Dealing with 8 Objections about Aliens as a Christian Writer of Sci Fi

Why would any Christian have objections to aliens in sci-fi stories? This post looks at eight reasons why and then answers them–and points out some unique opportunities in how to portray aliens (and fantasy creatures).
on Oct 24, 2019 · 29 comments

Years ago I wrote a personal blog post with the title: 7 Christian Objections to the Existence of Aliens–Posed and Answered. I created the post in response to certain Christians I knew who objected to placing aliens in science fiction. I felt their objections were not valid, but over time I’ve developed a more sympathetic view of what they were saying. So allow me expand on what I wrote about previously while presenting some objections to the use of aliens in science fiction, explain those objections, then suggest some methods of how to respond to them. I will include addressing how Christians might write about aliens differently than how secular writers do. Note that sometimes fantasy creatures function very much like aliens, so what this post addresses could also apply to the fantasy genre in some cases.

Most science fiction writers will be very familiar with the roots of the modern obsession with aliens, but for clarity’s sake, it’s worth mentioning here. The root idea is that the Planet Earth is not any place special. As US astronomer Carl Sagan put it, it’s just one of billions and billions of likely inhabited worlds, and since people with a wordview similar to Sagan would say that random forces of nature acting according to their own properties brought about life (I would disagree, but that’s what they’d say), then life is not special. If life isn’t special, it can be anywhere the conditions for it are right. And since it seems untold billions of worlds exist, there ought to be untold billions of aliens.

And since evolution is thought by scientific materialists like Carl Sagan to have generated life without any guiding purpose or plan, alien life ought to be quite exotic in comparison to human life. While some of the most famous brands of science fiction in visual format such as Star Trek have featured quite a few very human-looking aliens (which was largely done because of the need to put actors in costumes), Star Wars, the technology of which is in many ways less scientifically accurate than Star Trek, has done a lot more to show many exotic-looking aliens. Though it can be said that aliens with features and characteristics quite different from human beings is a standard feature of written science fiction. The main art of writing aliens as done from what we can call a “secular perspective” is to make them internally consistent and to show how evolution made them what they are in a way that fits their natural environment. And sometimes even fantasy stories are shaped by the same kind of thinking, in which fantasy creatures are developed with an eye to how they’d survive and evolve.

Aliens, some exotic, in Jabba’s palace.
Image copyright: Lucasflim

So while it’s entirely possible to make science fiction without aliens (or fantasy without fantastical creatures)–say, by doing cyberpunk, or time travel, or by creating a galaxy in which the only known intelligent life is human (as Isaac Asimov did in the Foundation series, even though he was a scientific materialist), among other means, most futuristic science fiction includes quite a lot of alien characters. And when looked at in context of those who believe that the Earth is not any special place and that life isn’t special, stories featuring aliens wind up being advertising (“propaganda” if we wanted to use a stronger word) for the notion that life is no miracle, that the Planet Earth is ordinary.

Christians, looking at a Bible in which the Planet Earth was important enough for God to care about it enough to send Jesus to Earth to die, naturally may object to fiction that makes it seem like “of course aliens are everywhere, because life has evolved everywhere.” As a result, it’s understandable that some Christians who write science fiction have chosen to exclude aliens from their tales and have raised objections to aliens as commonly portrayed. Though in fact the people who protest about aliens in science fiction the most are probably not science fiction readers at all, but are merely reacting to the way evolution is portrayed in sci-fi and don’t understand why any Christians would want to portray aliens at all.

But I think aliens can be a useful literary device and they are also in general a genre expectation for science fiction, just like fantastical creatures are an expectation for fantasy. So I want to write aliens, but to do so, I think it’s important to deal with the objections to aliens that Christian people have raised. As I answer these objections, I’ll also recommend employing aliens in a way that’s different from how “secular” writers show them, which I consider “opportunities” and which I’ll set off in bold so you can locate that section easily.

Objection 1: No aliens (or alien planets) are mentioned anywhere in the Bible, so there must not be any.
A counter-argument could be made based on the fact that the Bible certainly does mention non-human intelligences in the universe. The difference between supernatural intelligence and aliens is something I’ve discussed in a previous post (Angels and Aliens: Is There a Connection?), but nonetheless, the point could be made that the Bible clearly envisions intelligent beings other than the human race…though not really as aliens. (Still, there are some unique opportunities for portraying aliens that a Christian could adopt that relate to supernatural angels, such as portraying “alien angels,” something I discussed in the angels and aliens post.)

However, the best answer to this question would be to point out that the Bible didn’t mention the Americas either–yet North and South America existed and furthermore were inhabited by intelligent beings–humans of course, but to Europeans during the Age of Exploration it was a mystery how human beings had already arrived in this newly-discovered land. Christians eventually came to see no contradiction in noticing that the Americas were not mentioned in the Bible and existed anyway–they simply embraced the idea that while the Bible is true, it does not contain all truth that exists, that is, it does not contain all the information in the entire universe, nor was it ever intended to do so. It did not mention North and South America and Australia and many other places, because that was outside its focus. But that had no bearing on whether those places exist or not. The same idea can be expressed by the fact that I, along with most of the readers of the Bible throughout history, am not specifically mentioned in it by name, yet each of us are assured we exist–so the Bible not mentioning aliens in the way we understand them in modern times doesn’t necessarily mean anything.

Objection 2: The Bible says mankind is “created in the image of God.” So if we are in God’s image, anything else that does not look like us would not be in God’s image. So no other form of intelligent life can exist.
This one is contradicted by the Bible when it describes angels differently from humans, such as the seraphim of Isaiah 6…they are intelligent, but don’t look like us. Which indicates its entirely possible for God to create intelligent life in space with no resemblance to human beings. And why would aliens necessarily have to be in the image of God–could it be that God could create intelligent life that is not in his image? And can we be certain that they wouldn’t be in His image, even if they looked different from human beings? Perhaps the “image of God” is taken a bit too literally when we think of the human race. God is able to see and hear…we have eyes and ears. God is able to move and we have legs; he creates and we have hands. God is aware of himself and plans for the future and we human beings, in His image, do the same sorts of things…if that’s what’s meant by the “image of God” (I can’t say for certain this is what the “image of God” means, but I suspect it’s the case) this is a trait we human beings could well share with extraterrestrials, even if they look very different from us, if there are any.

Note that showing aliens that resemble creatures in the Bible represents opportunities for Christians who chose to write about aliens, but wish to do so in a distinctive way. A Christian writer of aliens could make them resemble one of the four faces represented in the seraphim, as I suggested in a personal blog post years ago ( The four faces around the throne of God–faces of aliens?). In fact showing any unusual beast described in the Bible, even if it’s one that has only symbolic meaning such as physical description of the “Beast” in Revelation 13:1-2, represents a potential opportunity for a Christian writer to portray aliens in a unique way. Imagine if the behemoth or leviathan of Job is met in space as an alien species, or if an alien race happens to look like the attacking monsters from the “Bottomless Pit” in Revelation 9 or were to have seven heads and ten horns like Revelation 13.  This sort of thing could probably be overdone, but I think some opportunities for interesting story ideas revolve around aliens who resemble Biblical creatures.

Objection 3: The Bible teaches the Earth is the center of the universe and if there are aliens, clearly their existence would show the Earth is not be the center. So nobody who believes the Bible should believe there are aliens.
First off, this particular objection is more like a strawman argument of what Christians supposedly believe rather than what Christians really think. Not all Christians take the Bible literally at all, but among those who do (including me, except for clearly poetical or figurative parts), I don’t believe we would agree the Bible teaches the Earth is the physical center of the universe–the Bible does not actually talk about the universe in terms in which it makes sense to discuss a center. It simply says, “the heavens and the Earth”–the world we live on and the sky that surrounds us. True, Psalm 93:1 says “the Earth cannot be moved”–which doesn’t say it’s the center of anything–and it doesn’t even say that the Earth “does not move,” but rather that God has established the world as what it is and no one else can change that i.e. “move it.” There are other passages, mostly in poetic sections in the Bible, but also in famously Joshua 10 (“the day the sun stood still”), which talk about the movement of the sun across the sky. First off, these passages are quite few in number. Second, they are from the point of view of the observer on the ground–and yes, I myself see the sun move across the sky. It is true that some theologians in the past used the Bible to justify the geocentric system of the universe devised by certain Greek philosophers…and who ignored certain passages of the Bible that did not line up with that system (including the mention of innumerable stars, which the Greek philosophers did not believe in, because they counted all the ones they could see and were certain there were no more).

My first answer was a little bit unfair in a sense, because even though according to what I understand, the Bible does not actually state the Earth is the physical center of anything, it nonetheless does clearly put our world at the center of a spiritual story. And it makes sense that it would be–the Bible is the book for us after all, we human beings. But look at it another way–an implication of the Theory of Relativity is that all points of view of all observers are valid–time and space are variables affected by velocity and mass…which means there does not exist any absolute grid across the universe, nor any completely universal time clock, which means that each and every individual place is a much the center of the universe as any other. So why would Christianity be challenged to find out first-hand that aliens would see their own “center of the universe” as being every bit as important as we see our own? Our “heavens and Earth” without further specification would be just like their own view of their heavens and home world. And Christian theologians have long stated that God is Omnipresent–which means He is everywhere, in the center of every single place, throughout all space and time.

Creating aliens that see their world as the center of the universe like we humans have tended to do carries with it the hazard that it is only by conceit that either we or aliens have seen our respective worlds as important.  That’s certainly the approach secular sci-fi writers have tended to take. But it’s also possible to show that both the aliens and ourselves were correct in our thinking–both places are important, not only to the beings who live there, but also to God. The implied opportunities for Christian authors here is one I’ve seen Christian writers of aliens employ before. That is, show God reaching out to alien cultures entirely independently of what He did in relation to human beings, demonstrating both that world and our world are important to God.

Objection 4: The New Testament says Jesus is the Savior of the world. That would mean that He is not the Savior of any other worlds. Why would God save only human beings and no one else–it would not make sense for God to create aliens if Jesus just died for this world–so there must not be any aliens.
The first two sentences don’t follow logically as also seen in the first answer I offered. Just because Jesus is the Savior of our world and no others are mentioned, it does not stand to reason He could not also be the savior for worlds we currently know nothing about. Besides, who says aliens need saving? Perhaps any aliens which exist are not themselves sinful. That is, they could have a sense of conscience they perfectly follow at all times. This is a possibility that C.S. Lewis offered up in his space trilogy, especially the first two books. Or perhaps aliens could be demonically evil, consistently violating their own sense of right and wrong at all times, and like demons, disinterested in repentance.

Note that portraying aliens having different attitudes in regard to sin represents opportunities for a Christian speculative writer. Aliens (or fantasy creatures) could be shown to be pure of conscience, like Adam and Eve in the garden. They could be shown to be wholly devoted to good, like angels, or to evil, like demons. Or they could be shown to respond to Christian missionaries and accept the gospel–or could be shown to have their own concept of a savior, in whom they either do or do not trust. (What if the only Son manifested himself in the form of an alien on alien worlds?)

By the way, the New Testament Greek word for “world” in John 3:16 (as in “For God so loved the world…”) is the word, “Kosmos,” which, yes, you guessed it, can mean “universe” as well as “world.” So John 3:16 could be read, “God so loved the universe, He gave His only Son…”

Objection 5. The New Testament makes much of Jesus being of the same sort of being we are–a descendant of Adam, which makes Him suitable to die in our place. Obviously he could not be the same sort of being that aliens are, so He could not be their Savior, so God must not have made any aliens (because that would be cruel).
First off, that assumes aliens would be sinners, which they may not be, as addressed in the question above. What “sinners” means is having a sense of moral conscience, being aware of violating this conscience against your own will at times–that is, a sense of sin and a need for repentance and forgiveness.  If humans encounter aliens and find that they like us are “sinners,” I think it can be safely said that Christian missionaries will immediately want to preach the gospel to them. And if these aliens accept Jesus as their Savior, it would stand to reason people will say that Jesus being human was important in spiritual terms, not in the literal physical sense.

Concerning whether aliens could have their own Savior or not, which I suggested under Objection 3, Christians might offer a secondary objection, based on passages like Hebrews 10:12, which plainly state that Jesus died once for all sins for all time. So clearly He could not have died here and then later (or earlier) died on an alien world…or was that just talking about Jesus dying just once? If so, would an alien equivalent of Him count?

Also, it could be that “aliens” we meet are actually somehow descendants of Adam and Eve, transported by unknown technology of the past. I’ve seen this done before in a story that was submitted to me as a publisher which I chose not to publish because of style issues–but the idea remains a possibility in a story setting. Even if these descendants of Adam and Eve look very different from us because they’ve been genetically engineered or are cyborgs, there are story opportunities in having aliens actually be descendants of the original human couple mentioned in the Bible.

In addition, Opportunities for unique story ideas could center around the notion that the Word made flesh (as Jesus is shown to be in John 1:1-18) were in fact actually the same being for all races of beings, human and alien alike, the same spiritual reality with differing bodies–at the same exact time. What if all versions of the single Savior were at the same time and died at the same time, in effect, dying only once, even though simultaneously in many places? (after all, God can be everywhere at once, so why would not the Savior be able to die in more than one place at once? even though that is not what we would expect from what we’ve read in the Bible). Or even if the times were different on different planets, what if the times were somehow all identical from a heavenly perspective?

Opportunities also exist in showing Christian missionaries evangelizing alien species and them responding, as Lelia Rose Foreman did so interestingly in her Shatterworld Trilogy.

Objection 6: Alien encounters described by UFO believers sound much like Medieval encounters with demons. Since we know from the Bible that demons are real, that means UFOs are fake and the so-called aliens involved are fake–these are actually demonic encounters!
As I’ve said elsewhere, maybe. But even if UFO encounters were generally demonic, it would not necessarily follow that all of them are demonic, would it? And even if UFO encounters were all demonic, it wouldn’t necessarily stand to reason that there are no aliens. It would simply mean the UFOs don’t represent the real aliens that may actually exist on other worlds, beings we have yet to encounter. This opinion on UFOs actually has nothing to do with whether there are aliens or not.

By the way, I don’t know if aliens exist or not–I don’t think there is any way I can know without actually meeting one or some other form of direct evidence. It’s interesting to me though that some atheist friends of mine are utterly convinced aliens must exist…even though they state they are atheists due to a lack of evidence of the existence of God…but I digress.

Opportunities exist in playing up the contrast between encounters with real aliens versus UFO encounters. Plus, wouldn’t it be interesting if we met aliens who like us had their own legends of encounters with UFOs?

Objection 7: The New Testament has a story of the end of time (mostly in Revelation, but based on Daniel, Isaiah, Zachariah and other passages of Hebrew Scriptures) that is going to happen too quickly for there to be any time to find aliens. And no aliens are mentioned there. So there are no aliens–or we human beings will never meet them, anyway.
I believe the Scriptures deliberately put the Christian believer into a state of being that continually expects the return of Jesus at any time…and I don’t think that it’s an accident that it’s been so long. Yet, if it’s been two thousand years, why couldn’t it be twenty thousand years before the end? Granted, there are a number of things in these prophetic passages that sound very much like modern conditions to me (especially Israel literally reestablished as a nation, true since only 1948)–or sound like certain interpretations of these passages, I should say. Yet history shows that same sorts of things can happen over and over again in human events. The Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem, the Greeks under Antiochus Epiphanes destroyed it, the Romans destroyed it, and it seems the Antichrist will destroy it again. Events in history mirrored in prophecy repeat like that, like motifs in music.

It could be that human beings will spread out over time to many worlds, meet many aliens…and then undergo a long slow collapse back to just one world, our own, reproducing a number of conditions familiar to Biblical students of end times, twenty thousand years from now. And then the end could come. In short, we just don’t know how much time there is. So in terms of time, human beings living on the Planet Earth we know may well being in place long enough to meet aliens someday. Or perhaps we will only meet them in eternity, not mentioned in the Bible, but included among the things that are true which the Bible hasn’t mentioned to us in detail.

Opportunities exist in portraying future histories that appear to completely clash with Biblical end times prophecies–yet the prophecies wind up coming true in a literal, futurist sense nonetheless, via historical events unexpectedly repeating themselves, including human beings finding them limited to Planet Earth once again. Another approach would be to see aliens–or claims of aliens–in Revelation, as per my blog post Alien God of the Christian Rapture.

Objection 8: Certain Bible passages, including Acts 17:24-26, Isaiah 45:18, and Psalm 115:1, seem to rule out human beings living anywhere but on Planet Earth, which would seem to rule out us ever travelling to other worlds and meeting aliens (and also imply only the Earth can be inhabited).
The first of these passages, Acts 17:24-26, simply states that God has put human beings on the Earth and set where they will live there. That doesn’t say all human beings live on Earth or that humans must eternally live on Earth–note human beings have already dwelt in space, in orbit, on a more or less permanent basis.

Isaiah 45:18 simply states the Earth was made to be inhabited–which doesn’t mean it is the only place made to be inhabited.

Only Psalm 115:16 of these three passages represents any problem at all, because it says the heavens are the Lord’s but the Earth he has given to mankind. That certainly seems to imply God’s intent was for human beings to remain on Planet Earth and stay out of the “heavens.” But you could say this isn’t talking about the physical heavens, but rather heaven in a spiritual sense, which human beings don’t have any right to enter on our own terms. Certainly it is true that God is also to be found on Earth, even though God is “in the heavens.” Likewise we know humans will eventually be in heaven, as in the place of God’s presence, if believers no longer alive on Earth aren’t in fact there already. So us being intended for one place doesn’t seem to exclude us being in another places as well.

Opportunities exist in stories that show the difference between the heavens as in outer space and heaven(s) in a spiritual sense. A story could also show a series of human outposts in space being wiped out for mysterious reasons and then someone quoting one or more of these verses. Even if the problems with the colonies is not in fact linked to any form of divine judgment, having characters wonder if it was linked could be an interesting story development.

Conclusion: Aliens, which have become a common piece of modern American popular culture as much as zombies or vampires or superheroes, but which are thought to really exist by some very serious and intelligent people, should pose no insurmountable challenge for the Christian writer who wants to represent a worldview consistent with Christian doctrine, yet one that nonetheless includes extraterrestrials. And numerous opportunities exist for Christian writers to overcome the objections listed above, while simultaneously portraying aliens (or fantasy creatures) in a different light than what “secular” writers of science fiction do.

Travis Perry is a hard-core Bible user, history, science, and foreign language geek, hard science fiction and epic fantasy fan, publishes multiple genres of speculative fiction at Bear Publications, is an Army Reserve officer with five combat zone deployments. He also once cosplayed as dark matter.
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  1. Well, you brought up a lot of the responses I have when people bring up objections to aliens, so thanks :p. Some of the issues with aliens in shows can also be the same as your objections to depicting certain aspects of magic and paganism(that it can lead people astray) Avoiding depictions of things can lead people astray too, though, and that goes doubly for aliens since there is a decent chance that they exist. And since it’s also kind of a myth that the Bible negates alien life, we really shouldn’t be taking that hit (of having people roll their eyes at Christians for making aliens partly taboo) We really should be accepting aliens as a possibility and negating that stereotype of Christians, because there’s people out there that think finding aliens would actually disprove God.

    I don’t see why we would have to be on earth for end times events to happen, though the idea of humanity being chased back to earth for end tines is pretty interesting. But I don’t know why we would automatically avoid writing Christian space exploration stories either. Even if God would chase us back to earth for the apocalypse, that doesn’t mean we can’t write AU stories where it’s different.

    In my space and fantasy universes, there’s a lot of ways I handle things you mentioned in your post. I think I’ll come back later today and say some more about aliens :p

    • Travis Perry says:

      If I could reply to just one aspect of your comment for now, I think my approach to aliens and magic is very similar. True, I’m more cautious about magic because magic in the real world is directly prohibited in the Bible in a way aliens are not. But with aliens and magic alike I’m seeking how to make use of a genre expectation with a distinctive Christian approach. The idea that I’ve somehow recommended prohibiting magic in stories, if that notion is floating around out there somewhere, would be untrue.

      Likewise my comments on responsibility were not intended to be absolute prohibitions on anything. I just recommended a measure of caution.

      • Eh, yeah, I know you’re not trying to prohibit people. It’s probably good to clarify what you mean since it’s easy for people to misinterpret things(some might potentially think you’re not as hard on aliens simply because you like them/are biased), but with that post and a lot of the other ones I make, I’m mainly just saying my thoughts on the subject in general, so it’s not that I disagreed or was trying to argue with you in this case.

        Due to the way I was raised, I’m more biased toward a futurist take on Revelation, but I am open to the other interpretations as well. I think it’s dangerous to assume we know for sure which way it is. Regardless, even with verses like that, the matter of perspective still comes in. The Bible was written to guide people on earth, so maybe it’s just describing the apocalypse events for earth dwellers. I kind of always thought ‘earth’ in the apocalypse situation could also apply to whatever physical worlds humans happened to be living in. In a poetic sense, ‘earth’ can just refer to dirt or the ground beneath our feet or whatever, so there’s multiple ways to look at it. So I guess that’s part of what I’d say if someone brought that argument to me.

    • Travis Perry says:

      To reply to another aspect of your comment, the futurist view of Revelation portrays the Earth from the point of view of heaven. It talks about just one world, or seems to. Nothing anything close to another world is mentioned. So the perspective of the whole human race on Planet Earth seems to match the context of a futurist interpretation of Revelation.

      Of course people who don’t interpret Revelation as future have nothing to be concerned about with the descriptions of the heavens looking down at the single Earth. But the futurist view would seem to exclude any future space colonies.

      That’s why I made the case it only “seems to” exclude future space exploration, but really doesn’t.

  2. Jes Drew says:

    I have nothing against reading aliens in books. But I still think the Bible, with its depiction of man being the crowing glory of creation and given dominion over the earth, whose falk affected all of physical creation, and who was redeemed by a Kinsman redeemer of God become man, Who died once for all, doesn’t leave a lot of room for physical aliens. Aliens from the spiritual realm in the form of demons deceiving, tormenting, and stealing the worship of humans, that seems more likely.

    • Travis Perry says:

      Jes, I rather agree with you about what is more likely, even though I think the position of the Bible concerning aliens is there’s no evidence either way whether they exist or not.

      I think one reason to write about aliens has everything to do with people raised up in an evolutionary worldview accustomed to reading about aliens–I think it’s good for look for ways to get that set of people thinking about God through exploring the universe through fictional alien eyes–eyes that challenge their presumptions about what the universe is fundamentally like.

      • Jes Drew says:

        I agree. Just like I don’t have any problem with most fantasy elements even though I know they aren’t real but are used to show truths in a different light, I like sci-fi stories that do the same. I don’t particularly believe that there is a multiverse (other than the two known dimensions of physical and spiritual), but I find the concept interesting to explore and see how the truth of the gospel will shine in it, and pondering how it might work theoretically opens up ways for non-Christians who adamantly believe in these not-necessarily-untrue things to see real truth through and despite them.

        But if aliens in literature aren’t done in a certain Star Wars like dynamic, I kind of default view them as demons, and that gives the stories a whole new layer of creepiness.

  3. I actually give a presentation entitled, Aliens and Evolution: The Connection. The beginning of your articles summarizes the core arguments I present. One of the points I make in that presentation for an argument AGAINST the existence of other intelligent life made by God is Romans 8.

    “For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that[h] the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

    22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.

    An argument can be made that all of creation – that means the entire universe – was effected by Adam’s sin. The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics (things winding down, losing energy, etc) began when Adam sinned. So, if there were aliens on other worlds, they would have been going about their business and suddenly entropy kicks in because of the sin of a being on a planet they may know nothing about.

    There’s another verse in Genesis 1: 14-18 that says, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, 18 to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness.” Notice verse 16 is almost an afterthought. “He also made the stars.”

    Are these solid proofs that there are no aliens out there who are created by God? No, but it does seem that the Bible indicates that the Earth IS special, and that the rest of the universe was created for us as a demonstration of his majesty.

    As a spec-fic writer, I think it’s easier to do aliens in a completely different universe, realm, dimension, etc. (I do this in my Master Symphony Trilogy). But I try to shy away from writing Earth-based sci-fi with aliens. I think it does muddy the water a little theologically. But that’s my opinion.

    Thanks for sharing yours, Travis. I appreciate your insight.

    • Travis Perry says:

      Thanks for your comment, Keith.

      Please note that I think Christian writers who have taken on the role of writing speculative fiction ought to try to be distinctively Christian in their approach to the spec fiction genres. What exactly that looks like is not for me to say–I believe there are many possible approaches, so the “opportunities” I listed were suggestive, based on my own imagination and were not meant to be all-inclusive. There are many possible approaches, but each of us as Christian creators are responsible before God for what we do and don’t do.

      So if you feel you should not write aliens in our regular space time, don’t!

      But I do write them, at least on occasion. Though I’m always looking for ways to do so that are original, imaginative, and distinctly Christian.

  4. notleia says:

    Ah yes, scriptural quote-mining to get some kind of answer for things that were never in the purview of the Bible. Bless their hearts, it reminds me of the Church of Christers explaining why they don’t allow instrumental music. They explain it as mining a quote of Psalms about praising the Lord with trumpets and cymbals and then backhanding that with the New Testament release from Old Testament laws.
    The REAL reason is from their Dissenter (more specifically Campbellite) roots criticizing the vanity and ostentation of high-church culture with its prayer books and organ music, but that takes waaaay too long to explain with so much history and context needed. It’s gonna go zipping straight over the heads of the small children, so they pulled this feat of pretzel logic right out of their butts. I’d prefer it if they’d explain that it was just their preferred tradition, but I guess that doesn’t sound Jesus-y enough.

    • Travis Perry says:

      Well, I myself am a believer in the Protestant distinction of “Sola Scriptura,” that the Bible is the only authoritative guide on spiritual matters for Christians. I think searching Scriptures looking for answers is only natural. Yet, it simply is true that there are some issues the Bible never directly addresses.

      How to tackle things the Bible doesn’t talk about directly requires some patience and dedication in my opinion. But anyway, my opinions on Bible interpretation most likely don’t interest you all that much…

    • People genuinely make the objections he listed in the article. A lot of those people are going to be interested in scripture based arguments, so it’s kinda important to start discussions with those people based on scripture, quite simply because it will be one of the most effective ways to address them. But that doesn’t mean that anyone who uses scripture in an argument is automatically doing what you’re saying.

      • notleia says:

        No, I know that. I’m not doubting their intentions, but what they’re doing is less hermeneutics and more superstitious thinking — waving the Bible at potentially scary ideas like waving a crucifix at a vampire.

        It’s still bad logic and they should go sit in the Shame Corner. And why they’re there, contemplate on why they insist on using that tactic to deal with their cognitive dissonance.

        • Some of these conversations are honestly just for fun, too, though. Like, we can’t solve all of this, but we can have fun coming up with ideas and thinking about what ifs and seeing what each other thinks.

          • notleia says:

            I’m talking about the kind of people you’d have to coax into having fun because they’re afraid of fun being sacrilegious. It’s moot to this discussion whether aliens exist or whether they’re more complicated than bacteria, but they’re over here making mountains out of molehills.

        • Travis Perry says:

          Notleia, no, Christian people who use the Bible in an attempt to understand the world should not sit in “the Shame Corner.” Their desire to find answers in the word of God is legitimate–I in fact seek answers in the Bible as well.

          The issue I have with some of the conclusions people draw from the Bible is they leave no or little room for the fact there could be unknown factors that affect how the Bible should be read. They are in effect too dogmatic about the deductive reasoning they draw from Scripture.

          You on the other hand, tend to be dogmatic even though you don’t use the Bible to draw your conclusions…AHEM (Go sit in the shame corner, Notleia! 🙂 )

          • notleia says:

            You hold to genre distinctions, right? Why would the Bible, a series of documents about the relationship between God and man, spend time on star formation or multiverses, which Iron Age shepherds neither know nor care about?

            • BREAKING NEWS

              Bible skeptic derisively refers to residents of B.C.-era Middle East as “Bronze Age”/”Iron Age” when it’s just so obvious that only residents of the Silicon Age know all there is to know about life, the universe, and everything. Film at 11.

              • notleia says:

                CS Lewis wrote some bit about how Euro people pre-Columbus knew that the earth was round but the peasants didn’t give a single crap because their worries were more about getting enough to eat and not freezing to death.

                Same principle. They had an origin story with symbolism and bling, but its purpose was cultural, which is different from the purpose that the modern incarnation of science serves (ie, function).

              • Travis Perry says:

                The difference for someone who believes the Bible is divinely inspired is that we hold that it is possible, even though God was focusing on a certain culture, for him to reveal information that culture could never know about or understand. Therefore the Bible can be seen as a guide to the mind of God–a key to all truth.

                Note I don’t think this idea is totally in error–ON THE CONTRARY, we learn a great deal about God and his purposes and the nature of the human race from the Bible. Yet there have already been clear cases of subjects the Bible didn’t directly address matters that we know about today–therefore we ought to be cautious about reading too much into what the Bible seems to say about unknown things.

                Note that what I just said is a LONG way from your point of view, that the Bible was only for a particular culture of the past…

  5. When looking at whether or not earth would be special if there were infinite life bearing planets, I kind of look at it in the sense of seeing how each human being is special in spite of there being so many of us. Earth is the only thing that exists with its exact combination of traits and history. It’s filled with beings that have ambitions and philosophies and convictions. Maybe earth isn’t startlingly unique in every way, but, again. It’s the only thing with its exact combination of traits, purpose and is filled with beings that desire meaning and significance.

    When I think of humans being made in God’s own image, I think of it more in the sense that God’s a spiritual being, and when he made us in his image he did that by giving us a spirit of our own. So ‘in his image’ might not literally be a matter of looking physically like him. Or, maybe it means that we reason, seek companionship and purpose, etc at a far higher level than animals.

    And while aliens could very well be bizarrely different from earth life in terms of appearance, we as authors might be putting a little too much on the idea of unique creature designs. Like, yes, that’s a good thing to do, and aliens would probably be a lot more varied than the Star Trek ones. But a lot of not very closely related animals in real life have a lot of the same basic design elements, depending on their lifestyles and such. And some animals can look almost the same and still be two different species. There are a lot of details and internal elements to an animal that make them truly different from each other regardless of appearance.

    That’s one thing that can make classifying animals hard, actually. But, applying it to writing scifi…sometimes it would actually make sense for an alien to look like something on earth, but whether or not it ‘works’ depends on the author’s reasons for the similarities.

    There’s a fun documentary called Alien Planet that basically discusses a virtual exploration of an alien planet and its life. I was a little skeptical of one of the creature designs, though. Like, there was an alien that had its front legs fused together, and its back legs fused together.

    Maybe something like that could exist, but the animal would probably end up with some big disadvantages, like having a harder time catching itself if it was knocked over, and having less ability to fight back. There’s a reason many animals built in that manner(of having it’s front limbs and hinds limbs on the ground at all times) have four separate limbs. Even a lot of bipedal creatures still have either wings or arms to balance themselves with and use as tools for flying, climbing, etc. Of course bugs and stuff have a different build, but they have different lifestyles to counter that.

    So sometimes in our quest to make new designs, even experts can make something that doesn’t entirely make sense or work as well.

    And there’s so many potential details. With one of the aliens I’m designing for a future story, they are intended to be creatures that are well adapted for both life on a hi tech spaceship AND living like a feral animal(though in both cases they are as intelligent as humans). One thing I’m trying to decide on them is what type of claws/nails they would have on their front digits or if they’ll even have claws in the first place. Another thing I wonder with their design is if individuals of this species will end up having joint problems in their front digits as they get older. That part would be completely fine, but if that would be a legitimate issue, it’d be a great detail/obstacle to give the alien chars in the story.

    With salvation and all that, I usually have it where a Christ figure died for the sake of all sentient beings regardless of planet. Either that, or I write an AU scenario where most beings can become saved by accepting God, his forgiveness, and living for him from then on. Whether or not there was a Christ figure in that scenario is a mystery in some regards, and would depend on which story verse is being discussed. But in a realistic universe, each planet would probably have varied levels of knowledge about God. So some might know to accept him and ask his forgiveness and live for him, but have no clue about a Christ figure or religious text or anything. I like exploring how that issue plays out in different worlds. Without going into too much detail, alien life in my space verse relies heavily on genetic engineering, so there’s a lot of possibilities that come out of that, especially in terms of what people should and shouldn’t do with science.

    I also don’t really have a problem with discussing evolutionary aspects in creature design. It’s important to think of what would actually work and survive and change, especially in a scifi world. It doesn’t negate God and can even elevate him, when we think about how genetic variety and tiny changes in a species are very practical and even necessary for life’s existence. From that standpoint, the fact that he made that process/allowed it to exist only elevates him.

    Also, there were a couple other fun documentaries detailing some ecosystems on made up planets, but unfortunately I don’t remember what they were called.

    • Travis Perry says:

      To reply to just one aspect of your interesting comment, one thing I have done with some of my stories that feature aliens is have them look like exact parallels of a creature that lives on Earth–which would raise the question in someone’s mind, well possibly anyway, why would it be that a creature in space would look exactly the same (or nearly so) as creatures on Earth?

      It’s a kind of subversive counter to evolution-producing-aliens as people commonly believe it that unfortunately suffers from the shortcoming that I could be accused of simply lacking sufficient imagination to create truly alien-looking aliens. But I’ve taken that risk at times anyway.

      Chief example is my 10 thousand word or so short story called “Unknown Biologic” that I released for sale on Amazon years ago (and which never sold very well–it’s hard for a short story at the minimum price of 99 cents to compete with novels for the same price). But anyway, if you might be interested in that story, here’s the link to it on Amazon:

  6. Richard Gaffin says:


    I was fascinated by this post. Atheist bloggers often deride religious belief as irrational, because faith, they charge, admits of no falsification. There is no evidence, they say, that can be brought against religious doctrine that believers would accept as refuting those doctrinal truth claims. While there is some truth to this, it is not entirely the case. Paul himself in 1 Cor. 15:19 notes that if the resurrection didn’t happen, Christianity is false. For me, the existence of aliens would be such evidence.

    I was therefore intrigued at the degree to which you’ve thought through the topic. Despite the momentous ramifications that the existence of aliens might have, I’ve seen very little discussion of them in theological terms, so I very much enjoyed this. You thought of numerous objections to aliens that hadn’t occurred to me. But as I see it, you missed the main objection. This was raised by Keith Robinson below in his comment on the post, but it seems to me your response to him didn’t really address the issue: Genesis 3:17 and Romans 8:18-22 make clear that all of creation was cursed as a result of Adam’s sin. We now know that that creation is a vast universe extending millions of light years into space. Any intelligent species we might encounter would be subject to the futility of creation brought about by the Fall. That presents a conundrum. The Westminster Confession says that all men “descended by ordinary generation” fell in Adam. An extraterrestrial species would not be descended by ordinary generation. If aliens are not tainted by Adam’s original sin, then why do they suffer the natural evil brought on by the Curse? If they are fallen, then how does that work, given they are not descended by ordinary generation? (You note the possibility that extraterrestrials might in fact be biologically related to us, but then in my view they would be humans and not really aliens.)

    In one sense, this is the type of question best avoided, because our answers can only be speculative. But it does have bearing on a current question, namely the historicity of Adam. If we insist that a single man, Adam, had to exist and be the father of us all for the doctrine of Original Sin to have cogency, then we would undercut that if we said that extraterrestrials somehow fell without that biological connection.

    Again, I enjoyed this very much. As to aliens in fiction, I see their use the same way I see Tolkien’s use of elves and dwarves. The Christian message would not be relevant in that fictional world, but its story can nonetheless be a powerful way of communicating Christian truth in this real world.

    • Travis Perry says:

      Richard, thank you for your comment.

      You are correct that I didn’t really address the issue of the entire universe being cursed by Adam’s sin. Perhaps I will delve into that more in a post in the future, but C.S. Lewis’s Space Trilogy in effect took the statements about the curse and limited them to the Planet Earth. He assumed the rest of the universe was sinless, yet still populated it with aliens. I touched on this idea under Objection 4, though I mentioned the sinless aspect rather than the curse aspect (though I think they are intertwined).

      The view C.S. Lewis took shows that what the curse includes and how much of the universe it includes is somewhat up for debate.

      But even if we take the entire universe to be involved (and I would agree that’s the best way to look at the word “creation”), let’s draw a bit of a parallel with Earth creatures. Was it fair that dolphins should be cursed or dogs or elephants or whichever species of Earth you’d like to pick, because of the sin of human beings?

      Or to answer more creatively, just as I imagined that perhaps the sacrifice of Jesus could happen at one time on many alien worlds, what if there were many alien Adams and they in effect sinned at the same time and the universe is cursed because of all the “Adams”–including the ones who are alien. Though we would naturally only hear about our Adam in the Bible.

      By the way, I do hold the entire human race is descended from Adam and Eve. Even though I’m not entirely convinced by Young Earth Creationism.

  7. Very interesting discussion, Travis, not only the original piece but the discussion that follow. There is a lot to think about. Here is another thought:

    We know biblically that a thousand years is like a day and a day like a thousand years, suggesting that God is beyond time; the fact that he can know the future and knows the past suggests that he can be many places and many times at the same time. The ability of angels to come and go in time and space as messengers of God suggest that God’s dominion over all creation is not limited or linear the way it is for us.

    God is a creator and the vastness of his creation suggests that he has not stopped being such. Its not too farfetched to me that he is every creating and every expanding his dominion. Because we are limited in a linearity of time and limited in our life by God’s purpose, it makes sense that the extent of our knowledge of the world might also be limited, and knowing anything beyond this earth and life is unnecessary for our spiritual formation and redemption. Certainly all the descriptions of heaven show that the authors were struggling to grasp and explain the nature of what they were seeing because of these limitations, and the vastness and extent of the creation beyond our limited experience is overwhelming.

    But what if God made a thousand earths, with a thousand cultures and languages – or a million? What if the inhabitants were basically the same design? The argument that they would have to be different is evolutionary in nature so what if he made them basically the same and put them on a thousand planets and on each on, the history is a bit different, but they are still human.

    John argues that if we tried to write down all the things Jesus did, the books would fill the earth. It may be a bit of hyperbole, but suppose there is a library planet out there that is nothing but a repository of books about all the things Jesus did. Suppose all those things took place on thousands of different planets? Would we argue that God is not capable of having Jesus do this? In I Pet 3 is says that Jesus went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed and did not listen to Noah’s preaching. How many other places could he have gone before or after his life. He’s been around since eternity so the breadth of his adventures is pretty difficult to comprehend.

    What if he did die for the sins of all mankind on a thousand different planets simultaneously? Would we argue that this is impossible for God? Doing it once, here on earth, for my sins is overwhelming enough and since I am confined here, worrying about the other thousands of scenarios would just be overwhelming and distracting if I cannot even reach out to my neighbors and friends.

    I prefer to let my infinite God be just that, and not try to restrict his power, creativity or ability to manage worlds far beyond my wildest imaginations.

    There are some things about God that would have to be the same. Love, compassion, consistency, righteousness, forgiveness, redemption, etc. and there would be some expectations of his creations that would also have to be a certain way: love, compassion, obedience to his plans, listening to his ordinances, the way we would treat others with grace, forgiveness, etc. but the way this is delivered to us, the history of how we would know these things, characters that form the envelope of our experiences and history and culture – how different could they be and still be true to God and his creation?

    Exploring these ideas in fiction is important for our struggle to understand God.

    • Another quick thought about all this: If there are a million planets out there in God’s vast creation that need saving, it possible that God does not want us taking our tainted and crippled brands of Christianity and salvation to them. We have enough trouble getting along with each other. Perhaps God sees us being saved in spite of ourselves, by his grace and mercy and perhaps there is a planet out there that is actually succeeding in their righteousness without us bringing our weirdness to it. Perhaps God wants each planet to work out its own salvation so every one of them is isolated from the others, to go through that salvation process by itself with it’s own failures and successes – just a thought ….

What do you think?