An Alien Gospel: What are Christians to Make of UFO’s?
“For false Christs and false prophets will arise, and will show great signs and wonders
so as to deceive, if it were possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand.”
Most Christians are familiar with these words, and most do indeed watch for false prophets. But their focus is limited: They are on the alert for human false prophets rising up out of the earth (Rev. 13:11f).
But in these dangerous last days, here’s a question well worth asking: Could it be that some of those false prophets will be evil spirits coming down from the sky, masquerading as highly evolved extra-terrestrials who are not out to blast us, but to “bless” us with their redemptive wisdom from the starry deeps?
Well, if you know anything about the great red dragon, whose tail sweeps stars down to the earth—and who is styled as the deceiver of the whole world—you wouldn’t (or shouldn’t) put it past him (Rev. 12:4, 9).
And yet, many Christians are double-minded on this subject. They ask, almost rhetorically, “Who’s to say that extra-terrestrials don’t exist? Surely in a universe as big as ours there must be other intelligent life forms out there! Isn’t it a bit arrogant to think that we, and we alone, are ‘the ones’”?
Those are good questions, questions I myself have asked. But in devoting a couple of years to the study of biblical cosmology, I was stunned to learn something of great interest, and—in credulous times such as ours—of great practical importance: I learned that, Yes, we really are “the ones”!
Very briefly, let me make that case.
What Shape is Your Cosmos?
Did you know that prior to the sixteenth century no one in the Western world believed in aliens? In part, that’s because no one believed in the Big Bang or cosmic evolution. But in larger part, it was because no one believed that space was infinite or centerless or curved; no one believed it was shaped like a saddle, a hyper-cube, or a multi-dimensional toroid. (Not to worry, modern cosmologists who dream of these “high things” can’t even imagine them themselves, 2 Cor. 10:5). Instead, they believed that God, in six literal days, created the universe as a great but finite sphere, revolving around a stationary earth that served as home for the apple of his eye: us! And where did folks get such an outlandishly man-centered idea? You guessed it: from the Bible (plus like affirmations from Aristotle and other ancients).
Now, please consider the following historical fact carefully: Belief in aliens came in when belief in biblical geocentrism went out. It came in when Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, Newton, and all their followers demoted the earth from the place of cosmic centrality bestowed upon it by the Word of God. Interestingly, the first scientist to let the alien genie out of the cosmological bottle was Johannes Kepler, who speculated about the inhabitants of the moon in a book aptly called Dream. Four hundred years later, the dreamers at NASA and the SETI program are still at it!
If, then, we truly desire to understand the Bible’s verdict on the question of extra-terrestrials, we shall first have to re-examine its testimony about the purpose and structure of the universe. And as unpalatable as it may be to modern man, that testimony is actually quite clear, compelling, and (to my mind) comforting: The earth really is the center—at least of God’s affections, plans, and purposes, and quite likely of his entire creation as well.
Elsewhere I have made an extensive case for this controversial thesis. Here, I would simply direct you to Genesis 1. As you read it again, start by clearing your thoughts of as many cosmological pictures and presuppositions as you can. Then, with fresh eyes, read the text, keeping these few questions in mind:
- What did God create first: the Earth or the heavenly bodies?
- What (according to the most natural reading of the text) revolves around what: the earth around the sun, or the sun (and the other heavenly bodies) around the earth?
- For whom were the luminaries created?
- Why were they created?
- Is there anything here (or elsewhere in Scripture) to suggest that the heavenly bodies were created to serve as homes for extra-terrestrials (i.e., psycho-physical beings like us)?
- Is there anything here (or elsewhere in Scripture) to suggest that extra-terrestrials were created to function in a manner similar to angels; that is, as messengers of truth to the inhabitants of the earth?
Now, whatever your answers may be, this much should be agreeable to all: Here in Genesis 1 (and in the rest of Scripture) the Earth is clearly not depicted as a planet; that is, as a heavenly body that wanders around the sun or (in any other way) through space (Greek: planao, to wander). Rather, it is depicted as an altogether unique and uniquely inhabited body; a body that stands majestically at the very center of God’s creation, interest, and concern. In short, when the God of the Bible hung the stars, he did not do it for ET. He did it for us (Gen. 1:14-19). And to my mind, this entails that ET does not exist.
Extra-terrestrials and the Justice of God
But the biblical case against extra-terrestrials runs deeper still. That’s because Scripture also states that shortly after the beginning, following Adam’s sin, God wisely laid a curse upon the the entire creation, subjecting it to natural evil, suffering, decay, and death (Rom. 8:18-23). Furthermore, this preliminary judgment portended a far greater Judgment set to occur at the end of the age, when the universe as we now know it will be completely destroyed by fire, and then renewed at the hand of Christ for eternal life in the Kingdom of God (Matt. 24:35; 1 Cor. 15:20f; Phil. 3:20-21, 2 Peter 3:10-13).
This testimony creates a serious problem for those who believe that aliens inhabit the heavens. For if extra-terrestrials really do exist, then in the Judgment both they and their world(s) will suffer the consequences of Adam’s sin, even though they themselves are not his offspring, and therefore stand in no spiritual or physical relation to him (Rom. 5:12f).
What’s more, such extra-terrestrials could not possibly have a savior, for the Bible tells us that the Redeemer of the cosmos has taken to himself—for all eternity—“the likeness of men” (Phil. 2:5f, 1 Tim. 2:5, Heb. 2:14f, Rev. 1:9f). It is as a man—and not as an extra-terrestrial—that the Son of God became the High Priest of his people: dying for them, rising for them, and interceding for them in heaven, both now and to all eternity (Rom. 8:34, Heb. 2:14-18, 7:25, 9:24).
To repeat: If extra-terrestrials exist, they have no spiritual or physical connection with the first Adam, nor with the Redeemer who was fashioned in his likeness (Rom. 5:12f). They are under the headship neither of the first Adam nor of the last. And yet, according to the Bible, they all must perish in the end time conﬂagration. But would the righteous Judge of heaven and earth perform such a manifestly unjust act? Scripture assures us that such a thing can never be (Gen. 18:25; Deut. 32:4, Isaiah 30:18, 61:8, 2 Tim. 4:8, Rev. 15:3). So again, the conclusion, on biblical grounds, is that extra-terrestrials do not exist.
What then are we to make of alleged sightings of UFO’s and/or personal contacts with aliens? Biblically, the options are few, simple, and sobering: Either they are natural phenomena, man-made objects, cunning scams, or demon powers seeking to distract, deceive, and destroy the inhabitants of the earth, and also to rob the High King of heaven of the worship properly belonging to him (Luke 4:5-7, 2 Cor. 11:14, 2 Thess. 2:9-12, 1 Tim. 4:1; 1 Pet. 5:8). The latter option will indeed sound far-fetched to the modern mind; but it will not stumble saints who are well acquainted with Satan’s devices, who remember that he is called “the prince of the power of the air,” and who recall that he likes to disguise himself as an angel of light (2 Cor. 2:11, 11:14; Eph. 2:2).
We live in turbulent times. We have come to expect the unexpected, even the bizzare. The Internet woos us with reports of UFO sightings and alien abductions. NASA and SETI continue to probe the heavens for signs of intelligent life. Offerings from Hollywood focus mankind’s hopes on space travel, cosmic demigods, and visitations from above.
But wise Christians, grounded in biblical cosmology, will not be taken in. With confidence and joy they will understand that the Earth really is center stage, that we human beings really are “the (beloved) ones”, and that the High King of heaven would have us lift up our heads and fix our eyes on on the Bright Morning Star. It is scheduled to rise soon, and will most assuredly appear in a very great theater near you (Luke 21:28, Heb. 12:2, Rev. 22:16).
- For more on this subject, see The New Answers Book (Master Books, 2007), chapter 18. You may also want to watch the informative video, Alien Intrusion, by Gary Bates (but definitely not before bed).