The noted astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson is a man of science. He is also a man of words. The famed scientist was the host of the "Cosmos" reboot, holds dozens of seminars annually, is a regular talk show guest, and has written a number of books. But when confronted with the exclusionist philosophy of creationist Ken Ham on Bill Maher's "Real Time," he only had three words for the assessment that aliens would all go to hell.
Huffington Post reported July 28 that Neil DeGrasse Tyson appeared as a panelist on comedian Bill Maher's HBO show "Real Time" Friday. Creationist Ken Ham, the president and CEO of Answers in Genesis which runs the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Ky., said in blog on July 20 that humans should give up the search for extraterrestrials because aliens most likely don’t exist. And even if they did, they would all got to hell.
“I do believe there can’t be other intelligent beings in outer space because of the meaning of the gospel,” Ham posted in the blog. “You see, the Bible makes it clear that Adam’s sin affected the whole universe. This means that any aliens would also be affected by Adam’s sin, but because they are not Adam’s descendants, they can’t have salvation.”
This means they cannot repent their sins. It also means that extraterrestrials cannot convert.
When Bill Maher presented Tyson with Ham's declaration, the man of letters could only say, "That's messed up."
Of course, many Christians believe many different things. According to RaptureReady.com, there are Christians that believe that if an individual dies without the belief in Jesus Christ will spend eternity in hell and/or suffering eternal damnation. Others believer that only Jews will be saved during a period of trial called the Tribulations. Sill others believe that there will be 144,000 individuals who repent and find belief during the Tribulations.
So what does that mean for alien life? Well, according to the above criteria, Ken Ham and his creationist followers in Kentucky and elsewhere -- people who believe what is referred to as Young Earth Creationism, or that a divine being created the Earth six or thousand years ago, that dinosaurs coexisted with humans, and otherwise refute much of science's central tenets -- are predominantly the kind that think that alien beings would fit the definition of nonbelievers. However, they may differ on whether or not aliens would end up in hell at the conclusion of the End Times, because some believe that if an individual believes the Christian philosophy of salvation through belief in Jesus Christ, if they convert before the end, they, too, will ascend to Heaven with all the believers.
So, in theory, Ken Ham could be seen as incorrect in his thinking. That is, if aliens had come to Earth and were around during the Tribulations and became Christian converts, they would be able to join human believers in Heaven. Why should they be excluded simply because they weren't the get of Adam and Eve?
It could happen, given that there are aliens out there... and they were willing to convert to an anthrocentric religion. Besides, where's Ham's hope in redemptive salvation and compassion for others. Could such a view be considered bigotry -- in theory?
Earlier in July, a panel of NASA scientists joined with their Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) colleagues in predicting that alien life would likely be discovered within the next two decades.
Neil DeGrasse Tyson's view on the matter is well known. He believes -- and states in his book Death By Black Hole -- that humans would have to be overly arrogant ("inexcusably bigheaded" was the term he used) to believe they were the sole forms of life in the universe.
Earlier this year, he told Business Insider that extraterrestrials may already know of us and find us lacking in intelligence. "I wonder if, in fact, we have been observed by aliens and upon close examination of human conduct and human behavior they have concluded that there is no sign of intelligent life on Earth," he said.
Yes, if aliens made their observations of Earth by eavesdropping on Ken Ham in Kentucky, there is a distinct possibility that they could very well think that.
"Real Time with Bill Maher" airs on HBO on Fridays at 10 p.m. (EST).