UFO movements are quite deluded and people who join them are behaving foolishly. Most would agree about that. But if you believe in God, isn’t it curious that God and UFOs readily stand in as tropes for one another? Notice the following parallels:
- Like the God question, the UFO question could be solved by one mass visible sighting or clearly transmitted message. For example, God could just talk from the sky to everybody in a public announcement and eliminate all doubts about his or her existence. Likewise, a UFO could simply land on the White House lawn with a big “Screw you!” written on its saucer belly, thereby sassing all UFO debunkers, past and present. That this doesn’t happen means that both UFO movements and religious movements tend to be stuck in a holding pattern; they’re both, as it were, “waiting for Godot.”
- The fact that neither God nor UFOs show themselves in a dramatic public fashion stands in need of explanation, and consequently people who profess to believe in God and/or UFOs are in the tricky position of second guessing minds far in advance of their own. Both tend to speculate on the motives of such minds, and why those minds choose not to reveal themselves more obviously.
- Both God and UFOs seem to have favorites among human beings, picking some for special direct encounters with them, and then leaving those people to testify to what they have seen and heard. These testimonies are often vivid, and sometimes even compelling, but the events witnessed invariably leave no obvious physical traces in the environment, and thus no clear evidence that the experiences of the testifiers actually happened. Why God and UFOs communicate news of their presence to humankind in so indirect and ambiguous a manner is a total mystery.
- Because neither God nor UFOs leave indisputable physical traces of their presence in our world, both God movements and UFO movements are easy prey for confidence men, hucksters, hoaxers, and cons who fake their religious or UFO experiences, and so ease money from the pockets and purses of the gullible. It’s very tricky to tell which people in God movements and UFO movements are sincere in their “witnessing,” which ones are taking you for a ride, and which ones are simply deluded.
- If God and/or UFOs exist, we have to rethink our scientific paradigms, for some of the things that God and UFOs are said to do are hard to account for via our current understandings of what’s physically possible. Resurrecting the dead and time travel are two examples.
- Like God, aliens know an enormous amount about science and technology. But, curiously, whenever God or aliens are said to talk to people, they never actually share anything scientific with them. Their alleged messages are invariably spiritual, moral, or cryptic, and never: “Here’s how to make cold fusion to solve your energy problems.”
- Neither God nor aliens, though in possession presumably of minds and emotions, ever obviously intervene to reduce human suffering in the world, raising the question, How come? If they are good, and have the power to advance good things in the world, why don’t they? The Holocaust, for example, poses a problem for both God belief and UFO belief: where were they when we most needed them?
- Like many God believers, many believers in UFOs think eschatologically. That is, they think that the moment of public and final revelation is just around the corner. But whether it is God or a UFO coming in the clouds, the actual event always seems to be just beyond a receding horizon.
- Because God is said to be invisible and has a “supermind” and ETs are also invisible and have “superminds,” the rhetorical moves of God believers and UFO believers arrive at curiously similar apologetic convergences, and even similar social movement forms.
Now, I find these parallels stunning, even disturbing. And so my question is this: how, if you’re a thoughtful religious believer, can such parallels not give you pause concerning God’s existence? Like UFOs, is God “a black cat in a dark room that isn’t there”?