Is there alien life?
From an atheist’s point of view, I have to admit that aliens might exist. Given the size of the universe, the odds exist for life to occur somewhere other than Earth. Unlike religion, Carl Sagan’s assertion of “billions and billions of stars” had some scientific merit .
However, your average theist would tell you that God created the Earth and the Heavens, and put Man here as lord over this domain. No aliens involved.
Fortunately for our entertainment value, this is far from being the deciding answer from the religious folk.
If you’re looking for aliens in religion, there are many biblical references to ponder. I could go on and on with a whole list of them, but the one that usually leaves theists on the brink of physical violence when you discuss it with them is The Book of Ezekiel. It’s famous for being portrayed as a classic UFO encounter. Here’s a bit of it for reference/entertainment value…
And as I looked, behold, a great storm wind was coming from the north, a great cloud with fire flashing forth continually and a bright light around it, and in its midst something like glowing metal in the midst of the fire. Out of the midst of it came four living creatures that had the likeness of a man.
(Ok, four guys on a fiery cloud. Anybody who’s ever done acid can tell you this is no biggie.)
And every one had four faces,
(Sounds like a girlfriend I once had.)
Each had the face of a man and the face of a lion on the right side: and they had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle.
(Yup, definitely acid.)
This whole book really does sound like your average UFO report. Read it for yourself sometime. You get huge, fiery wheels flying in from nowhere, weird alien guys getting out, bright lights… the whole enchilada. God himself is described as a being of molten metal… your basic T-1000 unit from the Terminator movies.
While this is all fun, there is a point in it: Alien crap and religious crap have always been intertwined. It’s the same psychosis, different manifestation. Mormons overtly believe that God (Yahweh) is from another planet called Kolob, as are his two sons Jesus and Lucifer. Within Islam, the Quran (Sura 27:65) talks openly about creatures in the heavens (“Not one of the beings in the heavens and the earth but must come to Allah.) Scientology openly says that… oh, wait. No one cares what Scientology says.
The point here is that religion and alien stories go way, way back. Until recently, they’ve been two sides of the same coin. The problems between the two only started when people like Carl Sagan asserted that the religious interpretations might be crap, while the scientific side might be sound. Religion, in response, denied all the UFO stuff entirely and has maintained that those who believe in UFOs are just plain nuts. From that time on, religion and science have been at odds over the nature and existence of aliens. Until recently…
Rev. Jose Gabriel Funes, the Jesuit director of the Vatican Observatory, recently ended the fifty-year old division between science and religion. In his statement for the Vatican, Funes asserted:
“How can we rule out that life may have developed elsewhere? Just as we consider earthly creatures as ‘a brother,’ and ‘sister,’ why should we not talk about an ‘extraterrestrial brother’? It would still be part of creation.”
And so the brief rift between religion and UFOs was ended. You can now be Catholic and still believe in aliens.
Like I said, there may be aliens. I’d certainly be far less surprised to find that aliens exist than I would be to find that a God exists. But let’s be real here… even if there are aliens visiting our planet, I highly doubt that they are visiting every pisspot, drunk, and loony that’s ever reported a UFO abduction. The history of UFO research is fraught with charlatans, frauds, and psychotics. There may be something to it, but it’s been impossible to say while religion and science were vying for control of the issues. But it seems like their war is ended, and it is safe to believe in both religion and UFOs again.
For most people, this is a good thing. We can now put all the ‘devout believers’ into the pews of the churches again, leaving the rest of us to examine the universe through satellite arrays and telescopes instead of rose colored glasses.