One bright summer day, Seattle businessman Kenneth Arnold flew his private plane near Mount Rainier, Washington.
Looking out the window, he was amazed to see a group of nine saucershaped objects speeding through the air. When he reported it to the Eastern Oregonian, the news story called them “flying saucers.” Little did he realise that day, June 24, 1947, marked the beginning of an era of sky watching that continues into the 21st century.
Just a few days later, in early July, a crash of an unidentified object occurred near Roswell, New Mexico. W W (Mac) Brazel, a rancher, discovered debris from a crash north of the city. He reported it to the nearby United States Army Air Force base. On July 8, 1947, an officer reported the debris was a spaceship from another planet. However, the military reversed its report the next day, and stated that in fact the wreckage was that of a weather balloon.
Local residents of Roswell to this day hold to the original explanation. They have built two museums and established a research centre. Many thousands of tourists have been attracted to the city.
To present their case Donald R Schmitt, director of the Center for UFO Studies, and Kevin D Randle, Captain, US Air Force Reserve, authored a book titled The Truth About the UFO Crash at Roswell.
These events in Washington and New Mexico captured the imagination of the public. More than 850 sightings of “flying saucers” were reported by the media before the end of 1947.
Since some people feared the intrusion of American air space by foreign high-performance aircraft, the US Air Force set about to investigate the reports of “flying saucers” sighted over the United States. Fearing a threat to national security, in a program called Program Blue Book, the Air Force investigated about 12,000 sightings.
The term UFO (unidentified flying object) was coined by Captain Edward J Ruppelt, a chief of the investigation.
In addition the Air Force sponsored an independent study by scientists led by Dr Edward U Condon at the University of Colorado, which ended in 1969. After studying all the facts available, they found no tangible evidence of alien life in the UFOs. They affirmed that nothing would be gained by further investigations. In 1977 NASA refused to accept requests to resume the search.
(See encyclopedias: Americana 27, 369; Britannica 12, 130).
Reports revealed that 90 per cent of UFO sightings were readily identified as astronomical or meteorological phenomena such as bright planets like Venus, meteors, auroras, aircraft, flocks of birds, searchlights or hot gases. A few sightings were outright frauds.
Although most scientists accepted the government reports, a few like astronomer J Allen Hynek concluded that a small percentage of UFO reports did give indications of the presence of extraterrestrial visitors. With Jacques Vallee, he produced a book titled The Edge of Reality.
Science-fiction writers took advantage of the public interest in UFOs. Hollywood produced films such as Star Wars.
Several writers produced books. Probably the best known was Erich Von Daniken, a Swiss Hotel manager, who in 1968 wrote a book titled Chariots of the Gods? It became an instant success, with several million copies sold.
Reared a Roman Catholic, Daniken turned against all organised religion. He claimed that Planet Earth had been visited by extraterrestrials in the distant past; that all religions, including Christianity, derive their origin from gods that came down from the sky in fiery chariots. He visited ancient monuments such as the pyramids of Egypt and studied symbols carved in the Nazca plains of Peru. To him these were the work of ancient astronauts.
His theories pretend to account for the origin of intelligent life on earth.
Taking advantage of his popularity, Von Daniken produced many more books. A recent title is Odyssey of the Gods—The Alien History of Ancient Greece. Approximately 50 million copies of his books have been sold to readers who like to dream of ancient astronauts visiting the earth.
Although millions of people claim to believe in extraterrestrial beings, no government official has gone on record claiming UFOs are real, let alone a threat. The fact that most scientists agree is revealed in the lack of interest in UFOs in astronomy and general science magazines.
In March of 2001, Discover editors published an article titled “From UFOs to IFOs” in which the author showed that the so-called unidentified objects had become identified as Jupiter, Sirius, the Space Station or meteors.
Between five and 10 per cent of flying- saucer sightings still have not been explained, which has led some people to accuse governments of coverups and conspiracies. With reports of more sightings in remote locations and rumours of personal encounters, the public wonders what is going on. Reports still come in of abductions by extraterrestrial beings and even sexual encounters with abductors.
Most serious scholars tend to regard UFOs as material for fiction writers. But is there another answer? Gary Bates, author of Alien Intrusion— UFOs and the Evolution Connection suggests looking at the subject of UFO sightings with “spiritual glasses.” What does the Bible say?
1. Are “aliens” mentioned in the Bible?
Yes, but they are not visitors from other worlds. Aliens are those who are not a part of God's kingdom and are without hope (see Ephesians 2:12).
2. Do intelligent beings visit our planet from afar?
Yes, they are called angels. Mentioned some 300 times, they are heavenly messengers called to protect and guide God's people (see Hebrews 1:14; Psalm 34:7).
Like humans, they are created beings (see Psalm 148:1 5). They visit Planet Earth daily and don't need spaceships to get here.
3. Who was the Creator of these angel visitors?
The Old Testament scripture calls Him the Lord God of Israel whose dwelling place is in heaven (see 1 Kings 8:23, 30).
4. Where is His dwelling place located?
The apostle Paul speaks of Paradise, the third heaven (see 2 Corinthians 12:2, 4). Commentators understand the first heaven to be earth's atmosphere where birds fly (see Genesis 1:20), and the second heaven the stellar heaven where the sun, moon, and stars shine (see Genesis 1:14-16). Hence the Creator's dwelling place must be in space beyond the stars.
5. Is there intelligent life outside Planet Earth?
Yes, the Creator and the angels are intelligent beings.
6. Are other planets inhabited by intelligent beings?
Astronomers have located 170 planets orbiting other stars. Some of them may be inhabited. Scripture hints of this possibility.
The apostle Paul wrote about God's family in heaven and in earth (see Ephesians 1:10; 3:15). The apostle John says, “Rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them!” (Revelation 12:12).
7. What initiated war and distress in God's kingdom?
Quoting again the apostle John, “And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back.
But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.” (Revelation 12:7-9).
8. How does the apostle Paul describe this spiritual warfare on earth?
“Put on the full armour of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:11, 12).
9. How did Jesus Christ describe the devil?
“He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).
Thus the whole Bible describes a conflict between good and evil, between Christ and Satan.
10. How did Jesus describe the last days before His return?
Aside from signs in nature, in society and among the nations, He predicted that “many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.” (Matthew 24:11).
Bates claims that “extraterrestrials” are those living among us who choose not to live the way the Creator of this earth intended His human creations to live.
These nonbelievers attempt to reinterpret the Bible's presentation of history, and also the future events in Revelation.
Consequently many are being deceived, just as Jesus said would happen prior to His return.