First, I would like to thank Mr. Hodge for his time and attention. I always enjoy an intelligent, well-reasoned exchange of ideas.
Mr. Hodge’s words will be reproduced in orange, following AIG’s own convention, for greater clarity to the reader. My own words, as quoted by Mr. Hodge within his article, will be reproduced in blue. My Scripture references and quotes will be written in red. All my Scripture quotes are taken from Young’s Literal Translation(YLT) unless otherwise noted.
I apologise for the strange formatting of some quotes; AIG’s website has it and I’m not sure how to get rid of it.
I read your blog post in which you take on our position concerning aliens. Since I read so many things on the Internet that “have a go” at Answers in Genesis, I simply can’t respond to everything. But this one had some claims that really needed to be addressed, and I think it would be a learning tool for readers, too. So, please keep in mind this response is meant with kindness and Christian love.
Thank you for your kindness, your Christian love, and your compliments to the notability of my post.
Also, since your article was posted to the public, my response will be as well.
Just as well. I much prefer a public forum where we can all be accountable to stand by what we say.
Then how can you respect Christ? After all, Jesus is the reason why many Christians are not afraid to preach that hell is real and the punishment for sinners who die without receiving Him. The following statements of Jesus are from the Gospel of Matthew alone:
- If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell. (Matthew 5:29–30)
- Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28)
- And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell. (Matthew 18:9)
- Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are. (Matthew 23:15)
- You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? (Matthew 23:33)
- Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life. (Matthew 25:46)
I have not become a Universalist on a whim or in ignorance of the recalcitrant evidence. Mr. Hodge, if you wish to discuss Universalism in depth, please let me know. I would love to do it, privately or publicly as you prefer. I don’t think, however, that this is the appropriate forum to air these ideas. I would prefer to keep these posts on the topic of ETs and other topics which bear on that topic, if it’s all the same to you.
That said, they have taken a silly
This is a question-begging epithet fallacy.
I disagree. It is not a fallacy, because it is not an argument or part of an argument. It is, rather, part of my thesis. I believe the idea that the Bible absolutely rules out the existence of space aliens is rather silly, given that as far as I can tell, the Bible says nothing at all about them one way or the other. The arguments followed below.
There is no Scriptural basis for space aliens.
If by this you mean ‘The Bible gives us no reason to believe that space aliens exist’, I agree. If by this you mean ‘The Bible gives us some particular reason to rule out the idea that space aliens might exist’, then I disagree.
God outlined both the past and future and readily reveals that He created life on earth and in heavenly realms (e.g., angels, heavenly host, cherubim, etc.)
Yes, that is true.
The fact that ETs are not mentioned anywhere in Scripture is significant.
I don’t see how. Gas giants are not mentioned in Scripture to the best of my knowledge, nor black holes, nor distant galaxies. Yet no one, as far as I know, believes that the existence of these things is contrary to the Bible.
Today, I plan only to address the arguments against intelligent alien life. The others are indirect arguments from the statement that “the heavens are the Lord’s”. I don’t know about you, but I hardly think the heavens would cease to be the Lord’s if He populated one more planet.
This is irrelevant and is a non sequitir fallacy (the conclusion does not follow from the premises).
I’m not sure I understand. I’m saying that I think if God populated another planet, the heavens would still be His. Do you disagree, Mr. Hodge?
Why have you ignored Hebrews 2:10–17? It states the following:
Forgive me for answering a question with a question, but why did AIG not quote it to begin with in the original article? It is not unreasonable of me to ask for Scriptural support for an idea like this, which support was 100% absent in the original article by AIG.
This is very significant because Scripture makes it clear that Jesus became a man to become our relative.
Or perhaps He became a man so that He could die. This would line up well with Heb 2:14:
Seeing, then, the children have partaken of flesh and blood, he himself also in like manner did take part of the same, that through death he might destroy him having the power of death–that is, the devil–
This verse seems to be saying that Christ partook of flesh and blood so that He could defeat the devil through His death. Of course, I have a rather different understanding of the atonement than do you, Mr. Hodge, and so different parts of the verse would naturally stand out for the two of us.
It may not be quite fair, as my understanding of the atonement was, if I remember correctly, closer to yours when I wrote the original piece, and my understanding is not now fully developed. However, I have seen very good reasons(some of which I articulated here) to reject the idea that Christ ‘paid the penalty’ for our sins to a God who could not forgive without sacrificing His ‘justice’.
Of course, these verses are in the context of human sins, not aliens, so these verses do not support what is said here. What should be said is: Christ was sacrificed once for all, and thus cannot be sacrificed again to pay for the sins of man (1 Peter 3:18; Hebrews 9:27–28, 10:10).
I’m not sure I follow. Are you saying that I inaccurately summarized AIG’s view, or that AIG’s view on this point was incorrect?
The important point here is that Christ becoming fully human and dying once for the sins of all explicitly means He did not die for the sins of other beings.
It ‘explicitly means’ no such thing. For if He died once for all humans, then He can, if necessary, die again for all Martians. And if He died once for all beings period, then His death can save them. What part of this paragraph do you believe is in error, Mr. Hodge?
3. Thus, ET’s cannot be redeemed if they have sinned.
Let me get this straight: you are arguing that hypothetical ETs with their proposed hypothetical sin can still be saved by Jesus’s work on the cross when He became a man to take on the same flesh and blood as descendants of Adam and died the death we deserve (Genesis 2:17) for his brethren?
Mr. Hodge, you make much of the hypothetical nature of ETs. Why? It was AIG who first ruled them out based on hypothetical arguments(‘If they sinned…’,’If they didn’t sin…’). I am merely doing the same. And whether they are hypothetical or not, as of course they are, I don’t see how that should affect whether or not they can be saved, assuming that they are real.
The Bible reveals that some heavenly beings sinned, e.g. Satan and a third of his angels (as interpreted from Revelation 12:4), and the Bible reveals that man sinned (numerous passages). Angels that sinned have no possibility of salvation, whereas mankind has the possibility of salvation. Take note that Jesus never became an angel and died for them.
20and through him to reconcile the all things to himself — having made peace through the blood of his cross — through him, whether the things upon the earth, whether the things in the heavens.
If angels cannot be redeemed, what are the ‘things in the heavens’ that are being reconciled?
What you are suggesting is that these hypothetical ETs sinned and should have the possibility of salvation.
No. What I am suggesting is that if these hypothetical ETs sinned, there is no Biblical reason to suppose they cannot be saved. Whether or not they sinned is not an issue on which I take a position one way or another. Nor, in fact, is whether or not they exist.
Why? Do they share the same flesh and blood that came from Adam? Do they share the same father in Adam?
No, they share the same Father in the God who is Love.
Why should they be given salvation when God didn’t even give this possibility to the angels who sinned?
Whether or not God will ultimately redeem demons is up for debate. I think He will, as is the testimony of Ephesians 1:10:
10in regard to the dispensation of the fulness of the times, to bring into one the whole in the Christ, both the things in the heavens, and the things upon the earth — in him;
and Colossians 1:20(quoted above).
For that matter, no possibility of salvation was given to the serpent who sinned in Genesis 3 either—only a curse.
An argument from silence, I’m afraid. And regarding the serpent’s salvation, what of Eph 1:10 and Col 1:20?
“Well,” you say, “maybe ET’s haven’t sinned.” But AIG has an answer for that as well.
They claim that ET’s suffer the effects of sin(sin nature, death, etc.) whether or not they sinned.(Rom 8:20-22). Thus, they need a Redeemer anyway.
If they did exist, then this is true, since they are part of the creation and Paul makes it clear the entire creation (even if far away) is cursed and broken. This is why we need a new heavens and a new earth. This one is cursed and broken.
I would like to address these arguments in reverse order. To the second claim I have just one thing to say: Angels. Exactly the same argument can be applied to angels that applies to ETs. By the same chain of reasoning, angels, as part of “the creation”, must need a Redeemer and cannot have one. Thus all angels will go to “Hell”? Perhaps the “whole creation groans” on our behalf. In any case, it is clear that non-human intelligent beings are not necessarily damned on our account.
For several reasons, this is poor analogy.
First, angels are mentioned in Scripture about 300 times, not including cherubim, heavenly hosts, etc. So, to equate hypothetical ETs, which are never mentioned, is unwise.
I don’t think it’s ‘unwise’ at all. Angels are intelligent nonhumans. ETs are intelligent nonhumans. The issue in view is the need for salvation of intelligent nonhumans who have not sinned. Both angels and certain hypothetical ETs meet the criteria, so absent some significant difference that breaks the analogy, it works quite well.
Again, highly debatable. God is not now saving angels, just as He is not now saving those who do not accept Christ in this life. But if God is to redeem ‘ta panta'(‘the all things’), He must redeem angels eventually.
However, whether or not sinning angels can be redeemed is completely irrelevant here. My point was specifically about angels who do not sin. The question is, after all: Do intelligent nonhuman beings who do not sin suffer death and therefore require a Savior? I say no, as that would require that there be a Savior even for the holy angels, which AIG says there is not. In other words, AIG’s position demands that angels die and go to ‘hell’!
Third, Adam was not given dominion over angels in the heavenly realms. Likewise, the angels were not given dominion over the creation. Hence, when Satan fell, the creation didn’t fall. Satan needed to go for those to whom dominion was given: mankind, Adam and Eve. When Adam and Eve sinned, the whole of their dominion fell. They died, animals now die (there is relationship to human sin and animal death), and we die, but angels do not since they were not under the dominion of man.
Fine. Now we have a real argument. This, I can work with. So, if angels were not under the dominion of man, what is the extent of that dominion? Would it extend to these hypothetical aliens? That is the question.
The third heaven (2 Corinthians 12:2), where these heavenly beings presumably resided, was not under the jurisdiction of man, but directly under the jurisdiction of God. The jurisdiction of man resides over living creatures within the physical universe (Genesis 1:26–28).
Those verses place the dominion of man firmly on the earth, not the entire physical universe. Was it not, after all, Answers in Genesis who claimed that unintelligent extraterrestrial life could not exist because Psalm 115:16 says ‘the heavens are the Lord’s’?
Naturally, I don’t believe that the heavens being the Lord’s rules out human colonization of or native life on other planets, but it does reinforce the statement in Genesis 1: Man has dominion over the earth. It gives no indication that other planets or deep space are under this dominion of death and curse; quite the opposite; it places the heavens outside the jurisdiction of man.
Genesis 3:17-19 speaks of the earth, not the ‘physical creation’. Romans 8:20-22 uses the Greek word ktisis, which literally means a thing made. To limit this to ‘the physical universe’ is arbitrary, and unnecessary unless you have a preconceived axe to grind against extraterrestrial life.
That said, let us assume that they have, in fact, sinned. In that case, Answers in Genesis has provided no Scriptural support for the idea that a sinner must be redeemed by a blood relative. However, I can afford to be generous one more time and assume that a sinner must be redeemed by a blood relative. Here comes the good part.
None of these Isaiah verses say anything about a blood relative. None of them, in fact, say anything even close to that. They say that God is the redeemer. And, granting that the Old Testament promises a human redeemer, it still does not establish the principle that the redeemer must be a blood relative. There will be a human redeemer. As it happens, all humans are related, but I see no reason to conclude based on that that ETs cannot be saved because they are not related to us.
The argument seems to imply that Jesus could have simply beamed in and saved us, which is contrary to both the promises and predictions of the Old Testament. Finally, there is also the matter of Paul calling Jesus the last Adam, which really brings all of this together.
I’m not sure what you mean by ‘beamed in’. To die, of course, He would have to become mortal.
Paul’s calling Jesus the last Adam is done to make the point that as children of Adam we die, and as children of Christ we rise. We are adopted into God’s family through Christ. As Adam was the prototype of the old kind of man, so Christ is the prototype of a new kind of man. Why this means that Christ can only save those who are descended from the first Adam, I really cannot say.
After all, if we are saying that physical familial(‘blood’) relationship is required because it was by such a relationship that we died in Adam, why would it be less reasonable to say only descendants of Christ can be saved? The only reason that would be less reasonable is because it leaves no one saved. There are no descendants of Christ by blood! Christ as the ‘Second Adam’ is an adoptive father, not a blood father!
Of course, as I said before, I have a rather different view of the Atonement from Mr. Hodge. I don’t see it as a payment of a penalty to God. I’ll confess my understanding of it is far from fully formed, but I am more inclined to the Christus Victor view.
They provide three Scripture verses to support the idea that Christ cannot go and die again for some other race. Here they are:
18because also Christ once for sin did suffer — righteous for unrighteous — that he might lead us to God, having been put to death indeed, in the flesh, and having been made alive in the spirit,
27and as it is laid up to men once to die, and after this — judgment,
28so also the Christ, once having been offered to bear the sins of many, a second time, apart from a sin-offering, shall appear, to those waiting for him — to salvation!
10in the which will we are having been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once,
These verses support our position. Consider the theology of what you are saying here in light of the following passage:
This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear.
For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself: “The LORD said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.’” (Acts 2:32–35, emphasis added)
Jesus sits on the throne and will not get off the throne until His enemies have been put down. Paul wrote, “The last enemy that will be destroyed is death” (1 Corinthians 15:26).
Ah. Here we have an interesting point, and a challenging one to rebut. However, I will try. Mr. Hodge seems to be asserting the following:
1. Christ is now on His throne.
2. When Christ again stands up, the end of the world will be at hand.
3. Therefore, Christ cannot go save hypothetical ETs(because that would involve getting up off His throne.)
Now, I think, would be a good time to examine the assumptions behind this argument. If these assumptions are true, the argument stands. If they are false, it falls.
1. Christ ‘sitting at God’s right hand’ means He cannot go and redeem another planet.
2. Christ did not redeem the inhabitants of other planets prior to redeeming the inhabitants of our own.
3. Redemption of intelligent beings must be done by Christ.
I think there is reason to doubt the veracity of the latter two of these propositions, especially number two. I will take them in order.
First, proposition number two is completely unsupported by any Scripture Mr. Hodge has proffered. I will go out on a limb and say that there is no Scripture that supports this idea. It is not implausible that Christ redeemed other races before us, so that there was no redeeming work left for Him when we were redeemed.
Proposition number three leaves out the possibility of the incarnation of the Father or the Spirit to redeem another race, a device that has been used by Christian SF authors in the past. Is there a Scripture, Mr. Hodge, that rules out this idea? I know of none.
It is, however, all rather moot, as Mr. Hodge still has not shown that Christ’s redemptive work here cannot work for aliens. I still maintain that the support AIG provided for the blood relative idea is faulty. I will confess, however, that this verse does seem to show that I was wrong on one point; Christ cannot go die again now for some other race.
And another question, as an aside, and to satisfy my own curiosity: Do you, Mr. Hodge, believe that Acts 2:32-35 renders antibiblical the assumptions behind the popular Christian Fantasy series ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’, notably book two, ‘The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe’?
So, why does the context of this verse say “us” in reference to mankind?
Because it’s talking about mankind. It has no reference to ETs whatever.
Besides, to develop this theology, it would require adding to Scripture, which is forbidden.
It is not forbidden to know or speculate on things the Scripture says nothing about. It is forbidden to impose one’s own ideas and treat them as if they were Scripture.
Good theology comes from the Scriptures, not outside ideas that are imposed on the Scriptures.
Let me get this straight: are you, Mr. Hodge, saying that if God created ETs and had a plan to save them, He would necessarily have told us in the Bible?
This brings up an interesting idea: if there were ETs, they would not have access to Scripture, since it is complete in the form that we have. These ETs would have no way of knowing their Creator or His plan of salvation, which is contrary to what Jesus taught.
To assume that the sum total of all revelation God has given or ever will give to anyone, anywhere in the universe, is contained in the 66 books of the Bible, is an assumption that is, to the best of my knowledge, without Biblical merit. Perhaps the ETs had their own prophets and apostles and now have their own holy book, explaining their plan of salvation?
Heb 9:27-28: The “once” really means “after” or “since” here, as in “Once I’ve done the dishes, I’m going to the movies.” Let us not suppose that I have only done dishes once!
To hold to this view, one would have to believe that Jesus must keep dying for man’s sin.
My dish analogy was poor, I’ll grant you that. Let me try again. In fact, I think my original argument was poor here. I’ll use a different one. Does the many whose sins Christ died for include hypothetical ETs? If so, he died for them. If not, this verse does not preclude the idea that He may have at some other time died for them. ‘Once to bear the sins of the many(humans)’ does not contradict ‘and once prior to bear the sins of the many(aliens).’
This verse is, prima facie, the strongest verse in favor of AIG’s view, but there is one simple logical problem with their interpretation of it. I will provide it in the form of a question. Christ died once for all. Does the “all” include aliens?
Since the context is mankind, then “all” refers to mankind. Keep in mind that the Bible already refutes the idea that non-humans are covered by Christ’s sacrifice. Hebrews 2:16 reveals that angels are not redeemed by Christ’s work. Since God cannot contradict Himself (2 Timothy 2:13), then we can be certain that only humankind is in view in this passage (e.g., Satan is not saved).
If they say yes, then Christ died for aliens, and they can be redeemed.
If they say no, then as the “all” does not include ETs, neither does the “once”. In other words, if we clarified the verse by saying “Christ died once for all humans,” then it would become clear that He is perfectly capable of dying again for, say, “all Martians”.
It is only on the ambiguity of “all” that this argument survives. Press for a definition, and the anti-alien position falls apart.
Since the context is humans, this verse does not include hypothetical aliens. But a closer look at this verse makes your argument moot.
By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (Hebrews 10:10)
The word all does not appear in the Greek. It is added in translation to help the reader understand. The Greek word translated as “once for all” is ephapax, and according to the Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains, it means “once and never again.”1 Hence, we can be confident that Jesus did not die before He went to the cross, and He will not die again.
Granting, for the moment, for argument’s sake, AIG’s point about the word ephapax, I think my argument stands with a slight change in wording. ‘We are sanctified by Christ’s having died once and never again. The people of the Galaxar quadrant are sanctified by Christ’s having died once for them and never again.’ To die for some other race is not to die for us again. So, did Christ’s sacrifice atone for the sins of hypothetical ETs? If so, they can be redeemed. If not, it is no contradiction for him to die once and never again for them. We are redeemed by His dying once and never again. The only way I would be contradicting that verse is if I said Christ had to die again for us.
Further, I would point out that my lexicon(Arndt and Gingrich 1957) does not list the meaning ‘once and never again’ for ephapax, but rather ‘at once, at one time’, meaning simply that it happened, with no commentary about ‘never again'(see 1 Cor 15:6), and ‘once for all’.
Thus, I believe I have shown that Mr. Hodge has in this instance not demonstrated a Scriptural problem with ETs.
So, the question is this: will God get off of His throne to save hypothetical ETs that He failed to mention? According to Scripture He will not. The most likely reason is that they don’t exist.
Only Christ is bound even by the most generous interpretation of Acts 2:32-35 to stay on His throne. And there is nothing to say He didn’t redeem them before, or that His death here didn’t redeem them, or that they even need redemption.
A few disclaimers:
1. I am not saying there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe (Well, God and angels, but otherwise, not necessarily.). I am merely pointing out that such life is not incompatible with Scripture.
2. As I said at the start, I hold AIG in the highest esteem. I am not attacking them, but correcting them to save both them and our common cause some embarrassment if extraterrestrial life does in fact exist.
Then why not send it to us directly to inquire further instead of bringing it to a public spotlight?
You want the honest truth? I didn’t think of it. Stupid, I know. But I don’t regret making it a public debate. I’m not afraid to stand by my views and take ownership of what I’ve said and discuss things in a forum where we can both be held accountable.(Not to say that I think you are.)
Now, Sam, I want to encourage you. I’ve jumped on ideas in my past that may not have been the best scripturally. And one thing I learned (and am still always learning) is to be humble with regard to ideas and comparing them to Scripture. I’ve had to change my thoughts many times, and it was very difficult to do so initially.
I know about that, Mr. Hodge. But I don’t think I need to change my thoughts on this one. At least, not yet.
But after learning this key point, it is easier to align my thoughts to follow in the footsteps of Christ—trying to “have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16). Although I will never be perfect this side of heaven, I will continue to strive. And for now, any idea must be tried in the fire of the Word of God. And I want to encourage you to do the same, particularly with this idea. Let the Word of God be the judge.
With kindness and respect in our Lord,
Thank you for engaging me in this discussion. It’s been a lot of fun and I wouldn’t mind continuing. I hope there are no hard feelings.
Yours in Him,
Samuel C Starrett