sending a probe there that is infected with one surviving fungus spore.

    We will change our understanding of God. But could we prevent unintentional germ warfare?

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      You assume any two biospheres of separate origin would be cross-infectious.

      It could just as easily go the other way. What if the two biospheres are different enough there IS no common infectious agent? The two biotas can interpenetrate without cross-infection?

    • Perhaps the other race are robots or pure energy or something that doesn’t interface with human germs? You never know.

      Anybody read the short story by Terry Bisson where aliens are incredulous to discover that on earth there is something so scandalous and improbable as “talking meat”?

      “They’re made out of meat.”
      “Meat?”
      “Meat. They’re made out of meat.”
      “Meat?”
      “There’s no doubt about it. We picked up several from different parts of the planet, took them aboard our recon vessels, and probed them all the way through. They’re completely meat.”
      “That’s impossible. What about the radio signals? The messages to the stars?”
      “They use the radio waves to talk, but the signals don’t come from them. The signals come from machines.”
      “So who made the machines? That’s who we want to contact.”
      “They made the machines. That’s what I’m trying to tell you. Meat made the machines.”
      “That’s ridiculous. How can meat make a machine? You’re asking me to believe in sentient meat.”
      “I’m not asking you, I’m telling you. These creatures are the only sentient race in that sector and they’re made out of meat.”
      “Maybe they’re like the orfolei. You know, a carbon-based intelligence that goes through a meat stage.”
      “Nope. They’re born meat and they die meat. We studied them for several of their life spans, which didn’t take long. Do you have any idea what’s the life span of meat?”
      “Spare me. Okay, maybe they’re only part meat. You know, like the weddilei. A meat head with an electron plasma brain inside.”
      “Nope. We thought of that, since they do have meat heads, like the weddilei. But I told you, we probed them. They’re meat all the way through.”
      “No brain?”
      “Oh, there’s a brain all right. It’s just that the brain is made out of meat! That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you.”
      “So … what does the thinking?”
      “You’re not understanding, are you? You’re refusing to deal with what I’m telling you. The brain does the thinking. The meat.”
      “Thinking meat! You’re asking me to believe in thinking meat!”
      “Yes, thinking meat! Conscious meat! Loving meat. Dreaming meat. The meat is the whole deal! Are you beginning to get the picture or do I have to start all over?”

    • Good points, but if the life is water and carbon based, chemistry is chemistry. If not water and carbon based, I suppose all bets are off.

  38. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    As a 35-year SF litfan who’s trying to start a second career writing the stuff, I would like to point out the four Christianese Tropes I have encountered in Christian (TM) attempts at SF:

    1) NO non-human life forms (except for Angels and DEMONS). We ARE Alone.
    2) NO semi-human genetic constructs (except for DEMONIC). See (1) above.
    3) NO settings other than Earth. (Because Christ Is Coming Soon, and if we’re off-world, He won’t be able to Rapture us.)
    4) NO settings more than Twenty Minutes into the Future. (Because Christ Is Coming Soon — see (3) above — and It’s All Gonna Burn. “We might not have a 1978! Or even a 1977!”)

    These four tropes are obviously cross-contamination from the tangentially-related Christian Apocalyptic genre. I am proud to say my writing breaks all of them.

    • I look forward to reading your stories someday! There’s an inch on my bookshelf with your name on it.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        If I can get a publisher and distribution better than a one-step-above-garage-band small press.

        • Buford Hollis says:

          Be careful of the “Christian” vanity presses and book mills.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Already anticipated you. Never want to go with a Christian (TM) publisher anyway; always was a big advocate of Mainstreaming. Baen, DAW, the big Mainstream SF publishers.

            I’ve always wanted to see my stuff on the shelves beside the classic SF authors of my youth — Anderson, Dickson, Niven, Norton — than next to the Left Behind knockoffs in a Jesus Junk store.

    • That’s awesome, Headless Unicorn Guy!! I am writing a sci-fi novel myself, which falls in a category other than 1-4, and that I hope also breaks the Christian sci-fi mold.

      Mine is: NO non-human life forms, except man-created androids. “Far” future, where man has spread throughout the galaxy. God is essentially dead. But there are a few “seekers” of truth, each with their own problems and baggage. In the midst of this, a Christ-like figure appears.

      I may, when I finish this current book, write about other lifeforms being with us in the galaxy, but I also have ten other story ideas in my head. We’ll see…LOL.

    • Can’t wait to read your work!

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Then you’ll have a chance come November 15th. Just got the release date from my editor.

        (PLUG FOLLOWS)

        Infinite Space, Infinite God II, small-press anthology from Twilight Times Books. Should be available through most online channels. “Dyads” is the long novella among all the shorts.

        • No offense meant to you HUG, but Twilight Times Books’ website stinks rotten eggs! No search on it at all!!! And I couldn’t figure out how to look at previous months’ offerings, and I couldn’t find any lists of upcoming books.

          That said, how are they as a publishing company? I’m one of those people who have had a novel in the works for more years than I’d care to mention. It’s actually getting close to being done though, probably not more than another 5 years or so before it’s all done with my revisions and tweaks.

    • So where does Ted Dekker fall? He pretty much breaks all the above except 3 in the novels I’ve read.

      Another book worth checking out if one is into gothic Christian fantasy is Angel Fall by Coleman Luck. Basically, Zondervan dropped the book when his old editor was replaced by a more traditional Christian editor. The book didn’t fit her idea of what Christian fiction is about. Of course her idea of Christian fiction spanned the entire gamut from Jannette Oke to Karen Kingsbury, so I don’t know what her problem was….

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        The book didn’t fit her idea of what Christian fiction is about. Of course her idea of Christian fiction spanned the entire gamut from Jannette Oke to Karen Kingsbury…

        I assume this means “her idea of Christian fiction spanned the entire range from Amish Bonnet Romances sprinkled with Bible verses to Amish Bonnet Romances with Altar-call Endings”?

    • When you get published, please let us know. I’d really like to read your work.

  39. Another science fiction writer who very seriously delved into these questions, including the one – can you baptise aliens?, is Michael Flynn, in his book, Eifelheim. Absolutely recomended.

    PS: I posted before under my real name, Louis, but have now adopted the pseudonym from my new blog.

  40. There’s no Reply under WebMonk’s comment on that he made on October 1, 2010 at 1:36 pm and he wrote: “Creation referred to everything they could see around them, and putting in secret meanings that we can only understand with advanced technology opens up the path to getting helicopters and tanks out of some of the creatures described in Revelation.”

    But WebMonk, the people two thousand years ago could look up in the sky and see the moon, stars, planets. I don’t understand why considering “creation” to the be the “universe” means we have to consider things in Revelation to be heliocopters and such. I am confused.

    • The saw the stars but thought they were just lights in the sky above. A part of the upper atmosphere. NOT separate planets or suns. To them the earth was at the center and the rest revolved in the sky above. Spheres were big in the thinking for a long time.

    • Believing that the people of Jesus’ time and earlier understood “universe” as we understand it today, doesn’t require that Revelation is talking about helicopters and tanks and nuclear weapons.

      However, the exact same method of interpretation which turns references to “creation” in the NT to be talking about the entire universe of today’s understanding, is the exact same method used to extract nonsense out of Revelation.

      People don’t necessarily use it consistently all over the Bible, so using it to apply to Paul and Jesus’ words while not using it in Revelation isn’t uncommon, and people can believe “creation” = “modern universe” without necessarily believing “creatures” = “helicopters”. That doesn’t change the fact that using that sort of method to interpret the Bible is a really poor way to study the Bible and is rife with dangers of misinterpretation.

  41. Ray Bradbury has a short story called (if I remember correctly) “The Man.” It involves astronauts landing on a planet mere days after Jesus had left. (Not named explicitly as Jesus, but heavily implied.) Interesting reading for this sort of thing.

    We’ve only been transmitting radio signals for 50 years. That’s a tiny portion of the galaxy. The planet we discovered s only 20 light years away. Best estimates for getting there that I’ve seen, using current technology and not using hydrogen bombs as a fuel source (which is actually the fastest way to travel these days), is in between 2,000 and 20,000 years. Yes, tiny compared with the dinosaurs. But for humans, that’s a great deal of time. In fact odds are it’d be faster to wait for better technology and then send it.

    Finally, it feels like an awful waste of space (13 billion light years of it, most of which will never be accessible, given the expansion rate of the universe) if we’re the only ones around to appreciate it. I know that’s a very human perspective, but what use is having only one species around to marvel at creation if it can be wiped out by a passing rock.

  42. Sorry, but there is no sentient humanoid life on other planets that has the imprint of God’s image on them. Those “visitors” with grey skin and dark menacing eyes are not aliens from another planet but fallen ones who are trying to deceive the masses. And no, I am not some conspiracy crackhead.

    • That’s hilarious, Mark. I love how you set it all up perfectly and then ended with “And no, I am not some conspiracy crackhead.”

      That is brilliance in action!!

      • I’m glad that you find my post hilarious when I was being quite serious. I do believe in supernatural Christianity (because the Bible is filled with the supernatural). I also believe that “aliens” exist, but they are not ETs from other planets. They are demons carrying out their sinister plans. Considering what many other people here post I think my post above was quite theologically sane. What a pity that many people who come on iMonk spew their liberal/postmodern/historic-critical crap and then when someone posts something serious like this they get made fun of. It just shows what a forum iMonk has become in recent years.

        • Mark, you are certainly more than welcome to go with the geocentric view of Pope Urban VIII. But since the scriptures are silent on the subject, and the geocentric view is based on interpretation of what’s there rather than any clear statements, I’ll go with Galileo’s view that the earth is not the center of the universe.

          That being the case I’m not going to be dogmatic about one race of people, located on one planet among billions, being only race of sentient people (and/or beings created “in God’s image) in the universe. As we discovered in the creation week series there is more than ample maneuvering room in the scriptures for interpreting the creation story at the local level, rather than trying to apply it to the entire universe.

          • James, I never said that I embrace the geocentric view of Pope Urban VIII. I do believe that the earth orbits around the sun, not vice versa. Having said that, I also believe that in the created cosmos earth is the only place where sentient beings with God’s image exist. (Also, don’t assume that I am making this a rigid dogmatic article of the Christian faith like the doctrine of the Trinity. I am certainly not.)

            My response to WebMonk was that my understanding of this matter sounds quite sane compared to what a lot of people here write from their ludicrous and heretical perspectives.

        • You were being serious? Oh.

          You consider those stories of little grey men to be true, and you believe them to actually be demons masquerading as aliens? And you want to put yourself in the non-conspiracy categorization of people? Isn’t that a conspiracy by its very definition?

          What’s a conspiracy? A group of people or being working together in secret for some sort of plot or goal.

          Isn’t that EXACTLY what you described? Demons are working together in secret on a plot to fool people by masquerading as aliens.

          You just described a conspiracy theory, and then stated you weren’t a conspiracy person.

          I figured you had to be deliberately making a joke to write something so self-contradictory.

          • I am not a dispensationalist but I do hold to a futurist view of the Book of Revelation. I also believe that right before Christ’s Second Coming that the world will be under the rulership of the Antichrist (and demons will have a major role in this set-up). Though I would not agree with them on exact details of eschatology, I believe scholars like Chuck Missler, John Weldon, Ed Hindson, John MacArthur, Thomas Ice, and Mark Hitchcock are right on the money when it comes to the general unfolding of the eschatological events of the near future. You can label me whatever you want, but at least I’m not some reprobate liberal/postmodern like some people here who deny the complete authority and inspiration of Scripture, downplay the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and water-down the call to faith and repentance for salvation.

          • Ok, you’re a futurist about Revelation, but that didn’t explain my confusion – you said you believed in a conspiracy among demons to masquerade as aliens. Then you said you aren’t a conspiracy person.

            How do you reconcile those two statements?

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            FAITH FAITH FAITH?