By Michael D. Acosta, MFA (USN Ret.)
How can the average Christian rationalize two belief systems, one of God and one of potential alien craft visiting planet Earth? In screenwriting, we call this genre bending, which is frowned upon and most often unsuccessful. However, in reality we interface within multiple systems of belief every day.
For instance, we may despise Wall Street for hedging bets against the consumer credit market, but at the same time purchase a flat screen TV that we can’t afford on credit. We may laud that universal healthcare is the fair and humane thing to do, but refuse to pay a single dollar more in taxes to provide for it. These intellectual paradoxes are common, and therefore we (The People) have the ability to accept realities that transcend our normal day to day activities, which includes both God and UAP/UFO.
Two of the most important philosophical questions that can be asked are: Is God real and are we alone in the Universe? For the indifferent Christian this doesn’t present a problem, but for the scientifically uninformed and some more conservative Christian theologists it may be of great consequence and emotional concern. Thus, it is these two questions that we should explore simultaneously.
Defining The Terms
Let us first define what a Christian and UAP are for the purposes of this article. Christians are those people that believe in the Holy Trinity, and that God became the Son and died for humanity’s sin. Christians believe in the Resurrection and redemption through the belief in Jesus Christ the Savior.
Unidentified Aerial Phenomena are sightings in Earth’s skies that can NOT be explained. UAP often display speeds and navigational course corrections that are well beyond the abilities of current cutting edge technologies. UAP are often associated with Extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI), but it should be noted that the operative word is unidentified, although this distinction is often not made.
According to a Pew Research study (Washington Times 12/23/12), the world has 2.2 billion Christians, which is 32% of the world’s population. Over 2 billion people have a value system that stems from the Bible and its core Ten Commandments. They do this with absolutely no physical evidence. Historical events seem to line up with recounts in the Bible, however actual material evidence does not exist.
The power for Christians lies within the power of Faith alone. In essence, seeing is not believing, believing is seeing. As Oscar Wilde once said, “Religions die when they are proved to be true.” Another survey was done by USA Today and revealed that 61% of Americans say that they believe we (humans) are not the only intelligent life in the galaxy. 6% of Americans have claimed to have actually seen a UAP/UFO. Lets put this in context: Of the world’s 2.2 billion Christians, America (population 314m) is home to 261 million of them (ABC News). 192 million of those same people believe in extraterrestrial intelligence, and have had 19 million first hand sightings of unidentified aerial phenomena. In addition, a USA Today survey showed that 43% of those same Americans believe that UAP/UFO’s are real. That is 135 million of the U.S. population that believes we potentially have aircraft in our skies not operated by human intelligence or other unexplainable means.
Despite these staggering percentages, some Christians outright refuse to believe in the possibility of UAP. This culture is more widespread in the southern Bible belt, but not unique to that region. While evidence exists, one only has to visit NARCAP.org to find highly technical reports of UAP, to support the existence of craft or objects flying in our skies that we cannot currently identify, this subset ignores the evidence out of hand.
Three Main Objections
- God did not create aliens.
- Aliens are demonic in nature.
- God is not an alien.
Let us begin with the first.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1)
In the beginning is a reference by our understanding as the commencement of time itself, and God’s very first divine act. The term heavens and earth, mundus universus, refers specifically to the terrestrial soil on which we tread and the firmament of our atmosphere. However, we have one earth and one atmosphere, yet the Genesis verse specifically states a plural heavens. In Greek the term heaven means boundary, which is consistent with how our atmosphere works, but why then would the first book of Moses refer to multiple heavens? Does it refer to the Heaven of heavens, where He resides or to the cosmos itself? The Bible does not clarify this issue specifically.
Father George Coyne, PhD says that the Bible should not be considered a scientific document, “The Scriptures are not teaching science,” but it is a love letter from God to us. It would be strong argument at this point that if God did not specifically clarify it in His word then it was unimportant to the relationship between man and God. However, the point remains that heavens is plural and that we are not the only heavenly body in the solar system. In fact modern science has concluded we are not the only solar system or galaxy, or planet capable of sustaining life, and that there are 100 billion potential life supporting planets in our galaxy and 100 billion galaxies. Extrapolating the multipliers mathematically reveals probabilities of intelligent life existing on another planet somewhere in the known universe is not only likely, but astronomical. Astrophysicist, Dr. Jeffery Bennett, theorizes that there is a mathematical probability of one hundred thousand civilizations in our galaxy alone.
Combine this scientific knowledge with the theological question of a plural heaven(s) and you get a strong platform for the probability for ETI, and therefore UAP become more valid. This seems to be evidence enough to at least ask the question, however in some Christian circles this would be considered blasphemy or social suicide. The reason for this is simple. During the 4th Century BC Aristotle hypothesized that the Earth was the center of the universe and that everything revolved around it. His geocentric theory was in line with the idea that we as humans were the center of the universe. Ptolemy’s Almagest (The Greatest) published 150 AD further indicated this as truth and the heavens became known as the Ptolemaic Universe.
During the Middle Ages this re-discovered science was synthesized by Thomas Aquinas, a philosopher and theologian, and became a large part of Catholic dogma. What started as a pagan study of the solar system became Christian doctrine, and the belief that man was the center of the universe lasted in scientific circles, as well as Christian circles for over sixteen hundred years. In the 16th century, Copernicus derailed the idea that everything revolved around us with a heliocentric model changing our fundamental understanding of where we stood in the universe, but the prevailing spiritual wisdom did not change, and that may have been perpetuated by the church for reasons of power and control, and nothing to do with fact or science. To the issue, if God has created other worlds, which we know He has, as well as other intelligent life, are we still special? Being the center of God’s attention has been in our Christian DNA and historical subconscious for over two thousand years. The reaction was very much like a selfish only child, who finds out that they will soon have a brother or a sister.
The real questions concerning a revelation of this magnitude should be quite different however.
If God created aliens what is their relationship with Him? Did they, like us, commit original sin? Did God have to send His son Jesus Christ to die for their sins as well? The physicist and theologian Sir John Polkinghorne was asked about Christ and His descending to earth to die for man’s sins. He remarked on this question that the God he saw in Jesus “will do what is necessary.” Even the great mind and Christian literary giant C.S. Lewis asked “that if aliens do exist, and if they are intelligent, will they have sinned like human beings?”
If Aliens exist, and God created them, then we humans would have to admit that we would no longer be the single most important life forms in the universe, and Christians would have to accept these aliens as brothers and sisters in Christ based on the Christian doctrine. It is these central questions that may be at the core of lack of acceptance; fear. Bridging gender and racial divides can be and is challenging, however holding hands with an alien and professing love for God together would be beyond challenging for most.
Speaking Directly To Christians
Father Jose Funes, director of the Vatican Observatory, said “Christians should consider alien life as an ‘extraterrestrial brother’ and a part of God’s creation.” These theories, however, are rarely even discussed as UAP and UFO’s are discounted without investigation or rational thought due to fear.
It is evident that God delights in His own creativity, as proclaimed by most pastors, ministers, and priests. He created a world full of color and diversity. Thousands of colors of flowers, sunsets, blue waters, all the way down to the colors of our skin. God even created more than one type of Angel, and by His own word more than one heaven. Would it not make sense that He created more than one set of intelligent life forms in a vast universe where He created hundreds of billions of places for them to live?
Emeritus Professor of the History of Science, Colin Russell, suggested that speculations concerning alien life in the seventeenth century focused on God’s ability to create life anywhere he wished and that the universe existed not just for the sole benefit of human beings, but to exhibit His glory to all. E.A. Milne, Oxford University cosmologist, and Christian suggested even more, “Is it irreverent to suggest that an infinite God could scarcely find the opportunities to enjoy himself, to exercise his godhead, if a single planet were the seat of his activities?”
Instead of arguing scientific probabilities with dogmatic beliefs not singularly addressed in the Bible, we should concentrate on the fact that acceptance of Jesus Christ is paramount in humankind’s ascension to heaven and that the existence of aliens is irrelevant of that fact. Moreover, Vatican astronomer Father Funes, who has a doctorate in astronomy from the University of Padua in Italy, said that it would be difficult to exclude the possibility that other intelligent life exists in the universe, and that “These potential forms of life could include those that have no need of oxygen or hydrogen. Just as God created multiple forms of life on earth, there may be diverse forms throughout the universe. This is not in contrast with the faith, because we cannot place limits on the creative freedom of God.”
Are Aliens Demons?
Many Christian and Christian groups feel Aliens are Demons, such as Hank Hanegraff of The Christian Research Institute. Even former British Defense Staff, Admiral of the Fleet Lord Hill-Norton said that, some UAP encounters are, “definitely antithetical to orthodox Christian belief.”
We only have to step back in time to the late 17th Century to see another kind of demon, the witches of Salem. Twenty people were executed as agents of the devil. We now know that this was the work of paranoia and greed, and malevolent human vengeance, and lust for power and land. However, the science of the day concluded that those executed were in fact possessed by devils (demons).
Famously, Galileo was condemned for “vehemently suspect of heresy” by the Inquisition and sentenced to house arrest by the Catholic Church. This was for pronouncing his findings as fact, rather than a possibility. His conflict with the church was largely driven by politics, however the Church was complicit. Galileo was often accused as to getting information from demons, and that his telescope was bewitched, an illusion to demonic possession. It is safe to say that in these accounts, the lack of knowledge and fear was the prime force in these assessments of demonic participation.
The most interesting evidence is that God created all the angels, which one third turned against Him and fell to Earth as demons. These demons have supernatural powers and abilities, and as it says in the Bible, “Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:4)
In accounts of angelic visitation, angels appear as if from nowhere or flying with great white wings. This denotes that their power is intrinsic and not technological. However, if aliens are inherently evil and demonic, why do they not carry the same intrinsic power as their angelic brethren? Why must demons use spacecraft and fly our skies and appear to us as UAP or UFO’s? The logic does not add up to the evidence provided in the Bible. Again, it is only safe to assume that any potential alien is a mystery, and therefore as history would clearly state, we (as humans) are afraid of the unknown and would much rather incorrectly label a monster or ignore a real event rather than acknowledge the unknown. Again fear is at the center of disbelief, or belief as it were, and ironically these same people would search for the tomb of Christ, but not investigate a UAP over their neighbor’s home.
Mention the phrase “God is an alien” in the South, in public, and you may end up in a hole. This is complete blasphemy. However, go behind closed doors and you can join those same people in their living rooms to watch the latest episode of Ancient Aliens. This idea is suitable for a comic book, however the issue should be addressed at the least. Ancient aliens has become a profitable TV event, and wildly entertaining.
Some posit that God is a super intelligent, technologically advanced alien. That we are in essence a biological experiment or a large pet enclosure. An iconic film event explored this in Stanley Kubrick’s, 2001: A Space Odyssey. He said, “that all the standard attributes assigned to God in our history could equally well be the characteristics of biological entities who, billions of years ago, were at a stage of development similar to man’s own and developed into something as remote from man as man is remote from the primordial ooze from which he first emerged.”
Lets take a step back and look at this objectively. If God is a hyper-intelligent and technologically advanced alien that resides in another dimension … if this is even plausible, what would be the difference? Lets say for the sake of argument that this hypothesis holds water. If this god-alien who has evolved into an omnipotent all powerful being that traveled into this dimension and created this galaxy, along with life (us). And that this alien loves us and through dogmatic laws created a Son, due to original sin, to allow for a path to redemption (so that we could ascend into the heaven(s) with him) … if this be true, would it matter?
The argument is not to try to convince you that God is an alien, but that entering an argument about the subject is a moot point. If God is God it doesn’t matter from whence he came, only that he is God and that He loves us as the Bible says. If you truly attempt to wrap your head around a being that has the power of creation from nothingness, is that not a completely alien concept?
Lets think for a minute about our idea of God. Where does He live? Heaven, where is that? How powerful is He? He has the ability to develop and create complex organic systems, as well as disrupt and manipulate natural law. Basically, everything we know about Him is impossible. “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.” (Mark 10:27) He can defy physics and biology in every way we understand.
“What is impossible with men is possible with God.” (Luke 18:27)
Again, the point is moot as the concepts are alien … forgive the pun.
Christians are as historically fallible as any other subset of the global population. They (we) are frightened of things we don’t understand. And the occurrence of unidentified aerial phenomena is exactly that. Being helpless in the face of potential intergalactic travelers or the face of the Almighty inspires fear, respect, and hope. Disavowing the potential for UAP without studying the evidence flies in the face of Christians specifically, who aspire to a belief without evidence. That belief and faith is power and what the entire system predicates itself on.
“You love Him even though you have never seen Him. Though you do not see Him now, you trust Him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy.” (1 Peter 1:8)
It is this concept, combined with review of available evidence, that should inform Christians of UAP, not choosing medieval intellectual blindness. If the Mars Rover were to discover a fossilized one cell organism, it would impact Christians very little, and only be evidence of the vast creative powers of God. However, evidence to the existence of intelligent life would force intellectual and spiritual re-assessment of a completely different order.
Knowledge is power, both in the scientific world and according to God, “An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.” (Proverbs 18:15) Perhaps, we should take His advice, look deeper, and bridge the gap between believers and non-believers … perhaps it would be for mutual benefit.
Stanford University, http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/copernicus/#2.3
Stanford University, http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/aquinas/
Scientific and Christian Beliefs, http://www.scienceandchristianbelief.org/serve_pdf_free.php? filename=SCB+11-2+essay+review.pdf
The Smithsonian, http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/brief-salem.html
The Catholic Church Education, http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/apologetics/ap0138.html
New International Version, The Holy Bible.