As a writer of science fiction, I found creationist Ken Ham’s commentary on alien life and the space program absurd and thought provoking.
For those of you who missed it, in response to NASA’s expectation of finding alien life in the not too distant future, he wrote on his Sunday blog: “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.”
Ham’s logic is flawed even within his own cosmology. If Adam’s sin here on earth damned all sentient life in the universe (which, by extension must also be created in God’s image, spiritually) then by virtue of the nature of God as revealed by Christ, they must also be eligible for salvation.
How so? Jesus very clearly teaches (in what we refer to as the Sermon on the Mount) that God is not only a just parent, but a merciful and loving one. I paraphrase, but in Matthew Chapter 7 Christ asks His audience, “If your child asks you for bread, would you give him a stone? If he asks you for fish would you give him a snake? If you, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more so does your Father in heaven know how to give good gifts to those who ask Him?” Christ also famously said, “If you really knew Me, you would know My Father, as well.”
As a science fiction writer and a person of faith (who cheerfully explores new worlds in galaxies far, far away at every available opportunity), I take exception to Ken Ham’s contentions. They are not supported by the Bible or any other scripture I’ve studied. While I feel sincere compassion for Mr. Ham, I suppose I must be pleased that he holds these views, because it supplies me with ideas for stories as well as occasion to study both scripture and scientific literature more thoroughly for my own edification.
In a passage written in the 1860s, the scriptures of my own faith say this:
The learned men, that have fixed at several thousand years the life of this earth, have failed, throughout the long period of their observation, to consider either the number or the age of the other planets. Consider, moreover, the manifold divergencies that have resulted from the theories propounded by these men. Know thou that every fixed star hath its own planets, and every planet its own creatures, whose number no man can compute. —Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings LXXXII
What puzzles me most is why Mr. Ham didn’t turn his logic the other way, expanding Christ’s mission and efficacy rather than limiting it: If Adam’s sin created the need for all creation (including alien life) to be saved, then—voila!—Christ’s sacrifice saved, not only the people of Earth, but people everywhere in the Universe. Ergo, Christ gets more credit, not less.
This seems a missed opportunity. I’d encourage Mr. Ham to rethink his theology. In the meantime, I feel a first contact story coming on…