In my first (awfully long) installment on this topic, I wrote about how it is unwise to suggest there is or can only be one Christian view of intelligent alien life, should such life be proven factual someday. In the course of that installment, I alluded to certain objections against accepting intelligent alien life for just that — being real alien life instead of demons. I want to go through potential objections in more detail in successive posts. Some of them were noted in the first installment, others will be newly introduced. Let’s jump in with one I brought up in the previous post (and I promise, this is much shorter).
OBJECTION: If there are ETs, that would mean the Bible is an errant book
I sort of poked fun at this one last time, and deservedly so, at least with respect to the naive presentation of it that is so common. It actually deserves a little more attention.
Most Christians don’t put much thought into the issue of inerrancy–it’s just assumed. Most Christians also have no idea that challenges to inerrancy are real; they are not always (or even mostly) born of the kind of nonsensical “look at these errors in the Bible” tripe you read on the internet. The web is full of thoughtless, ill-conceived, naive examples of “errancy” (“look, two gospels don’t use the same words or have all the same elements in the story I’m reading — there must be an error here”). This is the kind of thing amateurs come up with. We know in our own lives that the presence of divergent (and even apparently conflicting) details between accounts of an event need not compel the conclusion that either story is an error. For example, if I took five evening newspapers from September 12, 2001, I’d get five stories that are not identical, in spite of the magnitude of the event. Witness testimony would diverge and “not match”; if the same witness (say, Mayor Giuliani) was interviewed by at least two of the newspapers, his verbiage would not be the same, even to questions that were the same from different reporters. Now, it would take hindsight and more research to determine if any of the news stories had genuinely erroneous information in it, but we all know that everything said may be completely accurate in the context of each person’s experience or vantage point. The stories and recollections may turn out to complement each other just fine.
If alien life is ever confirmed, omission of said information does not mean that the Bible made a mistake. This is simply due to the fact that the Bible never says there are not aliens or that there cannot be aliens. It is ONE witness to reality. The fact that Christians regard it as divinely inspired does not change that truth: it is not an exhaustive record of reality on earth, heaven, or the outer heavens we call space. The Bible isn’t even an exhaustive record of things like Israel’s history, or, narrower still, Solomon’s whole reign, or Paul’s travels, etc. It is by nature limited in scope and its content is selective. When the Bible omits material that one would think is inherently relevant to its storyline, why is it that people get so disturbed over the idea that we have an errant Bible since aliens aren’t mentioned? The answer is simply that many people haven’t given the matter much thought, or seek to damage the Bible by using such witless strategies. Neither is commendable.