Continuing with the exchange between John Milor and Gary Bates. John Milor introduces Gary’s second point / objection to Milor’s position (that the Bible allows for alien life forms) this way:
The second point Mr. Bates raised, is as follows:
Point 2: When Christ (God) appeared in the flesh, He came to Earth not only to redeem mankind but eventually the whole creation back to Himself (Romans 8:21, Colossians 1:20). However, Christ’s atoning death at Calvary cannot save these hypothetical ETs, because one needs to be a physical descendant of Adam for Christ to be our ‘kinsman-redeemer’ (Isaiah 59:20). Jesus was called ‘the last Adam’ because there was a real first man, Adam (1 Corinthians 15:22, 45)—not a first Vulcan, Klingon, etc. This is so a sinless human Substitute takes on the punishment all humans deserve for sin (Isaiah 53:6,10; Matthew 20:28; 1 John 2:2, 4:10), with no need to atone for any (non-existent) sin of his own (Hebrews 7:27).
Milor says: My question to this point is why does one need to be a physical descendant of Adam, in order for Christ to be a ‘kinsman-redeemer’? I see absolutely no qualification for a specific species in Isaiah 59:20. Calling Jesus a redeemer, is not the same thing as calling Jesus a redeemer of humanity alone. When I read this scripture, I see the word “Redeemer,” and not the words “Redeemer for humanity alone.”
MSH: I have some problems with both comments here. On one hand, Gary has confused two different issues, treating them as though they are the same. The notion that ETs would not be redeemed by Christ’s atonement is not an argument that ETs cannot exist any more than saying that if ETs exist they must be included in the atonement. Milor leans to arguing the latter, and it is just as fallacious in terms of logic. Existence of “A” is not to be confused with atonement of “A”. Entirely different issues. That said, he is right to say (more generally) that there is no compelling biblical argument *for* alien atonement. It is at this point that people like physicist Paul Davies (who should be banned from discussing theology) would argue in favor of alien atonement because aliens have intelligence, emotions, sincerity, etc. Big deal. The Bible excludes other intelligent beings from the atonement (fallen angels). It’s a silly argument. I’ll leave it alone, though, since I comment on it at length in my presentations on this subject.
Another problem would be Milor’s distinction of redeemer vs. kinsman redeemer. On one hand, Jesus’ status as kinsman-redeemer does requires that he be a human. The “kinsman” part of that title concerns Jesus’ humanity, and so it could not include non-humans. That Jesus is also called “redeemer” cannot be construed as the flipside of “redeemerhood” — i.e., that Jesus is “non-human redeemer” on the basis of being called “redeemer.” One would need a biblical statement that Jesus died to redeem non-human intelligent life for that argument to have any chance, but there is no such statement. It’s a useless trajectory.
Regarding Colossians 1:20
“And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.
Now it’s Milor’s turn to confuse two separate issues. Yes, this verse includes all things in heaven and earth (which may or may not include the universe — it assumes the biblical writers knew about a universe or there was divine intention to include that with these words), but this “reconciliation” does not necessarily mean “salvation” or “redemption,” though it could. Why not? Look at Romans 8:20-23
20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
Here’s the point: the entire creation is included in the atoning work of Christ — which is why there is a new heaven and earth in the book of Revelation (Rev 21:1-2). These passages and others make it clear that this new creation includes plants and animals — but that doesn’t mean these plants and animals are “saved” or atoned for. The creation generally benefits from the atonement. The only beings specifically targeted are humans. Why? Because of the fall. Humanity lost immortality, fell into sin; humanity is the specific salvific aim of the atonement — but the rest of creation benefits as well, in terms of its recovery from the effects of the fall. This means that “salvation” – the redemption from a lost state that came about as the result of a fall, only applies to humans, since only humans fell (disobeyed God’s original command). Animals and plants did not violate God’s command, but they suffer the effects of the fall. If there are aliens, they could suffer under it as well, but they are not responsible for it, and so are not the target of the atonement in the sense of salvation. Therefore, the notion that Col. 1:20 might include aliens does not speak to alien salvation. This is a common mistaken argument with respect to aliens and Christianity, especially in catholic writers.
I should note, though, that I agree with Milor when he sees no reason Jesus would have to suffer and die on any other planets — but his logic in including aliens in the single atoning sacrifice described in the New Testament is very weak. Basically it is a concatenation of ideas and extrapolations without a single textual (biblical) affirmation of the ideas and extrapolations. Creative ideas are not Bible verses.
I’ll pick up with point 3 next time.