When I first heard of “unaccompanied alien children,” I hope I might be forgiven for thinking about ET. Or EBEs as they’re sometimes called, “Extraterrestrial Biological Entities.” Instead UACs are serious enough to be assigned their own acronym, and serious politicians are making themselves frantic over the proper response. Should we allow children refugees from Latin America into the “land of opportunity?” This is a matter that calls for immediate debate! But should it? I am an American, but I am also a human being. And a parent. To me few things are more depressing than politics getting in the way of care for children. We fear their Spanish-speaking ways and incipient indigence. At the same time we as taxpayers fund Fundamentalist Mormons in their polygamy, reproducing beyond their ability to pay for themselves. The IRS turns a blind eye to those who claim food stamps and eschew birth control. There are children with nothing in this world standing at the door, and we debate whether to let them in.

I saw a recent opinion survey of major Christian bodies in the United States and their opinions on whether the children should be allowed to enter. White evangelicals came in dead last for the compassionate response of sanctuary. Meanwhile, reading the humanist literature, there is a strong sense that the ethics of this situation demand a, well, humanistic response. These are children, not political chattels. We will not purposefully endanger our own children. In fact, it is a criminal offense to do so. When it comes to somebody else’s children, we fuss and fume and I don’t hear many Fundamentalists saying “What would Jesus do?” in this case. Probably because the answer is clear: let the children come unto me.

Some decisions should be easy to make. Children are not political liabilities. They are often victims of adult complications of a world where a hug would solve many more problem than a gun or a bomb. I’m not sure when compassion became so calculating. I’m old enough to know that there are no easy answers, but I do believe some difficult decisions can be made much easier. Excepting Native Americans, all of our ancestors once entered this continent, largely without permission, as outsiders. Granted, they felt compelled to come—some voluntarily, some not. When their hosts suggested the party was over, they refused to leave. Now their descendants can’t decide whether children are a threat or not. We insist on their right to be born, but we don’t necessarily want to give them a home. When ET went home we all cried. Our tears for our own kind, apparently, are a scarce resource on this planet.

Are we all really just another brick in the wall? (Photo credit: Noir, WikiCommons)

Are we all really just another brick in the wall? (Photo credit: Noir, WikiCommons)

Mary in the Sky with Sequins?

Shortly before Easter in the district of Yopougon in the Ivory Coast, a large group of Christians saw the Virgin Mary against the sun. UFO enthusiasts saw an alien in the same event. Several eyewitnesses ended up blind after staring into the sun. The video of this purported miracle is available on YouTube, but even watching the “miracle” on a dim computer monitor hurt my eyes. If you want to see Mary, I suggest a good pair of Ray-Bans. The alleged vision occurs a couple of minutes into the video – let the audience reaction be your guide if you decide to watch. All that I saw was what may be categorized as an optical illusion or pareidolia, although it does look a bit like a walking person. Objective information on this miracle is decidedly lacking on the web.

I never pretend to have the answers on unexplained phenomena. I find human arrogance amazingly resilient despite all that we still don’t comprehend. In the midst of all that might exist out there in the 99.99 percent of the universe we haven’t explored, I remain skeptical that we know all there is to know. One thing is certain, however; if something unknown appears in the skies some will call it Mary, others Jesus, and yet others an angel. (Conspiracy theorists claim it is Project Bluebeam.) Religious belief and paranormal belief are close cousins. Both involve explaining something that science cannot yet comprehend. If the figure were moving any faster, I might be inclined to accept that it is Carl Lewis.

In an unrelated story, it seems that the Allen Telescope Array of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI), Frank Drake and Paul Allen’s baby (anticipated by Carl Sagan), is being shut down. Earth-based governments are reassessing spending priorities and finding a cosmic big sibling who might help us out of our mess down here has become a luxury we can’t afford. ET may phone from home, but on this end the receiver will be off the hook.

Religions tend to bolster the self-importance of human beings. While I believe we are ethically and morally bound to help one another, I find it difficult to believe, when looking at the way governors are operating today (Christie one of Time’s 100 most important people? Christie eleison!) that Homo sapiens are anywhere near the top of the cosmic intelligence scale. I just hope that if it is Mary in the sky with sequins that she remembered to bring her SPF 2012 sunscreen along.

The Truth is in Here?

Constantly trawling for the shattered detritus of truth that rests scattered around our lonely little planet, I have often supposed they were here. I have never seen them, but in the Drake Equation there is a high probability that they exist. And now the newspaper says they may have been here all along. And closer than we thought.

Aliens. These latter-day angels and explorers of the cosmos are often pictured like E-T or the little gray aliens from Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The latest findings suggest they could even be quite a bit smaller than that. Paul Davies, a physicist from Arizona State, believes that life may have developed multiple times on earth, and perhaps some of the googol of microbes on our planet may have their origins in space. These potentially extraterrestrial microbes, he stated could be “right under our noses – or even in our noses.” Yikes! Time to put up the intergalactic “No Trespassing” sign!

Stop the alien menace!

In all seriousness, however, this concept of multiple origins of life, I fear, will be latched onto and misread by our Creationist fellow-life forms. I can see the fingers stiff from grasping at straws claiming that now there is scientific proof that different species do have different origins, thank you Mr. Darwin. The price to pay, if they apply logic, however, is not one evolutionary track, but many.

The movie Creation, focusing on Darwin, opened this past weekend in the United States. Delayed because of concerns that Americans can’t handle the truth, this film about Darwin’s sad voyage to the inevitable truth of natural selection will surely raise evangelical ire. Nevertheless, we did not design this world we evolved into, we simply inherited it. And the closer we peer at it, the more complex it becomes. These multiple evolutionary tracks may also explain the origin of Creationists – could they come from different stock than scientifically minded folk? In any case, the news today provides yet another reason to keep our noses clean and our eyes on the skies.