Magonia 56, June 1996
In Judaism, Christianity and Islam, God may represent the overwhelming power of loving kindness, but he is also the primordial creative force, the primum mobile, and the controller of all things. And so – as the canonical texts make plain – God is also the source and ultimate embodiment of all evil. In UFO-related reports there is a cluster of symbols and images that directly parallel religious symbolism and imagery.
In this article I want to demonstrate and explore those parallels, and so indicate the similarities between the underlying structures of belief in UFOs as extra-terrestrial hardware and in the Semitic religions.
Argosies of the Divine
Jung pointed out the mandala-like nature of the flying disk, and its associations of healing and wholeness, coming down from the Heavens, the realm of the gods, to bring salvation:
A political, social, philosophical and religious conflict of unprecedented proportions has split the consciousness of the age. …Between the opposites there arises spontaneously a symbol of unity and wholeness, no matter whether it reaches consciousness or not. Should something extraordinary occur in the outside world, …the unconscious content can fasten itself upon it, investing the projection carrier with numinous and mythical powers. 
I’d also add that the daylight disk is a hard, shiny, inaccessible thing; a thing from Elsewhere; a symbol of Otherness. And UFOs perform ‘impossible’ aerial manoeuvres – such as flying, for a start, against all known laws of aerodynamics, as well as performing manoeuvres that defy momentum, inertia and gravity. They can even change shape. While being essentially remote, they are at the same time capable of miraculous activity: they are in the world, and even interfere with it, but are not subject to the laws of the Universe. These are divine traits, and Jung could accommodate their disparities in his symbol of wholeness, for he believed that although the ‘rotundum’ is a totality symbol, it usually encounters a consciousness that is not prepared for it… indeed is bound to misunderstand it and therefore cannot tolerate it, because it perceives the totality only in projected form, outside itself, and cannot integrate it as a subjective phenomenon. 
One can remain agnostic about Jung’s particular slant on ‘subjective phenomena’ without being insensible to his perception of the analogous attributes of a salvific God and the flying disks: unapproachability, inexplicable powers, and an intimidating presence.
And, despite their sometimes gigantic size, UFOs have the knack of appearing only to chosen witnesses. Examples are legion; here are a few. On 9 May 1984 a vast object was photographed over Sao Paulo, Brazil – which, one can see from the photo, is clearly a lively town. But no one besides the photographer (and his magically sensitive camera) seems to have been aware of it.  In the UK it was recently reported that at about 10:40pm on 15 July 1995, while barbecuing their dinner al fresco, four adults were abducted by aliens. The entities arrived in a UFO ‘almost 30 feet in diameter’ that shone ‘a powerful shaft of light’ into the garden. A photograph of the premises shows it to be surrounded by numerous dwellings of equally dismal architecture.  The narrator of these events offers no evidence that any of the quartet’s hugger-mugger neighbours were disturbed by this huge craft or its brilliant beam of light, although he sternly adjures us not to deny the reality of the event. The highly populated backdrops in several of Willy Meier’s pictures show that the Pleiadean spacecraft that appeared to him managed the same stunt of exclusive visibility; so did the gaily-lit UFO ridden by Ed Walters’ molesters at Gulf Breeze.
Of course I hear the chuckles and snorts. But it doesn’t matter whether this ‘evidence’, or any other, is hokum or not. Such cases suck their credibility, artesian fashion, from a bedrock of ‘authentic’ reports, in which UFOs remain invisible to all but those they wish to impress (or, more simply, those who want to see them). And, merely by existing, fraudulent cases of exclusively visible UFOs (or any kind of UFO – there’s always someone ready to believe them) contribute to the accretion of received wisdom about the whole phenomenon; which has covertly evolved into a system of beliefs. The same exclusivity occurs, and is perfectly acceptable among onlookers who are believers, in visions of the Virgin Mary. Readers of Magonia will not need an exhaustive list of references. 
The attributes of aliens and their craft, and the themes of ufological legends and parables do not always amount to a consistent whole. For instance: UFOs are ‘proven’ to be exotic hardware by radar/visual data; on the other hand, aliens have given America ‘stealth’ technology, while some say UFOs’ propulsion systems are knocked out of kilter by radar signals. All the contradictions within the catalogue can be resolved by UFO proponents, often by invoking additional extraneous premises, such as the ufonauts’ presumed motives. Both the inconsistencies and the explanations are signs of a belief system at work rather than a body of empirically derived and falsifiable knowledge. [*6]
If unidentified flying objects themselves suggest the numinous and miraculous, their occupants are even more remarkable. They are always alleged to be not just different from, but vastly superior to human beings, and in all respects – Billy Meier’s Pleiadean friends claimed their civilisation was 3000 years ahead of ours. Even sober writers on the scientific search for extra-terrestrial intelligence assume that anyone visiting us from the great Elsewhere will be phenomenally ‘advanced’.  These assertions are not usually illuminated with details, but they seem to derive from a fairly quaint 19th-century notion of ‘progress’: moral, cultural and technological improvements are assumed to proceed at the same rate, if not actually hand-in-hand. This is not the rhetoric of the anti-technological, spiritually questing New Ager.
Although the cultural ancestry of the presumed attributes of the aliens provides some insight into the mechanics (and mechanicalism) of saucerian belief systems, it is almost irrelevant to point it out in ferreting for its underlying meaning. Likewise one swallows a huge red herring in arguing that primitive and degenerate humanity already has the wherewithal to voyage among the stars, if it wished to do so. Nor is it pertinent to employ the obvious liberal rhetoric, as one might by suggesting revealing parallels: was, say, Cortes morally superior to Montezuma, or Rhodes to the Matabele? The argument, the questions and the analogy are all in the wrong language, being specific and concrete and open to informed debate. The logic informing ‘mainstream’ ufological discourse is characteristically inductive and consequently woolly. This vaporous imprecision of the committed ETHers’ and ancient-astronautists’ assertions is deliberate (if not necessarily conscious), because emotionally that is more suggestive. In fact – and this, finally, is the point – by talk of ‘superior’ and ‘unimaginably advanced’ aliens we’re implicitly being invited to be in awe of ufonauts even before we set eyes on one.#
Joseph Smith experiences the light of revelation in a forest in upper New York state in the early 1820s. Like many abductees caught in lightbeams from UFOs, Smith was 'born again' to a whole new way of life
The Light of the Otherworld
When we do encounter aliens, these days, they don’t stop much any more to chat about organic farming, as they did with Gary Wilcox, or hand out the cup-cakes, as they did to Joe Simonton. They come and grab us, don’t they. And the abduction scenario, I am not the first to say, is rife with religious imagery and symbolically sacred routines. It is worth looking at components of this syndrome in some detail because it is through abduction narratives that the UFO phenomenon most richly reveals itself.
In both CE-IIIs and CE-IVs, the first thing the aliens commonly do is zap their victims with a beam of light. A light of revelation knocked Saul of Tarsus down, amazed the shepherds at Bethlehem, when ‘glory shone around’, and revealed the Paraclete at the baptism of the Nazarene. The Christian texts call on a pre-existing tradition: a suitably poignant manifestation from the Tanach is the ‘fire infolding itself’ with ‘a brightness… about it’ that preceded Ezekiel’s first vision. Later, in a variation on this motif, tradition held that Mohamed’s mother was convinced her son was born to greatness for, as she said, ‘Satan has no access to him…. While I was pregnant with him, I saw a light issuing from me’.  Mohamed’s first biographer remarks that when the Prophet began to receive revelations from Allah, his visions would come upon him ‘like the break of day’.  (As the Koran says, ‘Would that you knew what the nightly visitant is! It is the star of piercing brightness.’) 
Still later, Joseph Smith recalled how, when he first called on God for wisdom, initially a ‘thick darkness gathered around’ him – ‘the power of some actual being from the unseen world’ that threatened to destroy him. Then "just at this moment of great alarm, I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. …When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air." 
Bertrand Méheust has pointed out how these visionary, revelatory light beams are not limited to the modern civilised world (or, I interject, to the long-vanished civilisations of its current prophets); and he notes: "The fact that [primitive and modern 'abduction'] experiences share so many elements, and have in common their underlying structure must be more than coincidence; at the very least, it points towards a permanence of certain elements in the universal language of the imagination, emerging in certain states of consciousness…" 
One might say that the magical light of revelation drives back the darkness of the mundane world, which by implication is the Gnostic world of flesh and devil, the darkness that threatened Joseph Smith with ‘destruction’ and ‘ruin’. In UFO experiences, the light is often reported as blue which, it feels patronising to point out, is the ‘color of Heaven’.
Both mystics and abductees agree that the light has a paralytic effect and/or generates a sense of floating. Mohamed was rooted to the spot when he was informed he was the Apostle of God by the Archangel Gabriel, who filled the sky in every direction. There is a condition of disembodiment of some kind as abductees are wafted (sometimes through solid walls or closed windows) up to a waiting UFO; just as, Hilary Evans points out, mystics are taken on a visionary journey by angels or demons.  There is no evidence that this is a physical event, but there are clear parallels with out-of-the-body experiences and with the shaman’s ascent to the Otherworld to discourse with the spirits. As, rather less tentatively than Bertrand Méheust, Paul Devereux has noted:
The reality of UFO abductions is – I suggest, along with numerous other researchers – to do with altered states of consciousness. These states were known of in earlier cultures, but today… we have no cultural context for experiences of the Otherworlds – which… can appear totally real, with all senses involved. Rather than spirits and ancestors [encountered during altered states of consciousness in shamanic societies], our modern altered states of consciousness are peopled by aliens and machines. While shamanic initiates experience death and rebirth, we experience invasive examinations at the hands of impersonal beings. The machine is within the modern soul. And the ET robot or alien could be the very image of our estrangement. 
Without quibbling with the essential drift of this, I am leading to the argument that death and rebirth, martyrdom and resurrection are fundamentally implicated in the abduction experience. I imagine Devereux would not disagree that the soulless clinical and mechanical images are the most appropriate metaphors in which to dramatise these themes in ‘modern times’. For now the key point is that we are dealing with ‘a permanence of certain elements in the universal language of the imagination’.
Once the abductee is aboard the UFO, the light becomes diffuse: symbolising the immanence and ubiquity of the powers of this Otherworld. Furthermore, nothing can be hidden here – the light is everywhere; in any of the featureless chambers abductees report, the decor is as far removed from that of a cluttered Victorian drawing-room as one can get. That this place is Other is emphasised by curious features such as ‘seamless doors’ – that is, doors that merge invisibly into the wall once closed. Richard L. Thompson comments  that ‘many of the uniform features that show up repeatedly in abduction accounts do not seem to be psychologically significant. For example, what would be the psychological significance of seamless doors in UFOs, or slit like mouths in short humanoids?’ But at the level of dramatic symbolism, the image shouts. Indeed several interestings things follow from it.
Only the aliens can open these doors, reminding us that they are absolutely in control of the situation – or, to put it another way, that the abductee is trapped, and entirely at their mercy. They also suggest that this can be a one-way trip: there is no way back from (or to back out of) this experience – a point abductees have made many times, for in many instances it changes their lives. There is also the element of Wonderland – which, few seem to have noticed, Alice spends much of her time wondering how to escape. And there may be echoes of dreamscape journeys in which the surroundings through which one has passed turn out to be entirely different from those that appear when one tries to make the return journey. The doors vanish – are lost to memory – as if reprising the way the means and moment of entering the craft become obscure (‘doorway amnesia’). The doors become invisible too because the gateways to the Otherworld are always everywhere and nowhere at the same time, like the ubiquitous light.
‘In my father’s house are many mansions.’  Whatever their external dimensions, the abductees’ shining craft frequently turn out to be more spacious inside than they appear to be from without. Obviously this is a magical realm, but it is one designed to astonish, bemuse, and perhaps belittle, since it is a manufactured environment, not a natural one, that confronts the abductee.
Not Like Us
The aliens themselves are very alien. Despite the febrile insistence of the Hopkins-Jacobs-Mack axis, across the whole range of CE-IIIs and CE-IVs aliens come in all shapes and sizes, all of them essentially non-human, if largely of humanoid or primatial configuration. Some are horrid troll-like things; some are robotic, some monstrous; some are quite angelic – the so-called Nordics. David Jacobs has suggested that the ‘Nordics’ are alien-human hybrids, but this doesn’t alter their equivalence to angels – both are midway between gods and men, and prettier than most of the latter.
Nonetheless the little gray fellows have been reported more often of late by abductees, mainly from North America but from elsewhere too. One can, I think, safely grant both the extreme unlikelihood that these are actual organic creatures, and the strong probability that they are visionary beings. Their peculiar behaviour and singular appearance must, then, derive from some set of elements that, in combination, speaks to the condition of those who encounter them, and perhaps to our general condition as well. It doesn’t matter whether the sources and inspirations of the ‘alien’ synthesis are cultural, pharmacological, neurological, imaginative, or anything else. We can take it that the gray alien type (and its activities) seem to be marginalising the others because that is how people want aliens to be – this is what best embodies their idea of alien-ness. And I wonder if the little gray fellows have become so fashionable mainly because they are Incarnations, with a capital I, of all the godlike powers and properties attributed to the Otherworldlings.
Physically, the gray aliens have:
■ Huge heads These plainly symbolise superhuman brains and intellects. (Speaking of cultural sources: I have yet to see the infamous Mekon mentioned in this connection. Dan Dare’s dread adversary in the old Eagle comic not only had a vastly over-sized cranium, but floated on his own private miniature saucer and was green all over.)
■ Bizarre eyes With which they gaze into abductees’ souls, read their minds, control their actions, and bind them psychologically and emotionally. For their captives, the aliens hold ‘the final way of escape, the most intimate of all places’, as Tillich said of God. Gods always see too much. Pagan gods consisting almost entirely of eyes, dating to 2500 BCE, have been found as far apart as Iraq, Spain, and Syria. 
■ Attenuated bodies This suggests the aliens have no physical warmth or emotional sympathy; no ‘earthy’ distractions of digestion and dirt; the implications are of frigid intellect and passionless asceticism. The Houyhnhnm-like gutlessness is the corollary of the huge heads: the creatures seem to ask to be taken as unfeeling, super-rational intellectuals – they are certainly not large, warm, comforting Earth Mothers! Reports that autopsies on aliens reveal a chlorophyll-based metabolism that depend on photosynthesis  reinforce the image of emotional incapacity. The entities have as much visceral feeling as an aspidistra.
■ No naughty bits They go straight round like my teddy bear, or like an angel, or like Satan in William Blake’s illustrations of Job; in which Satan was not the Devil of the New Testament, but a companion (i.e. angel) of God. Once more the aliens’ passionless nature is emphasised. There is also, in the context of the American Religion, a powerful suggestion of purity in this. Sex is ‘the chief obstacle to spirituality in Gnostic thought, and the source of all evil in medieval Christian thought’  – and in what passes for thought among fundamentalist Christians today, too. Lacking genitalia, the aliens can know no original sin, a dubious privilege otherwise accorded only to God, his angels, and the Nazarene. You may have noticed: uproar always greets any suggestion that Jesus of Nazareth had a sex life, and Protestant cultures are notorious not just for disapproving of sex, but for sexual repressiveness. [*20]
And what do the aliens do?
Meaning in their Madness
Aliens physically invade their victims – Aliens poke, probe, bugger, impregnate, dismember, even de-brain their captives. This last was notably reported by Sandy Larson, who on 26 August 1975 had her brain taken out and a fresh (if not noticeably improved) one inserted in its stead.
These casually-inflicted horrors underscore the aliens’ indifference and Otherness, but also their ability to remake humanity: as gods can. At the same time, like rape in the real world, they are a display of power that humiliates and degrades the abductee. On one hand the imagery directly echoes shamanic accounts of symbolic death and rebirth: what else can one make of Ms Larson’s traded-in brain? On the other hand, the emotional content relates directly to the traditions of self-abasement, flagellation and self-degradation in some Semitic religions – most notably Christianity, which has made a cult of martyrdom. An apparent paradox is that, once they have submitted to the noxious embraces of the aliens, the victims proceed to do their owners’ bidding. But this too parallels the psychopathology of the victim in Christianity, and the doctrine of absolute predestination in Islam.
À propos the medical and sexual components of abductions: I am extremely glad for the personal safety of the ancient-astronaut brigade that none of them seems to have studied Islam, and that when their effusions were fashionable the abduction syndrome was not. There is a startling story in the earliest biography of the Prophet, written in the 8th century CE by Ibn Ishaq (AH 85-151, 707-773 CE).
As a child, Mohamed had a wet-nurse; as she told it, one day his milk-brother came running to me and his father, saying, ‘Two men dressed in white garments have taken hold of my brother [Mohamed], and have thrown him on the ground. They ripped open his belly, and are stirring it up!’ We hastened out and found [the boy] standing apparently unharmed but with his countenance quite altered. 
It’s surely significant that later biographers put this incident in Mohamed’s adult life, immediately before his ascension to heaven; in any case the parallels with the abduction syndrome are glaringly apparent here.
■ Aliens choose their victims – The abduction syndrome is very democratic, and yet also elitist. Just as anyone may be washed in the blood of the Lamb or be received into the bosom of Allah, anyone can be abducted. But once in the fold, you are someone special. The aliens reinforce this ‘chosenness’ by using implants to track abductees wherever they go (the themes of property and of no hiding place again), but most especially by passing on messages or ‘wisdom’ for the rest (the ‘gentiles’) of humanity. In other words,
■ Aliens grant revelation – The messages either concern human destiny, which the aliens at least partly control, through genetic manipulation, for example (peace on Earth and mercy mild – God and Darwin reconciled!), or divulge particulars of the aliens themselves. These revelations fall into to four general categories:
1: apocalyptic warnings (nuclear or, since approximately 31 December 1989 and the collapse of the Soviet empire, ecological disaster); 
2: moral injunctions;
3: messianic appointments (the abductee as the aliens’ messenger to humanity); and
4: the identity and purpose of the aliens.
All these messages, in one form or another, echo the fundamentals of all religions anywhere. More or less explicitly, they all suggest the means to human redemption, and they explain the purpose of life.
The Cult of Despair
This is the classic pattern of the gentle, positive warnings relayed by George Adamski, Willy Meier and others, who had them direct from aliens. Although it seems unlikely at first glance, the pattern holds true for the ‘Darkside’ communications [*23] from such as Linda Howe and William Cooper, who justify their apocalyptic paranoia by reference to real, false or imagined government documentation and whispers from insiders. And the claims of Paul Bennewitz, who instigated the whole Darkside saga, support the point. Bennewitz is really a Darkside contactee; he had (he said) much of his information from aliens – albeit different aliens from the ones reported by Adamski et al. – who transmitted it directly into his computer.
The Secret Base at Groom Lake, Nevada
All religions have their shrines, and ufology is no exception.
The Groom Lake base attracts many pilgrims who like to
watch the strange orange UFO, aptly known as 'Old Faithful'
that rises regularly above the desert there. Non-believers know this is
actually the Boeing 737-based transport used to fly workers into
Groom Lake. Pilgrims prefer to believe that they are seeing
the result of alien-human collaboration in aerospace technology
The most developed of the Darkside scenarios known to me comes from something called Cosmic Awareness, which confides in a channelling group based, aptly enough, in Olympus, WA. In 1990 the Cosmic Awareness purported to confirm all the usual grisly claims: secret alien-government treaties, hideous Nazi-style alien medical experiments on human subjects in subterranean bases, the involvement of the CIA and the ‘international bankers’ (guess who), the ‘creation’ of Jesus of Nazareth by the aliens, and the rest. But it added that the end of civilisation/moral decay-as-we-know-it is due between 1996 and 2011CE; and instrumental in this apocalypse will be the arrival of 40 million reptilian humanoids from the constellation Draco [sic]. 
All this seems a long way from the meaning of life and a means of redemption, but Cooper has solved the latter problem, with entirely consistent internal logic, by joining the militia movement and preparing for war against the US Government, which is merely a tool of the internationalist (or, if you prefer, cosmopolitan) New World Order. The militia movement has imported many of paranoid ufology’s themes and imagery into its mythology, from anti-semitism to wicked black helicopters. Thus the theme of martyrdom emerges again in political guise, out of a mythology that identifies Christianity with alien manipulation (Jesus as son of the omnipotent gods) and is entirely predicated on the notion that human existence is directed by aliens. One has the depressing suspicion that these obsessions are not as ‘fringe’ as they seem. Abductionist and jacuzzi player Dr Richard Boylan has lately linked (in Internet postings) the alien invasion with the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, thus tying the Christian millennium, Armageddon and the aliens neatly together.
The ‘meaning of life’ is thus reduced to that familiar condition of the devotee of the Semitic (and most especially, Christian) God – subjugation to incomprehensible and uncompromising savages who, like wanton schoolboys, kill us for their sport. The Darkside conjures up the most extreme servitude: for the alien race is etiolated and moribund, and feeds on human flesh and blood to survive. But this is not so far from the actual behaviour of the Semitic God. As noted in the first part of this series, he kills what most he loves, and one of the subtexts of the Christian Eucharist (=’Thanksgiving’) is cannibalism. And the internal logic of the sado-masochistic Christian myth leads, as Maccoby has shown, to the fiction of Judas Iscariot and the institution of anti-semitism:
Only if Christ truly suffered was there salvation for Christians. Every pang of pain, every contortion of agony, witnessed on the stage [in the Passion Plays] and enacted in the theatre of the believer’s soul, contributed towards release from the hell-fire which terrified the medieval Christian. The good Christian must feel sorrow for the agonies of Christ and never allow into consciousness his thankful and happy awareness that only these agonies stood between him and damnation. The best defence against such awareness was to hate and blame the Jews. The more he hated them, the more innocent he was of desiring the crucifixion of Christ. 
Saucers Full of Secrets
The fourth of those alien revelations also bears interesting comparison with a religious theme. The aliens’ own accounts of their origins have shifted over the decades from the near and impossible to the distant and no less unlikely – Mars, Venus, Saturn to begin with, then the Pleiades and Zeta Reticuli and the like. Intermingled with these have been still more exotic, fabulous places such as Clarion, Zircon, Martarus, the galaxy of Guentatori-Elfi, and so on. But all said they were extra-terrestrial, and that they lived in Utopian societies (i.e. Paradise) free from money, meat-eating,  politicians, war, &c. Lately they have become distinctly furtive about the locations of their home worlds. Abductees who ask get shifty answers: ‘That is not for you to know’, ‘It doesn’t matter’, and so on.
‘Thou canst not see my face,’ God told Moses in the tabernacle at Mount Horeb. (Although he did offer to show him his back parts, which has always intrigued me.) Borges in his writings makes repeated reference to the 99 names of God, and the 100th which is unknowable and unspeakable; among Jews, the Tetragrammaton (YHWH) is never pronounced, but signalled by the utterance ‘Adonai’ when reading the Tanach aloud. Apart from this magic of naming, but related to it, Semitic religion and alien encounters share another version of the secret that cannot be told. Saul of Tarsus, after his conversion, reported of himself that "whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth; How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for man to utter. 
Herb Schirmer, a seminal experient who was more contactee than abductee, also said that he had been given information he was not permitted to repeat; some abductees are vouchsafed great truths that they must forget, but that will be restored to memory at a later time. Another form of this motif is the ‘book of wisdom’ (of a blue hue, in Betty Andreasson’s case; Betty Hill was offered a similar volume) presented to abductees that is retained by the aliens at the last minute or mysteriously misplaced later.
To the percipient, the close encounter phenomenon can be revelatory in another, more radical and manifest fashion. For many (I don’t know what proportion) the experience changes their priorities, and they change their way of life. This is true of those who undergo revelation in a more overtly religious context, too, of course; the examples from the Bible alone are legion.
The abduction experience can thus, on one level, be seen a mythologised way of saying – of crying out – I am alone, I am misused, I am manipulated to the roots of my being, I am not in control of my life, not of even my most basic biological functions (my genes can’t even be selfish!), I am the victim of overwhelmingly powerful forces, my identity is at risk. To paraphrase Charles Fort – I am property.
Those who are transformed by the experience and adopt what they feel is a healthier and more fulfilling way of life seem to contradict this characterisation. The apparent opposition here between symbolic statement and practical response is less of a paradox than it seems. It can even be seen as a species of the dualism that runs through the ‘American Religion’. These are issues I will explore in the next part of this series. (Coming soon)
THE ETH DEMANDS A MIRACLE
The aliens’ craft are miraculous, and they themselves, like God and his prophets and emissaries, perform miracles. I’m not referring to those rather sad cases of handing out vinegar as a cure for cancer, although there are instances of chronic illness reportedly being cured through an abduction or close encounter. I mean, for example, their adeptness with telepathy. This is so convenient, as it saves intergalactic travellers from having to learn so many languages, and no doubt explains their ‘psychologically insignificant’ slit-like mouths, which are not adapted for speech. But most especially I am thinking of the tricky means whereby they manage to get here at all.
As I said earlier, UFOs shouldn’t actually be able to fly, but they do. Unless you’re American, or know nothing about physics and biology at all, the extra-terrestrial hypothesis won’t impress you. There’s no good reason to assume life on other planets will have evolved along parallel lines to ours. But the aliens have, until recently (since they moved to Knotty Ash, I suppose), insisted that they are indeed from outer space. So how did they get here? You can write off conventional space travel, for literally dozens of reasons. Which leaves us with the fanciful notions of time travel or passing through hyperspace – ‘other dimensions’.
In superstring theory, theoretical physicists have developed Riemann’s metric tensor (a way of describing a point in space, in any number of dimensions) so that the previously irreconcilable qualities of gravity – that is, Einstein’s relativity theory – and quantum mechanics emerge naturally from the equations. This was long the Holy Grail of physics. The maths calls for 10 dimensions, nine in space and one of time, in certain circumstances and 26, 25 spatial and one of time, in others. ‘Other dimensions’ do, it seems, exist.
Difficulties arise over getting at or into them, however. They appear to have collapsed into loops somewhat smaller than 10-33 cm as the energy to sustain them dissipated in the immediate aftermath of the Big Bang. You have to generate 10 billion billion billion (10 followed by 27 zeros) electron volts to open them up – and you’ll rip four-dimensional spacetime to bits in the process and, of course, generate a gigantic amount of heat. Even if you could do that, and could shield yourself from the effects and enter hyperspace, alarming things would happen to you. Only in four-dimensional spacetime do knots stay tied, electrons stay in their orbits around atomic nuclei, stars shine, and does the home life of our own dear Queen run its habitually tranquil course. Things as we know them fall apart in hyperspace.
Extra-terrestrial aliens, then, can get here from their Otherworld only by a miracle. The best our science can offer cannot deny it.
Notes and References:
- C.G. Jung, Flying Saucers, [RKP 1959] Ark Paperbacks 1987, pages 148-9
- Ibidem, page 170. For some inexplicable reason this passage puts me in mind of ‘believer’ versus ‘skeptic’ debates, polemics and monographs in ufology.
- This picture, which is in the Fortean Picture Library, can be seen in colour on the dust jacket and in monochrome on page 131 of my UFO: The Complete Sightings Catalogue, Barnes & Noble (New York) and Blandford (London), 1995.
- Anthony Dodd, ‘In the Heat of the Night’, UFO Magazine (UK) May/June 1996, pages 44-47. One assumes that the intrepid investigator did, in fact, take the basic step of making enquiries among the neighbours. That is what the police would have done, had the abductors been human.
- They will have to make do with one, and very good it is too: Hilary Evans, Gods, Spirits, Cosmic Guardians, Aquarian Press 1987. See especially the Preface and Part 2.5.
- Cf. note 29 to Part One of this series in Magonia 54.
- See, for example, Edward Ashpole, The Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence, Blandford 1990, passim, and page 157: ‘…what chance have we of guessing the attitudes of intelligent non-humans who will be thousands of years ahead of us at the very least. We cannot expect to find ETIs of a lower status.’
- Ibn Ishaq, The Life of Muhammad, tr. Michael Edwardes, Folio Society 1964, page 20.
- Ibidem, page 35.
- Sura 86. Translation from The Koran, tr. N.J. Dawood, Penguin 1959, page 38.
- Joseph Smith, quoted in the pamphlet The Prophet Joseph Smith’s Testimony, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints 1978, page 3.
- Bertrand Méheust, ‘UFO Abductions as Religious Folklore’ in Hilary Evans and John Spencer (eds), UFOs 1947-87, Fortean Tomes 1987. See also Méheust, Soucoupes Volantes et Folklore, Mercure de France 1985, pages 58-60, where he refers to ‘piliers de lumière solide, sphères incandescentes ravisseuses de prophètes, pinceaux de lumière dardéés sur le mystique choisi’ found ‘dans l’imaginaire apocalyptique’.
- Hilary Evans, Visions, Apparitions, Alien Visitors, Aquarian Press 1984. See Parts 1.8 and 1.9.
- Unpublished paper given at the Independent UFO Network conference held at Hallam University, Sheffield, UK, in August 1993; transcribed from tape recording. See also Devereux, Symbolic Landscapes, Gothic Image 1992, Chapters 3 and 4. There are obvious lexi-links here, too, for those of Fortean disposition: aliens come from Other worlds; the word ‘alien’ literally means ‘belonging to another’. (And in common parlance people do or don’t ‘believe in’ UFOs.)
- Richard L. Thompson, Alien Identities, Govardhan Hill 1993, page 131.
- John 14:2.
- Joseph Campbell, The Masks of God: Creative Mythology, Penguin 1976, pages 124-6.
- This curious characteristic is mentioned in William S. English’s summary of the Project Grudge/Blue Book Report #13 that he claims to have seen in 1976 (or ’77). English’s outline has circulated among ufologists and was posted on the Internet but, as far as I know, has not been published in its entirety anywhere. William Cooper’s account of Report #13 (he too claims to have seen it) can be found in Linda M. Howe, An Alien Harvest, LMH Productions 1989, pages 196-213; see page 208 in particular.
- Hyam Maccoby, Judas Iscariot and the Myth of Jewish Evil, Free Press 1992, page 106.
- This is as good a place as any to explain why I have persisted with the traditional attribution of the male gender to God. There are two reasons. One: because the Semitic God is conceived as fatherly (although only Christians labour the point, as they would), not motherly or neuter. Two: because I cannot believe that anything with feminine qualities – anything other than a being saturated in a massive overdose of cosmic testosterone – would be as barbarous as the Semitic God is reported to be (in all derived religions).
- This is a conflation of the translations in Ibn Ishaq, The Life of Muhammad, tr. Michael Edwardes, Folio Society 1964, pages 19-20, and in Alfred Guillaume, Islam, Penguin 1956, pages 24-25.
- I actually predicted that change of emphasis, not in print, but in a conversation with Paul Devereux in the early 1990s.
- The Darkside scenario is as long and labyrinthine as it is pathological: there is an excellent summary in Jerome Clark, UFOs in the 1980s: the UFO Encyclopedia Vol. 1, Apogee 1990 under the entry ‘Extra-terrestrial Biological Entities’, pages 85-109.
- Maccoby, op. cit., page 110. Cf. page 94: ‘By washing their hands like Pilate, and mourning and bewailing the death of Jesus every Easter, [Christians] hope to avoid complicity in his death. The more they cover Judas and the Jews with obloquy and hatred, the more they can distance themselves from responsibility.’
- If God did not intend us to eat animals, why then did he make them so tasty?
- Exodus 33:23.
- II Corinthians 12:3-3. A later translation makes the point still more forcefully: ‘…and heard things that are not to be told, that no mortal is permitted to repeat.’ The Greek literally says ‘sayings not to be told that must not be prattled about by people’.
- Useful guides to the physics of all this are: John D. Barrow, The World Within The World, Oxford UP 1988; F. David Peat, Superstrings, Abacus 1988; P. Coveney and R. Highfield, The Arrow of Time, Flamingo 1991; Kitty Ferguson, The Fire in the Equations, Bantam Press 1994; and Michio Kaku, Hyperspace, Oxford UP, 1994. The unique cohesion of the material world of three dimensions plus time is discussed by Kaku on his pages 49-51 and 339-340. Even a primitive understanding of these tracts suggests Dr Richard Hoagland’s recent utterances about hyperdimensionality are better taken as a form of satire than serious scientific comment. There is a telling discussion of the unlikelihood that extra-terrestrial life will be anthropomorphic in Robert Baker, ‘Alien Dreamtime’, The Anomalist 2, pages 94-137. The real reason the aliens of ufology look vaguely like us is that we require them to, the better to personify our condition and preoccupations. A slug-like ET, a space-faring head louse, or a technologically advanced tapeworm would hardly reflect our concerns as human beings as parsimoniously.