First, we should define the terms alien and UFO. For the purposes of answering this question, the word alien or aliens refers to person-like living things from somewhere other than Earth. Likewise, we will use UFO to refer to a vehicle used by such beings. The acronym UFO literally stands for “Unidentified Flying Object.” But to say, “Unidentified flying objects exist” is self-evident; it’s like saying, “There are unsolved mysteries.” Since popular thinking associates UFOs with aliens, we will, in this article, conform to the notion that UFOs are vehicles for extraterrestrials.
We can approach the question of UFOs and aliens in two ways. First, does the Bible describe aliens or directly deny they are real? Second, does science indicate or dismiss the presence of aliens? Nothing in the Bible indicates aliens are real, but neither does any part of the Bible strictly refute their existence. As of this writing, published science has given no indication that aliens exist. Yet, while extraterrestrial life appears unlikely, it is not scientifically impossible.
The Bible says nothing about the existence of life beyond our planet or in other solar systems. Scripture speaks of God creating our home planet, Earth, but doesn’t explicitly say He did not create other life somewhere else. In theory, God could have designed other life, even intelligent life, even other “image bearers” of God (Genesis 1:27), elsewhere in the universe. But the Bible makes no reference to any such thing, one way or the other.
Some commentators point to Scripture’s silence as proof that aliens do not exist. Others note that the Bible often omits topics irrelevant to our relationship with God (John 21:25). Perhaps the only near-universal conclusion among Bible scholars is that human contact with intelligent alien life is extremely unlikely. That is to say, the question of alien life is probably irrelevant to human beings.
A concept called the “Fermi paradox” sums up the scientific stance on whether aliens exist. The paradox refers to the apparent self-contradiction between many secular assumptions about life and the universe, so far as aliens are concerned. Naturalistic science assumes the universe is extremely large, extremely old, and capable of generating life from non-living matter through an entirely natural process. That would suggest life ought to exist in many, many places in the universe. Given the theoretical abundance of life out there, we should have encountered it by now.
Yet, so far as has been publicly revealed, humanity has not encountered alien life of any kind, intelligent or otherwise. Scientists have proposed many solutions for this problem. Perhaps alien life is too “different” for us to recognize. Intelligent civilizations may tend to self-destruct or go extinct. Maybe there has not been enough time for separate worlds to communicate. Some propose that while “life” might be common, organisms advanced enough to communicate off-planet might be almost impossible. Others suggest alien life might be deliberately hiding. And, of course, it is scientifically possible that humanity is unique in all the universe, for whatever “natural” reason.
In short, science indicates it’s at least possible for life to exist somewhere other than Earth. How likely it is that extraterrestrial life exists, and whether we will ever know for sure, is subject to many assumptions and opinions. Confirmed planets outside our solar system are surprisingly rare. As few as 150 or so have been included in published studies (NASA Exoplanet Archive, https://exoplanetarchive.ipac.caltech.edu/, accessed 7/31/23). Even in a more lenient list of exoplanets, ballooned to nearly 5,000, only 60 or so feature vaguely life-compatible conditions.
Locating extraterrestrial life among Earth’s neighbors seems unlikely. Intelligent aliens from a local planet—e.g., Martians—are all but guaranteed not to exist. Our limited exploration has entirely ruled out the possibility of life on almost every object in our solar system. Moons such as Europa and Titan give scientists hope of finding simple life forms, but detailed probes of those locations are still a long way off. Any aliens to contact us would most likely be from very far away and very advanced in technology. It’s possible that aliens would be so fundamentally different from human beings that the two might not even notice each other.
Claims of alien encounters should be met with cautious skepticism, at the very least. It’s possible that all such experiences are the work of demons or evil spirits as part of a strategy to confuse unbelievers. Or reports of UFO sightings could be the product of humanity’s love of conspiracy theories. Or a collective willingness to leave room for unlikely things to happen.
Even if fully intelligent alien life were proven real, Scripture’s truth would not be threatened. Such a discovery would certainly create difficult questions. What it would not imply is that the Bible is false or that God does not exist. Some interpretations and perhaps even some secondary doctrines would be disrupted, for sure. Yet discovering aliens would mostly reinforce the idea that mankind knows very little compared to God (Job 38).