Is it safe to discuss this now, or are people going to laugh at me? That’s the feeling that has attended any talk of UFOs until recent days. Ironically, if the Ancient Astronaut people are right, we may’ve been visited from elsewhere ever since we’ve called this planet home. In any case, now that UAPs are out of the bag, some are beginning to discuss how they might impact religion. (Yes, “impact” can be a verb.) Thus I came across a story titled “If UFOs are real, how would they impact our faith?” on Times News. Kingsport Times News, based in Tennessee, ran this as an opinion piece. While not deeply probing, it did raise the question of how all the recent UFO news affects people’s religious outlooks.
As a country we’re both deeply religious and in denial about the fact that we’re deeply religious. I’m convinced that this is behind the political woes we face: the educated have become more secular and religious literalism is considered laughable. Yet it’s clearly there. Ironically, UFOs were considered laughable until the US Navy admitted that they were real and had no idea what was going on. Laughing at something we don’t understand is hardly ever a step towards enlightenment. So the article concludes that even if aliens are here, things will be fine if we continue to go to church as normal. Any extra-terrestrial visitors change nothing. Strangely, one of my earliest memories is of attending a rural church service one evening where the program was on flying saucers and Christianity. This was entirely in earnest, and nobody in the congregation was laughing.
Others interested in the topic have discussed religion and UFOs over the years, but perhaps the answer is yet another of those unknowns. Religion is a remarkably adaptive phenomenon. Scientists suggest it’s hardwired into our brains, even as those same brains give us evidence that some of those beliefs are misplaced. What we can’t do is stop thinking about it. As I watch politics continue to tear this country apart, I realize it’s not really politics we’re talking about after all. It’s religion. Meanwhile people are learning that the government has been keeping secrets about what’s up there in the heavens. There are elected and appointed officials who’ve gone on the record saying they believe UFOs are demonic. While that hardly seems like a scientific approach to something truly unknown, it is a religious one. Only those who laugh rather than listen will find this news at all.