A recent government report on the existence of aliens has had a significant impact on news and social media in recent weeks. The report – which shocked many – came along with a 60 Minutes interview that featured two Navy pilots discussing UFOs they had seen navigating a restricted area off San Diego.
For some, the matter raises questions of faith.
Former Navy pilots Dave Fravor and Alex Dietrich narrated their “terrifying” experience as they saw a mysterious UFO that “can do 600-700 G Forces, that can fly at 13,000 miles an hour, that can evade radar, and that can fly through air, and water, and possibly space. And (have) no obvious signs of propulsions, no wings, no control surfaces, and yet still can defy the natural effects of earth’s gravity.”
People worldwide found the Navy pilots’ account compelling and shocking – especially after the witnesses’ testimony was backed up with actual footage taken by the two navy pilots showing the UFOs’ erratic maneuvers off San Diego’s coast. Fravor related how nerve-wracking the experience was when they flew down the aircraft to get a closer look at the UFO that’s flying with “no predictable movement or trajectory.”
“It was aware we were there,” Fravor said.
Fravor recounted that when he attempted to intercept the UFO, it accelerated so fast that he suddenly found himself face to face with the aircraft before it suddenly disappeared in mid-air.
“It’s climbing still, and when it gets right in front of me, it just disappears,” Fravor said. “Disappears – like gone.”
The pilots’ testimony is consistent with evidence released by the USS Princeton, which was able to pick the UFO up on its radar seconds after the pilots’ harrowing incident with the alien aircraft.
In addition to questions raised about possible civilian and military interaction with the UFOs, there could be theological implications, according to Baptist News.
Christian theologians throughout history have balked at the possibility of alien life as they said it stands in sharp contrast with the basic tenets of the Christian faith.
The staunch opposition can be gleaned from the statements of past century theologians like Constantine’s adviser, Lactanctius saying, “How is it with those who imagine that there are antipodes opposite to our footsteps? Do they say anything to the purpose? Or is there anyone so senseless as to believe that there are men whose footsteps are higher than their heads? Or that the things which to us are in a recumbent position, with them hang in an inverted direction? That the crops and trees grow downwards? That the rains and snows and hail fall upwards to the earth?”
St. Augustine also challenged the hypothetical existence of extraterrestrial intelligence.
He argued, “As to the fable that there are antipodes, that is to say, men on the opposite side of the earth, where the sun rises when it sets on us, men who walk with their feet opposite ours, there is no reason for believing it. Those who affirm it do not claim to possess any actual information… . For Scripture, which confirms the truth of its historical statements by the accomplishment of its prophecies, teaches not falsehood; and it is too absurd to say that some men might have set sail from this side and, traversing the immense expanse of ocean, have propagated there a race of human beings descended from that one first man.”
The modern era also has no shortage of conservative evangelicals whose beliefs and concerns regarding the existence of aliens are aligned with that of 17th century Catholicism.
Answers in Genesis, an apologetics ministry, warned that “the idea of extraterrestrial life stems largely from a belief in evolution.” Their theology of salvation does not give them space for aliens because “intelligent alien beings cannot be redeemed. God’s plan of redemption is for human beings: those descended from Adam.”
Some Christian fundamentalists believe UFOs are demonic beings, who will come to deceive the world after the rapture of the church. Their belief in the pre-tribulation rapture – during which Jesus Christ will return to earth and gather up true believers in advance of a time of intense judgment on the earth – is rooted in First Thessalonians 4:16-17.
“For the Lord, Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the clouds.”
Using similar contextual language, 1 Corinthians 15:51–52 refers to the same eschatological event as 1 Thessalonians 4:16–17: “Behold, I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.”
One controversial dispensationalist, Chad Thomas, believes that to deceive many, the disappearance of God’s people will be blamed to alien abduction instead of attributing it to the fulfillment of the prophetic rapture of the church in the last days.
Thomas warns his listeners that aliens will wreak havoc on humanity, and their presence will trigger the end-time tribulations prophesied in the Bible. An event they believe will bring about God’s impending rapture to save His chosen ones from the doom that is coming to the world. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w5Acvt3Xl–A
Other theologians, however, have a more liberal view of what kind of creatures might be approaching Earth.
In his Systematic Theology, Robert Letham says the existence of aliens “would be no threat to the faith, since all it would entail is that such Extraterrestrial Intelligent Life would be incidental to God’s purposes for the human race.” He says these beings could be angels, fallen angels or the living creatures around the throne of God mentioned in Revelation.
And then there’s the answer given several years ago by the Vatican’s chief astronomer, Br. Guy Cosolmango, in his book, “Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial?”
The book ends on the question of extraterrestrial life and whether or not the Catholic Church would baptize aliens, which, according to Consolmango, it would, “if she asked.”
Pope Francis first posed the alien question in May during a sermon on acceptance in which he said the Church should not be so judgmental. “If—for example—tomorrow an expedition of Martians came, and some of them came to us, here… Martians, right? Green, with that long nose and big ears, just like children paint them… And one says, ‘But I want to be baptized!’ What would happen?” he asked parishioners. “When the Lord shows us the way, who are we to say, ‘No, Lord, it is not prudent! No, let’s do it this way…’”