Why do some Christians say life cannot exist elsewhere?

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Greshym_Shorkan
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21 Jan 2010, 5:46 pm

K, hear me out quick. I've met some that say there's no way to tell (and that's where I stand, although I can't imagine why there wouldn't be) and then some say it's an affront to God to think there is.

What is there reasoning behind this? I've read parts of the Bible that support the existence of life elsewhere.



leejosepho
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21 Jan 2010, 5:52 pm

I suspect it is some kind of emotional response to something like the thought of a father having children in another county, parish, state, province, country ...


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dddhgg
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21 Jan 2010, 6:42 pm

Another possible reason is that according to the Bible God explicitly chose to be incarnated as an intelligent being from planet Earth - as a man. Life, intelligent life anyhow, on another planet would be hard to reconcile with this. For God, in the orthodox view, is triune. And if there were beings like us, on Mars say, they would have to be fallen in original sin, like us. So, to atone for their sins, there would have to be another incarnation of God on their planet (but has there gotta be really?). This, however, would make God consist of four parts, which is contrary to the triune hypothesis, etc.

Additionally, the Bible would be incomplete. For why wouldn't Genesis mention the creation of those other critters? Also, why wouldn't the rest of the Bible mention their adventures (as far as theologically relevant)? If the Bible is the word of God, why not give it to us in its entirety? Or is the Martian version unintelligible, or too saucy? :D

By the way, I'm not a Christian, though I do know my way around the Bible. So it's just my $0.02.


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Last edited by dddhgg on 21 Jan 2010, 6:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Awesomelyglorious
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21 Jan 2010, 6:45 pm

By life, do you mean intelligent life? Or would bacteria also count? I don't think that space bacteria would be called blasphemous.

Ok, here's what I see:

Man is made in God's image according to scripture. Genesis 1:26 And being made in God's image is the basis of human value. Genesis 9:6 Both of which imply very strongly that man is special.

If life existed on other planets, then it would have to be valueless life as it wouldn't be made in God's image, or it would have to be like man. Most people reject Star Trek aliens though. Meaning that the existence of other life would seem to conflict with Christianity, because unless we're going to posit that God has more than one image and has been incarnated and died multiple times, or even that aliens are morally perfect, then aliens make Christianity somewhat absurd. They just wouldn't fit the narrative.

In any case, I find it hard to believe that the Bible, if interpreted well would tend to suggest that life exists elsewhere, simply because I doubt that the Jews or early Christians would think of an elsewhere besides heaven. Maybe you have some verses though.



leejosepho
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21 Jan 2010, 6:53 pm

dddhgg wrote:
Another possible reason is that according to the Bible God explicitly chose to be incarnated as an intelligent being from planet Earth - as a man.


As an aside here: Christian theologians say that, but Scripture does not.


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dddhgg
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21 Jan 2010, 7:02 pm

Awesomelyglorious wrote:
By life, do you mean intelligent life? Or would bacteria also count? I don't think that space bacteria would be called blasphemous.

Ok, here's what I see:

Man is made in God's image according to scripture. Genesis 1:26 And being made in God's image is the basis of human value. Genesis 9:6 Both of which imply very strongly that man is special.

If life existed on other planets, then it would have to be valueless life as it wouldn't be made in God's image, or it would have to be like man. Most people reject Star Trek aliens though. Meaning that the existence of other life would seem to conflict with Christianity, because unless we're going to posit that God has more than one image and has been incarnated and died multiple times, or even that aliens are morally perfect, then aliens make Christianity somewhat absurd. They just wouldn't fit the narrative.

In any case, I find it hard to believe that the Bible, if interpreted well would tend to suggest that life exists elsewhere, simply because I doubt that the Jews or early Christians would think of an elsewhere besides heaven. Maybe you have some verses though.


The concept of life on other planets isn't entirely alien to Christianity though. Giordano Bruno, an Italian priest and philosopher, argued an infinitude of inhabited worlds in the 16th century (and was burned for it, among other reasons).

This is what he said:

Quote:
It is not necessary then to investigate whether there be beyond the heaven Space, Void or Time. For there is a single general space, a single vast immensity which we may freely call Void; in it are innumerable globes like this on which we live and grow. This space we declare to be infinite; since neither reason, convenience, possibility, sense-perception nor nature assign to it a limit. In it are an infinity of worlds of the same kind as our own. For there is no reason nor defect of nature's gifts, either of active or of passive power, to hinder the existence of other worlds throughout space, which is identical in natural character with our own space.... Beyond the imaginary convex circumference of the universe is Time. For there is the measure and nature of motion, since similar moving bodies are there.


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dddhgg
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21 Jan 2010, 7:05 pm

leejosepho wrote:
dddhgg wrote:
Another possible reason is that according to the Bible God explicitly chose to be incarnated as an intelligent being from planet Earth - as a man.


As an aside here: Christian theologians say that, but Scripture does not.


It depends on what you mean by "man". Jesus is called a man repeatedly in the Bible, as in 1 Tim 2:5.


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21 Jan 2010, 7:06 pm

In point of fact, most Christian theologians will accept that "in God's image" could well mean more in the nature of having intelligence and free will than in the actual literal shape of God. They will also accept that just because it isn't mentioned in the Bible, doesn't make it "blasphemous" - after all, the Bible never mentions that Earth is round (more or less), nor does it mention planetary orbits, nor the nature of the planets in this system, but that doesn't mean that Christians can't accept their existence, now does it?

Where the problem comes in is when you get some ignorant schmuck who insists that every word in the Bible must be literally true, even the ones that contradict other bits (see Genesis ch 1 and ch 2, or the three differing accounts of Jesus' last words in the Gospels), and that if it's not in there it "jest cain't be so." Those are the ones who claim that alien intelligence would somehow be "an affront to God", as if He were limited by the laws of the universe He created (yet are willing to claim that He supersedes them when He wants, as in Joshua commanding the sun to stand still and knocking down the walls of Jericho with the sound of horns being blown), and could not possibly have created life in more than one place.


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21 Jan 2010, 7:35 pm

DeaconBlues wrote:
In point of fact, most Christian theologians will accept that "in God's image" could well mean more in the nature of having intelligence and free will than in the actual literal shape of God. They will also accept that just because it isn't mentioned in the Bible, doesn't make it "blasphemous" - after all, the Bible never mentions that Earth is round (more or less), nor does it mention planetary orbits, nor the nature of the planets in this system, but that doesn't mean that Christians can't accept their existence, now does it?



That's an excellent point. I've had the same idea, but never articulated it so well. Our thoughts- and our avatars- complement each other.



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21 Jan 2010, 7:54 pm

As human understanding has matured it has become more and more evident that people who attempt to use the Bible as a substitute for observational data are in fundamental error. They are not worth your attention.



leejosepho
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21 Jan 2010, 10:22 pm

dddhgg wrote:
It depends on what you mean by "man". Jesus is called a man repeatedly in the Bible, as in 1 Tim 2:5.


Not sure what you mean there. The question was about "God incarnate", and that is not found in Scripture.


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leejosepho
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21 Jan 2010, 10:24 pm

Sand wrote:
... people who [are opined to be] in fundamental error ... are not worth your attention.


That is a terrible thing to say!


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Sand
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21 Jan 2010, 10:28 pm

leejosepho wrote:
Sand wrote:
... people who [are opined to be] in fundamental error ... are not worth your attention.


That is a terrible thing to say!


Perhaps. That's why I didn't say it.



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22 Jan 2010, 12:45 am

leejosepho wrote:
As an aside here: Christian theologians say that, but Scripture does not.

Well, that's debatable. Christian theologians say that Scripture strongly claims this. Even further though, the Early Christian Church ruled that God did this in the Council of Nicea, and proclaimed all who disagreed to be heretics. Most Christians today accept this conclusion. Catholics and Orthodox Christians consider this binding(and they actually don't hold to Sola Scriptura, so your appeal to scripture really will just confirm their own anti-Sola Scriptura beliefs) and most Protestants are also trinitarians.

Now, this big consensus might not be enough for you, but the case isn't explicit so much as an implicit case from Christ's actions in theBible.



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22 Jan 2010, 12:48 am

dddhgg wrote:
The concept of life on other planets isn't entirely alien to Christianity though. Giordano Bruno, an Italian priest and philosopher, argued an infinitude of inhabited worlds in the 16th century (and was burned for it, among other reasons).

This is what he said:

Quote:
It is not necessary then to investigate whether there be beyond the heaven Space, Void or Time. For there is a single general space, a single vast immensity which we may freely call Void; in it are innumerable globes like this on which we live and grow. This space we declare to be infinite; since neither reason, convenience, possibility, sense-perception nor nature assign to it a limit. In it are an infinity of worlds of the same kind as our own. For there is no reason nor defect of nature's gifts, either of active or of passive power, to hinder the existence of other worlds throughout space, which is identical in natural character with our own space.... Beyond the imaginary convex circumference of the universe is Time. For there is the measure and nature of motion, since similar moving bodies are there.

Umm.... you'll have to cite a credible interpretation of scripture, or an Early Christian or Jew to convince me of this. Some person writing 16 centuries after the New Testament was written is going to be pretty far removed from the cultural background of Paul, and the fact that Giordano Bruno was burned as a heretic doesn't help this case. As it stands, one can credibly argue that early Christians and Jews thought the world was flat.