Over the Christmas holidays, I was amazed to meet people who believed in “aliens/extra-terrestrial life”. I have been even more amazed to discover that the Jesuit Brother Guy Consolmagno, an astronomer for the Vatican observatory, also believes in extra-terrestrial life, and even intelligent life, as discussed in a 2005 Catholic Truth Society pamphlet. See also the Vatican Conference on the subject (Click on the picture – which is the avatar of our blogger, Miles Immaculatae – to read more).
Thus, when Miles Immaculatae suggested the topic for discussion on our blog, I was only too pleased to agree. Below, he shares his views. Tell us what you think: is belief in extra-terrestrial life diabolical and therefore, per se, alien to Catholicism?
For several decades, stories of alien abduction and UFO sightings have fascinated many people. Fantastic tales of aliens and flying saucers have permeated the popular culture for good. Much like fairy lore did in centuries past. This appetite for strange and otherworldly things might reveal the loneliness and spiritual void people feel in modern society, one that has largely rejected the Gospel. Spacemen and UFOs have even inspired new religious movements. The most well-known example is the Heavens Gate cult, infamous for its ritual mass suicide in 1997.
It is unlikely we have been visited by intelligent beings from elsewhere in the universe. The theological implications of their existence are untenable and incompatible with Scripture. Natural science is also un-supportive. In-spite of the universe’s immense vastness and the existence of earth like planets, the likelihood of life evolving is improbable. Even some secularist, evolutionist scientists believe the likelihood of extraterrestrial life is extremely rare. Even if intelligent beings did exist, it is unlikely they would be able to travel to huge distances that would be required. That kind of technology only exists in science-fiction.
After psychological causes and fabrication have been ruled out, purported UFO and extra-terrestrial encounters are best explained as preternatural phenomena. Upon scrutiny, much of the available evidence of such encounters have the character of the diabolical. Below are presented some reasons for these assertions, drawing on accounts of ‘close encounters’ examined critically through the lens of the Christian Tradition.
UFO sightings are ubiquitous. However, they seem to cluster around centres of ancient pagan ritual and burial. Various abduction accounts have suspicious elements. Typically, the victims are taken against their will. Some have said they were able to smell the odour of sulphur, which is not uncommon in cases of demonic possession. Many of these abductees have a history of engaging in occultic or New Age practices, which leaves people in a state of spiritual vulnerability, and whom are also frequent in presentations of possession. Similarly, a drop in temperature in the abduction environment is also reported, along with involuntary levitation of the contactee. As with possessed persons, abduction victims often find unexplainable marks on their skin and suffer depressive disorders after the encounter(s).
Abductees have spoken of being jeered and scoffed at by the entities, which communicate through a kind of extra-sensory perception. They exhibit strong animosity towards humans, and even the animals we depend on, as highlighted below. Victims recall having been molested, and the beings are often intent on interfering with the human reproductive organs, often with the assistance of instruments. Among rational creatures, procreation is unique to humans, who have a body. It is unsurprising demons would hate every aspect of our nature. When abuctees have asked the entities why they are subjected to such invasive and humiliating procedures, they often express sentiments like “we have a right to do this”.
In cases of unexplained cattle mutilation, UFOs are frequently reported to have been seen in the vicinity around the time of the incident. The surgical dismembering of domestic creatures in these cases is very clearly a diabolical event. The following features are common: complete draining of the animal’s blood, loss of internal organs with no obvious point of entry, and the precise excision of reproductive organs, mammary glands and rectum. The animal is found discarded in an area where there are no marks or tracks leading to or from the carcass. The wounds tend to be cauterized by an intense heat and made by very sharp instruments, with no evident bleeding . This is a world-wide occurrence. No criminal or natural explanation has been identified.
Abductees have reported numerous times that the ‘alien’ beings de-materialise when the Holy Name of Jesus is invoked. They have been reported to have walked through walls of buildings, and are evidently of an angelic nature rather than a material one. Likewise, their craft often defy the laws of physics.
Most encounters with ufonauts and their craft occur around 3 am. Crucially, demonologists and exorcists report that this time is a peak of diabolical activity – the ‘Devils hour': an inversion of 3 pm, whereby the death of Our Blessed Lord on the Cross is blasphemously parodied.
The archetypal ‘Grey’ extraterrestrial with its bug eyes and large head bears an uncanny resemblance to the unearthly gods and goddesses (see image) of the Sumerians, Akkadians and Babylonians for example, as depicted in ancient art. In relation to the natural religions of these early cultures, Scripture teaches that all the gods of the Gentiles are devils (Ps 95:5). Angels are able to appear in different forms, and it is not unlikely demons would manifest themselves to humans in similar forms throughout history. Even the Mayans are known to have believed that they received knowledge from celestial beings who descended from the sky. Many ufologist insist this is evidence that humans encountered extraterrestrials in antiquity, the ‘ancient astronaut’ theory, although this explanation is not feasible.
Humans have an appetite for the spectacular, and so it is little wonder that the Devil entices us through the age-old trick of conjuring luminous phenomena in the atmosphere. They are an ugly imitation in order to deride the Miracle of the Sun at Fatima. In Medjugorje for example, such phenomena appear to occur on a regular basis. Indeed, the British Journal of Ophthalmology (1988) reported that some Medjugorje enthusiasts have suffered irreversible retinal damage due to prolonged sun-gazing.
Strikingly, there are parallels with historical accounts of human contact with fairies and succubuses, concurrent with abduction and nocturnal molestation: an almost identical narrative to alien abduction, except the form is altered to best deceive the modern imagination. Humans throughout history have always sought consolation in idols. The evil one uses signs and wonders and deceit. It is clear aliens and flying saucers are just another one of his tricks with the overall intention to lead souls away from their heavenly destiny.