The Growing Problem of UFOs and Aliens

Cartoon alien in his space ship Nowhere in the Bible does it say that planet Earth is the only place where God has seen fit to create life. The Bible's message is to mankind on planet Earth and is designed to help mankind live at peace and successfully with the cosmos, with God and with one another. For that reason most people look at discussions of UFOs and aliens as harmless fantasies that may have some basis of fact in the distant future, but not really as a relevant concern in today's world and especially of no significance religiously. The recent claims of the Raileons that they have cloned a human being and that they are in contact with aliens who created all life on the earth 25,000 years ago has made it clear that aliens and UFOs are more serious subjects than that.

Cartoon aliens in a spaceship Belief in UFOs and aliens is not just a fringe belief. USA Today says that their surveys show that 43% of all Americans believe in UFOs and aliens as being real. In 1977 a plaque was attached to a spaceship leaving the solar system that showed where we live in our solar system and what we look like. The justification for this was that aliens outside of our solar system would find the space ship and we needed to let them know that we are friendly and that we welcome them.

The history of modern UFO beliefs goes back to the middle of the twentieth century. In 1947 a man named Ken Arnold saw something near Mount Rainier which he called a flying saucer. A week later claims were made that a spaceship had crashed near Roswell, NM, and that aliens were carried out of the debris by the army. With that beginning, claims were made, books were written, and movies/television shows were produced at a rate that made it impossible for any systematic investigation of sightings to be made. The entertainment industry has found crop circles, aliens, UFOs, and abductions to be a very lucrative business so there has been no let up in the stimulus for this to continue.

There are several points that need to be made about all this that have some relevance to belief in God and to spiritual things in general. We would like to call some facts and observations to the reader's attention.

There is a difference between UFOs and ETIs

All of us know that UFO means Unidentified Flying Object, but we tend to forget that all that means is that the observers do not understand what they are looking at. It does not mean that an Extra Terrestrial Intelligence (ETI) is behind the UFO. Most Americans do not understand much of what they see in the sky. I was always amazed when I taught astronomy to my students how little they knew and how many misconceptions they had. Atmospheric phenomena like sun dogs, storm phenomena like ball lightning and stratospheric discharge, astronomical phenomena like auroras, meteorite storms and bolloids are all things that many of us are not familiar with. The use of man made objects like weather balloons, test aircraft, reentry vehicles from space not to mention practical jokes also deceive many people. Between 1947 and 1969, there were 12,618 sightings reported to civil authorities, and 11,917 of them (94%) have been identified and explained by natural phenomena or man-made influences.

The fact that we do not know what something is that we see in the sky, does not automatically mean that there is an alien involved, and in fact it is obvious that most of the time it is a case of the observer simply not being informed about the world around them. There is no hard evidence that there is any ETI at the present time.

UFOs and ETIs do not have any negative connections to the Bible or to Christianity

We pointed out at the start of this article that there is no statement in the Bible which says that Earth is the only place where God saw fit to create life. The fact is that God has created angels and they are very different than are we, so we know that the creation of beings other than ourselves is a certainty, and the existence of other physical beings certainly has to be held out as a possibility. If life is discovered on Mars or on one of Jupiter's moons, it will have no biblical consequence. Religious people have made the mistake in the past of making something that has no biblical connection an issue. There were those at the start of the twentieth century that said man would never fly. These folks would use passages like Acts 17:26 (KJV) which say "God has appointed the bounds of man and the limits of his habitation" to justify their view that man would never get off the ground. That might seem silly to us, but we need to understand that statements about life in space are of the same nature and have no biblical base.

The Bible addresses itself to man and to man's needs. When John 3:16 tells about God's love, its object is man and that is who the message of the Bible is to. If there are other beings who are like us in any way, they may have a similar message that is for them. It is highly unlikely (given the distances that exist in space) that we will ever know if there is life out there, but even meeting a Mr. Spock or ET would not invalidate the Bible or the teachings of Jesus Christ or His sacrifice on the cross.

For Many people, UFOs and ETIs have become a substitute for God

I have attended a few UFO conferences and meetings, and one thing that has impressed me is the level of antagonism toward God and toward believers in God that seems to permeate these meetings. Somehow there seems to be a feeling that UFOs are an alternative to God, and that contacting aliens from somewhere may offer a path to eternal life that does not make obedience to God necessary. Some UFO proponents have occult properties with an emphasis on evil and evil encounters. UFO proponents frequently have Eastern religions in their belief system but rarely if ever have anything from Christianity. A huge percentage of UFO proponents sanction New Age concepts and beliefs and in fact may borrow from New Age artifacts like crystals.

The bottom line in all of this is that there is a huge spiritual quest in our culture and that has led to some big business connections. It is not by accident that Henry Potter, the Left-Behind series, and other materials like them are so successful. The Church's inability or unwillingness to give reasonable answers to the questions of our day has led many people to feel that it does not have answers and people will not trust feelings and wild religious claims used to extract money and time from them. I have heard it said that when you do not believe in something you will believe anything, and that may be a part of what is happening in our culture. Galatians 1:8 warns us that gospels other than the gospel of Christ are destructive, and while fantasy is a valid recreational pursuit, when a person cannot tell the difference between fantasy and reality they are in serious trouble.

Christianity offers a positive, constructive, useful, factually-supported way of expressing one's spiritual searching. By Christianity, I mean what Jesus actually taught and what the early Church actually did--not the man-made religious organizations that depend upon human leadership and intellect. The need to show what "pure and undefiled religion" (James 1:27) is all about has never been greater. 

--John N. Clayton

Back to Contents Does God Exist?, MayJun03.