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If Jesus, Then Aliens

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Cassie: Have you ever thought about all the weird shit that people say goes on? Like aliens and Bigfoot and how many stories are there? But it only takes for one of them to be true and everything is different. Like... everything we logically believe is up for grabs.
Andrew: Okay. But I'm thinking "Man marries Werewolf" probably isn't the one.

This is a trope with two opposing halves that explode on contact, much like matter and antimatter.


  • Trope Part the First: Anyone on television who is a person of faith is a person who will believe in anything. Unicorns. UFOs. Psychics. Snake handling. Bigfoot. Yes, all of them at once, even if they are contradictory. Thus: If Jesus, Then Aliens. "Believers" are gullible idiots who will accept pretty much anything as not just possible, but probable, or even likely.

  • Trope Part the Second: A skeptic, rationalist, atheist, "scientist" or other critical-thinking type believes in nothing. Thus the contrapositive, If Not Aliens, Then Not Jesus. Alien abductions are bunk, and so are psychics, and therefore God does not exist. A declaration by a scientist that they do not believe in one thing, such as ghosts, automatically means they think that anything supernatural, including the spiritual and the religious, is total nonsense and anyone who believes otherwise is an idiot.

The rhetorical term for this kind of thinking is a "False Dichotomy": A person must be either a Believer or a Skeptic, but may not ever be both, nor fall somewhere between the extremes. Any belief on one side or the other will result in all beliefs on that side so this trope can exist with the title implication often running in reverse; "if ghosts, then Jesus" is common.

The existence of characters of this type is sometimes caused by a Writer on Board, but more often is the simple result of taking complex, complicated real people with diverse belief sets and trimming them down into stereotypes so they can be pitted against each other in a "Faith versus Science Showdown" which might be resolved by a Golden Mean Aesop. This usually just comes off as an insult to everyone involved. It's false equivalence, and further ignores the fact that from a skeptical point of view, the existence of one supernatural thing provides no reason to believe in another unrelated supernatural thing, while simultaneously ignoring the fact that many religions frown heavily on their followers believing in events defined as "non-natural" by that religion's chosen godforce. It's also ironically wrong for a different reason; people without religious beliefs are more likely, statistically, to believe aliens exist in the universe, also ironically because of statistics that indicated that the universe has near infinite chances of other intelligent lifeforms existing. So a closer-to-truthful trope, if taking this example to the extreme, name might be If Aliens, No Jesus or, perhaps more fittingly, If Jesus, No Aliens. That is to say, beliefs of these sorts tend to cluster, with Scully types believing in Jesus, angels, miracles, faith healing, etc. while Mulder types believe in bigfoot, UFOs, psychics, and acupuncture, and there's very little overlap.


Done with a small amount of finesse, this particular conflict can actually be entertaining: thus we have Agent Mulder and Agent Scully in their original forms, with the small but interesting subversion that the original Mulder would believe any fantastic explanation except a religious one, while the original Scully would be reluctant to believe any fantastic explanation unless it was religious in nature, in which case they would swap roles: she would become the Believer and he would become the Skeptic. So Scully and Mulder weren't a pairing of a believer and a skeptic, but of two different and mutually skeptical believers. Sometimes, instead of religious figures they will be substituted with something strange, such as platypi.

There is a degree of Truth in Television to this, though, in that it's not uncommon to find someone who believes in several different kinds of conspiracies, due to the logic of "if they're lying about this, what else are they lying about?" Quite a few studies have shown a clear correlation between belief in one conspiracy theory and belief in many others. For example, it's very common for people who believe that the Earth is flat to also believe in the Moon-Landing Hoax (after all, Neil Armstrong had to have been in on it), the climatologists would have to be in on it, so they're probably lying about global warming, and if you believe all the pilots are also in on it, then chemtrails are a natural step from that, and chemtrails as a theory slides easily into anti-vaccination and flouridated water, and so on.

Related tropes include All Myths Are True and Arbitrary Skepticism. If the Writer on Board is in the "Believers" camp, a Straw Vulcan or Hollywood Atheist is likely to appear; if in the "Skeptic" camp, expect at least one, and probably more, examples of Holier Than Thou and Belief Makes You Stupid.

Not to be confused with No Such Thing as Space Jesus, which is the opposite. Sort of.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Averted and discussed in Dandadan: At the very start, Momo ardently believes in spirits but not ghosts, while Okarun believes the opposite. After they see that both are real, Okarun brings up how often the same people claim they've seen both, and figures there's some kind of connection.
  • Played for laughs in Durarara!! with Celty, whose greatest fear is aliens. See, Celty is a Dullahan, and she figures that if she exists, who's to say aliens don't exist too?
  • In one episode taking place near Christmas in Azumanga Daioh, Kagura, who isn't exceptionally bright herself, asks if reindeer are actual animals, correctly concluding that the nonexistence of Santa does not preclude the existence of reindeer sleds. Tomo starts to taunt everyone about thinking reindeer exist, falsely assuming that the nonexistence of flying sleds precludes the existence of any reindeer as well.

    Comic Books 
  • The graphic novel Creature Tech had an… interesting take on this. The protagonist, Dr. Ong, is an atheist and a brilliant scientist, working at a top-secret lab researching the weird and supernatural. Then, he runs across the actual Shroud of Turin at work (they know it's the real deal because the blood on it heals people and raises the dead). This makes Ong admit to his preacher father that Jesus must have really been the Son of God, but he doesn't give anything more than intellectual assent to Jesus. Dr. Ong remains this way, until a teleportation accident lands him on another planet, at the foot of a cross where an Alien Jesus is being crucified. I kid you not: If Alien Jesus, then Jesus. Creature Tech is all over this trope. Ong's father was driven to religion by his findings as the previous scientist working at the aforementioned institution: If aliens, then Jesus. He also objects to the Shroud of Turin because having conclusive evidence of Jesus' divinity would deprive people of the right to choose whether to believe in Christ.
  • Batman (depending on the writer) has been seen denying the existence of ghosts, magic, and gods other than the New Gods (whom he doesn't seem to consider gods). On the rare occasions when he does admit to the existence of magic, other characters usually notice.
    • Here's an example from JLA.
    Atom: (As Batman consults Manitou Raven) This is bad... he's going to the dark side.
    Firestorm: What, Batman has a light side?
    Atom: I mean magic. He's really desperate.
  • Doctor Thirteen, ever since being integrated into the main DC universe, has usually been depicted as a Flat-Earth Atheist without peer, all too willing to deny the supernatural no matter how conclusive the evidence. In the "Architects and Mortality" storyline, he teams up with a vampire, a ghost pirate, a talking gorilla, and a time traveler, among others. One of his earliest denials of the whole affair hinged upon the fact that the "yeti" he saw the other day was actually the vampire in a very heavy coat, and if yetis don't exist then neither do vampires, and he's having an extremely vivid dream or hallucination.
  • In Batman: Curse of the White Knight, Barbara thinks that Lafayette "Laffy" Arkham actually could have been a vampire like in the legends, arguing that all sorts of weird things prowl the streets of Gotham City and that vampires wouldn't be the weirdest.

  • Contact started out avoiding this trope by having Jodie Foster's character, Ellie Arroway, believe in aliens yet not Jesus, although the other characters tended to believe in either everything or nothing. After Ellie's trip through a stargate machine built from alien-transmitted instructions, however — a trip which nobody believes actually happens (after encountering an alien intelligence who appears as her dead father, she returns to Earth in the same instant she left with no recorded evidence of her trip at all, other than that 18 hours of recorded static) — she finds herself in a position she previously dismissed in other characters: furiously arguing for the truth of a cosmically important experience for which she can provide no hard evidence at all. While Ellie doesn't go so far as to literally believe "if Aliens, then Jesus", that message, whether intended or not, is not too much of a stretch.
  • This is ultimately the crux of the judge's decision regarding the existence of Santa Claus in the climax of the remake of Miracle on 34th Street: If the U.S. government has the wherewithal to put "In God We Trust" on their money, then who is he to declare false the faith that Kris Kringle is Santa Claus?
  • 1408 had a super-rationalist reporter who debunks tales of hauntings as the protagonist. He checks into a hotel room which, of course, actually is haunted. The movie indicates that the reporter is also an atheist. At the end of the movie, having found himself unable to explain away the haunted hotel room, he comes to the conclusion that there must be more "out there" than what he can see and touch, and has his doubts about the nonexistence of God and an afterlife severely shaken. This is supposed to provide him some comfort over the death of his daughter. In other words: "If ghosts, then Jesus." The Stephen King short story on which this was based had a similar subtext: the line about not believing in "ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggity beasties, and even if they were real, there's no God to protect us from them, is there?" was lifted verbatim from the story for the movie. The story itself has the protagonist ending his days dealing with nightmares and half-recalled memories about the incident and contrasting the horror of mere "ghosts" with the terror of the room ("At least (ghosts) were human once, but that thing...that * thing* ...").
  • At least two Batman films - in different continuities - have played this up, with Jesus swapped for You-Know-Who.
  • Lampshaded amusingly in Ghostbusters (1984), where embodying the first part of this trope is a hiring requirement for the Ghostbusters organization:
    Janine: Do you believe in UFO's, astral projections, mental telepathy, ESP, clairvoyance, spirit photography, telekinetic movement, full trance mediums, the Loch Ness monster, and the theory of Atlantis?
    • Played slightly more grimly not long thereafter, when Winston points out that the Biblical Book of Revelation might not be so far-fetched: "Ray, has it ever occurred to you that maybe the reason we've been so busy lately is 'cause the dead have been rising from the grave?" If Ghosts, Then Jesus plus End Of Days...
      • Actually subverted according to Word of God by Ray who was apparently once very religious according to Dan Ackroyd but became a parapsychologist because of his lost faith (if not Jesus then Aliens if you will). It adds deeper meaning to both his statement he never met God (despite desperately wanting to) and his low-key freakout to Winston pointing out this may be God at work.
  • In Super Mario Bros., Mario doesn't believe in parallel universes and aliens and stuff like Luigi does, and basically gets portrayed as a hard-nosed atheist for it. By the end of the movie, once he's gone through an adventure in a parallel universe, he's willing to believe anything.
  • Cthulhu. The protagonist, having spent the night stumbling through endless tunnels beneath Rivermouth full of nameless horrors, ridicules his friend's suggestion that they're the legendary Shanghai tunnels (subterranean passages allegedly used to transport men kidnapped as slaves) and says sarcastically, "What other explanation could there be, UFOs?" Which is amusing given where the titular monster came from.
  • Employed in From Dusk Till Dawn. The existence of God is taken as proven by the existence of vampires. Possibly justified since all they needed was faith and if faith didn't work they were kinda screwed either way.
  • Captain America in The Avengers (2012). While he refuses to believe Thor and Loki are gods ("There's only one God, ma'am, and I'm pretty sure he doesn't dress like that."), he accepts that they're magic-using aliens without question. Of course, he has seen the very-unscientific powers of the Tesseract first-hand, so it's not that much of a stretch for him. Steve is technically correct, as well, given that in the movie universe, the Asgardians are supposed to be Sufficiently Advanced Aliens.
  • Subverted for humorous effect in The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra.
    Ranger Brad: Oh, say... You don't believe those old legends about the Lost Skeleton of Cadavra, do you?
    Dr. Roger Fleming: Ranger Brad, I'm a scientist, I don't believe in anything.

  • Apropos of G. K. Chesterton, the Father Brown stories subvert this trope pretty heavily - several stories feature the priest seeing through apparent miracles that take others in, precisely because he has a firm belief in the supernatural - and therefore a framework to think about them in, and an appreciation that "inexplicable" does not equal "miraculous".
  • This trope is used to explain why Stanley Uris, one of the main characters in Stephen King's IT can't fully accept the existence of the book's creature and eventually kills himself rather than return to face the monster. In one inner thought sequence he explains to the reader that the existence of the monster actually OFFENDS him, because the existence of ANY supernatural phenomena destroys his neat and tidy rationalist vision of the world. "Everything leads to everything..."
  • In Larry Niven's Fallen Angels, the "ruling coalition of proxmires, falwells, rifkins and maclaines" is composed of groups who in real life regard each other, sometimes literally, as minions of the Devil, but in the novel work harmoniously to make life miserable for the Good Guys, because nothing else counts against their (alleged) technophobic mindset.note  If Jesus, then crystals, and vice versa. If Ludd, then Jesus.
    • This is stated to be the result of decades of political maneuvering; just as combining socialism with Catholicism to create liberation theology made the Catholic Church a supporter of the Soviet Union and extended the Cold War for a few more decades, combining Green and Catholic thinking into "Eco-fundamentalism" enabled the authorities to gain bipartisan support(Green liberals and fundie conservatives) and pretty much Take Over the World. A group marriage made in hell; Luddites, fundies, environmentalists and spiritualists all realizing they aren't so different, in that they all yearn for Ye Goode Olde Days.
  • Referenced in The Dresden Files.
    "Zombies. Jesus."
    "I kinda doubt they had anything to do with that one."
  • Inverted in Charles Stross' A Colder War: an alternate-history USA is dealing with Lovecraftian horrors used as weapons by the Soviets. Ronald Reagan is elected and treats them as just another kind of technology—he's too religious to believe in any supernatural aspect to them. So if Jesus, then not Cthulhu. To be fair, Lovecraft himself would likely agree with that syllogism, or rather, “If Cthulhu, then Not Jesus.”
  • In Anne Rice's Memnoch the Devil, Lestat encounters a being that claims to be The Devil, calling itself Memnoch, who takes the vampire on a journey, showing him Heaven and Hell, as well as the history of Earth from a Biblical (and Memnoch's own) point of view. When Lestat asks the obvious question (if extraterrestrial life exists), Memnoch answers that he doesn't know, as he never looked at any other world. So, vampires, God/Jesus, the Devil, angels, ghosts, spirits, witches... all exist. Aliens? Who knows? We got enough trouble here.
    • It should be noted that Anne Rice wrote this novel (and all others about vampires and witches) before becoming a "born-again Christian" and renouncing her "heresy".
    • The novel also explicitly mentions that besides setting the Universe into motion, God did not participate in human evolution, so there is nothing to indicate that this couldn't have happened elsewhere, especially since neither God nor his angels particularly care about any other planet.
    • However, given the events of her most recent work, Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis...yea extraterrestrial beings are definitely a possibility.
  • Robert J. Sawyer plays with this trope extensively in Calculating God. Thomas remains stubbornly atheist while several species of alien try to convince him that not only does God exist, but the math proves it.
  • Umberto Eco's The Island of the Day Before has a 17th century Jesuit use the "If Jesus, No Aliens" argument, trying to convince the protagonist Roberto that other worlds do not exist. His argument is that, if there are other worlds with people on them, every single one would have to have a Jesus dying for that world's salvation, meaning the Crucifixion was not the unique, monumental event Christianity treats it as; on the other hand, if God were to create these worlds and not offer them salvation, he would not be the loving god Christianity treats him as. The Jesuit is not portrayed particularly sympathetically, and his line of doctrinaire "reasoning" contributes to Roberto's slow, steady descent into madness.
    • This was the reasoning used to condemn Giordano Bruno's belief in the existence of other worlds as heresy, and him to the stake, in Real Life.
  • In Andrei Belyanin's The Thief of Baghdad, the author relays a Fish out of Temporal Water scenario, in which a modern-day Russian man is magically transported into "Arabian Nights" Days by a genie to become the legendary titular character. The story (and sequels) feature all manner of Middle Eastern magical creatures. The author decides he shouldn't stop there and invoke this trope. After all, if a guy can be abducted and sent into the magical past by a genie, then why can't he also be abducted by a flying saucer in the middle of a Baghdad street chase, causing the guards to run away in fear, claiming that St. Khidr's chariot has taken the thieving infidel for righteous punishment.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In NUMB3RS, this trope seems to crop up with distressing regularity. Every few episodes, Charlie is challenged to move beyond the empirical world to a matter of faith, only the matter of faith in question is something completely outside the normal debate of science vs. religion, and yet Larry's right there urging Charlie to consider that it might possibly be true. After all, even scientists don't pretend that they can know everything, right?
    • Note that Charlie is about the only straight example of the trope in the show. His brother is as likely to believe or disbelieve things. Larry, a scientist, is far more open to belief in the supernatural than Charlie is.
  • Played surprisingly straight in 30 Rock. Religion plays a negligible role in most characters' lives, except when Played for Laughs, i.e. when Liz Lemon states that her religious beliefs are "pretty much whatever Oprah tells me to do." However, Kenneth, the one (non-Girl of the Week) character who is devoutly religious, is also strongly hinted at as being immortal.
  • Joan of Arcadia: "Touch Move" as well as several other episodes.
  • Both Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel avert this trope. They've seen vampires and demons of all kinds, but Buffy is agnostic, unknown what Angel is. Buffy wears a cross necklace, but only as a weapon against vampires.
    Vampire Holden Webster (after discovering vampires and Slayers exist): Does God exist, by the way? Is there any word on that?
    • In the Buffyverse, everything of legends (vampires, werewolves, Bigfoot(feet?), Loch Ness Monster, etc.) are real. Except leprechauns.
    • All of the above is probably a case of Writer on Board, since Joss Whedon's an atheist.
  • John Locke of Lost fame is one of the few explicit representatives on TV of that (not insignificant) portion of society who are very spiritually inclined but not religious. This has led to him being used as a foil for another character's belief system multiple times: he contrasts with Jack, who is shown (at least early on) to be very earthly and skeptical; he also contrasts with Mr. Eko, whose spirituality is of a deeply religious nature.
  • This trope was actually mentioned by a character in Baywatch as her personal beliefs. In her own words, "If there can be aliens, there can be elves." The supernatural, however, was not a part of the show. Until the Baywatch Nights spin-off.
  • Averted by the characters of Dave Lister and Arnold Rimmer in Red Dwarf. In true Chestertonian fashion, Rimmer scoffs at the notion of God but is frighteningly eager to declare any unexplained phenomena the work of aliens; Lister, on the other hand, is a pantheist but also considers human sapience to be alone in the universe (Lister is closer to correct; all the "alien" species they encounter evolved from Terran life forms). On the other hand, Lister is also described as or implied to be an atheist a couple of times as well - so either he became a pantheist at some point or it's just another case of Red Dwarf's rampant retconning.
    • To be entirely precise, Rimmer effectively substitutes belief in sufficiently advanced aliens for a belief in God while Lister is more of an irreligious skeptic (either believing in no God or in the universe as a non-personal God). This doesn't really conform to this trope, either straight or as an aversion.
    • Lister was stated to be a pantheist in "Last Days", part of the third season, while he was stated to be an atheist in "Back to Reality", the final episode of the fifth season. This means it's not implausible that Lister originally had faith in the idea of the universe being a non-personal god, then gave up believing in any form of god at all.
    • Inversely, after the first two seasons, Rimmer's obsession with finding aliens is toned down to the point of vanishing completely, whereas despite mocking the idea of believing in God in the first season, in the third season episode "Timeslides" it's implied he's attended a church service onboard the ship (although who was conducting it is anyone's guess) and in "Last Day" he says people shouldn't be mocked for their beliefs (it's probably a side effect of suddenly coming from a different century).
  • The short-lived sci-fi series Special Unit 2 centered on a secret police bureau devoted to tracking down "Links", evolutionary deviations that were responsible for the ideas of classical monsters. Throughout most of the series, there's a scientific explanation for most of the deviations. The episode "The Eve", however, quickly set about suspension of disbelief to tiny little pieces. A Link so old and so powerful he's considered the Devil? Sure. He can raise people from the dead? Okay. There's a prophecy about him? Sure, you could buy precognition. He needs a magic ring to carry out his plans? Er, all right, you could buy that it's of special Applied Phlebotinum. He needs to pull off a magical ritual to gain the power? Oh, fuck that noise.
  • The X-Files is a subversion: Mulder, who appears to be an atheist or agnostic, believes in aliens and most paranormal reports. Scully, who struggles with her faith, but still is shown to be a believing Catholic, initially denied the existence of most paranormal phenomena. This subversion was most apparent in any episode featuring religious supernatural phenomena. Mulder and Scully would actually switch roles, with Mulder being the skeptic and Scully trying hard to believe. The two agents' views on the paranormal are completely inverted very early on in the Season 1 episode "Beyond the Sea". Serial killer Luther Boggs (who Mulder helped apprehend) claims to have had psychic revelations regarding a kidnapping case, but Mulder is particularly skeptical whereas Scully comes to believe him after Boggs reveals certain details regarding her recently-deceased father that he could not know. What doesn't help is that Boggs gets certain things wrong, such as 'reading' information from a scrap of 'evidence' related to the case that actually came from one of Mulder's t-shirts.
    Scully: How is it that you're able to go out on a limb whenever you see a light in the sky, but you're unwilling to accept the possibility of a miracle? Even when it's right in front of you?
    Mulder: I wait for a miracle every day. But what I've seen here has only tested my patience, not my faith.
  • Slight subversion on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Major Kira is one of the most overtly religious characters on all of Star Trek, but also very cynical, sometimes even about the aliens/gods her people worship. The gods of the Bajorans, known as "The Prophets", are referred to by most of the other characters on the show as simply "The Wormhole Aliens". Captain Sisko starts off as one of the latter, but his belief grows as the series progresses and he comes to accept his role as a type of religious leader for the Bajorans. Likewise, the race of changelings are seen as "gods" by those they rule over, but not by others. There is also this exchange between two of the show's antagonists:
    Weyoun: Pah-wraiths and Prophets. All this talk of gods strikes me as nothing more than superstitious nonsense.
    Damar: You believe that the Founders are gods, don't you?
    Weyoun: That's different.
    Damar: [laughs] In what way?
    Weyoun: The Founders are gods.
    • In another conversation, Odo asks if Weyoun has considered that the Founders may have simply programmed belief in their divinity into the Jem'Hadar and Vorta.
    Weyoun: Of course they did-that's what gods do.
  • Crops up in an episode of the American version of Life On Mars. The young cop, Chris, states that he wants to believe in aliens because then angels aren't so far of a stretch. Because if there are flying saucers out there, that means God exists, right? Inverted, in that he seems to believe If Aliens Then Jesus.
  • Grace Van Pelt in The Mentalist is like this. She is a religious believer and also believes that a relative is a psychic, and asks the titular mentalist how to distinguish "true" psychics from "false" ones. Patrick Jane dismisses her with a categorical "There is no such thing as psychics" but she refuses to acknowledge it. In this case the connection was sensible, since her belief in psychics specifically revolved over their supposed ability to communicate with the dead, the afterlife being central to Christian doctrine.
  • Eureka, "God Is In the Details".
  • In V (2009), the inverse happens where people start to become more religious when the aliens invade. When visiting the Vatican, Anna demands that a cardinal tell all Catholic priests to stop demonizing Vs. When the cardinal not only refuses on the grounds that he can't stop priests from expressing their opinions but he also supports their skepticism of the Vs' intentions, Anna then explains that, since Christianity is founded on the belief in miracles, V technology can be used to make more things that appear to be just as miraculous to an average human. Basically, she threatens him with Catholics choosing to abandon their faith in favor of the Vs, and he caves in.
  • Criminal Minds inverts this. Rossi (Catholic) and Morgan (unspecified Christian denomination) are the two most skeptical members of the team when it comes to psychics in "Cold Comfort" and demonic possession in "Demonology," although Rossi acknowledges the power of belief in such things - very negatively in the case of psychics (who waste investigators' time). Morgan was also skeptical of near-death experiences in "Epilogue", doubting that such instances were really glimpses of the afterlife.
  • JAG: Played with in "Psychic Warrior", in which a skeptical mathematician was asked by Rabb on the stand, in a case dealing with a Navy experiment on remote viewing, if he believed in God. He reluctantly admitted it. Rabb then criticized his lack of belief in the possibility of psychic phenomena.
  • On The Walking Dead, Daryl brings up the Chupacabra and T-Dog expresses disbelief. The reply is, essentially, "The dead are walking and you don't believe in the chupacabra?" Well, thing is, there's ample evidence (in the show) for the walking dead...
  • Brennan on Bones is skeptical of everything, from religion to aliens to psychology, and takes for granted that all her scientifically-minded comrades are likewise atheists. She's surprised to find out that's not the case. Her Muslim intern went to great lengths to justify his faith, and one intern defended his father's Catholic faith (though he was more defending the right to believe, rather than the belief itself). Even conspiracy-theorist Hodgins sits on the middle line, stating "Just because I think organized religion is a scam, doesn't mean God doesn't love me." And then there's Booth, who was raised Catholic, but only suggests paranormal explanations to get under Brennan's skin and doesn't seem to be more supernaturally-inclined than the others, and Angela, who regularly consults with her psychic, but doesn't make any statements either way on religion. Over time, Brennan manages to loosen up on her severe skepticism even agreeing to baptize her children without having to embrace everything.

  • In William Shakespeare's The Tempest, Alonso declares, after spirits prepare a banquet, that he will now believe in unicorns and phoenixes. It's possible he's meant to be sarcastic, though, since he calls the spirits a "living drollery". Sebastian agrees with the sentiment.

    Video Games 
  • Played with in The Lost Crown: A Ghosthunting Adventure, where Nigel is frustrated by Lucy's (wrong, but reasonable from what she's seen) insistence that the spooky things in Saxton Museum aren't necessarily proof of ghosts, just something strange. Nigel's own credibility later reveals its limits when Hardacre implies that he believes myths of dragons had a factual basis, an idea which even Nigel poo-poos as silly.


    Western Animation 
  • In the The Simpsons episode "Lisa the Skeptic", Lisa finds what appears to be an angel's fossilized remains. Lisa not only thinks they're fake, but largely argues that believing in angels at all is ridiculous (if she believes in God is left vague). Everyone else, except possibly Marge, immediately assume it's an actual angel's skeleton, which doesn't make sense even if one does believe in angels, which are generally understood to be immortal beings of pure spirit.
  • Mocked in The Venture Bros. episode "Ghosts of the Sargasso" when Hank Venture falls under the sway of Part One.
    Hank: Brock, if pirates really exist, I mean, Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy could even be real, right? It's like, all bets are off!
    Brock: Hank, nobody ever said pirates don't exist.
  • In Batman Beyond, Bruce displays a healthy attitude to this kind of trope, not dismissing anything out of hand (having encountered his share of paranormal phenomena during his own cape and cowl career) but not blankly accepting all supernatural claims either.
    Bruce: These people believe that anything they can't explain is magic.
    Terry: And naturally you don't believe in that kind of thing.
    Bruce: Of course I do. I've seen it all: Demons, witchboys, immortals, zombies. But [trashing parts of a high school and attacking a bully], it's just high school.
  • In Invader Zim, when Dib proves that Chickenfoot is a hoax.
    Reporter 1: I bet this means Bigfoot is a fraud too!
    Reporter 2: And UFOs.
    Reporter 1: And hobos.
    Dib: No wait! Those are real! Except the hobos. Wait, no. They're real. I... I guess. But- what's wrong with you people!?!
    • Dib at one point ran into a guy who believed in aliens, and that vampires exist, but dinosaurs didn't.
  • Played with in American Dad!: The Christmas Special episodes show that God, Jesus, and angels are all real. Aliens are real by virtue of Roger (an alien escaped from Area 51) living with the family. A two-part episode even deals with the Rapture, the Second Coming, and the war with The Legions of Hell. When Jesus meets Roger, he offhandedly mentions that Roger's people are one of his father's side projects, infuriating Roger. Meanwhile, Roger is busy fixing his ship to get the hell away from Earth before it becomes the literal Hell. Whether the Christmas episodes are "canon" (as much as that means) is debatable, though, and regular episodes rarely follow suit with the overtly Christian figures (though other supernatural creatures, like leprechauns, do appear from time to time).
  • A bizarre example in The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, "Skeletons In The Water Closet": "Germs. They're real. Maybe skeletons are real too."
  • Mike, Lu & Og: In "A Learning Experience", Mike asks who the Cuzzlewitz are, and Lu scoffs "Next, you'll be asking about the Easter Bunny." Of course, she does know they're real, but she really wishes she didn't.
  • A discussed trope in the Gravity Falls episode "Land Before Swine". Dipper questions Grunkle Stan's disbelieving attitude toward the paranormal even after their encounter with a living pterodactyl. In later episodes, it would be obvious he was trying to deflect.
    Dipper: You punched a pterodactyl in the face? I thought you didn't even believe in the supernatural.
    Stan: Dinosaurs aren't magic, they're just big lizards! Get off my back!

    Real Life 
  • The author Robin Ramsay actually puts forth the "If Jesus then Aliens" theory in his book about conspiracy theories.
  • Truth in Television: There exists (at least) one cult that believes God would come to Earth in a flying saucer.
    • What does God need with a starship?
    • Despite popular belief, The Vatican has historically had an attitude of "God can do anything, so anything is possible." When Copernicus' friend Johann Albrecht Widmannstetter lectured about the early findings implying a heliocentric solar system, Pope Clement VII and several cardinals all attended, were fascinated, and one wrote a letter to Copernicus encouraging him to publish his findings. With the exception of a few Obstructive Bureaucrats using scripture to push an agenda, the Catholic hierarchy has been silent or supportive about just about every scientific theory. True to the trope's name, they've even come out in support of the existence of alien life.
      • The Vatican even has a planned amendment to its doctrine if intelligent alien life is discovered.
      • Depending on one's interpretation, Jesus himself may have spoken about the existence of aliens.
    • Galileo actually got in trouble not for the heliocentric solar system theory, but for accidentally insulting his friend, the Pope, who himself leaned towards heliocentrism, in a strange series of events. Court politics and Galileo's... acerbic character did the rest.
    • Reports of Alien Abduction are steadily increasing, while reports of being impregnated by horny gods or demons have all but vanished (supposed house hauntings and demonic possessions, however, remain popular).
    • Most branches of Mormonism have believed in the existence of "worlds without number" and the life thereon almost from the beginning of the movement. The Earth merited a visit from Jesus because it is apparently the most wicked planet in God's domain—although it is also the most righteous.
    • A fairly important and well-educated Orthodox Christian author Pheophan the Anchorite, while responding to an obviously heretical statement about Jesus actually being an alien (back in the 1800s), said that the problem is that we simply don't know anything about aliens, such as whether or not they even exist, and if they do, did they commit the original sin or not, and if they did, was it necessary for Jesus to die again just for them, and if it was, etc, etc.
    • One of the founders of Seventh-day Adventism, Ellen G. White, invokes this trope literally by claiming God himself gave her visions regarding created beings on other planets. According to her, God created multitudes of worlds before Earth, where the inhabitants were still perfect and unfallen (unlike humanity after the whole Adam and Eve thing).
  • There is an old joke about a UFO landing and an alien pops his head out the door the first thing he says is, "Has Jesus been through here yet?"
  • Another old joke—an atheist is walking through the woods when Bigfoot jumps out and starts chasing him.
    The Atheist: God save me!
    God: I thought you didn't believe in me?
    The Atheist: Yeah, well, until a second ago, I didn't believe in Bigfoot either.
  • Subverted by this article, about a ufologist who wants religiously-minded scholars to open up to non-spiritual kinds of paranormal phenomena but is having trouble.
  • Methodological naturalism kind of flip-flops on this point. The worldview focuses on that which is observable, and where cause and effect are connected, i.e. an evidence-based system. Because the supernatural and other associated things are deemed inherently without evidence, methodological naturalism makes no judgment on them, leaving them out of scope. While the default position most seem to take is to not accept an idea without evidence, changes to our understanding of the natural world could lead to accepting a whole new range of things. In other words, once there is evidence for the supernatural, it ceases to be supernatural, and becomes "natural, if weird and yet unexplained." Some however disagree with this concept. If one found hard, reproducible evidence that meets scientific standards of something that violated gravity (such as levitation) that could be deemed supernatural (above or beyond the natural laws) and if, except for this phenomena, gravity still was seen to hold, it would not disprove these laws, or require their alteration. It would raise a lot of questions, naturally, but any new discovery will do the same. Methodological naturalism is more of a guideline-scientists assume, for the sake of simplicity, that nothing supernatural will interfere with the results of experiments, otherwise science couldn't be done. If there were such irrefutable evidence for the supernatural, that could be studied just as natural phenomena. Some religious organizations like the Catholic Church do investigate supernatural phenomena (miracles, demonic possession) scientifically, for instance.
  • Humorously put in a Tim Minchin beat poem, "by definition, I begin, alternative medicine, I continue, has either not been proved to work or been proved not to work. Do you know what they call alternative medicine that's been proved to work? Medicine."
  • People in the skeptical movement, for instance RationalWiki, call this "crank magnetism," in which believers in unscientific or bizarre theories tend to quickly accumulate more. They suggest that a person who believes that science is wrong on one thing will often jump to the assumption that science is wrong on everything, that people tend to think of all scientists or authorities as being a united front against them, and that people who possess these beliefs tend to be easily-led by pseudoscience and woo. When you hear a creationist explain that all the fossils were fakes planted by UFOs from Atlantis, you're running into a full blown case of crank magnetism.
    • In conspiracy debunking circles, there is a similar concept called conspiracy addiction. Conspiracies have rather shaky standing on their own, especially considering how many real life conspiracies get uncovered. However, the more conspiracies someone believes in, the more plausible each individual conspiracy seems to them. It's easier to believe in a world run by conspiracies than it is to believe in one singular conspiracy. So if vaccines cause autism, then 9/11 was an inside job, and aliens are real.
  • A recent favorite of the Italian YouTube community is Matteo Montesi, an ardent Christian believer who also, in his hundreds of videos, talks about conspiracies, aliens, ghosts, Reptilian Conspiracy, and many other pseudo-scientific theories, and seems to believe in them all equally. For example, here he talks (Italian only) about the supposed Nibiru Collision of 2012, getting angered when faced with the possibility that nobody believes what he's saying.
    • Also, he seems to believe that Jesus is both a deity and an Ancient Astronaut, and so are the reptilians, described as "clones of the Fallen Angels" devoid of any memory of their divine status. Thus, he may be on the polar opposite of the Raelien cult (see 'below): while the Raeliens are atheists granting aliens what is the equivalent of divine status, Montesi is a believer granting deities physical and humanoid-like interactions with our continuum. To put it mildly: "Aliens are Jesus, Jesus is every good unnamed alien in history".
  • The Raelien cult subvert this in a very weird fashion: they believe that "gods" were Ancient Astronauts (a la Stargate); at the same time, however, these aliens did very God-like things, such as creating human life on earth from their DNA. So while they are technically atheists, and contend their views have a scientific basis (even alleging they have performed the first human cloning) it's very different, to put it mildly. If Aliens, Then Not Jesus.
  • Christians who take the Bible in its most literal form usually do not believe in aliens due to the fact that Jesus came to Earth in human form and died in that form, and has forever taken on physical human form after rising from the dead. Why would He take on the form of a human, permanently, if there are other forms of life in the universe that don't look human? Why would he come to just one planet if others had life? Did literally none of those planets have a fall from grace? Also, as God proclaimed man to be made in His image, this precludes the idea of intelligent forms of life that look different from "the image of God". In this case, it is If Jesus, then Not Aliens. Or at least, Human Aliens only.
  • Last but not least, Young Earth Creationists (Christians who take the book of Genesis in its most literal form) typically disbelieve in aliens — since Earth is given special attention in the creation story. However, it should be noted that nowhere in Genesis are other planets mentioned — and the sun is treated as a separate entity from other stars.
    • This isn't actually true, or rather, Young Earth Creationists are more likely to believe in more spiritual-based interdimensional aliens as fallen angels/devils/demons from space, which fits the definition of "alien". Who says aliens are only biological, physical entities from other planets?
    • American Heritage Dictionary?
  • Many Indiana Jones fans averted this, being fully accepting of divine power in the first three movies, but considering the aliens in the fourth movie to be out of place.
    • Since Indiana Jones gives assent to the Judeo Christian divinity, the above entry about young Earth Creationists believing in interdimensional aliens apply here.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): If Ghosts Then Jesus, If Aliens Then Jesus, If Jesus Then No Aliens, If Aliens Then No Jesus


Sasquatch and Rocking

Captain Ed tries dissuading Tenacious D from following through on their dream, calling it a myth like Sasquatch. It is not until Jack and Kyle reach the "Acceptance" stage of their dream's death do they see Sasquatch for real, the two of them immediately breaking out into a song as their dream had spontaneously come back to life.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / IfJesusThenAliens

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