Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Salvation on other planets?

This post is a bit more 'out there' than most of my musings, but please stick with me...

Larry Norman
once sang these words:
"...and if there's life on other planets then I'm sure that He must know and He's been there once already and has died to save their souls..."
Song: 'UFO' from the album: 'In Another Land' (1976)
The bible was written in a time when the world was flat, the sun orbited the earth and stars were small lights that lit up the night. The very concept of other planets, let alone other planets capable of supporting life, had not yet been conceived. Everything in the bible relates to us - earthbound humans.

But what if there is life on other planets?

We know that 'Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring [us] to God' (1 Peter 3v18). But does Christ's sacrifice on this planet atone for the sins of the whole universe? Or is it like Larry Norman says, that Christ will have had to die on all other inhabited (and fallen) planets to save them too?

I'm pretty sure that there are other inhabited planets out there in the universe, probably loads of them. Has Christ died loads of times?

Or is it like C.S. Lewis describes it in his 'Out of the silent planet' trilogy - where only earth has fallen and all other planets are in harmony with God?

I realise there is no way we can actually come up with a definite answer to this question, but I'm interested in the opinions of my regular readers (I know some of you read sci-fi, so you must have opinions on such things...), so what do you think?

My take on it is this - it must be a once for all sacrifice. If there are beings on other planets in need of salvation then Christ must have been incarnated there as well - at the same time - and all the various incarnations of him must have been crucified (or whatever the local execution method might have been) simultaneously. However, I don't hold to this opinion very strongly, I'm sure I could be persuaded out of it by intelligent reasoning... ;o)


Chris Hamer-Hodges said...

It depends whether you view life as an accidental process of evolution, likely to occur anywhere as much as anywhere else, or the miraculous work of a divine hand, impossible to reproduce.

Personally, I don't believe there is life on other planets, but if there is (big if) and if they are also made in the image of God (ie. not just animals with no soul) then Christ's death on Earth is sufficient for them too. The whole Cosmos (not just Earth) was effected by Adam's sin, and the whole Cosmos (not just Earth) is redeemed by Christ's blood.

Ricky Carvel said...


I don't think it does depend on that at all.

Why should an infinite God, 'inhabiting' the entire universe, only exercise His ability to create life in one tiny part of the universe?

And if we are the only life in the universe, why place us on an 'utterly insignificant little blue green planet' somewhere 'out on the western spiral arm of the galaxy' in a fairly nondescript galaxy. (Apologies to Douglas Adams)

If we are the only life, surely we would be somewhere a bit more central in this universe?

Or is God just the God of this little bit of the galaxy? (Although that's a heretical doubt for another time, I think)

But assuming there are other lifeforms and civilisations out there, does God's plan require us to advance to the point where we can boldly go before they can know of Christ and the possibility of salvation?

jojo said...

Time out!! Time out!! Ricky, are you losing your mind? Why are you asking so many "why" questions about the sovereign prerogative of God? If he chooses (he does have free will doesn't he?) to do something, whether big or small in our estimation, doesn't he have the right to do it? Maybe you should be asking, "Why does he offer grace at all?, or, Why is Christ the only way?" After all, isn't this way too small for a God so great? Shouldn't we expect something on a grander scale than this? Where are the fanfares? Where are the fireworks?

Ricky Carvel said...


Perhaps my great learning has driven me insane (Acts 26v24) but I think I am reasonably sane. On this blog, I am just 'thinking out loud'.

But this post is not primarily a 'why' question. Its more of a 'what if' or a 'how' question.

What if there is life on other planets?
How does Christ's sacrifice work for them?

I'm not in any way questioning God's freewill or trying to limit Him in any way (as I say, that is a heretical discussion for another time) but I am interested in what He has done - in the universe as a whole, not merely this tiny part of it.

But I'm intrigued by your spate of questions at the end of your comment. You seem to be saying that Christ's sacrifice was 'on a small scale' and should have been accompanied by fireworks and fanfares. Do you think it was only a small part of a larger plan that we do not know?

Chris Hamer-Hodges said...

> And if we are the only life in the universe, why place us on an 'utterly insignificant little blue green planet' somewhere 'out on the western spiral arm of the galaxy' in a fairly nondescript galaxy. (Apologies to Douglas Adams)

[Always appreciate a good Douglas Adams quote :-)]

David put it like this:
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?
Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honour. (Ps 8:3-5)

Man's significance derives not from his position in the Universe, but his position before God, and in his eternal plan.

God created the vastness of the Universe so that we might grasp something of his divine attributes: his infinite greatness, eternal nature and divine power. If we are insignificant compared to the greatness of the Creation, what does that tell us about the greatness of the Creator himself?

Ricky Carvel said...

Chris, you said:

'God created the vastness of the Universe so that we might grasp something of his divine attributes'

I'm sorry, but I think that it is arrogance on our part to think that the universe was in any way created for us (I've made this point before). The universe was created for God's purpose and for His glory and we (i.e. humans on the planet earth) are only a tiny part in that plan.

If the universe was created for us, there would be no point in creating all the bits of it that we will not ever see and cannot ever get to. And I still think if it was made for us then we would be more central in it.

Chris Hamer-Hodges said...

Ricky, I never meant to imply the Universe was created for us... but it does communicate to us. God demonstrates his nature to us through what he has made. [Ro 1:20]

Ricky Carvel said...

Indeed it does communicate to us. Sorry for jumping to the wrong conclusion there, but I've heard too many people making comments to the effect of 'we are the reason for the universe' which is just nonsense.