Re: Incarnation (fwd)

jeffery lynn mullins (
Fri, 19 Apr 1996 12:29:21 -0400 (EDT)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 12 Apr 1996 10:22:35 -0400 (EDT)
From: jeffery lynn mullins <>
To: Jeff Webster <>
Cc:, Jeff Webster <>
Subject: Re: Incarnation

On Thu, 11 Apr 1996, Jeff Webster wrote:

> Did anyone see John McLaughlin's One on One program about the possiblilty of
> life on other planets? He spoke with two astrophysicists (Sorry, I forgot their
> names) and a theologian named Ted Peters, all of whom concurred that there is
> most likely life elsewhere. The problem McLaughlin was attempting to raise was
> the uniqueness of the incarnation: why would God visit this planet, incarnate in
> Jesus Christ, when we inhabit such a small planet circling around an ordinary
> star in an ordinary galaxy, etc., when there simply "must" be sentient life
> elsewhere. Actually the two astrophysicists were certain that there was life
> elsewhere, while Peters was ambivalent to the possibility, claiming that it had
> no bearing upon the essential fact of the incarnation. Any thoughts on this?
> Jeff Webster
> Dallas Theological Seminary
I didn't see the show, but there seems to be two stands of opinion among
astronomers on the issue. One is the optimistic strand a la Carl Sagan
and the other a pessimistic strand a la Hugh Ross. The optimists seem to
base their optimism that life is abundant in the universe on the fact
that we can now see dust around stars that could make planets, that
astronomers have found roughly Jupiter size or bigger objects orbiting stars,
that there are trillions of galaxies and 100 billion stars in our galaxy,
and that evolution of humans from inorganic chemicals can happen with
ease anywhere the conditions are roughly like that of the earth through
its history, with a wide latitude of range of conditions working.

The pessimists use anthropic principle logic to demonstrate that the
conditions must be so precisely right to achieve anything like human life
that the odds are against it happening anywhere within our universe
anytime within its life time, or 100 universe lifetimes. Creationists
furthermore claim that the probabilities for obtaining humans (or other
sentient creatures) from non-life has the same "astronomical" (pardon the
pun) inprobability as the right conditions for life occurring. Thus you
have Hugh Ross's position and that of Rood and Trefil in a book that they
wrote in the early 80's about the possibility that we are alone in the
universe. So it is an open debate, even though I get the feeling that
the optimists outnumber the pessimists.

I personally have a problem with other, non-human, fallen, sentient life
forms that can relate spiritually to God from the point of view of the
atonement, because the Scriptures are clear that there is no salvation
except through Jesus of Nazareth, and that he died once for our sins,
never to die again. It seems crucial in this process that God incarnate
as a human. Thus, I cannot see how Scripture allows for the second
person of the trinity to incarnate over and over again as different
creatures in order to secure their eternal salvation. It could be that
his atoning death here sufficed for all the worlds, but the problem I
have, besides the wonder that he would pick earth rather than some other
place to place his special attention on in the redemptive thread from
Adam to Jesus, is that we have to give the gospel of a Jewish messiah to
the whole world for their salvation - people do not have salvation just
based upon his death on the cross, but upon their knowledge of it and
acceptance of it (else we have universalism and no need for
missionaries). If it is as tough as it is here to blanket the world with
the good news, it is even worse to try to do mission work on other
worlds; it fact, it is impossible for us to do at this time, and unless the
Lord tarries until we have "warp" drive or some such thing to carry us
across those vast distances, potentially trillions of souls might have no
chance for redemption.

If one says that God could have different local redemptive programs for
other worlds, then why does he not have different local redemptive
programs for all the nations and people groups of this world, and relies
upon human missionaries to spread the good news?

Of course, they might never have fallen into sin. However, I think that
it is highly unlikely, given what we humans did and what the angels did,
that any morally free creature would continue to always chose the right
for thousands or hundreds of thousands of years, and I tend to think that
it may be impossible for God to make morally free creatures that do not
have the ability to sin.

Thus, I have serious theological problems with intelligent life in the
universe that are spiritual beings other than on earth.