This is the second post in a series on the Great Controversy. For the previous post please click HERE. Each post builds on themes and arguments presented so if you have not read my others I recommend starting with the first by clicking HERE.
A key element of the Great Controversy is that we are not alone in the universe and that the on-going conflict between God and Satan is a cosmic affair. The writings of Ellen White and other Church teachers make it obvious that this is one of the primary components of the Great Controversy motif. To prove this I am going to quote a few reputable sources.
“It is necessary that the truth about God, Christ and Satan be made manifest. The real story of all three is involved in the cosmic controversy. The revelation of who they really are must be made so that all created beings, angelic (fallen and unfallen), humans (redeemed and lost) and the unfallen inhabitants of worlds afar, may all vote unanimously on who is right and who is wrong. Only one side can win, yet all from both sides must vote, and vote the same. This is done with complete freedom, and is done purely on the evidence given by both sides.” The Cosmic Controversy: World View for Theology and Life. , Norman R. Gulley, p. 85
“The inhabitants of the place were of all sizes; they were noble, majestic, and lovely. They bore the express image of Jesus, and their countenances beamed with holy joy…I asked one of them why they were so much more lovely than those on the earth. The reply was, “We have lived in strict obedience to the commandments of God, and have not fallen by disobedience, like those on the earth.” Ellen White, The Adventist Home, Review and Herald Publishing Assoc., p. 543.
“Men living in this little atom of a world are finite; God has unnumbered worlds that are obedient to His laws and are conducted with reference to His glory.” Ellen White, Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, Pacific Press Publishing Assoc., p.66.
“The inhabitants of heaven and of other worlds, being unprepared to comprehend the nature or consequences of sin, could not then have seen the justice and mercy of God in the destruction of Satan.” Ellen White, The Great Controversy, p. 498
To address this I am going to ask and then answer two questions.
- Does the Bible teach that aliens DO exist on far off worlds?
- Does the Bible teach that aliens DO NOT exist on far off worlds?
It is important to ask and answer both of these questions, if the Bible allows for other beings on far off worlds SDA could simply claim extra Biblical revelation. This is another matter all in itself and not the focus of this post. However, if the Bible excludes the possibility of aliens on other worlds then the belief in such would be objectively false at best and rebellion with the Word at worst.
Does the Bible teach that aliens DO exist on far off worlds?
Below is the preeminent proof-text used by SDA to prove that un-fallen beings exist on other worlds. In fact, this was the very verse that I used as an SDA to make the argument with people who had never heard of it.
“Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them.” Job 1:6 KJV
The term “sons of God” (beney elohim) is ultimately what is in question here. Below is a breakdown of how the term is translated in various versions.
angels – NIV
angels – CEV
sons of God – ESV
members of the heavenly court – NLT
sons of God – YLT
Not a single translation renders this as “un-fallen beings on other worlds”. Another popular place where we see this term is found in Genesis.
“There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.” Gen 6:4 KJV
There are a few more passages where the same term can be found. What exactly does the “sons of God” mean? Does the text identify this as un-fallen beings in other worlds? To help answer this I am going to quote a reputable source.
“there is no indication in these passages that the sons of God are anything exotic. Satan was a fallen angel who was permitted to appear before the Lord with other angels, as he had always done. We know he was permitted because he had access to God’s presence on other occasions as well (Zech. 3:2) (Luke 10:18).
If the sons of God in the Old Testament are angels, we can make better sense of all the references to them. Knox’s alien beings get into trouble in Genesis 6:6, where “…the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them.” White finds a more mundane identity for the Genesis beings, and states that the children of Seth who worshipped God intermarried with the worldly children of Cain. Probably most biblical scholars also believe the Genesis sons of God to be the sons of Seth; others hold that they were fallen angels, or that this was a general term for worshippers of God. There are arguments for each view, but the Christian commentaries don’t see the sons of God as physical beings from other worlds.
Other passages with sons of God also appear to describe angels. Deuteronomy 32:8 has an enigmatic statement in some translations, “…he fixed the bounds of the peoples according to the number of the sons of God.” Again, this is not likely a reference to residents of distant planets. We know that elsewhere in scripture angels with authority are called princes, principalities, authorities, powers, or rulers, as in Daniel 10 where Gabriel contends with the prince of Persia. In Daniel 3:25, the being who accompanied Daniel’s three friends in the furnace resembled a “son of the gods” and was later called an angel by king Nebuchadnezzar.
In the New Testament, the term “sons of God” very plainly refers to believers, since their new life created by the Spirit has no physical genealogy. In fact, in Luke 20:36, Jesus describes how humans in the life of the age to come “…neither marry nor are given in marriage; nor can they die anymore, for they are equal to the angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.” (NKJV). Lewis Chafer wrote that in the Old Testament terminology, angels are called sons of God while men are called servants of God. In the New Testament this identification is reversed. Angels are the servants and Christians are the sons of God.” Proclamation Magazine, Are Worlds Watching? Martin L Carey
I would argue that there is no reason from the text to understand the “sons of God” as aliens. The only way to do that is to read Ellen Whites teachings into the text. The very concept is foreign to scripture, I would go so far as to say that scripture teaches the opposite, there is no possibility of sentient life on other planets.
Does the Bible teach that aliens DO NOT exist on far off worlds?
On this the Bible is actually a great deal more clear. While it is true that the concept of Aliens is never brought up, due to the teaching on the nature of man, the purpose of the Earth, and the fall it can be asserted with Biblical certainty that Aliens are a modern myth.
First of all the Bible teaches that our planet is unique among all of creation with the purpose of being inhabited. This next verse alone makes void the whole SDA argument simply because we would expect to find other worlds un-inhabited.
“For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the Lord; and there is none else.” Isa 45:18 KJV
Second we see the pre-eminence of Earth in the eyes of God with regards to his creation. This is the place that he calls his footstool and where God dwelt in the Tabernacle, and where he now dwells in us.
“Thus saith the Lord, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?” Isa 66:1 KJV
In this next verse the scripture refers to the planet we live on as a gift that was given to us.
“The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord’s: but the earth hath he given to the children of men.” Psa 115:16 KJV
It is fair to assert at this point that our planet is not only unique among all others in creation but it is the only one that is even inhabited. This only gets easier going forward though. The Bible teaches that ALL of creation was affected by the fall of man in Genesis 3.
“For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.” Rom 8:22 KJV
So even if there were other worlds with inhabitants we would expect to find them sinners impacted by the fall as well. That would mean that the following verse would apply to them:
“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” Rom 3:23 KJV
Read the above verse again, if you expand the scope of created sentient beings you expand the scope of the word “all” right along with it.
This would be a real problem for aliens on other worlds as the promise for salvation came through man not through any other sentient beings.
“Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” Rom 5:18-19 KJV
“But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God.” Heb 10:12 KJV
If it were true that Aliens exist they would not be descendants of Adam. Because of this the promise associated with the lineage of Adam would not apply to them and they are going to hell. I am not the only one who has come to this conclusion. Ken Ham argues for this very well on his blog, he actually took a lot of public ridicule for this teaching but I agree with him 100%.
“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. 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.
Jesus did not become the “God-Klingon” or the “God-Martian”! Only descendants of Adam can be saved. God’s Son remains the “Godman” as our Savior. 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.” Ken Ham, “We’ll find a new earth within 20 years, Answers In Genesis
To answer my question above the Bible is incredibly clear that there is no possibility of sentient life on far off worlds. The preeminent purpose of heavenly bodies cited in scripture is that they were created for us.
“And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years” Gen 1:14 KJV
What would I do if a flying saucer landed in my town tomorrow? To quote Luther I would go and plant an apple tree. In my mind such a thing could only be a deception from hell. This is because the scripture is so clear on teachings that exclude such a possibility.
Without un-fallen beings on other worlds the Great Controversy doesn’t work. To hold to the Great Controversy without aliens SDA would have to confess that part of their belief system is untrue. If such a significant cornerstone of the doctrine can be proven false what about the others? Please keep reading my series on this as I continue my studies.
One final note for those that are interested. There are many reasons not to believe in Aliens, not just Biblical ones. A really good secular argument against the existence of Aliens is called Fermi’s Paradox. It is not as popular as it should be which is probably because today secular science needs alien life to explain the origin of life on this planet.
I am not going to cover Fermi’s Paradox but if you want to read more I recommend a good blog post on the topic by a family member of mine which you can find HERE.