UFOs and the Bible: Introduction and Theological Questions

Category: Culture Wars/Popular Culture 236 3

[This is part one in a three part series. Click here for part two and here for part three.]

This past summer I finally sat down and watched The X-Files. This series, which aired from 1993-2002, was one of the most popular television shows in the history of entertainment. With its storylines full of government conspiracies, aliens, and the goal of uncovering the truth, it entertained millions of viewers and garnered a cult following. The show followed FBI Agent Fox Mulder and his partner Dana Scully. Mulder is a firm believer that Aliens exist and that they abducted his sister when they were younger. Scully is the skeptic and is always trying to debunk his theories, although she eventually begins to believe. The shows motto, “The truth is out there,” is a very popular phrase in the science fiction realm.

Science Fiction is the most popular form of entertainment in the world today. So much so that one writer has called it “a modern obsession.”[1] And the most popular character in science fiction? Aliens! Extraterrestrial beings from another planet have become a staple of the entertainment industry. Whether it is movies such as Star Wars, Alien, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the Fourth Kind, The Day the Earth Stood Still, or countless others, the movie industry is dominated by little green men (or any of the other types of “space brothers” such as the Greys, Insectoids, or others).

Aliens also make an appearance in many video games and regular television (besides X-Files) like Star Trek. The belief in extraterrestrials is so popular that more and more people across the world are reporting UFO sightings, and some even say that they have been abducted by aliens. A quick search on YouTube will give you a very large list of videos that supposedly show real UFOs in the sky or even real aliens roaming the earth. Some YouTube users even have a series of videos that are uploaded periodically that update the viewer on UFO sightings each month.

When one hears “UFO”, an Unidentified Flying Object, one will automatically think of a spaceship, usually some kind of flying saucer that is driven by extraterrestrial beings from another planet. An Unidentified Flying Object used to mean just that, an Unidentified Flying Object, but it now has only the meaning of spaceship with extraterrestrials driving it.

The modern craze of UFO sightings started in 1947 (although there were other events before then – Orson Welles’s reenactment of War of the Worlds caused quite a stir in 1938 when many radio listeners actually thought that the earth was being invaded by Martians). In June 1947, Seattle businessman Kenneth Arnold spotted something unusual when he was piloting his private plane over the Cascade Mountains in Washington State. The very next day, the East Oregonian newspaper reported:

“He said he sighted nine saucer-like aircraft flying in formation at 3 p.m. yesterday, extremely bright – as if they were nickel plated – and flying at an immense rate of speed. He estimated they were at an altitude between 9,500 and 10,000 feet and clocked them from Mt. Rainier to Mt. Adams, arriving at the amazing speed of about 1,200 miles an hour. ‘It seemed impossible,’ he said, ‘but there it is – I must believe my eyes.’”[2]

This was the beginning of the term “flying-saucer” and it captured the public’s imagination. By the end of that same year, there were more than 850 sightings in the media.[3] Around the same time came reports from Roswell, New Mexico of a possible downed flying-saucer in the desert.

An example of a typical UFO photograph. Source: http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/ufos/1836403/Flying-saucer-filmed-in-Turkey.html
An example of a typical UFO photograph. Source: http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/ufos/1836403/Flying-saucer-filmed-in-Turkey.html

Sightings

Millions, maybe as many as tens-or-hundreds of millions, of people worldwide claim to see UFOs (that’s a lot of people). The majority of UFO claims can be easily explained by natural phenomena (I’ll discuss this more in another article in this series). However, there is a small amount (about 2-5%) that is not easily explained. This, of course, does not mean that a natural explanation does not exist.[4] What it means is that the researcher must remain open-minded when looking into the matter of UFOs.

Nonetheless, many people still are very eager to believe that aliens exist, despite there being no hard evidence, and the fact that there have been many proven frauds and hoaxes. Polls show that 20 million Americans have seen a UFO, and maybe as much as 4 million claim to have been abducted. Even so, “there are bizarre aspects to many such ‘alien encounter’ experiences, which defy naturalistic explanations.”[5]

Research has showed that back in 1947 most Americans thought that UFOs were illusions, secret weapons, hoaxes, or just some kind of phenomena that could not be explained.[6] However, many UFOs do not appear as spaceships but as balls of light. Whether a ball of light or an actual craft, these UFOs will fly at speeds, and make sharp turns at those high speeds, which are physically impossible for our aircraft to do. These sightings cannot be some kind of secret weapon (I’ll talk more about this topic in Part 2 of this series).

There have been so many sightings that many different UFO research groups have sprung up over the years. These include MUFON (Mutual UFO Network), CUFOS (Center for UFO Studies), and many others. (Go over to MUFON’s website and you can look at the reported UFO sightings where you live – it’s kind of creepy).

Historical Sightings

People looking up into the sky and seeing something unusual is not a new phenomenon. The ancient Greeks and Romans reported “fiery globes” in the night sky and “circular shields” during the day. The Ancient Egyptians (more than 3,000 years ago) recorded that “circles of fire” and “flaming chariots” sailed across the heavens. The American Indians had legends that described “flying canoes” and “great silvery airships.” UFO researcher Ronald Story notes, “Such accounts have been handed down through the ages by nearly all peoples of the world: from ancient Egypt, India, Tibet, Japan, China, Scandinavia, Ireland, England, France, Italy, Polynesia, and the Americas.”[7] A few examples include:

  1. In the year 216 BC ships in the sky were seen over Italy. At Arpi (east of Rome) “a round shield was seen in the sky.”
  2. In 214 BC, forms of ships were seen in the sky at Rome.
  3. In 170 BC, at Lanupim (16 miles from Rome), “a remarkable spectacle of a fleet of ships was seen in the air.”[8]

Closer to modern times, there were the Airship Waves of 1896 and 1897. The 1896 event was “the first major UFO wave in recorded history.”[9] Local newspapers ran headlines such as: A Wandering Apparition, A Queer Phenomenon, and What Was It? The majority of witnesses said they only saw a light source in the sky, but a few reported a dark body of some sort with the lights.

The 1896 wave was in the western United States and Canada. Cities that reported sightings included Stockton, Sacramento, Santa Rosa, Red Bluff, Auburn, San Jose, Fresno, Bakersfield, Los Angeles, and many others. Some think that the sightings were only misidentifications of the planet Venus, but witnesses described the lights and dark mass as “dark body,” “misty mass,” “cigar-shaped,” “egg-shaped,” and “barrel-shaped.”

Some of the reports can be explained naturally, but some cannot. Others reported “a fiery object.” A steamboat captain reported “a fast-moving cigar shaped object surrounded by a shifting luminosity and making small explosions.” Hundreds of citizens of Tulare, California, said that “something in the night sky came down quite a distance, and then went up and took a straight, quick move westward. Red, white and blue lights were seen in succession.” In Washington State, someone reported something strange over Mt. Rainier that emitted strange rays of various colors, moved around in a strange motion, and darted from one place to another.

A similar UFO wave occurred in such places as Kansas, Nebraska, Arkansas, Michigan, Delaware, and other states the very next year. Interestingly, similar reports of airships were occurring in other locations around the world in places such as Sweden, Norway, and Russia.[10] I am not saying that all of these sightings really happened. Although some of the sightings have been explained by researchers, the fact that so many people saw something shows that there was something in the sky. The way the objects behaved cannot be explained naturally. These events also took place before the first recorded flight by man. If a secret flight was going on during 1896 and 1897 it still does not explain the sightings since the earliest manmade airships/airplanes could not behave the way the reports speak about (even our technology today cannot fly the way supposed UFOs can).[11]

Among the Popular

It used to be that if you told people that you had seen a UFO or even been abducted, then you were looked at as a crazy person who needed to be locked up. However, it is no longer like that. Many popular people have claimed to see an UFO and/or believe in life on other planets. Former president of the United States, Jimmy Carter, is someone who has said that he has seen a UFO.[12] For the leader of the free world to admit this shows how mainstream UFOs have become. And there are many more than Carter.

Even General Douglas MacArthur, who led the Allied forces in the Pacific during World War II, said in 1955:

“Because of the developments of science, all the countries on earth will have to unite to survive and to make a common front against attack by people from other planets. The politics of the future will be cosmic, or interplanetary.”[13]

Probably the most important supporter of life on other planets is NASA. NASA even has an Origins program which is in search of extraterrestrial life. Concerning the search for Alien life Daniel S. Goldin, NASA’s administrator from 1992-2001 said:

“The fourth goal [of his administration] is to search for Earth-like planets that may be habitable or inhabited through direct detection and spectroscopic measurement.”[14]

The Origins website says: “NASA’s Origins Program seeks to answer two enduring human questions that we once considered around ancient campfires, yet still keep alive in today’s classrooms: ‘Where do we come from? Are we alone?’”[15]

There is even a new kind of science that is connected with extraterrestrial life. NASA’s website on “Astrobiology” says:

“Astrobiology is the study of the origin, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe. This multidisciplinary field encompasses the search for habitable environments in our Solar System and habitable planets outside our Solar System, the search for evidence of prebiotic chemistry and life on Mars and other bodies in our Solar System, laboratory and field research into the origins and early evolution of life on Earth, and studies of the potential for life to adapt to challenges on Earth and in space.”[16]

UFO researcher Gary Bates says, “Astrobiology is all-encompassing, in that it not only includes the study of life on Earth, but beyond it as well. But it includes another more well-defined field that is supposed to study actual life beyond the earth. It is a specialist field called exobiology. The notion that ‘objective’ scientists are specializing in this area gives the impression that something must exist.”[17]

Even the late Dr. Carl Sagan, a very popular atheist and science fiction writer, believed that there were planets in the universe with life on them. However, Sagan did not believe that Aliens were visiting us from other planets. [18]  Neither does NASA nor does the SETI Institute – Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. SETI has received donations from people like Steven Spielberg, Paul Allen, the co-founder of Microsoft, and even from corporations like Hewlett Packard. SETI uses many different research projects in an attempt to detect life on other planets.

UFOlogy – A Substitute Religion

UFOlogy – the study of UFOs – is becoming one of the most popular forms of beliefs in the world. Along with this is the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis (ETH). The ETH is the belief that aliens visited the earth thousands of years ago and are still doing so today. Common beliefs among those who hold to the ETH are 1) that aliens may have helped mankind build the pyramids and other ancient wonders; and/or 2) that God, angels and demons are aliens. The belief is that aliens created mankind in their image.

Is God an alien?
Is God an alien?

This belief, along with any belief in aliens, is based on the theory of evolution. If we evolved on this planet then surely someone evolved on another planet. The ETH goes even as far to think that our “space brothers” are more evolved than us and that they are here to help us evolve.[19]

Ronald Story makes a good observation about all of this: “…science fiction has become our myth, and science has become our religion. Due mainly to media influences and a hideously complicated world, most people are finding it increasingly difficult to distinguish fantasy from reality.”[20]

He continues: “Unlike earlier times, today we look to science for answers for most of our questions about life in the universe. The world has become more materialistic than spiritualistic, and so our spiritual needs go largely unmet.”[21]

Bates says:

“But the UFO interest does not appear to be satisfying more than just idle curiosity for the mysterious, or hunger for intrigue. There are deeper philosophical questions, like the meaning of our existence, for which most people want answers. And although most don’t realize it, their interest is born out of a religious need or desire.”[22]

Sociologist Gerald Eberlein has said, “Research has shown that people who are not affiliated with any church, but who claim they are religious are particularity susceptible to the possible existence of extraterrestrials. For them, UFOlogy is a substitute religion.”[23]

Theological Difficulties

Most Christians tend to ignore the idea of aliens. However, not all Christians do this. An astronomer for the Roman Catholic Church has come out as saying that aliens may have souls and that he is willing to baptize ET into the Christian faith.[24] However, there are problems with God creating extraterrestrials.

  1. God uniquely designed the earth for life (Isaiah 45:18), while other planets have a completely different purpose than earth. Psalm 115:16 says that God gave the earth to man, but that the heavens are the Lord’s.
  2. The Bible teaches us that all of creation was placed under the curse when Adam and Eve sinned (Romans 8:18-22). The curse was universal. “Therefore, any ETs living elsewhere would have been (unjustly) affected by the Adamic Curse through no fault of their own—they would not have inherited Adam’s sin nature.”
  3. Jesus came and died for the sins of mankind, and will redeem not only mankind but all of creation as well (Romans 8:18-22). As I have written about previously, this freeing of creation from bondage includes the animal kingdom on earth (and not intelligent beings on other planets).
  4. Some people believe that Christ’s sacrifice may have been repeated on another world for other beings. “However, Christ died once for all (Romans 6:10, 1 Peter 3:18) on the earth. He is not going to be crucified and resurrected again on other planets (Hebrews 9:26). This is confirmed by the fact that the redeemed (earthly) church is known as Christ’s bride (Ephesians 5:22–33; Revelation 19:7–9) in a marriage that will last for eternity. Christ is not going to be a polygamist with many other brides from other planets.” “For God to have created any intelligent sentient beings other than humans would violate the gospel—remembering that the whole purpose of creation was to bring forward a bride for Christ (not many brides).”
  5. Jesus died for the sins of mankind, not for other species. Neither did he die for fallen angels (Hebrews 2:16).[25]
  6. The idea of alien life is based on the theory of evolution. Since we evolved here, surely someone else evolved on another planet. But I have already written about the incompatibility of Christianity and evolution (see herehere, and here).
  7. Some want to argue that the universe is so big that surely God would not make it so large and keep it empty. However, this is forcing our ideas about the universe onto God. I have written here on why God created the universe so big, and it has nothing to do with aliens.

Dave Hunt makes a good point:

“Doesn’t the belief that space has other intelligent, human-like occupants (a necessary corollary to the theory of evolution) do away with the entire idea of a supernatural act of creation and thus with the God of the Bible? If ‘spontaneous generation’ could happen on planet Earth, why not on millions of other similar planets? The clear implication from Genesis to Revelation is that the creation of Adam and Eve was a unique event, never having occurred before nor would ever occur again, anywhere in the cosmos.”

He continues:

“At this point, we are not arguing for acceptance of either the biblical account or of the atheistic account but simply showing their incompatibility with each other. How can any ‘believer’ share in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence when such creatures could not exist except through a creative act of God? Yet what the Bible says from Genesis to Revelation reveals that the search for human-like creatures outside the Earth, which is a large part of the space program, of necessity denies the existence of the Creator God in whom all Christians supposedly believe.”[26]

To summarize, it is clear from a biblical perspective, extraterrestrials do not exist. The question remains then, what are people actually seeing?

What do you think?

What do you think about UFOs? Have you ever thought about it? Have you ever witnessed something in the sky that you could not explain? We must remember that UFOs are not only seen by a few people, but millions of people in practically every country, in every religion, and are seen among people in all walks of life including military personal, government leaders, airplane pilots, and even astronauts. These are not people who are normally prone to hallucinations or hoaxes. The question is what they are and where they are coming from. As I will show throughout this series, there just might be something going on, and it may surprise you.


[1] Gary Bates. Alien Intrusion. Updated and Expanded (Powder Springs: Creation Book Publishers, 2010 printing), Pg. 15.

[3] Bates, 18.

[4] Ibid., 16.

[5] Ibid., 16-17.

[6] Ibid., 17.

[7] Ronald Story. “Ancient UFOs.” In The Mammoth Encyclopedia of Extraterrestrial Encounters. Ronald D. Story Ed. (London: Robinson, 2002). Pg. 64.

[8] Story, 64-65.

[9] Loren E. Gross. “Airship Wave of 1896.” In The Mammoth Encyclopedia of Extraterrestrial Encounters. Pg. 17.

[10] Lucius Farish. “Airship Wave of 1897.” In The Mammoth Encyclopedia of Extraterrestrial Encounters. Pgs. 19-21.

[11] Farish, 21.

[12] Bates, 19-20.

[13] New York Times, October 8, 1955. Quoted in Bates, 25.

[14] Quoted in Bates, 32.

[15] Quoted in Bates, 33. Emphasis in original.

[17] Bates, 33-34.

[18] Ibid., 34-35.

[19] Ibid., 21.

[20] Ronald Story. “Story’s UFO ‘Observations.’” In The Mammoth Encyclopedia of Extraterrestrial Encounters. Pg. 679.

[21] Story, 679.

[22] Bates, 15.

[23] Erdling Hallo. “Ufologie,” Focus 45:254. Quoted in Bates, 15-16.

[25] Gary Bates. “Did God create life on other planets?” Creation 29(2):12–15
March 2007. http://creation.com/did-god-create-life-on-other-planets. Italics in original. Also see Jason Lisle. “Are ETs & UFOs Real?” In The New Answers Book. Ken Ham ed. (Green Forest: Master Books, 2006). Pgs. 238-240.

[26] Dave Hunt. Cosmos, Creator, and Human Destiny (Bend: The Berean Call, 2010). Pg. 22.

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3 thoughts on “UFOs and the Bible: Introduction and Theological Questions

  1. robakers

    Nice discussion. I consider myself to be a believer in Christ and I find myself open to the possibility of ET. I think you make a fine argument against the existence of ET because if they don’t exist it is only because God didn’t create them.

    But I am hesitant to use the inspired word of God to make this argument. I might try to respond point by point.

    1. God can do what he wants with the Heavens, even if that means ETs were created.
    2. We all suffer Adam’s sin through no fault of our own. Except that we all would have failed. Maybe it is true for Mork and Mindy.
    3. Jesus earned the right to free anyone/anything he wanted to free. I am just glad he chose to include me in that freedom.
    4. What if Christ’s death happened simultaneously on every planet in the Universe? He did it once and for all. What if Jesus existed in another dimension at that moment and he saved Chewbacca. Again, I find it tough to limit God.
    5. If Worf is a angel then you might have a point. But if Worf is a creature of free will created by God, then I don’t but it.
    6. I have seen many Christians evolve over the years. Including myself and maybe that is a good thing. But I hold that God did it all in 6 literal days, and if he found he was ahead of schedule, then maybe he planted a could of extra soul crops.
    7.Maybe it is so big so that Han Solo will have enough space to let his ego run free. Ha ha. I don’t know why it is so big, but it serves some purpose that is for sure.

    I don’t normally engage in this kind of chat, but it is fun and I hope you take my replies in a spirit of Love and friendship. Peace to you!

    rob

  2. mmcclellan2

    Thanks for the comment. I understand the points that you are making. I have thought of many of them myself. Let me take a little time to show you why I don’t accept them however. First, I agree that God can create aliens if he wanted to. But just because he can does not mean that he did. Second, I agree that Jesus can free anyone he wants from sin. Again this does not mean that he did so with some hypothetical ET. Third, Jesus did not die for the sins of aliens. He died once and for all for humanity. Hebrews 2:14 says that Jesus destroyed “him who holds the power of death” by sharing in mankind’s humanity. Since Jesus died only once for sins, he could not have become a Klingon to die for their sins.

    Many of your points are simply “what ifs” or “maybes.” This is not evidence. Scripture, for example, does not say that God completed creation ahead of schedule nor does it say anything about Jesus’ death happening simultaneously on other planets. Please don’t misunderstand. I’m not trying to be mean or anything. As I mentioned above, I have thought of many of these same points. However, when it comes down to it, many of these points are only brought up by many people because they want aliens to exist. For many UFOlogy has become a religion. “If only there were aliens out there, we can meet up with them, and they can teach us the meaning of life.” I’m not saying you believe this, but many people do.

    As for the Han Solo comment, I had a good laugh. Even this big universe is not big enough for that ego 😀 Anyways, I have written another article concerning the size of the universe. I invite you to check it out.

  3. RLJam

    You might consider reading Exo-Vaticanus and On the Path of the Immortals by Thomas Horn and Chris Putnam. They have done extensive academic, archaeological and personal research on this topic. These things are REAL and they are Luciferian and there is an Agenda.

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