Recently, the United States Navy changed its guidelines for reports of UFOs. Dr. Mark Clark of RTB responds.
Responding to UFOs in the News
By Guest Writer – June 25, 2019
Is the US government interested in the UFO phenomenon again? A recent spate of news reports indicates so. What does this development mean for Bible believers who are skeptical of the idea? And how can Christians respond respectfully and helpfully?
More UFOs Being Reported
As of May 2019, the US Navy has drafted new guidelines for pilots and other military personnel to report encounters with “unidentified aerial phenomena,” usually called unidentified flying objects (UFOs).1 The guidelines are designed to destigmatize self-reporting of such observations and allow for assessments of them. According to the reports, there has been an uptick since 2015 in the number and frequency of unknown but “highly advanced” aircraft encroaching on US Navy aircraft and strike groups and overflying governmental facilities. Descriptions of these aircraft vary. Sometimes they are described as flying “tic tacs” and sometimes as oblong spheres. Most importantly, however, these objects act in ways that defy the laws of physics.
This news comes on the heels of a recently reported effort by the US to conduct research into “unexplained aerial phenomena” (UAP).2 In 2017, a Politico reporter revealed that the Defense Intelligence Agency had funded more than $20 million of research into an Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program (AATIP) from 2007 to 2012. This research effort came at the request of then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). At best, the research projects were intended to determine whether Russia or China were testing advanced propulsion systems; at worst, to determine whether such exotic (i.e., alien) technology could “enhance the human condition.” The five-year study was terminated in 2012, with little results from the research.
What to Think about This Recent News
In our book, Lights in the Sky and Little Green Men, Hugh Ross, Ken Samples, and I evaluate the US experience of the UFO and extraterrestrial phenomena. We do so through the prism of physics, philosophy, theology, government conspiracies, classified military research, and the occult. Several points can be brought to bear for those intrigued by this latest news and who seek to understand what it means.
First, most research shows that the vast majority (95–99%) of all UFO sightings have natural explanations. We give examples in the book where most sightings had naturally occurring explanations, including misperception, faulty instrumentation, and the like. This high number of false identifications remains constant over a long period of time (since 1947). Most of these reports can be explained by natural phenomena, including classified government research into new technologies.
Second, there remains a small residual number (1–5%) of sightings that cannot be explained naturally. We call this the residual UFO, or RUFO phenomenon. RUFO activity fails to conform to the laws of physics, just as these pilots have reported.
As with our military pilots, however, there exists a problem. These pilots are highly trained and very credible witnesses. In our book, we identify credible witnesses to real, but nonphysical phenomena that include UFOs. What things are real but nonphysical? The mind, unlike the brain, is real though nonphysical. As Christians, we believe that spirits are both real and nonphysical. Also, God is both real and transcends the physical dimensions of space-time. RUFOs, however, are not benevolent. We hypothesize they are, in fact, demonic.
We discovered something else as well. The credible witnesses to incredible physical phenomena we studied had open doors to the occult. Because so many investigations into UFO phenomena fail to ask the questions we pose, this can be best seen with the people who have reported alien abductions or contacts. These open doors could easily have been the result of “innocent” activities like participating in seances, Ouija board games, fortune telling or tarot card readings at a party early in life. Or, they could be the result of something more concerning, such as active involvement in cults, the occult and New Age religion.
This news will likely continue to generate public interest, but for reasons that may not be obvious. As reported in Politico, Bob Bigelow was a regular contributor to Harry Reid’s Senate campaign, and was the one that encouraged the Senator to launch the AATIP program in the first place. As founder of Bigelow Aerospace, he was also the recipient of some of AATIP research funding. He is an outspoken proponent that extraterrestrial visitors frequently travel to earth. In addition, the head of the AATIP program, Luis Elizondo, resigned from the Pentagon in October 2017, complaining that the administration was not taking these research efforts seriously enough. Both men have now joined with other, likeminded people to launch a for-profit company called To The Stars Academy of Arts & Science to continue promoting these ideas. They have a television series, titled Unidentified: Inside America’s UFO Investigation, on The History Channel, which premiered May 31 of this year.
How to Respond
For Christians, there are some things we can do. Opinion surveys continue to show that at least 50% of Americans believe either in UFOs or extraterrestrials.3 Because of this widespread belief, most Christians will know someone with an interest in—maybe even a fascination with—these stories. I would recommend several things. First, get equipped for understanding UFOs, the precursor to the current UAP phenomenon. Our book can help readers get the background, history, and evidence needed to understand the phenomenon. Second, listen attentively and talk respectfully with those fascinated or enthused by them. Ask questions to elicit their or their friends’ interest. And third, see our book chapter dedicated to showing how you can help people close any doors they’ve opened to the occult. You may have the opportunity to show them how to allow the genuinely real but nonphysical power of God to enter into their life. As 1 Peter 3:15 commands us, “Always be ready.”
- Bryan Bender, “U.S. Navy Drafting New Guidelines for Reporting UFOs,” Politico, April 23, 2019, https://www.politico.com/story/2019/04/23/us-navy-guidelines-reporting-ufos-1375290. See also Marina Koren, “Just Don’t Call Them UFOs,” The Atlantic, April 27, 2019, https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2019/04/us-military-wants-pilots-report-ufos-despite-stigma/588232; and Deanna Paul, “How Angry Pilots Got the Navy to Stop Dismissing UFO Sightings,” Washington Post, April 25, 2019, https://www.msn.com/en-au/news/world/how-angry-pilots-got-the-navy-to-stop-dismissing-ufo-sightings/ar-BBWgtkj.
- Bryan Bender, “The Pentagon’s Secret Search for UFOs,” Politico, December 16, 2017, https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/12/16/pentagon-ufo-search-harry-reid-216111.
- Jason Walsh, “Poll: Have You Had a UFO ‘experience’?,” Sonoma Index-Tribune, April 25, 2019, https://www.sonomanews.com/opinion/9535048-181/poll-have-you-had-a?sba=AAS.