Beam Me Up, Scotty
"They have landed!" With these words broadcast over nationwide radio on Halloween eve 1938, the United States populous was hurled into a frenzied hysteria. Broadcast personality Orson Welles was reporting H.G. Wells' book War of the Worlds as if it were actually occurring. Neither he nor the show's producers anticipated that citizens would be turning on their radios and believe they were in the midst of a real invasion by aliens from outer space.
Although this is a well publicized event, it was not the first time people have been frightened by seeing or hearing of some unidentified phenomenon in the clouds. Throughout the history of man, strange apparitions have been reported in the skies, which at the time could not be explained (UFOs in the New Age, p. 189). Some who believe in beings from other planets, as well as some doubters, would even attribute the angels and manifestations of God in the Bible as actually being UFOs (UFO Enigma, p. 18). In fact, in dealing with the Bible, it is not uncommon to hear UFO believers speak of Jesus as having been an extraterrestrial or as having an "out-of-this-world origin" (Alien Contact, p. 212).
As one examines this area, you must be careful to remember that UFO (Unidentified Flying Object) does not mean alien spacecraft or flying saucer; it means just what it says: an object in the sky which can be observed or detected, but which cannot be identified or verified by the one reporting it. It does not mean that, while unidentifiable to the observer, there are not others who can identify or explain that which has been observed. For example, most of people have seen an airplane flying in the sky and as such would not classify it as a UFO. If that same plane were to fly over a remote area of the world where the inhabitants had never seen an airplane, it would be to them, a UFO.
Even though there have been UFO sightings throughout history it was not until the late 1940s that any degree of scientific investigation was devoted to these. Prior to that time, there was not the sophisticated technology, produced as a result of the War, to properly address this. Also, a new wave of interest would occur during the 1940s that could not be ignored.
In 1947, businessman Kenneth Arnold was flying his private plane when he saw several shiny sphere-like objects flying ahead of him in formation at great speed (estimated at 1200 mph). Arnold promptly reported what he had seen, setting off a chain reaction of fantastic and frightening proportions. As the news of the sighting spread, other sightings began to be reported and soon the saucers were front page news. (Ibid, pp. 4-5).
Due to this, the U.S. Air Force became involved in investigating this phenomenon, establishing "Project Saucer". Their investigations would continue for over two decades under the names "Project Sign" (1947), "Project Grudge" (1949), and "Project Blue Book"(1951). When these concluded in 1969, the Air Force admitted that they could not explain 29 per cent of the UFO cases they studied (UFOs in the New Age, p. 76).
A companion study, "Project Colorado", set up at the University of Colorado and independent of the Air Force, had similar findings when they released their final report in 1969.
The fact that a number of these cases could not be explained should not be taken as proof that there are extraterrestrials among us. In fact, the final report of "Project Colorado" states in part:
"The report recognizes that there remain UFO sightings that are not easily explained. The report does suggest, however, so many reasonable and possible directions in which an explanation may eventually be found, that there seems to be no reason to attribute them to an extraterrestrial source without evidence that is much more convincing.... On the basis of present knowledge, the least likely explanation of UFOs is the hypothesis of extraterrestrial visitations by intelligent beings" (UFO Enigma, p. 86-87).
Throughout these many years of investigation, neither the Air Force nor any other governmental agencies, investigating UFO sightings, have admitted to or released any documented evidence to substantiate one of these so-called sightings as being due to interplanetary travel by beings from other worlds.
Those who are believers in extraterrestrials attribute these findings, or lack of findings, to a massive government cover-up. They report that the government cover-up actually includes confirmed alien spacecraft sightings by the military as well as evidence that numerous people have been abducted by and experimented on by extraterrestrials.
Even more astounding are the claims that there have been at least nine UFO crashes during the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. They claim that not only have these been covered up from the American people but also that numerous alien bodies have been recovered from the crash sites; in at least one case in 1947, they claim an alien was recovered alive and held in captivity for several years before dying (Alien Contact, p. 101-102).
It is amazing to think that such events could have been covered up successfully for nearly a half a century now. It becomes even more amazing when you consider that this same government could not successfully cover up one president's involvement with wire-tapping, another president's extra-marital affairs, nor an arms for hostages deal, just to name a few.
With the advent of the space program in the 1960s, interest in the UFO phenomenon began to lessen. By the 1970s, however, a new interest was beginning to develop. This was fueled in no small part by the release, in the U.S., of Erich Von Daniken's Chariot of the Gods?.
The book had already sold 300,000 copies in its first year of publication in Germany. Many books like Von Daniken's would soon follow. In his book, Von Daniken posed the question, "Was God an astronaut?" He then unfolds his theories supposedly supporting this in the affirmative and proving that from this arose the religions of mankind.
Scientists and religious scholars quickly began to refute Von Daniken's ideas and so-called scholarship; however, his appeal to certain segments of our culture did not wane. The American public had, over the years been softened to the idea of extraterrestrials, many being so convinced that evidence to the contrary was no longer acceptable. The deception of the American public was well entrenched.
The reaction of the public today would no doubt be much different than that of 1938. Today's society is one that has become somewhat comfortable with the idea of life on other planets. A Gallup poll taken in 1990 revealed that 14 percent of Americans claim to have seen a UFO. It becomes clear that this is an idea that has found a place in the culture of this country. Presently, groups like the "Moderns" in Kenosha,Wisconsin, are building devices to lure space aliens to our planet. These devices are built using crystals along with other component parts and even include a built-in alien detector to ensure no alien impostor tries to deceive them (Omni, February 1994, p. 78). Unfortunately, the deception has already taken place.
Another indication of how far many have moved toward accepting this idea of aliens being among them is the magazine, Unicus, The Magazine for Earthbound Extraterrestrials. This magazine is published in Manhattan Beach, California, exclusively for beings from other worlds who live among us. "Unicus boasts of currently having 3,000,000 subscribers" (Omni, January 1994, p. 80).
Perhaps the more frightening indications of how far this movement has come in mainstreaming is its acceptance among some in the scientific and medical fields. These individuals supposedly speak with the voice of scholarship so they lend a certain credibility, even if unfounded.
This can be seen in such events as a recent UFO conference held in Massachusetts. That the conference was held is not nearly so significant as that it was held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and sponsored by MIT physics professor and UFO advocate, David Pritchard. While MIT denies being involved in this conference and tried to distance itself from it, the fact that it was held at the Institute's facilities was used to further legitimize the conference. After it concluded, the conference quickly became known in UFO circles as "the MIT abduction conference" (Omni, February 1993, p. 81).
One of their more recent and perhaps more important converts is Pulitzer Prize Winner and Harvard Medical School psychiatrist, John Mack. He has just finished Abductions, documenting thirteen of his case studies of individuals who claim to have been abducted by aliens. Mack currently has nearly 100 such patients and is firmly convinced of the veracity of their claims (People, 23 May 1994, p. 38-40).
One of the aims of his book is to convince skeptics that extraterrestrial life forms not only exist but are here on our planet. Mack claims, himself, to have been a skeptic when he started, but in discussing his research into alien abductions states, "Some other intelligence is reaching out to us... I've been careful as possible to exhaust conventional explanation. None of them begin to explain this phenomenon" (Psychology Today, March/April 1994, p. 46).
A good illustration of how extensive this has become is the increasing number of "Communion" support groups started by science fiction writer Whitley Streiber, author of Communion. This is the author's 1987 book about his own alleged abduction by UFO beings. The book quickly reached Number One on The New York Times best seller list, throwing Streiber into the spotlight of so-called "abduction cases".In UFO Abductions: A Dangerous Game, UFO investigator Phil Klass writes: "Streiber's remarks suggest that he now sees himself as a modern-day messiah who has been chosen to warn the people of this planet, bringing them not the word of God but of the omniscient UFOnauts."
It becomes quickly obvious, from the numerous sightings and alleged claims of alien encounters or contacts such as abductions, that this subject must be examined. The question that must be addressed is, has there ever been any conclusive evidence that any sighting can only be explained by, or can be used as proof of, the existence of beings from other worlds who are visiting the Earth? To put it another way, the question is not, do UFOs exist, but are they manned by beings from other worlds?
When Whitley Streiber appeared on The Phil Donahue Show, he claimed to have been a skeptic prior to his abduction, but now asks, "How else can these things be explained?"
Astrophysicist and President/Director of Reasons to Believe, Dr. Hugh Ross gives some insight into this. Dr. Ross divides UFO sightings and contacts into three categories ("UFOs: The Mystery Resolved" video):
1. Natural phenomenon - According to Dr. Ross and other UFO investigators, this comprises by far the greatest number of sightings. Ross states (and many other investigators agree) almost half the sightings reported are actually the planet Venus, a bright morning star, is sometimes so bright that one can read by its light. Meteors would also fall into this category, as would top secret aircraft being developed by various world governments. Birds which have been exposed to phosphorous dust and are migrating at night would also be in this category.
2. Purposeful attempts to lie or hoaxes Included in this category would be the numerous "doctored" photographs that are often presented as evidence of a UFO sighting.
3. Supernatural phenomenon This viewpoint is becoming much more widespread and does not originate exclusively with biblical Christianity. Lynn Catoe, a senior bibliographer for the Library of Congress, prepared a 1600 entry UFO bibliography and states in her introduction:
"Many of the UFO reports now being published in the popular press recount alleged incidents that are strikingly similar to demonic possession and psychic phenomena which have long been known to theologians and parapsychologists" (SCP Journal, August 1977, p. 19).
Dr. J. Allen Hyneck, while acting as a consultant to Project Blue Book, developed a system of classification of UFO "types" which has become standard:
He divided UFO reports according to the distance, greater or less than 500 feet at which the UFO was observed, and subdivided each of these two sections into three, giving six categories altogether.
Section One - (Most Common Sightings)
1). Nocturnal lights - Strange lights seen at a distance in the night sky, often with unusual features such as variations in the intensity of light or color and sudden, remarkable changes of speed and direction of movement.
2). Daylight discs - Distant objects seen against the sky during the daytime.
3). Radar - visuals - Distant UFOs recorded simultaneously on radar and visually with good agreement between the two reports. Radar visual sightings are the most important category of UFO reports as they give independent instrumental evidence of the sighting; unfortunately, they are very rare.
Section Two: (Close Encounters)
1.) Close encounters of the first kind - Simple observations of phenomena where there is no physical interaction between the phenomena and the environment.
2.) Close encounters of the second kind - Similar to the first kind except that physical matter are observed. Vegetation may be scorched or flattened, tree branches broken, animals frightened or car headlights, engines and radios doused. In cases of electrical failure, the equipment usually begins to work normally again once the UFO has disappeared.
3.) Close encounters of the third kind - "Occupants" are reported in or around the UFO. Dr. Hyneck generally ruled out so-called "contactee" cases in which the reporter claimed to have had intelligent communication with the "occupants", arguing that such reports were almost invariably made by pseudo-religious fanatics and never by "ostensibly sensible, rational and reputable persons". But even these cases occasionally have to be taken seriously by scientists.
Elliot Miller of Christian Research Institute points out, "these so-called extraterrestrials' modes of contact, communication, and influence with and on humans are essentially the same as those of other types of entities followed in the world of the occult: departed spirits, angels, demons, fairies, Ascended Masters, inter-dimensional beings, etc. Dr. Ross confirms in his research that people who have had contact with UFOs suffer the same physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual symptoms as demon possession. Usually the greater degree of occult involvement in one's background, the higher the chances of UFO sightings or encounters."
Los Angeles journalist, Stuart Goldman, has researched this and regarding Whitley Streiber says, "There are many reasons to be wary of Streiber's message as well as those proclaimed by other UFO enthusiasts. First and foremost is that Streiber and others have been heavily involved in the occult prior to their abduction experiences, which could mean demons not aliens are toying with them." Goldman goes on to say, "In looking at the background of UFO abductees, it quickly becomes clear that almost to a man, they have some background in New Age or occultic beliefs. Interestingly, studies show that there are very few practicing Christians or Jews amongst UFO contactees. What could this mean? Are the aliens racists? Or does this, rather, indicate something about the belief systems of the abductees themselves" (Christian Research Journal, Summer 1990, p. 5).
The Bible speaks very clearly of this deception in II Thessalonians 2:9-12:
"Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness."
At some point during the original Star Trek television series, we could count on Captain Kirk to say, "Beam me up Scotty"; in the Next Generation series, Captain Picard says,
"Energize". In each case they are giving instructions to be transported from a planet back to the starship or vice versa. Many today have been deceived into believing that they too have been transported to a starship; still others have been deceived into believing their accounts. Both groups anxiously await the day when these space aliens will finally come to them and usher in a "new age" of hope for mankind.
Those who wait for such, wait in vain; no aliens will come for them. God makes it very clear that there is only one who has the power and authority to transport us into the heavens:
"For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord" (I Thessalonians 4:14-17).
On April 24, 1964, patrolman Lonnie Zamora of the Socorro, New Mexico, Police Department was alone in his vehicle and giving chase to a speeding motorist when he heard a loud roaring and saw an orange flame burst in the sky. Giving up the chase, he headed on rough ground to where he had seen the flames fall. Coming to the top of a ridge, he saw a shiny aluminum object on the ground with two humanoid figures wearing white coveralls close to it. He radioed that he was at the scene of a possible accident and proceeded on foot toward the object. As he approached, the humanoids had disappeared and flames shot out from beneath the object as it left the ground.
Sergeant Sam Chavez was soon on the scene, but arrived too late to see anything that had transpired. "What's the matter, Lonnie?" he asked. "You look like you've seen the devil." "Maybe I have," replied Zamora (Mysteries of Mind, Space, and Time, pp. 48-49).
As we cast our eyes toward the heavens, let us not seek for UFOs or extraterrestrials, but let us instead be reminded of the God of the universe who has created all things and sustains all things. And let us watch for the blessed return of our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, who alone gives us the hope of one day being transported into the heavens to be forever with the Father.