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The New Neighbors

“You know the planetary survey that’s been going on the past several years, looking for worlds similar to ours in deep space?” “Of course, though I haven’t paid much attention. All they ever find are gas giants, or planets too far or too near their star to be inhabitable.” “Well, yesterday they found one almost identical to ours.”
| Apr 5, 2011 | No comments |

Day begins in a little house at the edge of a quiet town.

“Good morning, darling. Ready for breakfast?”

“Yes, thanks. It smells wonderful. I may want a second helping.”

“There’s plenty. Something interesting on the news? You’ve been glued to that computer screen for over an hour. You didn’t even notice me walk by. Here’s your tea–careful, it’s hot.”

“Mmm. Delicious. Come look at this. You’re aware of the planetary survey that’s been going on the past several years, looking for worlds similar to ours in deep space?”

“Of course, though I haven’t paid much attention. All they ever find are gas giants, or planets too far or too near their star to be inhabitable.”

“Well, yesterday they found one almost identical to ours.”

“It took long enough. Are they certain?”

“As certain as they can be. See the chart there? The orbit’s squarely in the temperate zone, and the spectroscopic analysis seems definitive. Oxygen-nitrogen atmosphere and enough water vapor to confirm the presence of large oceans.”

“Amazing. I wonder if there’s anything living there.”

“There is. That’s the finding that’s really burning up the networks. There’s undeniable evidence of intelligent life, and its technology is fairly advanced.”

“How can the scientists be sure?”

“First, they noticed an abundance of hydrocarbons in the atmosphere, the sort that accompany industrial development. Then, somebody pointed a radio telescope at it and detected non-random emissions—information, not noise. They’re still trying to decode the entire language, but what’s been deciphered so far is intriguing. Unfortunately, the discovery is already causing a lot of unrest.”

“I don’t understand. I’d expect everyone to be excited that we’ve finally found evidence of life on other worlds.”

“The scientists are elated, but some people are afraid our culture will be disrupted by strange, alien ideas if we continue monitoring these signals. There’s also a faction that believes we should keep our presence hidden so we don’t disrupt the natural social development of the beings on the other planet, or possibly make ourselves a target for invasion. Even religious communities are rioting.”


“Many think it’s a hoax, a government ploy to convince people to abandon their faith.  Others say the idea that our planet isn’t the center of creation is blasphemous, or they believe it’s impossible for more than one sort of being to be made in God’s image, so whatever is there must be soulless and evil.”

“Hmm. Why couldn’t God have made people like us on more than one world? I’ve always thought it’s a very large universe for there to be intelligent life only on our tiny planet. And if He made them, surely He’d reveal Himself to them, don’t you think? It’s sad…it’s like having new neighbors, and all we can do is assume the worst of them.”

“I suppose it’s all moot. This new world is so far away we won’t reach it in our lifetime, even with our most advanced spaceships, and the evidence from the translations so far indicates the inhabitants are only beginning to think about exploring the space near their planet.”

“What do they say?”

“It’s fragmentary, but a political leader called ‘Ralphkramden’ seems to be advocating a project to launch a lunar probe. The message is repeated over and over again: “To the moon, Alice! One of these days…Pow! Straight to the moon!”

Fred was born in Tacoma, Washington, but spent most of his formative years in California, where his parents pastored a couple of small churches. He graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1983, and spent 24 years in the Air Force as a bomber navigator, flight-test navigator, and military educator. He retired from the Air Force in 2007, and now works as a government contractor in eastern Kansas, providing computer simulation support for Army training.Fred has been married for 25 years to the girl who should have been his high school sweetheart, and has three kids, three dogs, and a mortgage. When he's not writing or reading, he enjoys running, hiking, birdwatching, stargazing, and playing around with computers.Writing has always been a big part of his life, but he kept it mostly private until a few years ago, when it occurred to him that if he was ever going to get published, he needed to get serious about it. Since then, he's written more than twenty short stories that have been published in a variety of print and online magazines, and a novel, The Muse, that debuted in November 2009 from Splashdown Books, which was a finalist for the 2010 American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Award for book of the year in the speculative genre. Speculative fiction is his first love, but he writes the occasional bit of non-fiction or poetry, just to keep things interesting.

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Thanks for the laugh this morning, Fred.

Rebecca LuElla Miller

Fred, way to give this scenario a twist. I didn’t know where you were headed until I got to the picture of earth. You embedded some thought-provoking ideas in with an enjoyable story.

BTW, I just finished re-reading Out of the Silent Planet. It’s been … decades. But the point is, certainly Lewis would have enjoyed your post. 😉


Sherry Thompson

Cute! I like twists like this. I wonder how many post-Baby Boomers are going to get it though.
More seriously, I believe that God could quite definitely have created intelligent life on other planets and I have no doubt that His son would have visited them as well-perhaps at the very instant He came here.

Under the Mercy,

E. Stephen Burnett

Great stuff yet again, Fred. Your posts are quite the discussion starters, as well as imagination-inspiring.

About whether Christ has died for extraterrestrial life in similar ways to His known sacrifice for humans — I do think this can be shown from Scripture to be one of the few theological limits to our speculation. Most of this next is from my column on the older site, copied to here: Are extraterrestrials and extra-fast travels alien to Christianity?. However, any discussion on this (related) issue could take place there and not here, so as not to sideline the topic!

[A]ny speculation outside of Scripture needs to be clearly disclaimed for what it is. But I would argue that even Christians speculating — even in fiction — must conform to God’s Word.

The second answer would of course be no, God didn’t create alien life. I’m sure we’ve heard that response before, especially by those Christians who aren’t too fond of science fiction or a lot of speculation about space travel and science. However, even more-imaginative Christians find indirect, though clear, Biblical basis for disbelieving the existence of aliens.

Gary Bates, author of Alien Intrusion, runs down the reasons with a quick logical overview […] Scripture is clear that if aliens were to exist, God must have created them, Bates writes. But the original creation was both a) centered on God’s creation of man in His image on day 6, and b) corrupted by the sin of Adam and Eve sometime afterward. Thus, the whole universe was affected by the resulting disease and death. However, the Bible tells us repeatedly that Christ died for the sins of human beings. The entire Biblical narrative of sin and redemption has humans as its focus. No mention is made of something literally “out there” such as the inevitable question: how would some form of sentient alien race be redeemed from sin?

An excerpt from Bates’ book — and readers can be reassured that he’s not another reflexive “any imagining aliens is bad!” type guy, but instead loves Biblical truth and science fiction:

When God, in the form of Jesus Christ (the second person of the Trinity), stepped out of heaven, He came to the earth (this planet only) as a human being, not a Pleiadian or a Vulcan, and He came not only to redeem mankind (who are descendants of Adam) back to himself, but His creation also. God says He will ultimately destroy this cursed creation and restore (or return) it back to the way it was in the beginning. He is going to create a new heaven and a new Earth. If there is intelligent alien life, not only have they been subjected to the curse of death through no fault of their own, but also they have no chance of redemption because that event took place on Earth for the human race only (Heb. 9:26-28). And ultimately they would be destroyed at the end, through no fault of their own. The Scriptures are very clear that Christ did not, and will not, be visiting other plants to undergo crucifixion for alien races. 1 Peter 3:18 says:

For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.

He died once. That’s it.

(Boldface emphasis added)

Sherry also said:

I wonder how many post-Baby Boomers are going to get it though.

So on a much more substantive note, I must admit I had to web-search the phrase “To the moon, Alice!” to pinpoint its origin. (Embarrassed grin) It did sound slightly familiar, though. … By the way, (sing-songing) that guy (Jackie Gleason) looks a lot like Fred Flintstone! I wonder why?

Grace Bridges

For the record, I only know “To the Moon, Alice” as the name of a lovely whooshy sound effect in my music making software, but the pop-culture connection still works!

Sally Apokedak

Loved the story.

I didn’t find Mr. Bate’s argument compelling either. Why would people or creatures not descended from Adam be affected by Adam’s fall? Why would Christ have to die for them? What if they did fall? What would stop Christ from going as a vulcan (or whatever) and dying for them as the Son of Vulcan?

I don’t think we will find other life here and now. But I certainly believe it’s possible that God has created life in other places. He’s so big. Why does he create neon colored fish to swim far under the waves where for centuries upon centuries no eye could see them but His? I don’t know why we would think he hasn’t created other pockets of life, purely for his own enjoyment.

Sally Apokedak

My apologies to Mr. Bates for calling him Mr. Bate. 🙂

Kaci Hill

But did he bait?