Disclaimer: I’m not a science fiction person. On top of that I don’t see the value in speculation about things we cannot know.
Oh, sure, I do look at Scripture and form my pet theories on some of the things God did not detail for us, and I suppose that’s what science fictionists do the same, only with science instead of Scripture. For whatever reason, extrapolating from what we know about science to what might exist has never appealed to me.
Consequently, I’m aware that my “Who cares” is probably not reflective of most people. It appears there is growing interest in the question of whether or not we humans are “alone in the universe.”
Well, as a Christian, I’ve never wondered whether we are alone because clearly the answer is no. God is with us. Further, there’s a whole invisible realm—“things in heaven,” as Colossians puts it—in which angelic hosts wage war and do whatever else angelic hosts do. So, “alone” we are not.
Of course science people are not asking about spiritual beings; they want to know if there are other physical beings with intelligence inhabiting some corner of the universe. Blogger John Sears posts a compelling argument that there is no evidence for extraterrestrial life in the universe. At the same time, he gives credence to the number of unexplained encounters, beyond the hoaxes and crazies, with flying saucers and/or other beings.
How can both be true?
My first thought is, who cares?
I know. It’s not a very writerly response. I can’t explain my lack of curiosity about life beyond this world. I continue to think that pursuit of the subject is futile because the truth of the matter is outside the ability of man to determine—so what’s the point? Plus, believing as I do that there is a spiritual realm, the encounters people report seem less likely to be with physical beings coming from another part of the universe and more likely to be manifestations of angelic or demonic beings. But that too is unprovable.
Mike Duran’s question, fueled by an article he read, “Did Jesus Save the Klingons?” is related to the spiritual ramifications of the existence of life on earth. Could those beings (creatures, aliens, extraterrestrials) have a recognizable relationship with God as we have?
I’m sure many will consider it blind faith on my part, but I have no doubt that if God placed other life in the universe, He has a plan that is just as good for them and for us as is the one He set in motion directly involving us.
Regardless of my thoughts on the matter, apparently there has been increasing interest in the possibility of extraterrestrial life and its ramifications on religion in general and Christianity in particular (see for example this article and this one).
I certainly have no problem with people who write science fiction. I consider it to be a type of fantasy, though. Yes, I realize that some of the science fiction of the past actually proved to be somewhat prophetic. The same can be said about the futuristic dystopian fiction of the past such as 1984 and Brave New World.
Those stories seem different, however. They were about human inventions or advancing technology or changes in society—things within the inventive capacity of humans or the resulting consequences of our development.
Stories about extraterrestrials seem to have a much less likelihood of being prophetic because the existence or nonexistence of other beings in the universe is out of our control. Hence, in my view, the speculation of such is more comparable to fantasy than to standard science fiction.
I can enjoy stories of a similar nature such as those by Kerry Nietz (Dark Trench saga—A Star Curiously Singing, The Superlative Stream, and Freeheads) or Michelle Levigne (The Commonwealth Universe—Azuli Eyes, Scouts Pride and some twenty other titles), but a discussion about the actual existence of extraterrestrials, my eyes glaze over. The speculation on the subject is nothing more than guesswork, so I don’t know why I should care.
So what have I missed? Why should Christians, writers, speculative readers care about what people say about the possibility of extraterrestrial life?