Editor: Here’s your holiday break from the heavy stuff we’ve been discussing!
No, this isn’t a piece about the evils of illegal immigration, or an anti-Trump hit piece (sorely as I am tempted by that one). No, this is about aliens: Little green men, bug eyed monsters, time traveling doctors and force wielding Jedi. I’m a huge fan of science fiction, have been my whole life. I love Doctor Who, Star Trek, Star Wars, Farscape, Stargate, yada, et al, etc.
The science fiction genre can sometimes be a conflict for a Christian. There’s no question a lot of scifi supposes a worldview that isn’t compatible with Christianity. There have been some attempts at Christian based science fiction, but the output has, in my opinion, been sparse and the quality inconsistent. The CS Lewis space trilogy is quite good but like a lot of Lewis, can be difficult to absorb without multiple readings. Stephen Lawhead has written some good stuff but there are few other well known Christian authors in the genre.
Having said all that, this article isn’t really about science fiction, but about aliens and Christianity. The universe is a big place. Really big. Douglas Adams puts it this way: “Space is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist, but that’s just peanuts to space.” Current estimates suggest there are about 300 billion stars in our galaxy, and that there are about 100 billion galaxies in the universe. That’s more stars in the universe than grains of sand on our entire planet. Not every star has planets, but many have multiple planets, like our sun. Estimates from astronomers in 2013 suggest there may be as many as 40 billion earth size planets orbiting stars in the so-called “habitable zone” in our galaxy alone. Now of course most of these estimates are based on mathematical models, not direct observation, but these estimates and the sheer size of the universe has led many to believe that the idea that earth is the only planet in the universe to contain life is highly improbable.
So I want to ask a question. The question is not: “Do you think it is possible that there is life on other planets”, but a bit more pointed.
How would you react if the aliens arrived? No more speculation. No more pondering the great question, “are we alone”? Suppose this very night the president came on the air to announce that we had received communication from an intelligent race not from this planet? Or suppose astronomers announced the sighting of objects in space that are clearly artificial in origin, and heading this way?
I think we can guess on what the reaction in general would be, but I want to specifically explore what the Christian response would be. How would you react? How should we respond? Does your theology admit for this kind of possibility, or would it undermine your faith? Would you simply deny the whole thing (let’s assume the evidence is very compelling).
I hope we have a good discussion, but let’s keep it civil. The aliens might be watching, and we know God is.