[Thanks to Cris for this link.]
According to the Washington Post, the Pentagon apparently spent $100,000 for a workshop on interstellar space travel, which included a session that asked, ”Did Jesus die for Klingons, too?” Taxpayers aren’t thrilled, to say the least. I’m irritated, too, but for different reasons.
Readers know I’ve put a lot of thought into the question of the relationship between Christianity (of the conservative “Bible believing” perspective) and the question of extraterrestrial life (see here and here). My answer would be that no, there’s no need for Jesus to have to die for ET if ET exists — no exegetical argument can be mounted for such a need. But most theologians who address this question aren’t doing exegesis in the biblical text; they merely theologize (i.e., they share opinions sprinkled with God-talk). People who believe the Bible is inspired and that biblical theology should be rooted in the biblical text (as opposed to canon law, the opinions of a magisterium, the writings of a church father, etc.) could care less about such theologizing. I presume that the Pentagon, if serious about the subject, probably feels some concern over the impact an ET reality would have on conservative evangelical Christians, precisely because that’s where the most negative reaction would manifest. But then why not look for someone who knows that religious spectrum well and cares about the subject? I have no reason to be optimistic that any serious consideration of the biblical text occurred at this symposium. Typically these things gather clerics whose training is in philosophy, philosophical theology, sociology, and astronomy (this is an easy conclusion to draw from a bibliography of peer-reviewed literature on this subject). Little effort is made to include a biblical scholar. That omission is one of the reasons I decided to make the issue a centerpiece of The Facade, my novel.
If I try to be kind to DARPA here, maybe the problem is that they couldn’t find an evangelical scholar who has published under peer review on the topic. I think I’ve read what’s been published in peer-reviewed literature, and I’ve never seen an evangelical publish on it in a journal. Perhaps I should make an effort to do that rather than devote effort to blogging. But it’s a bit hard to imagine that DARPA couldn’t find me (or anyone else they cared to find).