Science in Christian Perspective
UFOs - Food for
RAYMOND E. FOWLER
From: JASA 28 (March 1976): 21-23.
After years of study, I am certain that there is more than ample high quality observational evidence from highly trained reliable witnesses to indicate that there are machine-like objects under intelligent control operating in our atmosphere. The aerodynamic performance and characteristics of the true UFO rule out man-made or natural phenomena. Such observational evidence has been well supported in many instances by reliable instruments such as cameras, radar and geiger counters as well as by electrical interference, physical indentations in soil and scorching at landing sights.
I am reasonably sure that if qualified civilian scientists and investigators are able to come to this conclusion, the United States Air Force, supported by the tremendous facilities at its disposal, has come to the same conclusion long ago. However, present official policy deliberately attempts to discredit the validity of UFOs and a wealth of data and facts are not being released to the public. It is high time that the real facts about UFOs are released. A public information program should be inaugurated that presents facts.Personal testimony 1
The above statement and my complete report on the classical Exeter, New Hampshire, UFO sightings were unanimously voted into the Congressional Record during the first open congressional hearings on UFOs. Prior to these hearings, all such sessions had been closed and classified.2 Why?
1. Like most of the public at large, had been both puzzled and frustrated over the controversy surrounding UFOs. Years of study had convinced me that UFOs were real and that a definite need existed for thorough documentation of UFO events. It became apparent to me that the United States Air Force was not conducting serious investigations into civilian UFO sightings unless public pressure demanded it. This procedure may have aided Pentagon policy, but it certainly was not contributing to realistic public information on UFOs nor to a thorough civilian scientific study of the problem. It was with this in mind that I decided to become a UFO investigator in order that some of the data being overlooked might be recorded properly for present and future UFO research.Personal Involvement
I was barely a teenager when Kenneth Arnold, an experienced mountain pilot, sighted nine large, flat, shiny objects flying in line over Mount Rainier, Washington, on June 24, 1947. During the months that followed, flying silvery discs were being reported from all over the world. At that time, I believed that either people were imagining things or else the United States was testing a new weapon. However, the phenomena continued, year after year. Intrigued, I collected and read everything that I could find on the subject. This interest continued through high school and college, as well as during an overseas tour with the top secret United States Air Force Security Service. Later, I became a
The subject of UFO's continues to be a highly controversial one, with dedicated believers and disbelievers among Christians as well as non-Christians. But if the question of the reality of UFO's is an area of controversy, no less so is the question of the meaning of UFO's among Christians who accept their reality. The present author suggests that UFO's contain angelic visitors, but Dr. Clifford Wilson, author of Crash Go the Chariots and a principal Christian respondent to Erich von Ddniken's The Chariots of the Gods, is no less convinced in Gods in Chariots and Other Fantasies that the passengers on UFO's are "messengers of Satan." (pp. 87, 88) ... (Editor)
member of a civilian UFO research group based in Kensington, Maryland, called the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP). In 1964, 1 was appointed chairman of a technical investigating team for NICAP. This, in turn, led to my being selected to serve as an "early warning coordinator" for the Air Force Colorado University UFO Study. Early in 1974 1 was made a scientific associate to the Center for UFO Studies directed by Dr. J. Allen Hynek of Northwestern University. It is incredible to look back over the past decade of involvement in UFO investigations. Personally directed on-site enquiries have documented well over two hundred reported events that fall into the category of unidentified flying objects as defined by Dr. Hynek.3First Sightings
Ever since the first modern UFO sightings reported by allied and axis pilots during World War II (they called them foo-fighters then), UFOs have been with us. The strange reports are global in nature and appear to be a wave phenomena. UFO waves are abrupt increases in the number of UFO reports. They come in addition to a smaller but constant flow of similar reports.
The first of many global UFO waves peaked in June and July of 1947. Frantic attempts by our Air Force to identify the objects in those early days proved futile. Formerly classified papers state that-"The phenomenon reported is something real and not visionary or fictitious . . . The description (i.e., of the objects) is metallic . . . circular or elliptical in shape, flat on bottom and domed on top."4 This letter, sent to the Commander of the then Army Air Force in the Fall of 1947 resulted in the formation of the first secret Air Force UFO project on December 30, 1947.
The new project was dubbed "Sign" and continued until December 27, 1948, when the Air Force made a public announcement to the effect that flying saucers did not exist and that it was terminating Project "Sign"; However, it opened again secretly as Project "Grudge' in February of 1949 and surfaced again publicly in March of 1952 with a new code-name-"Bluebook". This project continued until December 17, 1969, when the Secretary of the Air Force repeated history in announcing that the Air Force UFO project was being terminated. Although most civilian reports are being largely ignored by the Air Force, it may be noteworthy to mention that the intelligence services of the Aerospace Defense Command continue to investigate UFO sightings reported by airline pilots, merchant mariners and all government-controlled military and civilian sources under the auspices of joint Army-Navy-Air Force Order Number 146E. Such information is considered vital to national security and is restricted by two espionage laws. A recent sighting by airline pilots who made a confidential report to NICAP bears this out.
An airline captain and his co-pilot were flying an unscheduled charter cargo flight from St. Louis, Missouri to Dallas, Texas. Their aircraft was a DC-8 cargo jet. The date was 14 February 1973 and the time was 2:30 AM CST. Their approximate location was 40 miles due east of McAlester, Oklahoma. At the time the object was sighted, their approximate bearing was 195 degrees. Their airspeed was 510 mph and they had just started a descent from 21,000 feet. The co-pilot nudged the captain and pointed to their right out of the cockpit. There, just below the leading edge of their right wing, about 5000 feet away, was what first appeared to be another commercial aircraft on the same course and travelling at their speed. However, this idea was quickly abandoned, when within just a few seconds, the object suddenly arose straight up and slid sideways toward them and paced them from an estimated 300 yards.
It was unlike any conventional aircraft they bad ever seen. They radioed it but received no answer. They then switched on their airborne radar. The object appeared on the edge of the scope and simultaneously seemed to react by abruptly rising straight up and sliding sideways to a position just above the DC-8 and temporarily out of the witnesses' sight. Then, it appeared to the left of them and dropped just below the leading edge of their left wing for several minutes before dropping below and behind them and out of sight. Several minutes later it suddenly appeared again and sped 30 feet below them and rose up in front of them performing an "up-and-down" motion. It then slid sideways and sped out of sight. The pilots tracked it for 50 miles before it went off their radar scope.
The captain stated that the object was bright silver and was almost perfectly round. It bad unconventional amber lights and strange fin-like protrusions located on its sides and trailing edge. On the top center was a transparent dome which contained two or three moving figures. They were urged by their supervisor to report the object to the Air Force. An Air Force officer interrogated them and they filled out questionnaires several times. One day, a civilian met with them at the airport and showed credentials indicating that he worked for a certain government agency. They were told that the investigation was over and that they were not to discuss their sighting with anyone except authorized personnel. JANAP 146E has effectively kept most airline pilot UFO reports from the public eye since its promulgation in 1954. This particular sighting was forerunner to a new UFO wave.The 1973 Wave
What started as a local spurt of sightings in Georgia during the summer of 1973 soon escalated into the first massive UFO wave in North America since 1967. NICAP's records indicate that the onslaught began in late September as UFO sightings spread like brusbfire throughout the Southeast. Observations were being reported faster than police and other authorities could follow them up, some involving dozens or hundreds of witnesses in a single community. When Piedmont, Missouri skies were invaded by strange erratically-moving multi-colored lights, a team of investigators led by Dr. Harley D. Rutledge, chairman of the physics department at Southeast Missouri State University conducted a scientific investigation. Linked by radio, the team, using surveying instruments, telescopes, spectroscopes and rangefinders documented over 100 sightings. The physicist and his colleagues concluded that the objects maneuvered at speeds estimated at thousands of miles an hour, were able to make right-angle turns at speeds that would crush conventional aircraft, appeared to be under intelligent control and propelled by a power not yet harnessed by man.
The wave peaked in October and November. On October 3, a truck driver and his wife reported that they were chased by a large low-flying egg-sbaped object encircled by large bright red and yellow lights at Jackson, Missouri. Sticking his head out of the truck window for a better look, the driver was temporarily blinded by a bright flash of light but managed to bring his truck to a halt. His wife drove him directly to a hospital for treatment and the police had his damaged eyeglasses analyzed. The warped eyeglass frames were found to have been "heated internally".
On October 11th, two shipyard workers fishing on a pier at the Pascagoula River in Mississippi were terrified to observe a blue-glowing object hover at the shore-end of the pier and three creatures emerge from it and float toward them. They claimed to have been taken aboard the craft and given some sort of examination. I phoned astronomer Dr. J. Allen Hynek, former chief scientific consultant to the Air Force UFO projects, who had investigated this case personally. He told me that be was absolutely convinced that both men had undergone a terrifying experience. Hypnosis, polygraph and personal stress evaluation tests as well as the moral character of both witnesses indicated that the men were telling the truth as they believed it to be. One of the witnesses suffered a nervous relapse. There were many UFO/occupant cases reported in 1973. Many of them turned out to be hoaxes but many remain unexplained, including two which I personally investigated at Goffstown, New Hampshire.
On October 18th, 18-year veteran U.S. Army Reserve Captain Lawrence Coyne, Commanding Officer of the 316tb Medical Attachment and his three-man crew were approached by a domed UFO over Mansfield, Ohio. To avoid collision, Coyne put the helicopter into a steep dive. The UFO paced the copter overhead, barely missing its whirring blades. Inexplicably their radio would not function and the helicopter, although set for a dive, began ascending 1000 feet per minute until the unknown wingless vehicle accelerated away and out of sight. Interestingly enough, Coyne and his crewmen were not silenced and were allowed to make their encounter Public by their superiors.Still Unexplained
The government claims that UFOs do not exist are not easily accepted by UFO witnesses nor by researchers such as myself who have investigated similar cases in our own respective areas. In spite of such official claims, one fact is certain-UFO reports exist. I received over 100 reports from the New England area in 1973 and over 20% could not be explained. Most reports can be explained away in terms of misinterpretation of natural phenomena or misidentification of man-made objects. Relatively few hoaxes are perpetrated. Most reports are made by sincere individuals who believe they have witnessed something unusual. In some cases, the witnesses' observational data are supplemented by supporting evidence such as electrical interference with automobile ignitions, lights and communications equipment; radar; photographs and physical traces left behind by the reported UFO. The Air Force-sponsored University of Colorado UFO Study could not explain 30% of the sightings investigated by their teams of
Mysticism, hallucinations, hoaxes, conventional objects, natural phenomena and secret weapons all fall short of explaining what is being reported by witnesses from all walks of life from all over the world.
Some of these involved Radar-Visual sightings:
This is the most puzzling and unusual case in the radar-visual files. The apparently rational, intelligent behavior of the UFO suggests a mechanical device of unknown origin.5
and unexplained photographs:
All factors investigated, geometric, psychological, and physical appear to be consistent with the assertion that
an extraordinary flying object, silvery, metallic, disk shaped, tens of meters in diameter, and evidently artificial flew within sight of two witnesses.6
None of these cases provided proof as to what UFOs were but they were, needless to say, puzzling to the analysts performing their evaluation of the data. Dr. Hynek is aware of over 300 "physical trace" cases. These have occurred both in the U.S. and abroad and are startlingly similar. One such case he investigated with others took place on November 2, 1971 at Delphos, Kansas.
At 6:20 p.m., Alton Smith, school principal, reported seeing a streak of light descending into the general direction of the Durel Johnson farm. Then, sometime after 7:00 p.m., reserve police officer, Lester Ernsbarger observed a bright light ascending from the same area. These reports proved to be significant because the Johnson farm bad a strange visitor during this time-frame and it left its calling card behind.
At approximately 7:00 p.m., Ronald Johnson, age 16, was out at a shed tending sheep with his dog. His mother called him for supper and a few minutes later, he left the shed. Suddenly a strange rumbling sound filled the air. The area behind the shed suddenly became illuminated. There, about 75 feet away was a strange oval object capped with a rounded dome. It glowed blue, red and orange as it hovered momentarily just a few feet above the ground before taking off at an angle with a high-pitched whining sound, barely clearing the shed roof. Ronald, stunned and temporarily blinded, ran to tell his parents. They came out and witnessed a large light as bright as an arc-welder moving away in the air above their farm. Running to the area, they found a large 8-foot ring marking on the ground. They phoned the sheriff and the state police who conducted an official investigation and photographed the ring-marking on the following morning. Dr. J. Allen Hynek, Chairman of the department of astronomy at Northwestern University alerted investigator Ted Phillipps who conducted a further on-site investigation. A summary of the results of this investigation is as follows.
The object bad crushed a dead tree to the ground and from all appearances had also broken a limb of a live tree when it had landed. The broken limb would break as if it were dead, yet, it was green under the bark and the upper area still had green leaves. The lower end, however, was blistered and had a whitish cast. Laboratory tests showed that although plants grew in normal soil five feet away from the ring, nothing would grow in soil taken from the ring. The soil was not radioactive but it would not absorb water and contained dehydrated plant roots and a whitish substance. This is what one would expect from rapid, intense beating of a mineral solution which would drive off the water and leave a saltish precipitate behind.
The depth of the baked ring of soil extended about 14 inches downward. Various tests suggested that a very intense radio-frequency heating source could cause this effect. It took a temperature of 1500 degrees Fahrenheit to make normal soil similar to the ring soil. It was concluded that one could vary the temperature, radiation time and volume of wet soil, but, that in any event, the power level of the proposed radio-frequency energy would have had to have been somewhere between 2-20 million watts!Multiple Hypotheses
In my book, UFOs: Interplanetary Visitors,7 I apply Chamberlain's method of multiple hypotheses in the seeking of proposed solutions to the UFO problem. Those theories that have been advanced over the course of modern UFO history are examined in the light of the hard core UFO evidence. Mysticism, hallucinations, hoaxes, conventional objects, natural phenomena and secret weapons all fall short of explaining what is being reported by witnesses from all walks of life from all over the world. I propose, with the use of fully documented evidence, that only the extraterrestrial visitors hypothesis best accounts for what is being described if the best unexplained reports are taken at face value. This hypothesis, in turn, raises the obvious questions of how, why and where, which if taken in the context of our present technology and understanding of the laws of physics leave us beyond the pale.Religious Implications
When faced with a possible extraterrestrial threat against which there was no practical defense, multitudes would probably turn to their religious beliefs for help and comfort. It is probably very fitting that in the final scenes of the movie version of H. G. Well's War of the Worlds, we find helpless people huddled in churches seeking divine help against the invading Martians. Help does come in a most dramatic way. The Martians succumb to the very disease-carrying microbes that man bad built up immunity against during the course of his evolution.
We might also consider that some would turn from one religion to another in feverish desperation if no divine help appeared in answer to their petitions. Some awestruck cultures might turn from their traditional religions to worship the aliens themselves. The Aztecs mistook Cortez for a god and Vietnamese peasants in a remote village offered sacrifices to the crewmen of a downed U.S. helicopter.
Indeed, much of the initial exploration of our own planet was motivated by Christian missionary zeal. One might wonder if this motivation exists on an interstellar scale! Both Judaism and Christianity are based upon written records concerning superhuman manlike beings who brought religious teachings from the sky. Could, for example, the angels (messengers) mentioned in the Bible actually have been extraterrestrial evangelical missionaries? I have pondered this possibility in the pages of Christian Life 8 and in more detail in my book.
In conclusion, I would like to leave the following challenge to Christian theologians, scientists and laymen alike. It is imperative that the whole question of our own space efforts and the probable existence of extraterrestrial life be examined fully in the light of the impact that both could have upon contemporary theology and a traditional interpretation of Scripture. Geocentric theological concepts of the Resurrection and the Second Coming of Christ might have to be expanded to include other parts of our solar system or wherever man might colonize. The discovery or awareness of intelligent extraterrestrials would imply that the Incarnation may not have been an event unique to just this planet. Even the doctrine of Creation may be profoundly affected. How far will man himself spread life as he begins to visit other planets? It could very well be that the Creator has so ordered things that He employs perfect unfallen beings to spread and care for various forms of fallen and unfallen life throughout His creation.
In order to better appreciate and prepare for any such theological impact caused by revolutionary discoveries as postulated above, it would be good to study in depth the Church's reaction to a similar situation in the past, namely, the Copernican revolution. Prior to the discoveries of men like Copernicus and Galileo, theology and scriptural interpretation were firmly wedded to an Artistotelian concept of the universe-tbat the earth held a privileged central position in the universe; for the moon, planets, sun and stars supposedly moved around it in perfect circles. The outmoding of this erroneous concept revealed the need for vast and sweeping changes in both science and Christian theology. At first the Church fought these new concepts. Even Martin Luther called the Copernican system antiscriptural, and yet today Christians the world over accept such a system as common everyday knowledge. The important thing to remember is that throughout the history of the Church, theology and scriptural interpretation have had to be expanded again and again in the light of new knowledge. Although such changes were distasteful and alarming to the generation in which they occurred, they in no way changed the basic message of the Christian Gospel.
As Christians face the serious implications posed by the ushering in of the space age and the UFO problem, they should not lose sight of the fact that the foundational truths of the Bible have always triumphed in the face of new knowledge. Christians and adherents of all faiths should come to this realization: Increased knowledge of the universe, coupled with a possible contact with intelligent extraterrestrial beings, may well enrich man's understanding of his particular place and purpose in the universe as related to God and His unfathomable creation.
Congress, House Document No. 55, UFO Hearing by Committee on Armed Services,
89th Congress, 2nd Session,
2"Congressional investigations are being held on the problem of Unidentified Flying Objects. Since most of the material is classified, the hearings are never printed." (Letter on file at NICAP from Congressman W. Ayres, Ohio, January 28, 1958.)
3Hyneck, J. Allen, The UFO Experience, A Scientific Enquiry, Chicago, Henry Regenery Co., 1972, p. 10
"The reported perception of an object or light seen in the sky or on the land, the appearance, trajectory and general dynamic and luminescent behavior of which do not suggest a logical, conventional explanation, and which is not only mystifying to the original percipient but remains unidentified after close scrutiny of all available evidence by persons who are technically capable of making a common sense identification, if one is possible."
4Condon, Edward U., Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Obiects, New York, Bantam Books, pp. 894, 895
5Ibid. p. 164
6Ibid. p. 407
7Fowler, Raymond E., UFOs: Interplanetary Visitors, New York, Exposition Press, Inc. pp. 256-272
8Fowler, Raymond E., Christian Life, "The Bible and the UFO", (November 1966) and "Whatever happened to UFOs", (July 1972).