TALKING TO YOUR KIDS ABOUT ALIENS. Are We Alone in the Universe?
Within a few days, the Pentagon is scheduled to release a new, official report on UFO’s. More precisely, UAP’s, Unexplained Aerial Phenomenon. Most likely, the report will simply repeat what many military analysts have been speculating for a few years now, that we have observed and recorded objects flying in our airspace, that they appear to exceed known technology and defy the laws of physics with regard to speed, propulsion, and maneuverability, and that we don’t know what they are or where they are from.
E.T. phone home?
I have to admit that I am very curious. And so are my kids. I’ve always enjoyed the science of space exploration and naturally, like most people, I’ve wondered about the possibility of life existing somewhere other than Earth.
Are we alone in the universe? Do aliens exist?
As with any important question, we want to think clearly and deeply, and process our conclusions through the lens of an accurate, biblical worldview. And when our kids (or our colleagues) ask us good questions, we want to respond with careful and accurate answers.
Are we alone in the universe? No!
We are not alone. We were created. By an uncreated Creator, the God of the Bible.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1)
We are not a cosmic accident, and we did not evolve naturally through random mutations and natural selection. We are the intentional creation of an intentional God. Placed into existence and given the breath of life in order to please the One who called us into being.
And we as humans are not the only intelligent life either. In addition to the plant and animal life that we observe in the natural world, God also created other spiritual beings, usually unseen by us, but still very real and often described in Scripture. Angels (and fallen angels called demons) do exist, also having been created by God during creation week, and also designed with a specific purpose. (For a deeper study of angels and demons, here is a good starting point)
Do aliens exist? Yes!
Surprising to many people, the Bible directly addresses the subject of aliens.
“Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul.” (1 Peter 2:11)
“And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth.” (Hebrews 11:13)
You see, WE are the aliens. Not in the little-green-men sense, but in the understanding that we don’t ultimately belong here. This world is not our home. We were created as eternal creatures whose eternal home is with our Creator. In this life, and on this planet, we are—as the old hymn put it—"just passing through.” Every single person is a spiritual being who, when this physical body has died, will continue to exist in one of two places. Either eternally reunited with our Creator in Heaven or eternally separated from Him in Hell.
We are the aliens. And it is good to remind our children (and ourselves) that while we strive to fulfill God’s mandate to make this world better for His glory, ultimately, we should never feel completely comfortable in this culture. We are destined for a better home elsewhere.
But what about the flying saucers?
Traditionally, eyewitness reports about UFO’s and personal accounts of alien abductions have typically involved dubious testimony and vague explanations. And any photographic “evidence” has been grainy, blurry, and, to say the least, highly questionable. But that has changed with the recent video recordings leaked (or released) by the U.S. military. Seemingly credible military personnel have testified to what they have observed, and seemingly credible video has been seen by millions.
So, what exactly are those things?
I believe that with any incident of potential interaction with extraterrestrials, we have several possibilities:
Dreams, Drugs, Hallucinations
The mind is a powerful thing. When someone recounts that they were woken up by strange lights in their bedroom, levitated off to a spaceship, then quietly returned to their bed where they awoke hours later? Well, I’m pretty confident what happened there. I’ve had weird dreams too, some quite vivid. But when others have waking experiences, we must remember that even with all that we currently know about the human brain, we also admit that we only know very little of its true functionality. Combine that with alcohol, fatigue, brain injury or disease, mental illness, or powerful drugs, including hallucinogenic drugs, then a very plausible explanation for a lot of “alien encounters” is a simple quirk of the brain.
Natural Phenomenon and Human Inventions
There are many naturally occurring phenomena in our world. Clouds, light refraction, optical illusions, birds, the aurora borealis, and more. Our natural world is full of unusual, but completely natural anomalies. And human inventions such as weather balloons, drones, model airplanes, cell towers, city lights, etc. have always been mistaken for something else. As mentioned, our brains are a powerful thing. And they are always trying to make sense of what our senses are experiencing. So, when something very natural and very explainable is only partially observed, or only momentarily observed, or observed in a new or unexpected context, our brains will often try to “fill in the gaps” and this sometimes leads us to the wrong conclusions.
[The National Review posted a great article giving reasonable explanations for the objects in recent military videos which you can read here.]
Deliberate Hoax or Intentional Disinformation.
Some people just like messing with other people. Some people are just really good at trolling others or creating a hoax for fun, for spite, or for financial profit. And many people lie. For the attention or for other reasons.
And human governments, particularly the military and intelligence departments of human governments, are notoriously secretive and deceptive. This is common knowledge.
Just because a government official claims a technology is “beyond them” doesn’t mean that’s true. It’s no secret that every major government, including our own, has technology and weapons systems that exceed (sometimes far exceed) the level that they claim publicly. That’s a common strategy in national defense. Whenever the government points to something as its “most advanced weapon”, what they really mean is that it is the most advanced weapon that they want you to know about. The same is true for foreign governments with advanced scientific capabilities like China, Russia, Japan, or Israel. So, it is entirely possible and plausible that whatever is flying around out there is simply technology of human origin that has either been accidentally observed or deliberately leaked in order to tip the hand of the government that owns it; perhaps a warning shot across the bow of the capabilities it has. Our own government is continually declassifying formerly top-secret information and admitting to things that they had previously denied. This may very well be just that.
“And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.” (2 Corinthians 11:14)
Satan is a deceiver. And he wants nothing more than for people to take their eyes off of Jesus Christ and to focus on anything, literally anything, else. The Enemy doesn’t care what we dwell on, as long as it is not the Savior. And for many people, UFO’s are a perfect distraction from the true and living God.
There are two errors people make when it comes to unseen, spiritual creatures like angels and demons. One is to deny the spiritual realm and discount spiritual warfare. The other is to give Satan more powers than he actually has. Remember, he is a created being with limits. He is not omniscient. He is not omnipresent. He is not omnipotent. But, he is powerful. And I have no doubt that what many people have claimed to be an “alien encounter” is nothing more that an encounter with a demonic presence.
This possibility comes with a big question mark and a healthy, heaping dose of skepticism. IF—and that is a HUGE if—IF there is intelligent life somewhere other than Earth in this universe, then we already know several things about that life:
1. It was created by God, sometime during or after creation week.
2. God has a specific plan and purpose for that life and for any potential interactions it may have with our world.
3. God’s redemptive plan for mankind is unchanged. The Gospel must still be preached, and if some extraterrestrial race has fallen into sin as ours has, then they are also in need of God’s redemption.
I personally do not believe that intelligent life exists other than on planet Earth (other than the aforementioned angels and demons). I believe that humans here on Earth are unique among God’s creation. But I also believe that God is immensely more than I can imagine, and that He is free to do with His universe anything that He wants.
“The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.” (Deuteronomy 29:29)
God does not owe me an explanation. I owe Him worship and obedience. We need to anchor ourselves to the clearly revealed truth that God has given us, and to faithfully obey His clear commands.
How Should We Respond?
1. Rest in God’s Truth.
“So do not fear, for I am with you;” (Isaiah 41:10)
This is one of the most frequent commands of God. Do not be afraid. Do not fear. You are not alone. For younger children especially, the thought of aliens can be terrifying. But many adults are anxious too, especially these days. We need to rest in the fact that God is real, that He is near, that He loves us, and that He is fully in control.
2. Be curious, but not infatuated.
There is nothing wrong with curiosity. In fact, it is unhealthy not to question things. God designed us to learn about the natural world He created and to yearn for transcendent truth. But, if that search for truth is not anchored in a relationship with God and the reality of Scripture, we risk wasting time on irrelevant tangents. Too many people, even Christians, are sidetracked from the core commands of God with unhealthy pursuits of lesser things (2 Timothy 2:23).
3. Be skeptical.
Things are not always as they seem. We need to train our children to have a healthy skepticism, to think critically, and to carefully and continually filter everything they experience through the clarity of a rightly formed biblical worldview (2 Timothy 2:15). And remember, “unexplained” does not mean “alien.” It just means that we don’t know yet.
4. Be prayerful.
Our search for truth must always be bathed in continual conversation with God. After all, we who know Christ as Savior are indwelled by His Holy Spirit. This means we have 24/7 access to the source of all Truth. What a shame if we squander that resource by trying to go it alone.
5. Be sensitive to teachable moments.
Our children and the lost world they live in are searching for answers. We should use opportunities like this to engage in good conversations. And to follow the example of Jesus by steering every conversation back to the most important questions of life and the source of all Truth, His Word.
Share your thoughts and comments with the author at firstname.lastname@example.org
Take a moment for Integrated Reflection:
Follower of Christ:
To what extent are you anchoring your questions in the Word of God?
Are you in continual conversation with God about your own questions and doubts? If not, what’s holding you back?
How can you use the topic of aliens to teach your students critical thinking?
Is the worldview you are shaping with your students grounded in God’s Word?
Have you considered the question of whether we are alone in the universe?
If there is no God, and life began here on earth against-all-odds and by chance, is it really plausible that this one-in-a-billion occurrence happened elsewhere too?