Aliens Among Us? - Part 1
Biblical Reflections on a Baffling Phenomenon
Chapter 1 The Reality and Pervasiveness of the UFO Phenomenon
Chapter 2 The Bible and UFOs
Chapter 3 UFOs and The Place of Christian Apologetics
Chapter 4 Some Characteristics of the UFO Phenomenon
Chapter 5 The Extraterrestrial Hypothesis
Chapter 6 The God-Astronaut Theory
Chapter 7 The Ingenious Substitute Religion
Chapter 8 "Manipulating" Matter?—The Capabilities of Angels
Chapter 9 Pertinent Passages for Examining the UFO Phenomenon
Chapter 10 A Theological Framework for the Space-Age
Appendix A "Close Encounters" — The Christian Version
Appendix B "Revelations" from Jacques Vallee
Appendix C UFOs and the Occult
Appendix D "What if . . . the Visitors land?"
UFOs — our culture is fascinated with them. From television programs and cinema movies to documentaries on so-called alien abductions, we are bombarded with the idea of life from other worlds. Indeed many are convinced of the truthfulness of these claims.
If alien beings really are visiting us, their presence is indeed one of the major news stories of all time. But what portion of the reports are accurate? And when genuine, how are we to interpret this information? Have space aliens invaded earth, or are there other potential explanations?
While different groups within society have taken their shot at interpreting UFOs, few Christians have entered the fray. This paper is designed to briefly touch upon some facets of the UFO phenomenon from a biblical perspective. While offering no exhaustive answers, we hope to remain consistent with both the Bible's teachings and current knowledge of UFOs. In other words, we will present a broad framework for analyzing UFOs, especially from the standpoint of biblical revelation. What follows are general observations, guidelines and a supporting structure for the Christian who wishes to investigate this baffling phenomenon.
The Reality and Pervasiveness of the UFO Phenomenon
UFOs have greatly influenced the thoughts and perception of modern man. Though the subject is treated in numerous ways—running the gamut from the ridiculous portrayals expressed in tabloid circles to the serious, even religious, perspective of those caught up in the movement—its pervasiveness is undeniable. Furthermore, it is not easy to discount the entire movement on the basis of its lunatic fringe. Many of its proponents are too sound in mind to simply ignore, and those who have had first-hand contact with "aliens" (whatever they are) are sometimes of such reputable character that pretending the phenomenon doesn't exist is no longer a valid option.
The Reality of UFOs
It is difficult to prove to some that the concept of UFOs is worth investigating. Because so many ludicrous stories have been promulgated, broaching the subject is often met with a less-than-serious reaction, and, admittedly, even serious students of ufology need to occasionally scratch their heads and wonder whether any of this can possibly be real. No doubt, many readers who study this subject do so blushingly. After all, science-fiction cannot be coming true, can it?
But against the idea that this phenomenon is to be treated as a childish fascination is the clear cut evidence that something is actually occurring. Craziness aside (and some of this indeed fits within that category), this subject has been tackled by a good number of sane individuals. Allen Hynek, for instance, was one of the premier scientists involved in the government's Operation Blue Book (an investigation of UFOs). After eliminating the obviously false or mistaken reports of UFOs, Hynek concluded that there is a legitimate category of genuine unidentified phenomena. His research is scientifically based, honest, and not given to absurdities. If even a small percentage of the alleged UFO sightings, abductions, and messages are true, this is a phenomenon of major proportions. More recently, Jacques Vallee, a French computer scientist and physicist, has shown himself to be a top-notch investigator. He has researched the subject of UFOs for many years, and a perusal of his works surely precludes the notion that he is an extremist. On the contrary, his work exudes integrity as he engages this subject in a sound and stimulating manner. To this list could be added the names of many others. While their interpretations of the phenomenon may differ, they all seem to agree that "something" really is going on.
Then there are many accounts of what appear to be very stable individuals describing amazing occurrences. Some have seen or even video taped phenomena which defies natural explanation; others have had experiences so traumatic that their perception of reality has been forever altered. The entire world-view of a growing number of people has shifted because of encounters with UFOs.
On top of what has already been mentioned, there are countless people who while not having a UFO encounter themselves, have nonetheless bought into the idea that some of what they've heard or read about is real. In fact there are a number of groups and organizations which specialize in studying, analyzing, and promoting the UFO phenomenon. Some have even produced rather scholarly works on various aspects of this subject. At any rate, a wealth of legitimate data gives credence to the factualness of this mysterious phenomenon.
The Pervasiveness of the UFO Phenomenon
Not only is there legitimacy to the notion of a real UFO phenomenon, but this phenomenon is pervasiveness. The concept of UFOs has so affected modern thought that people hardly blink when some alien theory is proposed by one of its adherents. Look at your TV guide; visit the local movie theater. It won't be long before you begin to see a UFO agenda emerging. The details will vary, of course. But there is unquestionably some sort of alien mind-set being foisted (innocently or not) upon our generation. Examine the New Age section of your local bookstore and you will find a multiplicity of books detailing, in one form or another, the belief in UFOs; often these are written from a religious or spiritual perspective. Listing all of the popular UFO literature would obviously take up too much space, and the list is constantly growing. But in order to show the pervasiveness of this phenomenon, here is a sampling of the much larger body of UFO-related literature.
Abduction: Human Encounters With Aliens By John Mack - Scribners - 1994
Aliens - The Final Answer : A Ufo Cosmology for the 21st Century By David Barclay - Blanford Press - 1996
Anatomy Of A Phenomenon: Unidentified Objects In Space -- A Scientific Appraisal, By Jacques Vallee - Ballantine Books - 1974
Beyond The Four Dimensions: Reconciling Physics, Parapsychology, And Ufos By Karl Brunstein - Walker - 1979
Close Encounters of the Fourth Kind : Alien Abduction, Ufos and the Conference at M.I.T By C.D.B Bryan - Penguin USA - 1996
Extraterrestrials In Biblical Prophecy By G. Schellhorn - Horus House - 1990
Extraterrestrials: Life in Outer Space By Amanda Davis - Rosen Pub Group - 1997
Genesis Revisited By Zecharia Sitchin - Avon - 1990
God Drives a Flying Saucer By R. L. Dione - Exposition Press - 1969
Guardians Of The Universe? By Ronald Story - St. Martin's Press - 1980
Into The Fringe By Karla Turner - Berkeley Books - 1992
Jesus Christ: Heir To The Astronauts By G. Steinhauser - Abelard - Schuman - 1974
Lost Realms By Zecharia Sitchin - Bear & Co - 1990
Masquerade of Angels By Karla Turner - Kelt Works - 1994
Messengers of Deception: Ufo Contacts And Cults By Jacques Vallee - Berkeley Books - 1979
Missing Time: A Documented Study Of Ufo Abductions By Budd Hopkins - Richard Marek - 1981
Paranormal Phenomena : Opposing Viewpoints By Paul A. Winters - 1997
Preparing For Contact: A Metamorphosis Of Consciousness By Lyssa Royal - Royal Priest Research - 1993
Secret Life: Firsthand Accounts Of Ufo Abductions By David Jacobs - Simon & Schuster - 1992
The Bible and Flying Saucers By Barry Downing - J.B. Lippincott - 1968
The Eyes of the Sphinx: The Newest Evidence of Extraterrestrial Contact in Ancient Egypt By Erich Von Daniken - Berkley Pub - 1996
The God Hypothesis : Extraterrestrial Life and Its Implications for Science and Religion By Joe Lewels - Wild Flower Press - 1997
The Gods Of Eden By William Bramley - Avon - 1990
The Great Airship Mystery: A Ufo Of The 1890's By Daniel Cohen - Dood Mead - 1981
The Gulf Breeze Sightings By Ed Walters & Frances - Avon - 1990
The Omega Project, Nde, Ufo Encounters And The Mind At Large By Kenneth Ring - William Morrow - 1992
The Secret School: Preparation for Contact By Whitley Strieber - Harper Collins - 1997
Transformation: The Breakthrough By Whitley Strieber - William Morrow - 1988
Ufos And The Alien Presence: Six Viewpoints By Michael Lindemann - The 2020 Group - 1991
Ufos, Space Brothers & The Aquarian Age By Joshua Shapiro - Des Plaines, V J Enterprises - 1987
Ufos: Operation Trojan Horse By John Keel - 1970
Examples could easily be multiplied. The point is that the UFO phenomenon has infiltrated our culture, affecting the ideas of massive numbers of people. Furthermore, the claim being made by some UFO authors (and by the so-called aliens whom they allegedly interpret and/or represent) is that this phenomenon so intertwines mankind's origin and destiny that its full disclosure might lead to a societal paradigm shift. That is, the discovery of the true nature of UFOs may open up a reality of such magnitude that the world will never be the same again. Much of the popular literature on the subject surely lends itself to this interpretation, for there is an unmistakable religious element to alien theories.
The Bible and UFOs
Though the earth is not geocentrically located (i.e., at the center of the solar system/galaxy/universe) it is important to recognize that the human race is central to God's redemptive activity. Scripture tells us that the heavens have been created to display God's glory to humanity (Ps 19:1-6). Earth is the place where God spoke in Old and New Testament times (Heb 1:1-2). The Son of God became an inhabitant of this world; He lived, died, and came back to life here. And earth is the location of His eventual return and reign (Matt 24:30-31). Obviously, then, God is supremely concerned with the race of Adam. God's creative and saving purposes are fulfilled on this third planet from the sun. Of course this does not eliminate the possibility of life on other worlds. All we can say is that other races, if they exist, are not mentioned in the Bible. This is not surprising, though, for the Bible is given to members of this fallen race. Thus the Bible is a complete and sufficient message from God. But nowhere does it claim to answer every matter of human interest or speculation.
Since the Bible doesn't speak to the subject of life on other planets, it is theoretically possible that extraterrestrial life exists. What we need to understand, therefore, is that the discovery of non-human intelligence does not, in the least, threaten the biblical portrait. Should an alien intervention take place, Christianity will survive. As fascinating, even astounding, as such a close encounter might be, the Christian's relationship with God wouldn't change.
Though a measure of speculation is inevitable when dealing with such an unusual topic, perhaps a few words should be said about our theoretical space visitors. If they exist—as popularly believed—they are the product of God's creative hand. Life on other planets would not prove atheistic evolution to be true. On the contrary, it would give evidence that God has been at work in other segments of the cosmos. Since all life-forms are necessarily a part of God's handiwork, it follows that they would be subject to Him. If UFOs make contact, they do so under God's sovereign permission. Any interaction with our culture can only occur within God's providence and for His own purposes. Also it can be assumed that the Scriptures would, at least in the broadest sense, apply to these creatures. Though the specifics of the plan of redemption seem intended for believers within the human race, the basic tenets of Scripture would be applicable to extraterrestrials. For instance, alien creatures would not have the authority to intervene in our world in an immoral way. They would not be able to, say, murder people without moral consequence. Perhaps, as depicted in many a science-fiction movie, they would have the ability to conquer the human race. But they would never have the moral right to do so; such behavior would have to be deemed ungodly. This also opens up the issue of possible Satanic influence. It appears that Satan, given divine permission, would be able to manipulate foreign creatures as he does members of our world. He is, after all, "the prince and power of the air" (Eph 2:2). The world is his domain (1 John 5:19). Of course, this makes us wonder whether or not these theoretical space-beings are members of a fallen race. And this leads to deeper levels of speculation, and beyond the scope of this paper. If not greatly edifying, it is at least interesting food for thought.
While there are a number of problems with the ET hypothesis, believers needn't be philosophically opposed to such an idea. The Christian's world view would not be greatly affected by proof of their existence (Romans 8:35-39). If beings from outer space arrive on our planet (or already have arrived) and fill the skies with their alien hardware, the Christian's basic perspective remains intact.
UFOs and The Place of Christian Apologetics
The Church has often been guilty of gross ignorance when it comes to contemporary challenges. Christians are notorious for responding to queries long after the fact. A philosophy takes hold of a segment of society, and believers are slow to give an answer. Some idea seeps into the conscience of modern man, and it goes un-commented upon by the Christian community.
This is obviously true concerning our response to the UFO phenomenon. Though the concept of UFOs has touched countless millions of people, it is rarely mentioned by modern apologists. With notable exceptions, the subject is either covered in an overly simplistic fashion or ignored outright. Perhaps, then, it is time for Christians to comment from a biblical foundation as to what this puzzling and quite influential phenomenon entails. Long overdue is the need for modern defenders of the faith to give a Christ-honoring perspective on this mysterious topic.
Apologetics, from the Greek apologia, is that aspect of Christian theology and ministry in which the relevance and intelligibility of the gospel are highlighted. The Christian apologist seeks to define, defend, and show forth the attractiveness of Christian revelation. While apologetics can take on various forms, it should be seen, minimally, as what Peter termed "always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you" (1 Pet 3:15).
Among other factors, the Christian's starting point is the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Peter tells us, "sanctify (Gr. ‘set apart') Christ as Lord in your hearts." The unbeliever may have limited success in his investigative efforts. But those who approach life from the perspective of biblical faith have a distinct advantage, for they alone possess an infallible framework. "Far from stopping questions, belief in God can liberate inquiry." Skeptics, no doubt, can (should) learn from their observations (Rom 1:19-20). A truly Christian apologetic, however, should not start with the skeptic's presuppositions. Instead the believer investigates the subject of UFOs, not from some supposedly neutral standpoint, but from the perspective of those already convinced that God has unambiguously spoken, both in general (Romans 1:19-20) and special revelation (Hebrews 1:1-2).
Our apologia, then, must ultimately lead to a defense and explanation of the Christian faith in the context of current societal trends; one such example is that generated by belief in UFOs. But before arriving at a truly Christian outlook on this phenomenon, it is imperative to understand the matter of hermeneutics.
Hermeneutics involves the proper use of those principles and tools which lead to an accurate understanding of the biblical text. The goal is to determine what the Bible says. In order for this to occur in a truly Christian way, however, the centrality and authority of God's Word must be maintained. The Scriptures are no ordinary documents, subject to the whims of the interpreter. Rather, they are God's message to mankind (Ps 19:7-11; 2 Tim 3:16). What this means is that UFOs must be studied from a biblical perspective, not the other way around. The Christian apologist views the world, first of all, through the lens of inscripturated truth. This might be portrayed as follows:
The right (Christian) approach:
Through the lens of THE BIBLE ---> analysis of UFOs.
The wrong approach:
Through the lens of UFOLOGY ---> analysis of the Bible.
The second approach is given to fanciful and forced interpretations of the biblical record. The first approach, on the other hand, is only interested in accurately perceiving what God has spoken through His chosen authors. This is not to say that the Christian should reject any valid insights from ufology and the like. If there is information which might enhance our overall knowledge it should be considered. But the text itself always takes priority, not a desire to force an agenda into it. Because God has spoken, His Word is the only proper starting point for constructing an apologetic.
1. The term UFO is used here in a broad sense to refer to the entire UFO phenomenon. This includes "sightings" of various kinds, as well as the ideas often mentioned in connection with them. Many automatically equate UFOs with extraterrestrial intelligences; but for some interesting comments on the psychic aspects of the phenomenon, see Jacques Vallee, Dimensions: A Casebook of Alien Contact. (New York: Ballantine Books, 1988), pp. 159-160.
2. There are a number of groups dedicated to UFO research. These include the Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS), the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON), and a host of others.
3. The whole concept of aliens has become something of a trend in society. In our day, you can find an alien or a UFO associated with everything from candy, T shirts, and automobile commercials to more serious-minded pursuits such as the many web sites on the World Wide Web. Of course, much of this is harmless, and many groups use the UFO genre merely as a means of drawing attention to their product or area of interest. Whatever the implications, however, it would be difficult to miss the prevalence of UFOs in the modern world.
4. One listing on the Internet included over 400 titles on the subject of UFOs!
5. Admittedly, the wonder of God's creation is evident to all creatures, wherever their particular location. Contextually, however, the people in view in Psalm 19 are members of the human race.
6. It might be argued that a number of non-human creatures are mentioned in Scripture (e.g., angels, principalities, powers, elders, etc.), and that we aren't given clear indication as to their characteristics. Perhaps, then, some of these "entities" might be construed as being extraterrestrial in nature. Yet such a position is at least difficult to support from many of the relevant texts.
7. Some, including Christians, have stated that this universe is simply too large for God not to have created life elsewhere. But those who make such assertions are viewing the universe as rather empty, apart from the existence of beings to occupy it. Though God's creatures (men, angels, aliens?) play a fundamental role in God's plan, there is no real need to assume that a certain number of these beings must exist somewhere in the vastness of outer space. After all, the Bible says the heavens primary purpose is to declare God's glory. Also, those who feel that huge portions of our universe would be "wasted space" apart from other life-forms, must still deal with the fact that even if there are other alien cultures, these exist at extremely remote distances from one another. Thus there will always be gigantic sections of space which, by the nature of the case, remain uninhabited by intelligent life as we know it.
8. For some stimulating thinking on exo-theology (the theological implications of extraterrestrial life) see Ted Peters, "Exo-Theology: Speculations on Extraterrestrial Life," in The God's Have Landed: New Religions from Outer Space, ed. James R. Lewis (New York: State University of the New York Press, 1995), pp. 187-206.
9. Unfortunately, when it comes to new challenges that confront the Church, not many operate on the "cutting edge." Few, it seems, have their lives planted in both the biblical world and contemporary culture. Those who lack biblical perspective possess little basis for making a sound apologetic. On the other hand, those who don't regularly look at the world (through Christian lenses) are apt to have an antiquated understanding of the real "happenings" in today's world. While apologists continue to comment (and rightly so) on such areas as the cults, not enough have given adequate time to analyzing current moral/philosophical/spiritual trends (e.g., the influence of religious pluralism, neo-paganism, UFOs).
10. "Nine percent of the U.S. population claims to have seen what they believe to be a UFO, and half the people who think of UFOs as a reality believe they come from outer space. Our culture is shot through with space consciousness. One would expect, therefore, that theological leaders would want to respond to the rise in space consciousness by providing some intellectual guidance. Yet, surprisingly, relatively little is being done." Ted Peters, "Exo-Theology" in The Gods Have Landed, p. 193.
11. See especially John M. Frame, Apologetics to the Glory of God (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1994). Also see his The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1987), pp. 87-88, 347-368. There he defines apologetics as "the application of Scripture to unbelief" (p. 87). McGrath says apologetics is "the attempt to create an intellectual climate favorable to Christian faith" or "a concern to enhance the public plausibility of the gospel." Alister McGrath, Evangelicalism and the Future of Christianity (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1995), p. 102. Apologetics, then, is multifaceted. It involves displaying the beauty and coherence of biblical Christianity.
12. David Wilkinson, Alone in the Universe? (Crowborough: Monarch Publications), p. 107.
13. For an explanation and defense of Christian epistemology and biblical authority see The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God, pp. 123-164; J. I. Packer, God Has Spoken: Revelation and the Bible (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1979, 1993); and Clark H. Pinnock, Biblical Revelation (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1971).
14. See John A. Saliba, "Religious Dimensions of UFO Phenomena" in The God's Have Landed, pp. 33-34.
15. On the subject of hermeneutics see Grant R. Osborne, The Hermeneutical Spiral (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1991). Also very helpful is D. A. Carson's introductory essay, "Approaching the Bible" in New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition, ed. D. A. Carson, R. T. France, J. A. Motyer, G. J. Wenham (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press), pp. 1-19.
Back To Main Page | Apologetics | Creation/Origins | Culture | Self | The Problem Of Evil | Truth Unleashed: An Apologetics Handbook | UFOs | Biblical Studies | Christian Community | Communication/Evangelism | Perspectives on God's Word | Random Thoughts | Recommendations | Spiritual Living | Who is Carmen?