I am about two-thirds of the way thorugh Michel Faber’s The Book of Strange New Things. I am now the possessor of many thoughts, which need to be thrashed out.
The first of which, which I think I can ask without finishing the novel first is this: if we were to discover alien races living on other planets, should a Christian assume that they need to hear the gospel?
I’m going to presume that in this hypothetical situation we would assume that God-as-creator created the aliens, and that they, like humans would be created in his image, even if their physical bodies were (as they probably would be) different to ours.
But should we assume that the fall narrated in Gensis is universal as in galactically universal – that is, does the break in creation that happens with Adam and Eve in our human bible have an effect just about our world and immediate creation, or is it the whole of creation and are other – alien – races impacted by it? Should we assume that they need salvation in the way human Christians believe that we do?
A colleague of mine today suggested that the fact that stars die might indicate that the brokenness from the the fall does extend throughout the universe (yes, I know there are scientific explanations for that: I am open to both kinds of explanation here).
Or should we assume that an alien race has its own fall? How would we know if it had? Presumably in an alien culture, a fall and sin would look different than it does in ours?
Peter, the missionary in this book, is asked about this:
Tuska: ‘A minister is there to connect people to God, right? Or Christ, Jesus, whatever. Because people commit sins and they need to be forgiven, right? So… what sins are these guys committing?’
Peter: ‘None that I can see.’
‘So… don’t get me wrong, Peter, but… what exactly is the deal here?’
He goes on to talk about the life that Christianity offers (and remind me never to describe it as a ‘buzz’ UGH).
But, if this hypothetical alien race had been through a fall, should we assume that that broken-ness manifests in the same way and needs salvation and restoration in the same way? I mean, not just in the ideas of sacrifice, death and resurrection, but in the importance of ideas like incarnation, community, generosity and justice? Might the redemption and restoration needed not be wholly different? Would the Son come to do the same thing in that culture that he did in ours, or something different? And would a life of faith look different to Christianity on earth?
Answers on a postcard…