Society today is fascinated by the paranormal. Ghost-hunter, occult, and UFO reality shows occupy virtually every channel.
Many Christians consider stories of specters and space aliens both non-biblical and equivalent to fairy tales. But we must acknowledge the fact that thousands of reports over the years have come from otherwise credible witnesses. These include members of law enforcement, the military, several NASA astronauts, and fellow Christians. Many of these claims have also been accompanied by compelling photos and/or video evidence.
How do we, as believers, deal with this growing phenomenon?
As an example, let’s take unidentified flying objects, or UFOs. Literally thousands of sightings of strange aerial craft have been reported since the middle of the twentieth century. These have been sparked by what some believe is the infamous alleged crash of an alien space ship at Roswell, New Mexico in 1947. Back then we had typically no video evidence of such claims. But with cell phones as ubiquitous as they are today, photographic and video evidence of UFOs has grown exponentially in recent years.
It should be also noted that references to extraterrestrial visitors are not a recent phenomenon.
Ancient texts such as the Sumerian tale of the Annunaki, Indian Sanskrit, Mayan Popol Vuh, and others go back thousands of years. These many refer to visitors from the heavens arriving in vehicles often described as flaming chariots. In each case these “gods” interacted with humankind and, in several cases according to their authors, were responsible for the creation of humankind.
Let’s look at this issue from a biblical standpoint. It may sound strange to some believers, but there’s nothing in the Bible stating unequivocally that God created intelligent life only on our planet. One of the most prolific Christian writers of all time, C. S. Lewis, addressed the subject in his essay entitled “Dogma and the Universe.” In it, Lewis wrote about the possibility of life on other planets formed in the image and likeness of our mutual Creator, as well as those created being’s relationship with the God of the universe.
However, even though the Bible does not preclude the possibility of intelligent life on other planets, I believe the likelihood of those life forms visiting our planet to be extremely remote. Assuming there are planets capable of supporting carbon-based life in the universe, and the sheer vastness of the universe would suggest “yes,” that same vastness and the resulting time it would take to reach even the closest star in our own galaxy would suggest an emphatic “no.”
For now, at least, there is no physical evidence we know of proving the existence of intelligent life on other planets…OR that they have visited us. Which begs the question: What are all these people seeing?
Looking at the ghost phenomenon from a Christian perspective, there are several references in both the Old and New Testament referring to spirit beings, but not like those created in the mind of a Dean Koontz or Stephen King. Biblical “ghosts” are not the spirits of the dead come back to haunt the living. Rather, according to Scripture, they are divided into two clear camps—angels and demons. Angels are spirit beings who serve God and are righteous, good, and holy. Demons are fallen angels who rebelled against God, and are evil, deceptive, and destructive.
However, many credible witnesses are also claiming to see and be haunted by spirits of the dead. What are they seeing?
Although many reports are coming in from less than reliable sources, I believe many of the people claiming to see spirits, demonic creatures, and space ships are credible and being completely honest in reporting exactly what they are seeing. However, I also believe what these people are seeing may not be what they appear to be. Could all the paranormal sightings be, in fact, far more sinister than aliens and vengeful spirits? Could these visions be satanic in origin? Perhaps a carefully orchestrated deception put forth by the Great Deceiver himself?
This scenario is addressed in my latest novel, The Reluctant Disciple. The story follows the life of Ryan Kates, the host of a popular cable TV show focused on everything and anything that might prickle the tiny hairs on the back of his viewers necks. Ryan himself is not only a religious agnostic, but also a skeptic of anything he can’t touch or feel.
But when paranormal phenomena begin to rock the planet, he is faced with possibilities too fantastical and bizarre to comprehend. These end-times events challenge both his atrophied faith and personal beliefs, pushing him to the brink between heaven and hell.
Both The Reluctant Disciple and my first book The Linen God, a Dan Brown–style thriller based on the most studied religious relic in human history (the “Shroud of Turin”), can be found on Amazon and many other fine book retailers. My third book, Blood Sisters, will be available from The Pelican Book Group in the Fall.