I know, I know, it’s the proverbial fish in a barrel when you critique creationists. They are just so easy to mock. But how can you help yourself when someone like Ken Ham opens his mouth in public? The media just love to pounce all over him. He must take his lessons in PR from Ann Coulter. And like with Ann, the controversy probably helps sell his books.
(And, from what I see, selling books is really what Ken is all about. But that’s not the point of this post.)*
Ken’s latest foray into looniness – a territory he has already explored well and thoroughly – came in reports of his demand for NASA to end the space program searching for signs of alien life because all aliens are going to Hell.
Well, that’s not exactly what he said. But he implied it when he wrote,
“…any aliens would also be affected by Adam’s sin, but because they are not Adam’s descendants, they can’t have salvation… You see, the Bible makes it clear that Adam’s sin affected the whole universe. This means that any aliens would also be affected by Adam’s sin, but because they are not Adam’s descendants, they can’t have salvation. One day, the whole universe will be judged by fire, and there will be a new heavens and earth… An understanding of the gospel makes it clear that salvation through Christ is only for the Adamic race—human beings who are all descendants of Adam.”
The theological argument might be a tad complex for an audience decreasingly schooled in complex ideas and critical thinking, and increasingly schooled in wardrobe malfunctions and nipple slips as “newsworthy” content, so the media boiled it down to a rather simplistic idea. I mean, after all, if you’re saved, you go to heaven, right? So logically in the Christian cosmos where do you go if you’re not saved? Right: hell.
No, Ham didn’t use those exact words, but it’s not hard to get the inference from what he did say. (and he’s almost mild compared to some of his fellow religionists – some Christians won’t even admit other Christians into their heaven if they aren’t of the same denomination! I suppose it’s not terribly crowded up there, and the line-up for an espresso will be short…)
Aliens, therefore, are all doomed, just as much as any Earthy sinners (not to mention those of other religions or denominations), because Jesus couldn’t save them. Why not? Because Jesus was the saviour for this world only, not other worlds. So any ETs are doomed. Q.E.D.
Well, that is if there are aliens. Ham doesn’t actually believe in them – in fact he doesn’t believe in ANY sort of life outside this planet – and roundly criticized NASA for, as he sees it, wasting millions of dollars in a futile search for non-existent alien life. According to the HuffPost:
…Ham, president and CEO of Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Ky., said we probably are alone. He wrote “earth was specially created,” and the entire hunt for extraterrestrials is “really driven by man’s rebellion against God in a desperate attempt to supposedly prove evolution!”
Gosh, our desperate attempt to prove a scientific fact. We’re all damned. Just like ET. Well, maybe not Ham and his fellow creationists, I presume.
To be fair, Ken made a video after his original post, this time encouraging NASA to continue its search (i.e. continue to waste money) because it would prove creationists right by not finding extraterrestrial life:
You have to chuckle over the prop. Looking for aliens in the midday sun using a hobbyist telescope. Cute.
Sorry, Ken. No one is trying to “prove” evolution. That would be like trying to prove gravity, or light or planetary motion or the Doppler shift. Scientists try to refine their understanding of evolution, to highlight how it works, explore new avenues and enrich our appreciation of its complex ways (like Dr. Bill Miller’s unorthodox but thought-provoking approach…).**
But prove it? Nah. That was done at least a century ago. We’ve moved on. We’re looking for life in space these days.
Creationists and their sister-wingnuts, the ID crew, try to disprove evolution, of course. Their efforts are endlessly amusing and futile; bereft of minor attributes like evidence, science and logic, and replete with magic, myth and the supernatural. Back to Ken Ham.
Ham doesn’t really distinguish here between, say, extraterrestrial bacterial life and advanced, sentient ETs. However, his comments upset some of the UFO crowd. Curiously, I tend to agree with creationists that UFO sightings are natural or human-made occurrences that can be explained by science or logic – and are not alien vehicles. However, I heartily disagree with them that these are “demonic illusions” because I consider demons, ghosts, UFOs, pink unicorns, orcs, chemtrails and fairies as the same category of delusion (aka claptrap).
According the the Christian Post,
The Creation Museum CEO argues that the Bible teaches that the earth was specially created, and that Christians “shouldn’t expect alien life to be cropping up across the universe.”
Ham wrote that although the Bible doesn’t say whether there is animal or plant life in space, he doesn’t believe such a possibility exists.
“And I do believe there can’t be other intelligent beings in outer space because of the meaning of the gospel. You see, the Bible makes it clear that Adam’s sin affected the whole universe. This means that any aliens would also be affected by Adam’s sin, but because they are not Adam’s descendants, they can’t have salvation,” he continued.
“One day, the whole universe will be judged by fire, and there will be a new heavens and earth. God’s Son stepped into history to be Jesus Christ, the ‘Godman,’ to be our relative, and to be the perfect sacrifice for sin –the Savior of mankind.”
Salon also quotes Ham’s comments:
“Jesus did not become the ‘GodKlingon’ or the ‘GodMartian’! Only descendants of Adam can be saved. God’s Son remains the “Godman” as our Savior,” Ham continues. “In fact, the Bible makes it clear that we see the Father through the Son (and we see the Son through His Word). To suggest that aliens could respond to the gospel is just totally wrong.”
To which the article’s writer, Sarah Gray, adds:
The most upsetting part of this post is the blunt rejection of discovery because of the Bible. Ham condemns scientists’ desire to explore our universe and potentially discover other intelligent life-forms, which may give clues to the origins of life.
Ham’s actual comments can be read on his own blog:
The Bible, in sharp contrast to the secular worldview, teaches that earth was specially created, that it is unique and the focus of God’s attention (Isaiah 66:1 and Psalm 115:16). Life did not evolve but was specially created by God, as Genesis clearly teaches. Christians certainly shouldn’t expect alien life to be cropping up across the universe. (There are other theological problems with intelligent alien life that you can read about here.)
That link within the quote opens to a page with links to a whole lot of commentary on aliens and extraterrestrial life, which put Ham’s and his fellow creationists’ views into clearer perspective in this debate (the articles are written by others of his crew). Here are some quotes from those pages. First:
There is no Scriptural basis for space aliens. God outlined both the past and future and readily reveals that He created life on earth and in heavenly realms (e.g., angels, heavenly host, cherubim, etc.) The fact that ETs are not mentioned anywhere in Scripture is significant…
What you are suggesting is that these hypothetical ETs sinned and should have the possibility of salvation. Why? Do they share the same flesh and blood that came from Adam? Do they share the same father in Adam? Why should they be given salvation when God didn’t even give this possibility to the angels who sinned? For that matter, no possibility of salvation was given to the serpent who sinned in Genesis 3 either—only a curse…
Think carefully about this. If these hypothetical ETs sinned, then they would be worthy of death. But even if they had not sinned, they are stuck in this sin-cursed universe and subject to die. You argue that Christ could go and die for this other race of ETs, but the Bible says that Christ is not getting off of His throne until all His enemies are put under His footstool. The last enemy under that footstool is death. When Jesus steps off the throne, it will be too late for any hypothetical ETs.
Although one cannot rule out the possibility that planets around other stars may be confirmed at some future point, it is at least extremely improbable that any of them would fulfil all the requirements needed for life. Just having liquid water is completely insufficient, despite the excitement reigning when such was detected as possibly being on the surface of Jupiter’s moon, Europa…
c) Life cannot form spontaneously anyway.
Without intelligent, creative input, lifeless chemicals cannot form themselves into living things.2 Without this unfounded evolutionary speculation, UFOlogy would not have its present grip on the public imagination…
The Bible, the revealed written Word of God, teaches that life is only possible through a process of creation. Even if there were other galaxies with planets very similar to earth, life could only be there if the Creator had fashioned it. If God had done that, and if these beings were going to visit us one day, then He would surely not have left us unenlightened about this.
God has given us rather specific details of the future—for example, the return of Jesus, and some details about the end of the world. The universe will, at some future point, be rolled up like a scroll (Isaiah 34:4, Revelation 6:14). If God had created living beings elsewhere, this would automatically destroy their dwelling place as well. Adam’s sin caused all of creation to be affected by the curse, so why would a race of beings, not of Adam’s (sinful) seed, have their part of creation affected by the Curse, and then be part of the restoration brought about by Christ, the last Adam? All of this would seem exceedingly strange
(Sorry to be the bringer of bad news, but we’ve had hundreds of extra-solar planets – or exoplanets -confirmed since 1995: 1,126 planetary systems, 1,811 planets and 466 multiple planet systems as of this writing! And no one ever said liquid water was the only requirement for life. Gliese 581d was the first habitable planet identified, back in early 2011… no one said life forms spontaneously – and what relationship does evolution have with UFOs? That’s a non-sequitor of a rather large size…)
The argument, from their point, as I understand it from reading this stuff (I apologize because, since it makes me feel like my head is filled with pablum, I may not be too assiduous in my reading of all of it…) is this: there are no ETs because they’re not mentioned in the Bible, and can’t be any because they would not be descended from the “seed of Adam.”
So even if there were ETs, they wouldn’t be saved because Jesus only saves humans. (“Only descendants of Adam can be saved,” wrote Ham.) But because God is going to wipe out all the unbelievers and send them to hell when he brings about the end of the universe, even if there were ETs, they would all be wiped out with the unbelievers. And that wouldn’t be fair. So therefore NASA is wasting its money looking for imaginary beings.
Got that? Okay, let me try to make it simple: if there were aliens (and there aren’t), they’ll all go to hell. I mean, where else can you go if you’re not saved? Detroit?(George Carlin once joked about a religion where your soul goes to a garage in Buffalo…)
Ham also wrote:
Now the Bible doesn’t say whether there is or is not animal or plant life in outer space. I certainly suspect not. The Earth was created for human life. And the sun and moon were created for signs and our seasons—and to declare the glory of God.
Okay, I admit I can’t recall everything I read in the Bible, but I’ve searched the KJV and it doesn’t mention a lot of things. Pluto, for example. Or the moons of Jupiter (fact: there’s only one reference to planets in the whole book, they aren’t numbered and none of them are named). Or bacteria. Viruses. Platypuses and kangaroos. Jellyfish. Or cats. Really: the creatures Egyptians worshipped and which sleep on the dining room table before me as I write this, aren’t in the Bible. The Amazon river. England. Celts. Guns (that must really annoy the NRA…). Republicans. Cars. Abortion. NASCAR. Ukuleles. Reality TV. Rainforest natives. Inuit. The Egyptian pyramids. Tacos. Sumeria. China. Coffee. Buddha. Computer games. Frozen dinners.
Dates – a common food in the Middle East: not mentioned once. Why not? Olives get mentioned 68 times. Why not dates?
Just seems to be a whole passel of things not in the Bible that are kicking around today. And many of which were around when the Bible was written (okay, not NASCAR or TV…). So maybe not being mentioned in the Bible isn’t proof of non-existence. This will come back up, later.
You’ll have to ask Ken when you see him: do you believe in things not in the Bible? If not, how come they exist?
The media kerfuffle that attended Ham’s original statements seems to have ruffled his feathers somewhat and he responded to it on his own blog in which he accuses the HuffPost and other “secular media” – and his “atheist opponents in Illinois” – of distorting his views.
Well, I don’t know about you, but after reading his and his cohorts’ comments, I’d say the media got it right. Or as close to right as today’s sensation-saturated national media is capable.
The whole Christians-versus-aliens isn’t new. It’s been around ever since the first telescopes started looking at neighbouring planets and stars. Historically, it was an interesting debate about how the universe functioned and what planets actually were. But the idea some of them may have life, even intelligent life, has been a particularly discomforting notion for literalists and creationists.***
Thankfully, not all Christians agree with Ham’s rather limited view of the universe and its potential for life. Some embrace the notion of life’s diversity. Over at the Beechwood Cross blog, Rev. Dr. Peter Grinion wrote:
So let’s answer Professor Weidemann’s question. Did Jesus die for Klingons, too? Sure, why not? Perhaps Jesus’ death and resurrection on this planet was enough to save everyone on every planet.
But Grinion’s clearly not among the literalists. Nor is the Pope, who recently approved baptizing Martians, should one ever appear (while this had the UFO brigade tossing their tin-foil hats in the air for joy, I suspect this announcement was a bit more tongue-in-cheek than they realized).
Over at creation.com there are pages and pages of answers to quell our curious, questing minds with comforting bromides so that neither science nor aliens will infect one’s biblically-circumscribed universe. It’s pretty blunt in its answers (albeit sometimes grammatically strained):
It is often asked, ‘Just because the Bible teaches about God creating intelligent life only on Earth, why couldn’t He have done so elsewhere?’ After all, Scripture does not discuss everything, e.g. motorcars. However, the biblical objection to ET is not merely an argument from silence. Motor cars, for example, are not a salvation issue, but we believe that sentient,intelligent, moral-decision-capable beings is, because it would undermine the authority of Scripture. In short, understanding the big picture of the Bible/gospel message allows us to conclude clearly that the reason the Bible doesn’t mention extraterrestrials (ETs) is that there aren’t any.1 Surely, if the earth were to be favoured with a visitation by real extraterrestrials from a galaxy far, far away, then one would reasonably expect that the Bible, and God in His sovereignty and foreknowledge, to mention such a momentous occasion, because it would clearly redefine man’s place in the universe…
The entire focus of creation is mankind on this Earth; the living forms on Earth’s beautifully balanced biosphere are part of our created life support system.
When you read “…the reason the Bible doesn’t mention extraterrestrials (ETs) is that there aren’t any,” above, please refer to the list above of just a few of the many things the Bible doesn’t mention but yet have the impertinence to exist, regardless. But the authors want to hedge their bets somewhat:
If bacteria are found elsewhere in the solar system, it will be hailed as proof that life can ‘just evolve’.3 However, we have previously predicted in print that in such an unlikely event, the organisms will have earth-type DNA, etc., consistent with having originated from here as contaminants—either carried by recent man-made probes, or riding fragments of rock blasted from Earth by meteorite impacts.
Seems a bit hypocritical that they allow Earth microbes to travel to, thrive and develop on other planets, but not other planet’s microbes to do the same here, even using the same mechanism to get between planets. But consistency was never the creationists’ strong point. Nor reason, logic or science…
* From Ham’s own blog:
For more information on the supposed existence of ETs and other common questions about a biblical worldview, I encourage you to order The New Answers Book series from our bookstore. Or for witnessing purposes, we have a booklet that can be ordered in bulk with special pricing to help teach people the truth about aliens and UFOs and promote the gospel for your local church or youth programs.
** Stories about evolution and new discoveries in paleontology appear almost daily on Science Daily. A recent story had the headline Viral relics show cancer’s ‘footprint’ on our evolution.:
Cancer has left its ‘footprint’ on our evolution, according to a study which examined how the relics of ancient viruses are preserved in the genomes of 38 mammal species.
Another was about a 300 million-year-old fossil: Science and art bring back to life 300-million-year-old specimens of a primitive reptile-like vertebrate. Another was Mammoth and mastodon behavior was less roam, more stay at home.
*** Biblical literalists actually aren’t really literal: they cherry-pick passages from the Bible what suits their personal, religious and political agendas. Otherwise none of them would eat bacon and would observe the Sabbath on Saturday. And they’d stone their children for misbehaving. But that’s stuff for another post.