Could aliens exist and would it matter if they did?

Another one of those questions put out on twitter.

I suspect that what has provoked the question is that the possible existence of extra-Terrestrials and UFOs has been in the news recently due to reports that the Pentagon takes their existence seriously and treats reported sightings from military personnel as credible. 

Now, I remain sceptical. It seems to me that most sightings of UFOS can be explained away as light tricks and questionable photography.  A proportion of them is probably accounted for by sightings of advanced military equipment.  And to some extent, yes it probably suits the Pentagon to have people believing that there’s some captured aliens and a broken space ship at Roswell than some of the other possibilities.  I also am with those who have pointed out that since we all got access to smart phones with pretty nifty cameras, the reporting of aliens and UFOS appears to have subsided rather than increased. So unless the Martians have all gone camera shy this would point away from the existence.

But, what if we were to be presented with conclusive evidence of the existence of intelligent extra-terrestrial life forms. Would that make us revisit our theology or question our trust in Scripture? Well that all depends upon what those life-forms were and how they related to God and to us. 

I think we have three basic options here.

  1. That there are other entities in creation and that they are accounted for within the Bible’s description of God’s creatures. These creatures however are not under the intended rule and dominion of humanity.
  2. That there are other entities in God’s creation that are not specifically accounted for in Scripture because they belong to a different space and relate to God differently. 
  3. That there are other entities in creation, although not explicitly mentioned by name, we might consider them included within Scripture’s account. They therefore are intended to be under our dominion and rule.

I think we can rule out option 2 immediately because if such creatures exist then they are not going to come into contact with us or be interested in us. They would exist in their own dimension with their own revelation of God. If they have experienced a fall, then they will have their own redemption story but there is not need to assume that they have.  It is possibly but again not necessary that we might meet such creatures in the New Creation. As well as ruling this option out due to irrelevance, I would also argue that this doesn’t seem to be the way that Scripture talks. The focus is on God and his creation not his creations, the Bible does not point us towards a kind of multi-verse.

This leaves us with the other two options.  If other creatures exist in the Universe, created by God and intended to fall under our dominion, then this means that along with earthbound creatures and plant life they are subject to the effects of the Fall. It also means that they will long and groan with creation for Christ’s return. It is of course feasibly possible that if such creatures exist then we might one day meet some and that some may even be seeking us out. However, Scripture makes it unlikely that such creatures would be sentient, intelligent beings in the same way that humans are.  God has given us intellectual, emotional and linguistic skills appropriate to our position in creation and our purpose of glorifying and worshipping him.

What we do know for certain is that God does describe a wider creation than just the creatures we find on earth.  We are introduced to angels, seraphim cherubim etc and it is possible that the creatures described by John and Ezekiel exist literally as well as metaphorical. The existence of angels reminds us that there is more to God’s creation than us and this small planet. It is therefore possible that some of the UFO sittings reported were in fact angelical encounters.  Furthermore, we must at this point remind one another that noy all angelical beings are good and it is possible for people to encounter demonic forces too.

So, hypothetically, it is possible that people have observed what they might describe as UFOs and ETs. However, this is not something that needs to over concern us.  Our priority should be focused o enjoying and glorifying God. Maybe one day we will meet aliens, maybe we never will. In the meantime, we enjoy discovering more and more of his creation and it is good to remember that we are small in a massive but finite universe made by an infinite God