ExoTheology & Space-Age Interpretations of the Bible

(religious implications of an inhabited universe)

William Lane Craig on Romans 8, Ezekiel 1, extraterrestrial intelligence, and UFO

This is a transcript from William Craig Lane’s Reasonable Faith podcast, from 17 August 2008, available here, via iTunes, and elsewhere.

[…]

Interviewer: It seems, Dr. Craig, that the Bible is largely silent about this issue [UFOs, aliens, flying saucers].

Lane: I think it is, silent, Kevin. The scriptures are given to human beings as God’s revelation to people on this planet. And therefore there’s no reason to think that there could not be persons that God has created in some unknown galaxy that we have no idea about, and he has provided a revelation of himself to them as well. I think it would be presumptuous to say that we know that he hasn’t done that.

[…]

Lane: I’m puzzled by folks who seem to think, that if life, intelligent life, were discovered somewhere else or that if it were to come here that somehow this would be a disproof of Christianity. I…  that seems to me to be a complete non-sequitor. It doesn’t follow, because Christianity simply doesn’t speak to the question of whether or not God has created life elsewhere in the universe.

[Interesting / helpful comments on the idea that the vastness of the universe points to the likelihood of extraterrestrial life.]

[…]

Interviewer: Is it incompatible then, is it okay for a Christian to speculate and think, well, then okay there might be, might not be… We seem to be the only ones according to the testimony of scripture, but… it’s no blow to the Christian faith?

Lane: Right, and I wouldn’t even say, Kevin, that we seem to be the only ones according to scripture, because the scripture is addressed just to life on earth and so it wouldn’t speak of whether or not there’s extraterrestrial life at all. So I would say that theologically it’s just an open question.  Scientifically, the evidence is against it. But, as Christians, I think we need to be open to the possibility that God especially and miraculously done something that scientifically would be highly highly unlikely to occur – namely, create life somewhere else in the cosmos.

[…]

[On the question of whether putative extraterrestrial persons] Lane: If there is intelligent life, made in God’s image, somewhere else in the universe, have they fallen into sin? Or was this a civilization or culture in which the fall did not occur? Adam did not take the apple? Or Eve did not take the fruit of the tree?  Is it possible that there could be a race of intelligent beings that has not fallen into sin? Well, it seems to me that that’s possible. C.S. Lewis imagines such a thing in his science fiction trilogies. And it’s possible, I think, that Adam didn’t have to sin, that Eve didn’t have to sin, that neither … did their descendants, so it’s possible that there could be such a population, and, in that case, they wouldn’t have fallen into sin, then wouldn’t need redemption.

Now perhaps the more interesting question is suppose they have fallen into sin, and God loves them. Then God would also provide some sort of redeemer for them as well. Now would that mean that Christ then also became incarnate in those worlds? Could there be multiple incarnations of the second person of the trinity – on this planet as a human being and on another planet as a… Klingon or whatever they are!? [chuckles]… And it would still be the same person, but he would have multiple bodies.

[…]

Interviewer: There’s a possibility in Romans 8, Dr. Craig, it seems to me, that might indicate that the entire universe is fallen and that the whole creation groans awaiting the sons of God. Now if that’s talking about our local situation or not, I don’t know. It seems to indicate that the entire creation has got this problem, this fallen problem. So that might be a consideration.

Lane: Right, that would be a factor that would suggest that sin would affect the entire created order, wouldn’t it.

Interview: Yeah, so that’s one passage to study when you come up with these questions and so on.

[…]

[On the question of whether the UFO phenomenon is caused by extraterrestrial visitors to this planet] Interviewer: It seems to me, then, that we need to be careful about interpreting ___ passages of scripture as indicative of alien life, like Ezekiel saw the wheel in the sky, when the passage clearly talks about … gives credence to the Holy Spirit there in those passages in the vision and there are certain… one or two passages that people go to. I think you have to really twist them to get that out of there.

Lane: Certainly, you do. When I was in high school, as a non-Christian young man, I was really quite into UFOs and read a lot of the literature on it – Allen J. Hynek from Northwestern University was the main researcher for UFO phenomena then, and I remember seeing one article in a popular science magazine in which it claimed that Ezekiel’s vision was of extraterrestrial beings in sort of hover craft and wearing helmets and things of this sort that he described in his primitive way as having the face of an ox and the face of an eagle and things of that sort. And to me as a young high school teenager at the time, it seemed very convincing that this was what this was. But as you become a little more sophisticated and understand Jewish apocalyptic literature and symbolism, I think it makes it highly highly unlikely that this is what Ezekiel was seeing, that this was, in fact, a typical sort of Jewish apocalyptic vision that he described and that you have elsewhere in the scripture, too, like in the book of Revelation and so forth.  And so I think we need to be extremely cautious about reading in between the lines.

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