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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
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[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
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Thursday, July 31, 2008
What Would Happen To Your Faith If Extraterrestrials Made Contact Today?
I think most of the *serious* Christians giggle at the absurdity of this question - having long passed the "what if I got it all wrong?" stage; that is, having come to so deep a conviction that the word of God is true, that they find the question on par with something like - what would you do if spontaneously you changed genders three times a day? That is, they regard the question as so ridiculous, they would not be able to give a serious answer to it (ask a foolish question... get a.. you know how that works).

Yet this is the sort of question that one might be asked when sharing their faith, and the one asking it may conclude that the steadfastness of your conviction comes from a sort of brainwashed inability to think abstractly. One of the least helpful ways of sharing one's faith is to present it as though it were not open to reason. To be sure, faith in Christ is not only reasonable, it is rational and intelligent. Granted, one cannot come to faith unless God grants it, so it is more than a mere intellectual (read carnal) decision - but it is not an irrational one. That being true, we may think of ourselves as grand defenders of the one true faith when we laugh off some worldlings questions because they are premised on what we understand to be a ridiculous precept, but ridicule and scorn of anyone else's beliefs is not the best way to demonstrate the validity of one's own faith. If my religion -is- the one true religion, I should not fear any challenge against it.

So the question before me is what would happen to my faith if extraterrestrials made definitive contact with earth? Would my faith come crumbling down?

I would have to say, "probably".

The bible fits reality like a zillion fingered glove; extending the metaphor, if that glove could be made to not fit perfectly, that would really mess up my faith.

I know there are some Christians who would take it in stride and not even blink - because their faith is sort of a touchy-feely, not grounded in scripture kinda faith - a kind of balloon-headed "Christianity is nice" faith, that is so undefined and amorphous it wouldn't be penetrated even by an alien visit. I know also that there would be other Christians who tend to pick and choose what can be believed, and some of these who already cling to some of the bible, but ignore the rest - these could assimilate aliens easily enough - even trying to convert them as though they were part of Adam's fallen race.

But I don't think my faith could overcome something like that.

Now, whenever I read of aging astronauts telling their story about how someone on the "inside" told them that aliens are real - I chuckle. When I see various videos and hear that hundreds of witnesses have seen something in the sky, I yawn. When I learn that aliens are crossing billions of miles of space to come and alternately crash on our planet, hide in windows, make patterns in fields, or probe the orifices of people who are starved for attention, I tend to raise a dubious, and even skeptical eyebrow - not because I am Christian, but because I find it hard to believe that beings so profoundly advanced in technology that they are out there circumnavigating the universe, would come and buzz around our backwater globe like a bunch of hornets all the while unilaterally agreeing to keep their presence a secret, except for the occasional abduction here and there, and the visiting of people in remote areas.

It seems to me that if there were any aliens, there would be many aliens. I don't care how big the universe is, I can't imagine a plethora of aliens hovering around our planet - each harboring some unfathomable interest in our body cavities, playing hide and seek, and all the while having a mutual consent amongst themselves to remain aloof. That is, I would expect that if someone is advanced enough to cross the gulf of space and take an interest in our self destructive race - you would think they might make their presence known - to at least one country on the globe.

Likewise, I find it highly unlikely (read: chortlingly milk-coming-out-of-my-nose ridiculous) that the governments "know" about the aliens, but unilaterally have agreed with one another that no one country was allowed to spill the beans. Which is to say that the idea of a secret, government visitation, unknown to the general populace is categorically several notches higher on the "ridiculous scale" than aliens visiting at all.

All of which is to say that I don't need to be a man of faith to be a skeptic - I need only be a man of reason.

Yet my faith is not an empty thing - I don't just "believe" - I have to believe something. Faith isn't a commodity that one possesses, unless that faith is placed in something. I trust that [1] there is a God, and [2] He has made Himself known to His creation [3] first through His interactions with Adam and Eve, [4] then through their witness to their children, [5] eventually through the witness of men like Noah and Abraham, and [6] finally through prophets and oracles who recorded that witness as scripture. I believe that [7] God is not only able to, but actively working to keep this testimony about Himself "correct" - so that my faith is, primarily in God's revealed testimony about Himself, creation, its fall, and God's plan for redemption.

If aliens landed, my faith in scripture would erode, and the moment I can't believe even one part of scripture (such as the creation), I am left to presume that "God" can't (or won't) keep His testimony pure, and if that testimony is tainted, I cannot be sure of any of it - so that I cannot have faith, for all is undone.

Thus a question like "what about aliens" reveals (or ought to reveal) what our faith is, and what it is not. I wouldn't shy away from answering a question like that, or laughing it off, and I certainly wouldn't feel guilty about saying my faith would erode - it would, because it is more than just some decision or feeling, it is a faith that is founded upon God's surety, His ability, and, really, His faithfulness.

Anyway, I gotta leave for work.

Labels:

posted by Daniel @ 7:36 AM  
16 Comments:
  • At 10:20 AM, July 31, 2008, Blogger Daniel said…

    I was considering making this a poll, but I figured if anyone commented, they would probably give what they would do anyway.

     
  • At 11:22 AM, July 31, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Daniel,
    If 'aliens' appeared suddenly it wouldn't shake my faith at all. I long ago learned that Satan's fallen angels can appear as whatever they want - including aliens.
    Some people look for and see 'angels', some 'the virgin mary', some 'jesus', some 'aliens'. Recently heard audio of a certain 'revival preacher' in the US describe a 'visitation of angels' that sounded just like the 'alien abduction' reports I have read.
    The coming of the 'lawless one' is to be in great signs and wonders. I would just assume the alien appearance was part of this, but I've read the end of the book and God wins!
    So, my faith in God would not be shaken, but likely my knees would, and they would quickly end up on the floor as I clung to God and His ultimate victory.
    BTY I've never had any of the above happen to me personally - and pray it never does - nor do I go about looking for the devil under every rock. :>) It's just an explaination of some of these things that makes the most sense to me - Biblically.
    Eunice

     
  • At 11:36 AM, July 31, 2008, Blogger Daniel said…

    Eunice, I do fancy that some of the alien encounters may well be demonic in nature. I speak not of having one very good video, or one verifiable encounter - but rather of having say, an entire extraterrestrial colony come and settle in New Jersey, and build an interplanetary consulate there, and begin raising alien families there... I mean angels, so scripture tells us, do not wed, so in the example given I would presume that there would be enough hard evidence to demonstrate that these were not angels or demons, but verifiably interplanetary beings.

    I know that my faith isn't going to be shaken by something that can be explained away biblically. Surely our adversary will be given (in the last days) authority to perform all kinds of deceptions; But I am not talking about miraculous or incredible seeming "events" so much as I am talking about something that is both undeniable, and cannot exists in harmony with scripture.

    If that clarifies the matter at all.

     
  • At 1:49 PM, July 31, 2008, Blogger ThirstyDavid said…

    But . . . how do we know you're not an alien, just trying to throw us off?

     
  • At 2:03 PM, July 31, 2008, Blogger Daniel said…

    David, if I were an alien, just trying to throw people off, I would probably come as an well aged liberal Republican presidential candidate during one of the most important elections in the history of the US - who would suspect??

     
  • At 9:41 PM, July 31, 2008, Blogger Even So... said…

    Daniel, you said this

    we may think of ourselves as grand defenders of the one true faith when we laugh off some worldlings questions because they are premised on what we understand to be a ridiculous precept, but ridicule and scorn of anyone else's beliefs is not the best way to demonstrate the validity of one's own faith.

    But then you said this

    I know there are some Christians who would take it in stride and not even blink - because their faith is sort of a touchy-feely, not grounded in scripture kinda faith - a kind of balloon-headed "Christianity is nice" faith, that is so undefined and amorphous it wouldn't be penetrated even by an alien visit.

    Ummm, I wouldn't be so shaken and I am pretty sure you couldn't call me that stuff at all...anyway, no biggie, but I was sure you would want that pointed out...

    :-)

     
  • At 9:42 PM, July 31, 2008, Blogger Even So... said…

    Likewise, I find it highly unlikely (read: chortlingly milk-coming-out-of-my-nose ridiculous) that the governments "know" about the aliens, but unilaterally have agreed with one another that no one country was allowed to spill the beans. Which is to say that the idea of a secret, government visitation, unknown to the general populace is categorically several notches higher on the "ridiculous scale" than aliens visiting at all.

    All of which is to say that I don't need to be a man of faith to be a skeptic - I need only be a man of reason.


    I agree with that for sure...

     
  • At 12:15 AM, August 01, 2008, Blogger Daniel said…

    JD, I wouldn't call you any of those things. I was speaking to the fringe speculation that the bible first, could be proven to be false, and then demonstrated to be so in some way that was unequivocable. My point was that if God's testimony turned out to be false that would suggest that God was also false.

    There is, I think, a difference that I may not have articulated well, or even at all - between [1] someone who is able (in their faith) to assimilate such a profound happenstance into their understanding of scripture, so that even the existence of aliens could not penetrate the certainty they have that God's word is correct, and [2] someone whose faith is not founded on God's testimony but is founded upon a "self realized" God who is basically whatever they make him to be.

    Let me know if that shown a bit of light on that - as I don't want to give the impression that there is mutual exclusion in my broad brushing.

     
  • At 7:27 AM, August 01, 2008, Blogger Even So... said…

    someone whose faith is not founded on God's testimony but is founded upon a "self realized" God who is basically whatever they make him to be.

    Yes, that explains your position more clearly...I knew what you meant, but with the clarification it has more weight...

     
  • At 7:52 AM, August 01, 2008, Blogger Daniel said…

    I just re-read my comment,

    Shown = shone

    sigh. That is why I shouldn't comment late at night. ;)

     
  • At 11:04 PM, August 01, 2008, Blogger Gummby said…

    Hey, Daniel. Long time, no talk.

    This question is interesting to me, in part because of my own interest in science fiction. There's always a cognative dissonance when I read stories where the core of the plot is something I know could never happen because of Scripture (aliens, evolution, etc.). I still read the stuff, though.

    Anyway, I've thought about it enough to ask you this: do you think that Scripture is so definitive that it necessarily excludes alien life? I don't think there are aliens out there any more than you do, but I also believe that the written record we have isn't exhaustive in its detail, and just as we don't have a clue about the creation or fall of the angels, is it possible that we might not know about life elsewhere?

    This bleeds over into eschatology, I suppose, where I'm at my worst theologically (by worst I mean most muddled), so I'd love to hear your thoughts.

     
  • At 12:14 AM, August 02, 2008, Blogger Daniel said…

    Hi Matt, long time no see.

    I think that Scripture is definitive enough to really fall apart if there were an intelligent extraterrestrial race.

    I say that because the creation account has Adam and Eve created last of all - which is significant. I say that because the picture scripture paints is that all of creation, including whatever other planets there may be - was perfect and good in the sight of God, but when Adam sinned - all of creation was cursed, and now waits for the redemption of Adam's race. The Genesis account leaves no room for doubt as to the centrality of man in creation. Indeed, God put us over all of creation, so if there are aliens, God Himself has made us as much above them as He made us above the kine in the field. And so we must conclude that by Adam's sin, death was brought not only to us, but to all that was under Adam's care - plants and animals - and presumably, aliens too.

    My point is that if we start in Genesis with the centrality of man in creation and the universality of sin's consequences, and the redemption not only of man, but of all creation in Christ - we start to paint a picture that doesn't really leave wiggle room or gray area.

    Now, that is all assuming of course that these are not spiritual beings but created, universe dwellers like ourselves. If these were angels or something like that, we are playing a different game altogether - but if they are just meat like you and I - then my own faith would certainly erode, for I can see no (intellectually honest) way to patch such an idea into scripture - not without becoming so figurative in my interpretation as to render my faith little more than a vague, undefined, and purely emotional "hope".

    It is not really somthing I give much thought to though. I mean, seriously, I am always amazed at what kind of things people are willing to swallow in order to deny even the possibility that scripture is correct. I only bother with the exercise, because I fancy it to be a good way to examine what your faith is based upon, one way or the other.

    If scripture can be shown to be not merely "lacking" - but incorrect and even impossible - and one's faith remains untarnished, its speaks volumes about what that faith is really founded on - the God described in scripture, or the God who we form in our own mind according to whatever works at the moment (which is an overly harsh, and entirely overstated way of saying it).

    Let me know if that helps. As I said, I am not saying that if the mars probe finds some bacteria that my faith is going to fall apart - I am saying that if God created intelligent life outside of Adam's race, scripture would have to be stretched farther than I am willing to stretch it.

    Now, what if these aliens showed up with a testimony of Jesus Christ? Okay, now we are playing a different game. I would think it was highly unusual, but at least there would be some uniformity in the universe etc.

    But as I said, let me know if that sort of touches the answer or not. Such speculations on my part are not terribly defined, I am afraid, and so my answers my not be as crisp or satisfying as they could be - since I, like yourself, would be quite willing to follow to the fullest even the most unlikely scenario, should it provide the slimmest hope or possibility that scripture could still be valid. The designed point of my speculation was, however, founded upon the notion that something about the alien presence made the genesis account in particular, and scripture in general, contradict sudden "alien" evidence. I mean, seriously Matt, if an Alien showed you that they could make their own universe with some gizmo, and that they had a recorded history that spanned 15 trillion of our years, and eight universes that they personally created and destroyed, and came through - and that this was all quite verifiable etc. - you would have to, at the very least, radically redifine your faith. As my faith rests not in a God of my own imaginations, but in the God of scripture, my faith is only as secure as scripture, if scripture is shown to be false, then my faith has no foundation.

    Does any of that make sense? I feel like I am just repeating myself now. ;)

     
  • At 1:48 AM, August 03, 2008, Blogger Carl said…

    Frankly, I just don't play "what if" games...I just deal with "what is."

    Thus far, the "what is" in this case is that the only alien encounters that have been documented and proven most often have taken place along the U.S./Mexico & U.S./Canada borders where the aliens are usually referred to as "Mexicans" and "Canadians." Doesn't affect my faith at all.

    And that is your "what is" moment for the day. :-)

     
  • At 9:15 AM, August 03, 2008, Blogger Daniel said…

    I hear you Carl, though I feel obliged to restate the purpose of the post is not to discuss whether or not there are aliens and how that would affect my faith - rather that was the envelope that sheathed the thought: don't use your faith to dismiss genuine inquiries when you are involved in an apologetic witness. Give a thoughtful answer, and it will demonstrate something about your faith.

    When I give a thoughtful answer to even a ridiculous question such as the one postulated here - it says something about my faith - that my faith is not superfluous, or ethereal, not vacant or emotional, but based on something - the word of God, and that it stands or falls on that word. Rather than apply to the steadfastness of my unwaivering faith, I apply to the steadfastness of what my faith is based on, so that even in a pointless question, my faith is shown to be rational, and reasonable. The whole exercise therefore is not about aliens, but about our witness, and how we ought not to stand on our faith the wrong way. In this case the wrong way to respond to that sort of query would be to say something like, "That's a stupid question, my faith cannot be shaken by aliens because there are none!" - whether that is true or not is not the issue. It is whether or not that answer more about defending your image than sharing your faith.

     
  • At 2:50 PM, August 03, 2008, Blogger Carl said…

    Okay, daniel, I see where you're coming from. Just to expatiate a little in regards to why I responded the way I did...

    My time communicating with others via the computer goes way back to the days of BBS'es (Bulletin Board Systems for all you young'uns out there -- this was when dinosaurs...well as least 386 computers and 1200 baud modems were the norm...electronic dinosaurs) and FidoNet. I've participated in various Christian discussion and chat nets for many years. Most all were open to whomever wished to post which meant a lot of atheists, agnostics, cultists, etc. posted as well. Some were radical and quite aggressive. In regards to the skeptics, they would provoke Christians at every opportunity and a lot of the times they played the "what if" tact. "What if extraterrestrials landed?" "What if God made a boulder that even he couldn't lift?" That sort of nonsense. I found out early on that when those type questions were answered, the questioner was not interested in any reasonable answer but just wanted to use it as a opening for ridicule and argumentation. I'm not saying you were doing that. In those instances, I found that keeping the topic on "what is" rather than "what if" usually kept the focus on the topic rather than wandering off on tangents. And as the saying goes, the more things change, the more they stay the same. I participate on Christian Usenet newsgroups and although not as popular as they once were they are still being utilized. However, the usual skeptics are still provoking in the same ways as before. I just now don't take the bait. Sincere questions are one thing, but the insincere attempts to goad Christians just isn't my bag anymore.

    So please pardon my rant and the lengthiness of this reply but I just wanted to let you know a bit clearer why I go with "what is" instead of "what if." I hope no one takes any offense.

     
  • At 6:34 PM, August 03, 2008, Blogger Daniel said…

    Carl, I hear you, and I know where you are coming from - I was a BBSer myself long before the internet became financially feasible (I ran a TAG BBS myself, about 15 years ago).

    I understand the concept of trolling quite well - and for those who are reading who don't understand what a "troll" is, it is someone who has no interest in the conversation taking place, but joins it feigning both interest in the topic at hand, and ignorance of the topic itself. Then regardless of how well their question is answered, they ask one or more, usually for "clarification" but typically with snide and ridicule - trying to goad a harsher response. This is the game, to make someone else blow their cool without understanding that they are being played. The "joke" is that if you know what is going on, you are in on it, and can laugh at those who don't "get" it.

    That sort of thing is difficult to do in person, but quite easy online or on a BBS. It is the sort of buffoonery that attracts a very low common denominator, but they are certainly out there, and boards or blogs that are interested in serious discussion typically identify and oust those who find humor in goading, then mocking others.

    I find however, that if I am in a moderating capacity, and I recognize the troll, I can respond to their goads and endless questions without rising to the bait, and don't mind using the opportunity to patiently answer their harrague. It is kind of like the joke is on them, because if I know full well what they are up to, I think of them as willing flies in my gospel preaching web. ;)

    Notwithstanding though, the post here was not really specific. I should have said something like - when you are talking to people face to face, since when I wrote it that was what I was thinking - but either way, it ends up being the same. I can appreciate not feeding the trolls though. More often than not when a troll realizes they are not having the effect they want, they leave. My hope is that they leave with a few uncomfortable questions gnawing at their soul.

     
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