By: Travis McSherley|Published: April 7, 2008 3:46 PM
In a comment on my post about the vast-but-finite boundaries of technology, Walter asks:
What is the Christian view of extraterrestrial life? Is is scriptural? If extraterrestrial life is discovered, must there be humans on the planet? If so, would their history include the same Biblical events that we experienced here on Earth.
I'll take the bait because, whether it's the certified geek or the aspiring theologian in me, I have always liked these kinds of questions. (Plus it's an excuse to offer this post's title as a small tribute.)
I can speak only for myself, but I think the foundational truth here is that whether life exists on other planets or not, it must remain consistent with God's established plans of creation, redemption, and salvation. As the few biblical scholars I have read who have commented on the topic (and whose theology I respect) tend to agree, if there are other conscious beings in the universe, they must find their salvation in the death and resurrection of God's Son in Jerusalem, Earth, 2000 years ago.
However, I don't find the existence of extraterrestrial life to be necessitated by Scripture, which places the spotlight of history clearly upon this world. While there is, of course, a realm inhabited by spiritual beings "in heavenly places," the Bible limits physical life to this planet.
Neither is its presence demanded by science, at least apart from the naturalistic presumption that if the biological life lottery was won once, then other worlds must have hit the jackpot, too.
As much as that might stir the imagination, how much more bewildering to think of the disproportionate attention given to humanity. Yet it seems to fit the majestic scale of God's grace to imagine that the whole story of creation centers on a few billion insignificant specks living on an insignificant speck within an incomprehensible universe. That He holds the whole of the cosmos in His grasp, yet He cares intently about my puny self down here on this rock.