Gary Bates, head of the evangelical Christian organization Creation Ministries International, is worried about close encounters of the third kind. According to Mr. Bates, “E.T. life would actually make a mockery of the very reason Christ came to die for our sins.” *
Really? A mockery? I don’t think so at all.
First, God could choose to send Jesus to other planets as well as our own. Second, if that is too far fetched, why is it any less authentic for Christians to believe that beings on other planets must come to Christ through his missionaries than it is to believe that human beings in far flung lands on this planet should do so?
If there is conscious life on other worlds, it could very well be God’s plan for them to be evangelized and saved by missionaries from Earth.
You might argue, of course, that this would be unfair, since it may take thousands of years for Christians from Earth to make it to other worlds to bring the Good News, but this is no different than realizing that humans existed on earth for thousands of years prior to Jesus’ coming. True they couldn’t get into Heaven when they died, not having accepted Jesus as their as yet unborn Lord and Savior, but this is taken care of during the Harrowing of Hell on the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday when Jesus descended into Hell and liberated the righteous Jews who lived long before Jesus’ time. So time isn’t the issue. Accepting Jesus is.
If we do find intelligent life on other planets, or at least life as stupid as us, we will no doubt encounter new ideas about God and religion, but this should pose no threat to the faithful. There are plenty of alternatives to Christianity on this planet, and evangelicals like Mr. Bates have no trouble rejecting them. Why would other-worldly religions pose any more of a problem?
Come to think of it, Jews might have more of a problem with E.T. than Christians. We, after all, believe that we are God’s Chosen People. If there are other Chosen People on other planets that would be deflating. If there is a winner on each planet, and there are millions of planets, there are millions of winners, and that makes being Chosen somewhat less satisfying. So if anyone has to worry about E.T. it is the Jews.
I for one am not worried about extra terrestrial life. I assume it exists. With 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars in the universe, I have to assume other inhabitable worlds, and other peoples narcissistic enough to think God chooses and saves some, and rejects and damns others.
What worries me is having aliens from other worlds knocking on my door to bring me the Good News of their Gods. I mean how often do I have to hide under my desk and pretend no one is home?
*THE WEEK, November 20, 2009, page 14