Are UFOs demonic?
Are UFOs demonic? Do demons impersonate aliens? Is Lucifer tempting us to seek earthly salvation through technology rather than heavenly salvation through divine grace?
If you’re familiar with the Peters ETI Religious Crisis Survey or my theological interpretations of the UFO phenomenon in UFOs—God’s Chariots?, then you’ll be aware that the demon theory of UFOs is a marginal theory. Very few people believe this. Even Christian fundamentalists and evangelicals think positively about the possibility of alien visitation. Yet, the affirmative answer to the question—are UFOs demonic? —needs to be addressed.
Are UFOs demonic? Yes, according to The Church of God International
I’ve been reading a fascinating tract published by The Church of God International, UFOs Exist! But What Are They? The author is Lloyd W. Cary. The point of this tract is this: “The current emphasis on UFOs and aliens (extraterrestrial beings) is a smokescreen for Satan’s activities” (Cary 2002, 17).
Trying to understand Cary’s argument is worth expending some effort. So, let’s get to it.
The first premise of this argument is that UFOs exist. The second premise is that the way UFOs behave within earth’s atmosphere is impossible according to the known laws of physics. This puzzles witnesses along with scientists who try to provide a natural explanation for witness reports. It follows, then, that the impossible yet real behavior of unexplainable objects requires a supernatural explanation.
“…although UFOs exist, it is irrational to believe they are visitors from other planets. What a paradox! If they are not beings from another planet, what are they?…all unexplained sightings have their origin from one of two sources: the natural or the supernatural….If we rule out the natural physical explanations for UFO phenomena, we must consider the non-physical or supernatural or spiritual realm” (Cary 2002, 12).
Could the supernatural source of UFOs be Satan? Yes. After all, Christ said, “I beheld Satan as lightening fall from heaven” (Luke 10:18) (Cary 2002, 15). Or Isaiah 14:12-15, “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer…” (Cary 2002, 15).
This provides scriptural proof that UFOs are demonic. Right?
Do UFOs lead earthlings astray?
Some UFO witnesses in what J. Alen Hynek called Close Encounters of the Third Kind actually see alien creatures (Hynek 1972). But warns Lloyd Cary, don’t get deceived!
“Most people who see UFOs are actually seeing… not aliens from another planet…but evil spirits disguising or impersonating themselves as aliens, to lead people astray” (Cary 2002, 17).
Just what ideas does Satan want us on earth to believe that will lead us astray?
Satan’s “ultimate purpose is to blind people to the gospel of Jesus Christ by capturing their minds with a New Age philosophy that incorporates a belief in UFOs, aliens, the paranormal and such like. As a result, evolution and interplanetary migration are a ‘given’ and mankind looks to be a technological savior rather than to the God of your Bible” (Cary 2002, 18).
In short, Satan wants us to deny the gospel of Jesus Christ and substitute New Age spirituality, believe in evolution, and trust in technology for salvation. Our belief in a more highly evolved technological civilization living on an exoplanet is a false belief, Cary says. It’s a temptation from Lucifer.
By their fruits shall we know them
Some years ago I intensely studied New Age spirituality along with its relationship to science, evolution, and ethics. I hesitate to recite here my complex set of conclusions. For more, see my book published with Harper but now out of print, The Cosmic Self.
Christians frequently enunciate a principle of discerning the spirits: by their fruits shall we know them. St. Paul lists the fruits of God’s spirit.
“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things” (Galatians 5:22-23).
What I found among New Agers is a robust, holistic, person-affirming community. I hesitate to reject the fruits of the Spirit exhibited by New Agers.
Is evolution demonic too?
Similarly with evolution. Yes, popular belief that UFOs are spaceships piloted by aliens takes evolutionary theory as a ‘given’. The flimsy belief that extraterrestrial intelligence is more highly evolved and more advanced in technology presupposes Darwin was right about evolution. I call this the “ETI Myth.” But we can set this aside for the moment.
Regardless, I hesitate to support Christians who denounce Darwinian evolution. Why? Because evolutionary theory bears at least one indispensable good fruit, namely, healing. Our medical researchers rely on evolution to track mutations in viruses to invent new vaccines.
Laboratory researchers making the most astounding discoveries in the service of new therapies owe gratitude to the insights of Charles Darwin. After surviving a MRSA infection, I’m alive because of the role evolution has played in medical research. Perhaps you reading this are alive for the same reason. Thank God for Darwin!
Is trust in technological salvation demonic?
Now, I’d like to credit Lloyd Carey for this observation: “…mankind looks to be a technological savior rather than to the God of your Bible” (Cary 2002, 18). I think he gets this one right.
In my own studies on the cultural dimensions of the UFO phenomenon, I have drawn the same conclusion. Our secular society places unwarranted hope in technological salvation. Flying saucers have replaced angels.
The popularity of Ancient Alien documentaries vividly illustrates the point. The theme of these television shows is to review ancient religious symbols but explain them as technological innovations rather than spiritual insights. What we previously thought were spiritual dimensions to the life of our ancestors were, in fact, interventions from a more highly advanced extraterrestrial civilization.
The advanced extraterrestrials, by implication, represent our own earthly future, our own technological future.
When we turn to the UFO contactees, then, we hear testimony that aliens can bring to earth the cessation of war, peace on earth, spiritual growth, and radical life extension through medical science.
Yes, indeed, this implicit set of beliefs is a distorted trust in our own capacity for self-salvation. Lloyd Carey gets this one right.
Again, an affirmative answer to the question — “are UFOs demonic?” – is very rare. Only a relatively small number of religious believers hold this view. Yet, it is a view with some coherence and a sense of urgency.
In summary, I reject the simplistic ascribing of demonic fruits to New Age philosophers and to evolutionary theory. Yet, I applaud the insight here into the temptation before us to turn human technology into a messianic savior. I believe this temptation is real. It engulfs much of contemporary culture. And, yes, it draws our attention away from trust in the God of grace.
Additional UFO resources on Patheos
Kermit Zarley, “The US has finally gotten serious about UFOs. They’re in the Bible“
Roger E. Olson, “Are UFOs real? Back to the claim of scientific dogmas“
James F. McGrath, “UFOs, Conspiracy Theories, and Religion“
Patheos Religion Library: “New Age“
SR 1177 UFO 7. Are UFOs demonic?
Ted Peters directs traffic at the intersection of science, religion, and ethics. Peters is an emeritus professor at the Graduate Theological Union, where he co-edits the journal, Theology and Science, with Robert John Russell on behalf of the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences, in Berkeley, California, USA. He authored Playing God? Genetic Determinism and Human Freedom? (Routledge, 2nd ed., 2002) as well as Science, Theology, and Ethics (Ashgate 2003). Along with Martinez Hewlett, Joshua Moritz, and Robert John Russell, he co-edited, Astrotheology: Science and Theology Meet Extraterrestrial Intelligence (2018). Along with Octavio Chon Torres, Joseph Seckbach, and Russell Gordon, he co-edited, Astrobiology: Science, Ethics, and Public Policy (Scrivener 2021). He is also author of UFOs: God’s Chariots? Spirituality, Ancient Aliens, and Religious Yearnings in the Age of Extraterrestrials (Career Press New Page Books, 2014). Look for his newest book, The Voice of Public Theology, a collection of previous articles. See his website: TedsTimelyTake.com.
Cary, Lloyd. 2002. UFOs Exist! But What Are They? tract, Tyhler TX: Church of God International.
Hynek, J Allen. 1972. The UFO Experience. Chicago: Henry Regnery.
Peters, Ted. 2014. UFOs–God’s Chariots? Spiritualiy, Ancient Aliens, and Religious Yearnings in the Age of Extraterrestrials. 2nd. Pompton Plains NJ: New Page Books.