“C’mon Man. I get the UFO question?” Blunt-talking presidential candidate Chris Christie seemed momentarily at a loss for words when he was asked about UFOs at a recent debate. The question seemed to come out of left field. Or perhaps, from out of this world. Although people laughed at the question, Americans should take it at least somewhat seriously.
Public opinion polls indicate that at least 40% of Americans believe that UFOs are extraterrestrial in origin. A recent congressional hearing on the subject featured controversial testimony from former military officials who believe the government is engaged in an elaborate cover-up. One even claimed that “non-human biologics” had been recovered from UFO crash sites.
What are Christians to make of such claims of close encounters? Personally, I don’t believe that alien life exists, on earth or anywhere. But, since the Bible doesn’t rule it out, an alien ship landing on the White House lawn wouldn’t shake my faith. Instead of theorizing about extraterrestrial life, I’m more interested in the human heart. Specifically, I want answers to these questions: What does our collective belief in extraterrestrials say about us, as people? Is it significant that (to borrow a phrase from the X-Files) so many Americans want to believe?
To help me grapple with these questions I picked up a book entitled How UFOs Conquered the World: The History of a Modern Myth. I learned that, although humans have long dreamt of aliens, the surge in UFO reports began in 1947. That timing seems significant.
In the aftermath of World War II, humanity teetered on the brink. Millions of soldiers and civilians lay dead. The Holocaust had decimated the Jewish people. Atomic bombs had unleashed unthinkable devastation on Japan. With a cold war underway between the United States and the Soviet Union, the entire planet seemed poised for a nuclear Armageddon. And through it all, God had seemed distant, even absent.
The planetary horrors had reignited the problem of evil. If God exists, and, if he is both good and powerful, then why didn’t he intervene? Some people could respond to this dilemma by arguing that God did not exist. Indeed, secularism was on the rise in the United States in the twentieth century. But in the face of extinction-level threats, maybe we have to believe…in something. Enter the Little Green Men.