...But Not as We Know It

"Wow! I can't believe it! I've finally been abducted! Hey, you aren't going to probe me or anything, are you?"

"No, human. We have come hundreds of light-years to share the secrets of universal peace with you."

"Hey, cosmic! What are they?"

"Have you ever heard of the Four Spiritual Laws?"

"Okay, you can just beam me down again."

Last time I defended the idea that extraterrestrials could exist. But what would they be like?

1. Little Green Men? Could they be non-humanoid? Presumably they could look like us; in Perelandra, C. S. Lewis mentions that following the Incarnation, all sentient beings will be humanoid. But most who suppose that they would be humanoid base the idea on our being made "in the image of God" (Gen 1:27). But although the Hebrew does involve a visible representation (elsewhere it refers to idols and to the models of rats and tumors made by the Philistines in 1 Sam 6:5, 11), most scholars agree that the resemblance involves our spiritual side and authority. If God could create sentient beings as odd as Ezekiel's cherubim or the living beings of the Revelation, we probably shouldn't be too quick to say what he won't do.

2. Exosoteriology. Don't look it up--I made it up. But it's a properly formed word for the doctrine of alien salvation. There are various views here:

a. Unfallen beings. Perhaps Eve's alien counterpart didn't take the bait. Perhaps sin is the exception elsewhere. I doubt it would happen, personally, and it's so hard for us to imagine an unfallen being (look at how regularly writers get weird with Jesus!), let alone a race of them, that I'm not sure it's a practical topic.

b. Fallen, but redeemed by their own Savior. In other words, God the Son incarnated there, too. This would be my guess, and I'm not alone. Some say that Jesus couldn't become an Ugerblat (Light up your gorks, any Ugerblats in the audience!), but this is a confusion. I'm going to get into big trouble here, but while Jesus is fully God and fully man, I don't see that the Incarnation necessarily limits God the Son: if he incarnated as Frenar of the Ugerblats, it wouldn't diminish the deity of Jesus any more than his humanity currently does.

c. Fallen, but saved through Jesus just like us. In his book Miracles, Lewis writes that even if there are unfallen races, the outworking of the Incarnation and Atonement could benefit them as well, since through these events God exalts all creation. Similarly, he says that he doubts there have been multiple incarnations--though his reason is that he supposes God would not simply copy elsewhere what he has done here. Some other means must be found, though what that could be I doubt we could imagine. I don't propose to try, for anything I come up with will not only be wrong but probably dangerously misleading. Yet if the glorification that comes through the triumph of God in this world and this race could exalt other beings elsewhere in the universe, perhaps our Savior could be theirs as well. This is the view taken in Adam Graham's short story "Your Average Ordinary Alien," coming this April in the anthology Light at the Edge of Darkness.

Join us next time for "You Say You Want an Evolution":

"So you won't go out with me 'cause I'm a caveman? Well, the joke's on you: this 'Insta-volve' pill will shoot me right up to Homer Simpson!"

"I hope you mean 'Homo sapiens.' Anyway, evolution is supposed to require numerous generations of micromutations."

"You only say that because it rhymes. But this has the special ingredient, 'Hopeful Monster.' Watch! Gulp! Nyah! Ygyde-ygyde-ygyde... D'oh!"

"Make that 'Hopeless Monster.'"


Andrea Graham said...

cool beans. On Adam's behalf, thanks for the promo. Thoughtful piece, as always.

cyn said...

Okay I don't understand . . . Homer Simpson obviously is not the poster child for the evolution-crowd. And, his conlang consists of 1 word . . . albeit, with multiple meanings to fit numerous situations -- I am lost.

chrisd said...

You are too funny.

I really enjoyed this one, Mr. Rice.

kc said...

I loved it, Steve! For years I've wondered about the nature of hypothetical humanoids on other planets. It's very plausible that Christ would save fallen ones elsewhere.
God bless,

Adam Graham said...

Good post. Some people think that aliens are not actually from outer space, but rather demonic forces. Of course, one can never know and a theory is just that-a theory until we know and I doubt that will happen in our lifetimes, if ever.