What About UFOs?

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What About UFOs?

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Some people believe earth has already been visited by extraterrestrial beings. They point to sightings of unidentified flying objects (UFOs) as supposed proof. "Recent polls show that approximately 57 percent of the public believes that UFOs are 'something real' as opposed to 'just people's imagination' ..." (Ben Zuckerman and Michael H. Hart, Extraterrestrials: Where Are They?, Cambridge University Press, New York, 1995, p. 20).

One major American newsweekly reported that "48 percent of Americans believe UFOs are real and 29 percent think we've made contact with aliens" (Newsweek, July 8, 1996).

UFO sighters frequently report seeing objects "typically described as a metallic flying disc, sometimes with protuberances or portholes, executing elaborate manoeuvres and occasionally accompanied by an eerie glow of bright lights. The descriptions have all the hallmarks of high tech aviation" (Paul Davies, Are We Alone?, Basic Books, New York, 1995, p. 132).

In spite of such accounts, "very few scientists regard such reports as evidence for the existence of extraterrestrial beings" (ibid., p. 135).

Even author and astronomer Frank Drake, who is firmly convicted of the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence, discounts UFOs as being a manifestation of such. "No tangible evidence exists to suggest that we have ever been visited by an alien spacecraft. As strongly as I believe that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe, I maintain that UFOs are not extraterrestrial visitors. They are the products of intelligent life on this planet" (Frank Drake and Dava Sobel, Is Anyone Out There?, Delacorte Press, New York, 1992, p. 126).

Supposed proof demonstrating that UFOs have visited earth is disputed and debated. The evidence consists primarily of the eyewitness accounts of those claiming to have seen them. Some believe that these accounts should be accepted just as much as scientific findings reported by astronomers, noting that some of the discoveries of astronomy are not supported by in-hand physical evidence, either. For example, astronomers cannot see planets orbiting other stars simply because the light from those stars is too bright. Instead, they deduce the planets' existence from variations in the stars' motion caused by the gravitational force of the planets.

Still, there is a difference between the evidence offered to back claims of astronomers and those of UFO proponents. "... Although astronomy is based upon observation rather than physical artifacts, at least it involves easily repeatable physical observations, something that UFO studies cannot provide" (Charles F. Emmons, At the Threshold, Wild Flower Press, Mill Spring, North Carolina, 1997, p. 142). Indeed, some supposed evidence of UFO activity has been revealed as simple hoaxes.

Whether the evidence for UFOs is credible or not, there certainly is a high frequency of reported sightings. Popular television programs like The X-Files and movies like Independence Day and Contact are apt to encourage the trend. Yet for all the excitement no alien-dead or alive-has been produced. No demonstrably authentic artifacts of alien cultures are known to exist.

The skepticism of the scientific community toward UFOs does not sit well with UFO believers. Says one such believer, "People like Carl Sagan [and] Stephen Hawking ... are mouthpieces for the old way of thinking" (Newsweek, July 8, 1996, p. 50). Yet, as the late Carl Sagan, Cornell University astronomer, put it, "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" (ibid.).

Physicist Paul Davies sees the interest in aliens as part of a religious quest. "... The belief in super-advanced aliens ... can provide some measure of comfort and inspiration for people whose lives may otherwise appear to be boring and futile" (Are We Alone?, p. 136).

If we are searching for alien cultures to find religious inspiration, we will be disappointed. When we look to any source other than the living God for spiritual guidance, we commit the same error which the prophet Jeremiah described in his time: "For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn themselves cisterns-broken cisterns that can hold no water" (Jeremiah 2:13). GN