Editor’s note: The following is a point-by-point response to Sam Starrett’s “Space Aliens: Scripturally Legitimate? Refuting Answers in Genesis' Anti-E.T. Stance.” Mr. Starrett’s words are in orange; Bodie Hodge's responses are in black. Because of the length, the original post is not reprinted in its entirety first, as is our usual method. The post and response are published here by the kind permission of the author.

Dear Sam,

I read your blog post in which you take on our position concerning aliens. Since I read so many things on the Internet that “have a go” at Answers in Genesis, I simply can’t respond to everything. But this one had some claims that really needed to be addressed, and I think it would be a learning tool for readers, too. So, please keep in mind this response is meant with kindness and Christian love. Also, since your article was posted to the public, my response will be as well.

First of all, let me say that I have only the greatest respect for Answers in Genesis. I disagree with them about their Hell Preaching, but if I couldn't respect a Hell Preacher, I couldn't respect most of my Christian brethren.

Then how can you respect Christ? After all, Jesus is the reason why many Christians are not afraid to preach that hell is real and the punishment for sinners who die without receiving Him. The following statements of Jesus are from the Gospel of Matthew alone:

  • If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell. (Matthew 5:29–30)
  • Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28)
  • And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell. (Matthew 18:9)
  • Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are. (Matthew 23:15)
  • You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? (Matthew 23:33)
  • Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life. (Matthew 25:46)
I think that Answers in Genesis is doing a wonderful thing upholding the Bible against the claims of skeptics.

Thank you.

That said, they have taken a silly

This is a question-begging epithet fallacy.

and dangerous position on intelligent extraterrestrial life. They claim that it does not exist, and they do so on allegedly Biblical grounds. It would be quite humiliating for Biblical Creation as a whole, and for Answers in Genesis in particular, if intelligent life was discovered elsewhere in the universe, as they have essentially hung the Bible's reliability on the issue by claiming Scripture proves such beings cannot exist.
Truth be told, the Old and New Testaments have little or nothing to say either for or against space aliens, and neither their existence nor their nonexistence has much bearing on the reliability of the Bible and the truth of the Christian message.

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.

Today, I plan only to address the arguments against intelligent alien life. The others are indirect arguments from the statement that "the heavens are the Lord's". I don't know about you, but I hardly think the heavens would cease to be the Lord's if He populated one more planet.

This is irrelevant and is a non sequitir fallacy (the conclusion does not follow from the premises).

The claim is the following: If intelligent life exists elsewhere, it cannot be redeemed. I will sum up the argument as follows(the full argument can be found here):
1. Christ's sacrifice as a man only pays for the sins of His blood relatives(¿Scripture?)

Why have you ignored Hebrews 2:10–17? It states the following:

For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying:

“I will declare Your name to My brethren;
In the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You.”

And again:

“I will put My trust in Him.”

And again:

“Here am I and the children whom God has given Me.”

Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham. Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. [Italics added for emphasis.]

This is very significant because Scripture makes it clear that Jesus became a man to become our relative. We all come from one father, Adam, through Abraham (Hebrews 2:11) Jesus came to take on the same flesh and blood, to call us brethren (Romans 9), and to offer salvation. Salvation was not for others, and Hebrew 2:16 shows that even angels were not given this opportunity to be saved. If they sinned, it was over for them.

2. Christ was sacrificed once for all, and thus cannot be sacrificed again to pay for the sins of aliens.(1 Pet 3:18, Heb 9:27-28, 10:10)

Of course, these verses are in the context of human sins, not aliens, so these verses do not support what is said here. What should be said is: Christ was sacrificed once for all, and thus cannot be sacrificed again to pay for the sins of man (1 Peter 3:18; Hebrews 9:27–28, 10:10). The important point here is that Christ becoming fully human and dying once for the sins of all explicitly means He did not die for the sins of other beings.

3. Thus, ET's cannot be redeemed if they have sinned.

Let me get this straight: you are arguing that hypothetical ETs with their proposed hypothetical sin can still be saved by Jesus's work on the cross when He became a man to take on the same flesh and blood as descendants of Adam and died the death we deserve (Genesis 2:17) for his brethren?

The Bible reveals that some heavenly beings sinned, e.g. Satan and a third of his angels (as interpreted from Revelation 12:4), and the Bible reveals that man sinned (numerous passages). Angels that sinned have no possibility of salvation, whereas mankind has the possibility of salvation. Take note that Jesus never became an angel and died for them.

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.

"Well," you say, "maybe ET's haven't sinned." But AIG has an answer for that as well.

They claim that ET's suffer the effects of sin(sin nature, death, etc.) whether or not they sinned.(Rom 8:20-22). Thus, they need a Redeemer anyway.

If they did exist, then this is true, since they are part of the creation and Paul makes it clear the entire creation (even if far away) is cursed and broken. This is why we need a new heavens and a new earth. This one is cursed and broken.

I would like to address these arguments in reverse order. To the second claim I have just one thing to say: Angels. Exactly the same argument can be applied to angels that applies to ETs. By the same chain of reasoning, angels, as part of "the creation", must need a Redeemer and cannot have one. Thus all angels will go to "Hell"? Perhaps the "whole creation groans" on our behalf. In any case, it is clear that non-human intelligent beings are not necessarily damned on our account.

For several reasons, this is poor analogy.

First, angels are mentioned in Scripture about 300 times, not including cherubim, heavenly hosts, etc. So, to equate hypothetical ETs, which are never mentioned, is unwise.

Second, God clearly reveals that the angels that sinned have no possibility of salvation (Hebrews 2:16; 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 1:6; etc.)

Third, Adam was not given dominion over angels in the heavenly realms. Likewise, the angels were not given dominion over the creation. Hence, when Satan fell, the creation didn’t fall. Satan needed to go for those to whom dominion was given: mankind, Adam and Eve. When Adam and Eve sinned, the whole of their dominion fell. They died, animals now die (there is relationship to human sin and animal death), and we die, but angels do not since they were not under the dominion of man.

The third heaven (2 Corinthians 12:2), where these heavenly beings presumably resided, was not under the jurisdiction of man, but directly under the jurisdiction of God. The jurisdiction of man resides over living creatures within the physical universe (Genesis 1:26–28). And the extent of the Curse reveals the extent of their jurisdiction that encompassed the physical creation (Genesis 3:17–19; Romans 8:20–22).

That said, let us assume that they have, in fact, sinned. In that case, Answers in Genesis has provided no Scriptural support for the idea that a sinner must be redeemed by a blood relative. However, I can afford to be generous one more time and assume that a sinner must be redeemed by a blood relative. Here comes the good part.

See above in Hebrews 2. Also, even Genesis 3:15 promises the Seed of the woman to bring salvation. Job 19 suggests a fully human Redeemer and Mediator (cf. Isaiah 41:14; 43:14; 54:5). The argument seems to imply that Jesus could have simply beamed in and saved us, which is contrary to both the promises and predictions of the Old Testament. Finally, there is also the matter of Paul calling Jesus the last Adam, which really brings all of this together.

They provide three Scripture verses to support the idea that Christ cannot go and die again for some other race. Here they are:

1 Pet 3:18:

18because also Christ once for sin did suffer — righteous for unrighteous — that he might lead us to God, having been put to death indeed, in the flesh, and having been made alive in the spirit,

Heb 9:27-28:

27and as it is laid up to men once to die, and after this — judgment,

28so also the Christ, once having been offered to bear the sins of many, a second time, apart from a sin-offering, shall appear, to those waiting for him — to salvation!

Heb 10:10:

10in the which will we are having been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once,

These verses support our position. Consider the theology of what you are saying here in light of the following passage:

This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear.

For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself: “The LORD said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.’” (Acts 2:32–35, emphasis added)

Jesus sits on the throne and will not get off the throne until His enemies have been put down. Paul wrote, “The last enemy that will be destroyed is death” (1 Corinthians 15:26).

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.

I will take them in the original order this time.

1 Pet 3:18 says "Christ once for sin did suffer". It would appear that this precludes further suffering on His part for sin. But look in context. "Righteous for unrighteous" is parenthetical and does not change the relationship of the surrounding clauses. Thus, "Christ once for sin did suffer that he might lead us to God." If the next verse said, "and then Christ suffered once again for sin that he might lead the people of the Galaxar Quadrant to God," we would not view it as a contradiction, yet AIG's view demands that we should view such a statement as a contradiction.

So, why does the context of this verse say “us” in reference to mankind? Besides, to develop this theology, it would require adding to Scripture, which is forbidden. Good theology comes from the Scriptures, not outside ideas that are imposed on the Scriptures. This brings up an interesting idea: if there were ETs, they would not have access to Scripture, since it is complete in the form that we have. These ETs would have no way of knowing their Creator or His plan of salvation, which is contrary to what Jesus taught.

Heb 9:27-28: The "once" really means "after" or "since" here, as in "Once I've done the dishes, I'm going to the movies." Let us not suppose that I have only done dishes once!

To hold to this view, one would have to believe that Jesus must keep dying for man’s sin. This is not correct. And besides, the context of this verse refers to humans and completely refutes your proposal. Here is the verse in context:

not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another—He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation. (Hebrews 9:25–28)

Verse 26 says that Christ appeared “once at the end of the ages” to put away man’s sin by His sacrifice. The “end of the ages” refers to the time since Christ came. When this truth is combined with the fact that Jesus will remain on His throne until death is destroyed, it rules out any possibility of Him dying for ETs.

Heb 10:10:

This verse is, prima facie, the strongest verse in favor of AIG's view, but there is one simple logical problem with their interpretation of it. I will provide it in the form of a question. Christ died once for all. Does the "all" include aliens?

Since the context is mankind, then “all” refers to mankind. Keep in mind that the Bible already refutes the idea that non-humans are covered by Christ’s sacrifice. Hebrews 2:16 reveals that angels are not redeemed by Christ’s work. Since God cannot contradict Himself (2 Timothy 2:13), then we can be certain that only humankind is in view in this passage (e.g., Satan is not saved).

If they say yes, then Christ died for aliens, and they can be redeemed.

If they say no, then as the "all" does not include ETs, neither does the "once". In other words, if we clarified the verse by saying "Christ died once for all humans," then it would become clear that He is perfectly capable of dying again for, say, "all Martians".

It is only on the ambiguity of "all" that this argument survives. Press for a definition, and the anti-alien position falls apart.

Since the context is humans, this verse does not include hypothetical aliens. But a closer look at this verse makes your argument moot.

By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (Hebrews 10:10)

The word all does not appear in the Greek. It is added in translation to help the reader understand. The Greek word translated as “once for all” is ephapax, and according to the Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains, it means “once and never again.”1 Hence, we can be confident that Jesus did not die before He went to the cross, and He will not die again.

So, the question is this: will God get off of His throne to save hypothetical ETs that He failed to mention? According to Scripture He will not. The most likely reason is that they don't exist.

A few disclaimers:

1. I am not saying there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe (Well, God and angels, but otherwise, not necessarily.). I am merely pointing out that such life is not incompatible with Scripture.

2. As I said at the start, I hold AIG in the highest esteem. I am not attacking them, but correcting them to save both them and our common cause some embarrassment if extraterrestrial life does in fact exist.

Then why not send it to us directly to inquire further instead of bringing it to a public spotlight?

Now, Sam, I want to encourage you. I’ve jumped on ideas in my past that may not have been the best scripturally. And one thing I learned (and am still always learning) is to be humble with regard to ideas and comparing them to Scripture. I’ve had to change my thoughts many times, and it was very difficult to do so initially.

But after learning this key point, it is easier to align my thoughts to follow in the footsteps of Christ—trying to “have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16). Although I will never be perfect this side of heaven, I will continue to strive. And for now, any idea must be tried in the fire of the Word of God. And I want to encourage you to do the same, particularly with this idea. Let the Word of God be the judge.

With kindness and respect in our Lord,

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  1. Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains, vol. 1, electronic ed. of the 2nd ed. (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), 608. Back