What does the Church say about aliens? Are they real? If so why, and how can that be.
Thank you for your question. Since you inquired with, “are they real” when asking about “aliens,” I am going to assume that you are referring to Hollywood’s stereotypical science fiction version of space aliens and all that tends to be associated with them: UFOs, interstellar travel, abductions, big eyes, etc.
To begin, let’s answer a couple of questions. Are there other planets, besides ours that can sustain life? If so, do we believe they are inhabited by life forms? Let us turn to the scriptures for some guidance on this subject.
Book of Moses – Chapter 1 Heading says:
“Moses sees many inhabited worlds“.
It then continues in verses:
33 And worlds without number have I created; and I also created them for mine own purpose; and by the Son I created them, which is mine Only Begotten…
35 For behold, there are many worlds that have passed away by the word of my power. And there are many that now stand, and innumerable are they unto man; but all things are numbered unto me, for they are mine and I know them.
Describing the further magnitude of worlds created by the Savior, Moses 7:30 reads:
30 And were it possible that man could number the particles of the earth, yea, millions of earths like this, it would not be a beginning to the number of thy creations;
In addition, D&C 76:23-24 explains, who exactly are some of these “inhabitants” on other worlds:
23 For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father—
24 That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God.
From the scriptures we learn several keys points:
1. We learn that there are in fact other planets like our Earth, more than can be numbered.
2. These planets are in fact populated, and populated by other offspring of our Father in Heaven, rather additional brothers & sisters like unto ourselves.
Joseph Fielding Smith, in Doctrines of Salvation 1:62 shared some of his personal thoughts related to this subject:
“We are not the only people that the Lord has created. We have brothers and sisters on other earths. They look like us because they, too, are the children of God and were created in his image, for they are also his offspring. His great work is to create earths and people them with his children who are called upon to pass through the mortal probation like unto this we are now in…
As we look at our own earth it is interesting to note how widely varying the human race is in its physical appearance. Skin color/pigmentation alone can vary from the extreme white of a person with albinism, to the darkest black or endless shades in between. Something critical to understand, is that despite the many physical variations in hair color, extreme heights, eye shape, weight, or skin color we are all still created in the image of God. Moses 2:27:
“I, God, created man in mine own image, in the image of mine Only Begotten created I him; male and female created I them.”
It appears that the “image of God”, is to some degree, very flexible in it’s visual definition. Does this mean that our brothers and sisters on other planets have to look exactly like us to still qualify for the “image of God”?
To some, the picture that I have shared at the beginning of my answer, may look like a scene from the science fiction alien movie Avatar. In reality, this “alien” life form comes from our own planet thanks to a bio luminescent sea plankton called “noctiluca scintillans.” Our planet contains a wide variety of creatures, many extremely unique and rare. New plants and animals are still being discovered each year.
Even though there is much we don’t know about other worlds, I believe we can rest assured that the Savior, in his creative processes has allowed for a magnitude of variety that perhaps surpasses our current limited imaginations. Using our own world as a single example, there is so much that is still undiscovered, incredibly unique or outside of our grasp do to past extinction. What unique animals, plants and other versions of our brothers & sisters live on other plants is a mystery to me, but I expect them to be as varied as we see on our own earth.
As a side note, when the subject of “Aliens” tends to comes up, there are critics who love to sensationalize, exaggerate or speculate as to LDS beliefs related to either the origin or physical location of God. This is purely speculative and represents poor understanding of our relationship to God and the nature of His Holy Habitation.
When it comes to an official position from the Church regarding “Space Aliens,” I am unaware of any except for what I have already shared from the scriptures above.
Thank you again for your question Leah,