Disclaimer: this is the strangest blog I've ever posted.
Genuine Alien Contact?
Did you see this news story? A myriad of outlets reported this past August that an organization called the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) was investigating something they think could be a radio signal from 95 light years away. One researcher said the signal "conceivably fits the profile for an intentional transmission" (see more about this story here, here, here and here).
Alien contact has been a fascination of Hollywood for decades. There are dozens "We Are Not Alone" movies, including Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T., Independence Day, The Day the Earth Stood Still, War of the Worlds, Contact, Flight of the Navigator, Super 8, Mission to Mars (truly, the worst movie I've ever seen), Men in Black, Mars Attacks, Signs, Fire in the Sky, etc. A new blockbuster with a similar premise will be coming out in November, The Arrival.
Are You Serious?
I know many of you, if you've read this far, are going to start laughing now, but this news story got me thinking, "What if that is a radio transmission from 95 light years away? What if a flying saucer did land somewhere like the White House lawn?" I know this is completely ridiculous, right? Those movies are science FICTION!
You might be laughing, but even someone as highly regarded as the Pope addressed this question. In a homily given in May 2014, he suggested that in order to be inclusive he'd even baptize an alien if one asked him too. A couple years ago a Vatican astronomerwrote a book entitled, Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial? So, someone other than this crazy pastor has been thinking a little bit about this stuff.
Now, should acceptance and inclusion be our first response? "Believe the best" and "Choose to trust" are good maxims to live by with humans, but does the same hold true for E.T. too?
Would Christianity Survive?
What would this say for the future of Christianity? I've been reading the Bible for almost 2 decades. It says nothing about aliens on other planets. I have enough trouble keeping track of what's in the Bible, let alone trying to make sense of some obscure reference that if I stand on my head, read it upside down while squinting my eyes then aliens might, maybe, could be, most likely aren't in the Bible (like Ezekiel 1, a favorite "prooftext" for ufologists). Stuff like this is better found in 3rd Opinions!
Now, since the Bible says nothing about aliens, what in the Christian worldview could help us think though their arrival if this supremely unlikely event actually took place? I actually don't think this would prove the Bible is false. The Christian worldview has enough intellectual capitol to not only handle something like this, but to understand it fully, and here's how:
My main issue is how a person would interpret the event if it happened. The Bible does talk about "extra-terrestrial" beings that exist just like you and me. They primarily exist in other dimensions though, not on other planets. Some are holy; others are not. This was the teaching of Jesus (Matt 12:22-32).
He said the leader of these unholy beings is "the father of lies" (John 8:44). Their goal is to keep people blind to the Truth (2 Cor 4:4) by introducing deception (1 Tim 4:1) and promoting their own worship as God-substitutes (Rev 9:20). I think this explains the alien phenomena and it's this biblical lens that I'd use to interpret alien contact (FYI, it's this same lens that I use to interpret paranormal phenomena like ghosts, if there's any validity to that).
So, what would I do if this far-fetched, crazy, never-going-to-happen-kind-of thing did actually happen? First, I'd be skeptical, VERY skeptical. If aliens landed on the White House lawn, my first thought would be "I don't think these are aliens. I think that's what they want people to believe though. I wonder if this is what Jesus was talking about in Mark 13:22 and/or what Paul was taking about in 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12."
Then, while I suspect they'd say they're here to help us, I'd listen very carefully for a handful of key things. I'd listen for even a slight hint of disdain for humanity -- which God made in His image (Gen 1:26-27) and crowned as the apex of His creation (Psalm 8) -- especially disdain for those who don't get with their program. I'd listen for the promotion of no absolute truth and for moral relativism (contra John 8:32). I'd listen for religions being obsolete and about how they helped create our religions (contra John 14:6). Finally, I'd listen for any talk about them being our true gods and about wanting to teach us how to evolve into gods ourselves (contra Deut 4:39; Isa 45:5-6).
If any part of this was their message -- which it almost always is (see alien abduction messages) -- this would be nothing new. Different packaging. More of a wow-factor! Same satanic source.
In case you're wondering, I know this isn't a major subject for mainstream biblical Christianity, but I'm not the first person to consider the demonic interpretation of aliens. If this subject interests you, check out this book. I don't believe everything in it, but I found it fascinating. Also, you can watch some people who are trying to think through the alien phenomena from the Christian worldview on youTube here.
Now, do I think what I've imagined here is going to happen? No! Emphatically, No! Remember, the title of this blog is What if.... It's been interesting to think about though.