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Aliens, Angels, Demons, and Are We Alone?

So. Aliens. Maybe. Maybe not? Depending on how inclined you are to pay attention to such things, you may have already tuned out. But in my house, this has been a topic of conversation since the congressional hearings on unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP) were held in July 2023.

What surprised me most was the person who initiated these conversations: my wife. This area is not in her typical area of interest. (Anything with an air of the speculative typically falls into my realm.) But something about this has captured her attention, and since it has her attention, I want to pay attention as well. What we’ve both noticed is that the question of alien life causes many people to ask a profound question: What if we’re not alone?

The Controversial Question (that Shouldn’t be)

“What if we are not alone” should not be a controversial question. Yet, if asked outside of designated “safe spaces” like speculative fiction, it often puts the one asking under undue scrutiny.1

Generally, if you admit being open to the possibility of the existence of supernatural or other unexplained phenomena, it might warrant a raised eyebrow or an eye roll from most people. But if you admit to having any encounter with such a being, people react very differently. And by differently, I mean they will most likely look at you as if you’ve suddenly grown a second head. I know this because I’ve experienced it multiple times over.

But for Christians, “what if we are not alone,” is not even a question. We know that we are not alone—that there are supernatural beings at work in the world right now. And that we might have even encountered one without realizing it (Hebrews 13:2). But what are these beings, and how do they relate to aliens?

What are the Supernatural Beings We Know About?

Very broadly speaking, the Bible describes two types of created supernatural beings. The first of these is angels. No one knows exactly how many of these creatures exist. But we do know that they are entirely distinct from humanity, yet can also appear to be indistinguishable from us (Matthew 28:3; Judges 13:3). They are capable of moving between heaven and earth (Genesis 28:12), which allows them to fulfill their purpose as messengers who carry out God’s plans and purposes (Genesis 3:24; 19:1–15; Daniel 10–12; Luke 1:5–25; Acts 1:10–11; Revelation 22:8–9).

The other supernatural beings the Bible describes are demons. While their precise origins are unknown, it is traditionally believed that they were once angels themselves who rebelled against God (Revelation 12:4–9). Like angels, they can appear as human and in the form of an angel from heaven (Galatians 1:8). Demons use their (limited but still) enormous power to wreak havoc in this world, seeking to disrupt God’s plans and purposes in whatever ways they can.

What About Everything Else We Can’t Explain?

Angels and demons are one thing (okay, two things). But what about all the other unexplained phenomena that people experience, or at least claim to? What do we do with stories of spirits, ghosts, fairies, Bigfoot, and other creatures that go bump in the night? What about claims of UAP and (often disturbing) encounters with aliens or other non-human intelligence?2 Are people just making these things up? Are they having waking nightmares? Or is the answer something much more straightforward—that they’ve had an encounter with something they cannot explain or understand?

There is no simple answer to any of these questions. And a reason for that is because, since at least the early 1950s, there has been a coordinated effort to debunk and discredit reports of this kind of unexplained phenomena. The message has long been that reasonable people don’t believe in such things. Yet as credible journalists explored the subject, they found that there is something more to these stories. There is enough evidence to suggest that it is unreasonable to dismiss these claims, treating them as the fruit of overactive imaginations.

Embracing the Mystery and the Tension

So what are they? As I’ve explored this subject to a very limited degree, including listening to former US government officials testifying before Congress, reading books and articles from those who have investigated these phenomena, and listening to the stories of those who have experienced them, it doesn’t seem like we’re dealing with anything benevolent. If alien encounters are happening, they’re bad news. But really, it sounds more like what people are encountering is demons.3

And even that conclusion should be held with a relatively open hand because, the truth is, we don’t actually know for certain. While we believe that God has told us all we need to follow him faithfully in Scripture, he hasn’t told us everything he’s ever done in its pages. We might not like that, but it’s true. And we need to live with the tension that creates.

But even as we embrace that tension, we also need to hold fast to what we do know. There is more to God’s creation than we can explore with our limited perceptions. We live in a world where there is more than we can see. Where angels and demons are indeed among us. And all things, seen and unseen, explained and mysterious, obey Jesus—the one savior who rules us all.

Photo by Michael Herren on Unsplash.

  1. This is the fruit of the Enlightenment and its false dichotomy between faith and reason and over-reliance on the scientific method as the determiner of what is true. ↩︎
  2. Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena (UAP) has become the preferred term to describe what was previously described as Unidentified Flying Objects (UFO). This change was made primarily to avoid the negative stereotypes associated with the UFO designation. Non-human intelligence is a broader term to describe what might be behind these phenomena. ↩︎
  3. The film “Aliens and Demons: Evidence of an Unseen Realm” features Dr. Michael S. Heiser, who is among many who have noted that there are parallels between ritual sexual abuse and alien abduction experiences, as well as how the messages of these beings—even the seemingly benevolent ones—tend to minimize or reinvent Jesus. ↩︎
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