We don’t know for sure if there is intelligent alien life out there. But if there is, what would the implications be for our understanding of sin and redemption?
God became man. He took on human nature to redeem it. The original sin of Adam and Eve has been passed on to their children and also affected almost every aspect of this world.
But if there are intelligent aliens, would Adam and Eve’s sin affect them? Would they have their own “Adam and Eve?” Would they need Christ?
Here are a few possible answers to that question.
1. It’s possible that these aliens never fell from grace
C.S. Lewis explores this possibility in his popular book “Perelandra.” While it’s a work of fiction, its main theme of an unfallen planet is not impossible. In such a case, the aliens wouldn’t need redemption, although Christ could still choose to go among them to elevate them to a higher level of perfection.
2. The aliens may have fallen as a race and need redemption
God may have created aliens with free will, and those aliens could have had their own Adam and Eve who fell into a sin that affected all their progeny.
This is the theory that raises the most questions. If they did fall, they would need redemption. But what would that redemption look like? Would Jesus’ redemption here on earth have a spillover effect and redeem aliens on other planets? Would Jesus assume their nature to save them?
The second of those two options is probably more likely, because Jesus assumed human nature here to save the human race. In Scripture, His redemption is specifically said to be in response to the sin of Adam.
Also, Jesus doesn’t need to become incarnate as anything to save. St. Thomas Aquinas makes the point that the incarnation was not absolutely necessary to save us, although it was the most fitting way.
3. Individual aliens may have fallen, but not the entire race
This is how it happened with the angels. The sin of Lucifer did not affect all angels the way the sin of Adam and Eve affected all human beings.
For the angels, their choice for or against God was a one-time choice. Once made, it was made forever.
But it could be that there’s an alien race where individual aliens sin, but can still receive redemption. Their sin wouldn’t affect the entire race, but would be a personal offense. Jesus would offer His mercy to each fallen alien on a person-by-person basis.
4. They’re not made to survive death
It could be that God created aliens that are good, but their goodness is only for this life. They don’t have a soul that survives death. In this case, they wouldn’t need redemption, although this doesn’t exclude the possibility of Christ visiting them.
Of course, these are all just conjectures. While our faith doesn’t exclude the possibility of alien life — even intelligent alien life, we need to be cautious about jumping too quickly on these theories. There are so many implications that we don’t want to go too far and all of sudden find ourselves in error.
At the end of the day, it would be an incredible thing to discover that we are not alone in the universe. But it would be an equally amazing thing if we were. Ultimately, time may shed more light on this question.