I really respect Ken Ham and everything he’s done in the name of promoting Biblical authority. Over the years, I have benefited from the articles in Answers magazine and on his ministry websites, the conferences his organization has put on, and the resources they’ve put out. I’ve enjoyed every trip to the Creation Museum immensely and I look forward to the first time I’m able to to visit the Ark Encounter.
So this isn’t a personal slam. Let’s just get that out of the way.
Recently, there have been two more ill-conceived articles on extraterrestrials coming out of Ken Ham’s organization and they both have his name on them. I am aware that his staff helps put together some of his articles and blog posts; nevertheless, he signs off on it.
The Danger of a False Dichotomy
The first article appears on Ken Ham’s blog on July 2, 2016, entitled, “Will Aliens Contact the Earth in 1500 Years?” In that blog, he gets down to what he believes the problem is: our starting points. This is a truism that Answers in Genesis preaches with great effect and like all truisms, it is, well, generally true. Except when it isn’t. But let’s examine what he has to say before I demonstrate why his truism is misapplied here:
“Aliens? Depends on Your Starting Point. Why do so many researchers and scientists believe so strongly that there are aliens out there..? …[I]t’s because of their evolutionary starting point. Starting from God’s Word, we have good reasons to reject the idea of intelligent extraterrestrial life and to doubt even the presence of microbial life on other planets.”
The trouble is that he presents a false dichotomy: an evolutionary starting point leads to a belief in extraterrestrial life, while, in his words, “from a biblical perspective, we don’t expect to find alien life.” It is true that the natural outcome of an evolutionary worldview is that all-natural processes would be homogeneous throughout the universe so that life must have evolved under the right conditions elsewhere in the universe. The Fermi Paradox [stated simply as, “where is everybody?”] stands at odds with this prediction of the evolutionary worldview. So we can safely say that the Fermi Paradox can be used as evidence against the grand theory of evolution.
It would be a logical fallacy to state that the Fermi Paradox can be used as evidence FOR Biblical authority precisely because the Bible is SILENT on the issue of extraterrestrial life. God is a Creator and nothing about His nature or revealed truth (again, the Bible is silent) precludes Him from having created life elsewhere in the cosmos. Ken Ham here objects that “although the Bible doesn’t directly address this question, there are biblical principles we can apply as we seek an answer.”
Was Adam’s Dominion Over the Cosmos or the Planet?
Which leads us to the second article, this one found in Answers magazine. “Do I Believe in UFOs? Absolutely!” first appeared on December 5, 2007, but it was featured again recently on July 1, 2016. Beginning with an off-hand note about how God “made the stars also” [Genesis 1:16], Ken Ham begins to build his case by stating that Earth is center stage. The rest of the universe is window dressing for his chief creation.
“Everything else was made for purposes relating to the earth. For instance, the sun, moon, and stars were made “for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years” (Genesis 1:14).
Throughout the Old Testament, many passages distinguish between the heavens and the earth. Psalm 115:16 states, “The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord’s: but the earth has he given to the children of men.””
The trouble with his argument is that it’s reductionist and woodenly literal.
Folks in my grandfather’s day used to quote these passages about the uniqueness of Earth to say that we would never reach the moon because God would limit our presence to the Earth, just as He did at Babel! Of course, they misunderstood the Tower of Babel passage, especially the reasons God gave for confusing the languages there. God wasn’t especially interested in preventing them from reaching the heavens so much as scattering rebellious mankind before they cooked up something colossally evil together! Point in fact, we have walked on the moon [conspiracy theories notwithstanding], sent robots to Mars and sent probes into deep space. The earth has been given to the children of men but it is clearly not our boundary. Likewise, the sun, moon and stars were made for signs and seasons, but that was not their ONLY purpose. Already the moon has served scientific purposes apart from those listed in the Bible. We may yet colonize and mine the moon!
Frankly, I get a little tired of folks trying to say that Adam had dominion over the entire cosmos, only to turn around and say that his dominion was limited to the Earth, his special place. Rather we ought to look at the Earth in light of Eden in that we see that the rest of the Earth still existed outside the Garden. God has made the earth for man to inhabit, but there is so much more earthen real estate in existence beyond our warm, little world. If the worlds beyond our own were found to contain life, it would not make our Earth any less special any more than being removed from the center of the universe via heliocentrism reduced our theological specialness.
Ken Ham states that “Such verses certainly imply that the earth is to be considered separate and special when compared with the rest of the universe, so they suggest that the earth alone was created for life”; however, that is a classic non sequitur. These verses say nothing about life. They say something about man’s place in relation to God and the created cosmos, but they say absolutely nothing about life. That isn’t something he naturally derived from the text; he imposed that meaning upon it. If extraterrestrial life were discovered, we would rightly note that while verses that noted the theological specialness of the Earth do not rule out the possibility of alien life anymore than the theological specialness of mankind rules out the existence of other life forms on Earth.
Adam and the Salvation of ET
I submit that this argument is window dressing for Ken ham’s true reason for objecting to the possibility of extraterrestrial life. There is another theological reason that he believes rules out the possibility of intelligent life in outer space:
“The Bible makes it clear in Romans 8:22 that the “whole creation groans” because of Adam’s sin. When Adam fell, the entire universe was affected. Not only this, but one day in the future, there will be “a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away” (Revelation 21:1).
Isaiah 34:4 states, “And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falls off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree.””
So Adam was given dominion over the entire cosmos [and no one has yet screamed, “You shall not pass!” in the midst of our explorations beyond this bright blue world] and that has consequences for the entire universe in a Fallen state. He’s not wrong. Until he is. Watch closely for the bait and switch:
“Now here is the problem. If there are intelligent beings on other planets, then they would have been affected by the fall of Adam because the whole creation was affected. So these beings would have to die because death was the penalty for sin. One day their planet will be destroyed by fire during God’s final judgment, but they cannot have salvation because that blessing is given only to humans.”
Wait. Why did Ken Ham just assume that intelligent created beings who exist apart from Adam’s bloodline would require salvation? Why would he assume that they are fallen in sin at all? Yes, they would die. Cute little bunnies die because of Adam’s Fall and their only sin is being so fuzzy and cute that they’re over utilized in “squee of the day” internet memes. They don’t need spiritual salvation.
“Jesus didn’t become a “God-Klingon,” a “God-Vulcan,” or a “God-Cardassian”—He became the God-man. It wouldn’t make sense theologically for there to be other intelligent, physical beings who suffer because of Adam’s sin but cannot be saved.”
Again, Ken Ham presumes that these beings who have nothing to do with Adam’s bloodline and therefore cannot be affected by his spiritual genetics, as it were, need a spiritual Savior at all. Despite his objections to the contrary, four possibilities exist which would make theological sense of extraterrestrials in a Fallen world:
1. Lower life forms. No salvation required on Earth. No salvation required in the heavens. End of story.
2. Unfallen intelligent life forms. If sapient aliens are unaffected by Adam’s sin [you know, because they’re not of his bloodline], then they wouldn’t need spiritual salvation. Yes, they would die. Unlike we fallen humans, they wouldn’t consider God unjust for destroying the sin-soaked world Adam’s sin resulted in. They would thank Him for their lives as chose to grace them with. A lesson for the rest of us.
3. Fallen intelligent life forms who fell apart from Adam’s sin. If sapient aliens sinned apart from Adam’s sin and incurred their own independent need for salvation, that’s between God and them. God is merciful and just. He’s not required to save them, but I suspect He will manage a means to do so. In any case, it has nothing to do with us or Adam.
4. Fallen intelligent life forms who fell resultant of Adam’s sin. I’m gonna level with you. This is the scenario Ken Ham is thinking of when he sees a theological problem and I just don’t see it. Here’s why. If the need for salvation through Adam’s sin can be imputed to aliens at all, then salvation by faith in the Last Adam can be imputed to them just as easily, It would be illogical to suggest otherwise. We might well imagine a world where God has revealed these truths through his prophets, through miracles, and even written revelation. We would not expect Christ to die on their world as the God-Klingon or whatever because the sin-debt was satisfied at the source of the problem, here on Earth.
As the Scripture says,
“For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:21–22).
Until we reach The Last Door,
P.S. Show your support for the possibility of aliens and for my upcoming book on extraterrestrials and the Christian faith, Strangers & Aliens, with a decal or T-shirt with our “haloed alien” design from GremlinGraphix.com, my family’s other creative endeavor.