Scientific American wonders if Jesus died for Klingons.
(The article is here.)
Before we begin, caveat emptor: Seminarian or not, theologian or not, this is all my own feelings. None of this is gospel, and a lot of it is me throwing stuff at the wall and wondering what will ultimately stick.
Well, I guess, there are a couple possible scenarios.
Scenario A: Earth is the only place where we’ve screwed up. Original sin doesn’t factor into other worlds, because other worlds haven’t fallen. As a consequence, Jesus didn’t really die for the Klingons, because they don’t need it. (Except Klingons are pretty clearly in need of redemption, with all that slaughtering and all. So the Perelandrians, then.) Jesus’ death and resurrection really only factors into Earth and Earth’s history.
I have some problems with this one, to be honest. For one, entropy, which I pretty strongly identify with the “death” that Paul talks about Romans. Death entered the world through Adam, which is where we see our world start to go downhill– entropy. Entropy of the soul, entropy of our species– you’ll note that what we call “really old” these days, with modern science, is a toddler compared to even a guy like Abraham.
The big deal here is that entropy seems to be a constant in our universe– not localized. Stars wear down and explode, etc, etc.
Scenario B: There are no Klingons, there are only targs. In this case, it seems to me that the redemption of the targs, tribbles, and everything else is tied to Calvary once again. Entropy is a constant, introduced by our sin, and in the recreated universe, post- Second Coming, targs will be lying down with lambs.
Personally, I’m convinced that evidence locally (ie, here on earth) shows that God likes life, and crams it in wherever he can: on the ground, in the air, under the ground, in the water, in deep sea vents… I fully expect to find our universe teeming with life. I don’t know that any of it outside of our world is sentient, but I expect that there are least plants and animals on Q’onos or whatever ungodly way they spell the name of the Klingon homeworld.
Scenario C: The Klingons exist and have fallen, just like everyone else.
This is the tricky one, I guess. Did our sin affect them? That sounds unfair. Did they have their own Eden-event? If some are fallen and some are not, where does the influence of sin begin and end? Was there one Calvary? A lot of folks are adamant about that, and I understand the concern with Jesus being recrucified: it smacks of something the public disgrace that Hebrews 6 speaks of. It also seems ineffective; Sin was defeated here, but not there. There now, but not over there. Over there now, but… you get the picture. Sci Am asks about the aliens that lived 100 million years ago– do they go to hell because they died before Calvary?
I think, actually, that’s where I find my solution to this one. Imagine that the Son of God, begotten not made, consubtantial with the Father, the Author of all things and infinite in his nature, is about to take on flesh in order to redeem a fallen world. Going from infinite to at least quasi-finite involves a sort of compacting. A scrunching down, if you will; compression. All that divine energy, focused on a single point….
There’s a part of me that wonders if, when the Word became flesh, it didn’t just tear through our reality; backwards in time, forwards in time, here, there, everywhere. Christ on Calvary; Christ on Klingon-Calvary, Christ on Calvary 100 million years ago…. All the same event; all the same person. A singularity of infinite, divine power focused on a finite event, rewriting the rules of the universe so that we may one day be free of death and entropy…
Scenario D: Or maybe, it was just Jesus on Earth; this puts them in pretty much the same position as the unevangelized anywhere in the world. Which is a confusing, sucky question to begin with. What about them? (I don’t know. But I agree with CS Lewis: if you’re worried about them, the worst thing you can do is remain outside in solidarity with them. Join the party, then address the people who didn’t get an invite yet.)
So. This is the way I think about it. Just because the Bible doesn’t mention aliens doesn’t mean they don’t exist– SciAm brings up the telephone, unmentioned in the Bible, but still extant. Except it wasn’t then, which is at least one reason why it wasn’t mentioned. A better example, the one I’ve always used, is that the Bible doesn’t mention Japan, pandas, or Native Americans. Yet all those things exist.