Scores of people lined up early to get a seat for today’s UFO hearing in the House Oversight Committee’s National Security Subcommittee. Lawmakers from both parties plied three former military officials, including whistleblower David Grusch, a former Air Force intelligence officer, on the nature of known UAP (unidentified aerial phenomena, the technical jargon for UFO) sightings and direction on how they could dig deeper. There was also bipartisan agreement on the “pressing demand for government transparency and accountability” regarding UAP reports.
The witnesses testified to seeing or hearing reports of colleagues seeing objects that appeared as a “dark gray or black cube inside a clear sphere,” with the cube’s corners touching the sphere, or red cubes the size of multiple football fields, which accelerated at uncanny rates. They alleged the military had conducted a multi-decade program for UAP crash retrieval and reverse engineering, which was funded without Congress’s knowledge or authorization.
Unfortunately for the curious public, Grusch and the other witnesses often declined to present new evidence of their claims to lawmakers outside a secure and confidential setting. Grusch complained that he and others faced “administrative terrorism” for speaking up about the UAP sightings and said he feared for his life at times because of the “brutal” treatment, making him afraid to disclose classified information.
Some of the whistleblowers’ sensational claims could be true — some people already believe them — but many people won’t be persuaded until the long-promised evidence has actually been presented. Some people naturally prefer to stick to the facts, while others have adopted a more cautious attitude in light of the proliferation of brazen hoaxes. Some people will credit some of the claims (such as the military running a secret UFO investigation program) more than others (such as the military recovering the deceased remains of extraterrestrial lifeforms). And others will write the whole business off as a fiasco dreamed up by paranoid conspiracy theorists.
Now, I enjoy intergalactic science fiction as much (possibly more) than the next guy — “Star Trek,” “Star Wars,” “Doctor Who,” etc. Perhaps a part of me could even wish that Vulcans, lightsabers, and spatially anomalous phone booths were real.
But a biblical worldview cautions against making more of these daydreams than what they really are — fiction. Granted, the Bible nowhere explicitly states that there are not living, intelligent creatures on other worlds, nor does it state that life on other planets is insupportable.
Nevertheless, there are solid, biblical reasons to doubt the existence of extraterrestrial life (spiritual beings excluded), particularly life forms intelligent enough to build vessels for travel to earth. These biblical reasons can provide Christians with a useful context for evaluating claims about UFOs or UAPs, even when they are made under oath in a congressional hearing. Here are five:
1. The curse affects all creation.
In Genesis 3, God cursed the world for Adam’s sin, introducing suffering, pain, and death to human experience. In Romans 8:18-25, Paul states that this curse, the “sufferings of the present time,” has affected all creation. “We know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now” (Romans 8:22). One day, the sons of God will be revealed, and the curse will end, at which point “the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption.”
It may seem puzzling that God would curse all creation for the sin of man alone. But there is a solution in Genesis 1:26, where God gives man “dominion … over all the earth” and all its inhabitant creatures. Thus, the curse for man’s sin affects the realm man was given to rule.
That solution would be absurd if God created other living beings on a separate world, which were outside man’s dominion and yet suffered for man’s sin. What is the logic in such a move? And why would a just God curse a world whose inhabitants had never sinned for a rebellion that occurred on another planet? But if a race of sinless creatures was exempted from the curse, then “the whole creation” would not be “groaning together” under its effects.
2. Salvation is for mankind.
Another problem with the hypothesizing a race of extraterrestrials is, if they had sinned, the gospel of salvation is not offered to them. Before his ascension, Jesus told his disciples, “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). He did not say “beyond the earth” or “to the ends of the stars.”
Nor does the Bible say it is God’s will to save members of other races. The Scriptures say God “desires all people to be saved” (1 Timothy 2:4) and the word translated “people” refers specifically to human beings.
3. Jesus died once for all sin.
Nor is it possible that the Son of God reenacted has salvific mission on multiple worlds, initiating a church on each. “Christ also suffered once for sins,” wrote Peter (1 Peter 3:18). This fact is vital to the sufficiency and permanence of his blood’s saving power. He offered a sacrifice for sins “once for all when he offered up himself” (Hebrews 7:27), and “he entered once for all into the holy places … by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption” (Hebrews 9:12).
Clearest of all, Paul wrote, “We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God” (Romans 6:9-10). His dying once and living again once is a model for us of baptism, forsaking sin, and our future hope of eternal life.
Beyond that, there would be the difficulty of the second person of the Trinity becoming incarnate through another virgin conception in another race. When he took on a human body, his divine nature was permanently united to his human flesh; he ascended in that same body, and he will never shed it. “In him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily” (Colossians 2:9).
Would Christ’s sacrificial atonement avail for sinners on another planet? It wouldn’t be for lack of power. But it’s hard to see how his death and resurrection on earth, as a human, could have the same significance for members of another race on another planet. They did not join in the conspiracy to kill him, as representatives of all mankind did (Acts 4:27). He would not be “made like [them] in every respect,” which is noted as essential to fulfilling the office of high priest on their behalf (Hebrews 2:17). If Jesus appeared to extraterrestrial creatures, the gospel would be so different as to be an entirely different gospel.
4. Man is made in God’s image.
Returning to Genesis 1, there we read that “God created man in his own image” (Genesis 1:27). This statement is foundational to the doctrine of man and is developed and fleshed out throughout Scripture.
Among other things, the image of God in man means that ensouled human beings are more precious than the living creatures over which man was given dominion — though those creatures, too, have value (see Proverbs 12:10, Jonah 4:11, Matthew 12:11-12).
But if there are extraterrestrial races capable of visiting earth, it raises all sorts of confusing questions for this doctrine. Do they have souls and moral agency? Do they too bear the image of God? If so, do they resemble humans? The questions could run on and on.
5. God created the heavens and the earth.
Lastly, the existence of life on other planets upends the biblical categories of heaven and earth. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). God gave man dominion over earth (Genesis 1:26), while he dwells in the heavens (1 Kings 8:30, etc.). These categories appear together hundreds of times throughout Scripture.
It is true that Scripture mentions various heavenly bodies. God created the sun, moon, and stars on the fourth day of creation (Genesis 1:14-19). And modern technology allows us to see the stunning variety and beauty God has created throughout the heavens. It is even true that man has managed to propel himself out of earth’s atmosphere and into the very nearest corner of the heavens. None of this fundamentally changes the categories of heavens (where God dwells) and earth (where man dwells).
But, if we ever discovered that another race dwelt on another planet somewhere else in the universe, there would be heavens and earths.
One might argue that the categories of heaven and earth were merely God stooping to describe his creation in a way that ancient readers, who had no concept of space travel, could understand. After all, the Bible never discusses other planets, as distinct from stars, but we now know God created them too. The problem with this theory is that the Bible also describes the fiery destruction (2 Peter 3:7) and recreation (Revelation 21:1) of heaven and earth, implying these categories still apply to our future.
By contrast, the existence of life on other planets is far more compatible with a secular-naturalist worldview: that the universe formed in a Big Bang, planets gradually and randomly took shape, and somehow life began on earth. In this interpretation, Planet Earth occupies no special role in the cosmos, and finding life anywhere else is just as plausible as finding it on earth. So, why not search for it? But this is not the biblical view.
Do these five reasons absolutely rule out life on other planets? The Renaissance-era controversy over a heliocentric model of the solar system stands as a caution against elevating one interpretation of the Bible over hard, scientific proof to the contrary. However, the existence of extraterrestrial life of any kind — particularly hyper-intelligent life forms capable of building vessels to traverse outer space — would pose significant challenges or complications to core Christian doctrines as they have stood for thousands of years.
For any Christian who believes these doctrines to be what God has communicated in Scripture, the choice should be clear. On one hand stands the infallible Word of God, who has proven himself faithful and true more times than we could imagine. On the other hand stand thus far unsubstantiated claims made by men, and men have been known to lie, be mistaken, and change their minds. Even if the evidence seems to tip in favor of extraterrestrial life (which it hasn’t yet come close to doing), it’s always safer to trust the Word of God rather than the shifting consensus of men.
Of course, dismissing extraterrestrial explanations does not make military sightings of UAPs less concerning or dangerous. It still points to (a possibly hostile) intelligence with technology beyond our own, or even beyond our ability to track. It just means we should look for an explanation to our geopolitical rivals on this planet rather than another.
Joshua Arnold is a staff writer at The Washington Stand.
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