In Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future, Fr Seraphim Rose discusses the phenomena of UFOs and the Christian response to them. While this may not be of the utmost importance to one’s spiritual life, I’ve always been intrigued by the topic of UFOs, science fiction, etc., so I was definitely interested to hear what Fr Seraphim had to say.
The UFO phenomenon arose primarily in a post-World War 2 context, and one that had already been influenced by the writings of previous science fiction. The “freaking out” that occurred after War of the Worlds was broadcast over American radio in 1938 is an indicator of the future influence of science fiction and the idea of “little green men” invading our homes in American culture of the 20th century.
Fr Seraphim notes a few of the most predominant characteristics of popular science fiction:
- “Religion, in the traditional sense, is absent, or else present in a very incidental or artificial way” (p. 73).
- “The center of the science-fiction universe … is man — not usually man as he is now, but man as he will ‘become’ in the future, in accordance with the modern mythology of evolution” (Ibid.).
- “The future world and humanity are seen by science fiction ostensibly in terms of ‘projections’ from present-day scientific discoveries; in actuality, however, these ‘projections’ correspond quite remarkably to the everyday reality of occult and overtly demonic experience through the ages” (Ibid.).“Almost by its very nature as ‘futuristic,’ science fiction tends to be utopian … the ‘evolution’ of today’s society into something higher” (Ibid.).
- In this case, Fr Seraphim is speaking of things like telepathy, flight, being able to instantly materialize or de-materialize, create illusions, etc.
Fr Seraphim goes on to discuss several accounts of UFO sightings throughout the middle part of the 20th century and into his own day (1970s), concluding that “UFO records are a collection of ‘incredible tales told by credible persons'” and that “there can be no reasonable doubt that there is something behind the many thousands of serious UFO reports” (p. 85).
After examining the different types of encounters with UFOs or their alleged “pilots,” citing multiple examples from the best accounts available, Fr Seraphim writes:
Such incidents seem simply unbelievable … but there have been too many of them now to dismiss them quite so easily. … But even if these experiences are not fully ‘real’ (as objective phenomena in space and time), the very fact that so many of them have been ‘implanted’ in human minds in recent years is already significant enough … Such experiences … are noticeably bound up with ‘paranormal’ or occult phenomena … ‘Close Encounters’ with UFOs have also resulted in leukemia and radiation sickness; often there are tragic psychological effects: personality deterioration, insanity, suicide. (pp. 96-97)
He is noting the connections between the “backdrop” for UFO encounters — the psychological “programming” of science fiction — along with the reality of certain “encounters,” and the psycho-somatic effects that result.
Indeed, more and more people are recognizing that UFOs and encounters with UFOs or even “alien” creatures has more to do with the paraphysical or occult realm than the physical. Fr Seraphim notes that Dr. Valee believes “We are not dealing with successive waves of visitation from space. We are dealing with a control system” and “What takes place through close encounters with UFOs is control of human beliefs” (The Invisible College). Fr Seraphim continues (p. 100):
A Pennsylvania psychiatrist has suggested that the absurdity present in almost all UFO close encounters is actually a hypnotic technique. ‘When the person is disturbed by the absurd or contradictory, and their mind is searching for meaning, they are extremely open to thought transference, to receiving psychic healing, etc.’ (The Invisible College, p. 115)
The end result of encounters with UFOs, then, is having one’s mind “open to the occult,” to “suggestion,” to “demonic influence” and an acceptance of a “new set of symbols” (p. 101).
Fr Seraphim concludes: “UFO encounters are but a contemporary form of an occult phenomenon which has existed throughout the centuries. Men have abandoned Christianity and look for ‘saviours’ from outer space, and therefore the phenomenon supplies images of spacecraft and space beings.”
Even a U.S. government bibliography on the UFO phenomenon states: “Many of the UFO reports now being published in the popular press recount alleged incidents that are strikingly similar to demonic possession and psychic phenomena which have long been known to theologians and para-psychologists.”
Fr Seraphim also notes that many of the demonic encounters found in the Lives of the Saints (e.g. St Martin of Tours, St Anthony the Great and St Cyprian the former sorcerer) resemble the “UFO encounter” paradigm. In other words, encounters with seemingly physical beings and/or objects that can materialize or de-materialize in an instant, typically with the purpose of confusion and paranoia that leads a person away from Christ and into insanity and obsession over their encounter.
UFOs and “alien encounters” are just another way the Evil One has attempted to influence and manipulate human beings. It is simply the “same old” demonic and occult experiences translated into the modern age, replete with science fiction and other “conditioning” that has made us prepared for it (e.g. the theory of evolution).
Fallen man is looking to the sky or to a more highly-evolved being to “swoop down from the heavens” and solve all of our problems, just like the ancient pagans. This modern version has simply been updated and supported by a world that longs for such encounters.