And speaking of the X-Files—but ah, I shouldn’t jest! In fact, I strongly advocate avoiding the ridicule response when a claim seems outlandish. A few weeks ago I posted on a review of Alan Steinfeld’s Making Contact: Preparing for the New Realities of Extraterrestrial Existence, a book just out. The review I’d seen made reference to the aspects of religion and paranormal in the book, and given the mainstream media’s treatment of the topic of UFOs lately, I thought I should see what was being said. As you might expect for a collection of essays, the tome is a mixed bag. While ridicule is excluded, a healthy skepticism is necessary. Amid the contributors with known credentials are those who make claims that are difficult to verify. Much like the rest of life, you’re left making choices.
Amid all of this, where does religion come in? Books like this often reveal the deep biblical literalism of our society. Amid the authors who haven’t held government (although that’s hardly a situation where critical thinking is necessary) or university posts, there is clearly the assumption that the Bible is literally true. Cherry-picked verses are “explained” by the presence of UFOs or aliens, with the supposition that if it’s in the Good Book it must be true. This kind of simple credulity is quite common, but it does make you wonder if all the homework’s been done. I know, I know, biblical scholars spoil all the fun! If one piece of the puzzle doesn’t fit, however, perhaps the picture hasn’t been put together correctly.
That’s not the extent of the religious—or better, spiritual side of the topic. Many of the essays are written from a somewhat “New Age” perspective with vibrations, and energy, and universal guidance of spiritual beings. Other essays deal with government whistle-blowers who seem to tell a coherent story of secrecy and deception on the part of those in power. No matter how you slice it, reading this book without ridicule is a perception-bending experience. It may not be the one book everyone needs to read to get up-to-date information on where things stand in public perception, but it will make you think. Given how much the topic has been in the media lately, and how it has at last been treated without snide asides, may be cause for hope. “No go” topics may be vanishing, if only because our military admits to taking this one seriously. And there seem to be, as always, religious implications.