Let’s start with getting on the same page about what we’re talking about when we talk about aliens.
A true definition of alien is “anything that belongs to a foreign territory.” Someone who is not a citizen of a country they reside in would be considered an “alien.” In the plant and animal world, alien species to a region are often called “invasive species.”
If we’re talking about aliens to Earth, an alien could refer to any being that is not from Earth. Spiritual beings (like angels and demons) that interact with our world could be included in that group. Scripture clearly indicates these beings exist.
You are probably reading this because you want to know if the Bible teaches anything about life on other planets. So our working definition of aliens will not include angels or demons, since they are spiritual beings, not organisms.
Our working definition of alien is “any extraterrestrial lifeform, foreign to earth.” Starting there, the Bible doesn’t have anything to say about them.
About the potential for organisms to exist somewhere else in the universe besides planet Earth, the Bible doesn’t definitively say anything about that, either.
What we can be confident of is that God created the heavens and the Earth. He created the entire universe. On planet Earth, Jesus Christ came to save sinful humanity.
Are aliens demons?
Given that the definition of “alien” refers to any foreign being, there is room for the term being used to describe a demonic being, but in Scripture, demonic beings are spiritual beings. They are part of the spiritual realm, not another planet.
The spiritual realm does interact with the world throughout the Scriptures.
For example, Ephesians 6:12 talks about an enemy that is not flesh and blood, but that includes: “rulers, authorities, powers, and forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
2 Corinthians 10:4-5 talks about fighting a spiritual enemy with “weapons not of this world.”
In Matthew, chapter 4, the “tempter” meets Jesus in the wilderness.
So whether they are considered “aliens” or not, demons are spiritual beings that sided with Satan as an enemy of God and “lost their place in heaven.”
Scripture says they were “hurled to the earth” (Revelation 12:7-9) where they engage with humanity in an attempt to keep people from salvation.
In most Biblical references to demons, people are “possessed” or “filled with” a demonic spirit.
So could someone have had a demonic experience and determined that it was an alien? Well, sure!
Are angels aliens?
As with demons, angels are foreign beings to earth, so there is room for the term “alien” to be used to describe them. And there are many more biblical references of angels appearing like humans and interacting with humans on earth. But they do not seem to stay on earth for long periods of time.
Angels certainly could also be mistaken for extraterrestrial beings, and could even be mistaken for being human, as the writer of Hebrews states:
“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:2)
Angels often interacted with humans throughout the Old and New Testaments. Here are some examples:
- Genesis 18: Abraham encounters three strangers that he does not realize are angels.
- Numbers 22: Balaam and his donkey encounter an angel in the road.
- Joshua 5: Joshua encounters the “commander of the army of the Lord.”
- 2 Kings 6: Elisha and the army of angels
- In Matthew and Luke’s gospel accounts, Zachariah, Mary, and Joseph all have encounters with angels.
- Luke 2: a “host” of angels engage with a group of shepherds
All angels are ministering servants sent to serve those who will inherit salvation, according to Hebrews 1:14. They are distinctly separate (and in service and submission to) Jesus. They ensure that God’s will ultimately is accomplished.
In the Bible, angels have many purposes when they engage with humans. Here are some examples:
- Psalm 91:11: They will “guard” God’s people in all ways.
- Psalm 34:7: They “encamp” around those who fear God and “deliver” them.
- Luke 15:10: They “rejoice” when sinners repent
- Exodus 23:20: They prepared the way for Israel to enter the promised land.
- Matthew 4:11: After Satan was done tempting Jesus, he was attended to by angels.
Could someone have had an angelic experience and determined that it was an alien? Well, absolutely. Hebrews 13 even indicates that angels have engaged humanity without humanity even knowing.
Aliens and Christianity: What would the existence of aliens mean for Christianity?
If someone proved the existence of alien life in the universe, it would not negate any of the truth of Scripture.
There is no conflict in the Bible with the potential for life outside Earth.
Scripture claims that God created the heavens and the Earth. All people are created in the image of God. Jesus is the only way to salvation. The Bible is God-breathed and useful for us in following Jesus. All that is still true if science finds extraterrestrial life.
We were created with the ability to wonder. In many ways, this is a beautiful gift. It causes us to explore and ponder the depths of God and His creation. When we look at a night sky filled with stars, God’s majesty and awe are on display.
Exploring the universe opens us up to a whole new picture of how great our God is. If someday we find life, even intelligent life, somewhere other than Earth, that doesn’t diminish anything in Scripture.
Ultimately, if we follow Jesus, we are “not of this world” anyway. We are called to live as sons and daughters of heaven. We are called to bring the way of heaven to life on Earth. When we talk of an “other-worldly” way of living, that is not of “human nature,” we naturally spark curiosity beyond Earth and humanity. There is something “alien” about making a personal decision to deny oneself, take up a cross, and follow Jesus.
The Bible and aliens — Additional verses
- Hebrews 11:3 “By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.”
- Psalm 19:1 “To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.”
- Psalm 8:3-4 “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?”
- John 1:3 “All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.”