IS YOUR THEOLOGY BIG ENOUGH TO CHANGE?
I am an enthusiast for the insight of the reformation – the principle that finding truth in faith is about continually returning to the source – back to the Scriptures endorsed by Jesus – and asking afresh, “Have I read that right?!” The trauma of the Reformation is testimony to how difficult that dynamic can be. The history of Christian thought is scattered with moments where a paradigm shift in society at large has sent believers back to the texts with fresh eyes, to come away wondering, “Why did we not see that possibility before?!”
Astro-physicists C20th Albert Einstein and C13th Bishop Robert Grossteste who both asserted that light and not time is the primordial reality on whose properties everything else depends. A mind-bending paradigm-shift.
For instance, the discovery of the properties of light as primordial to the functioning of the universe, the gradual move away from the American slave trade, the acceptance of tectonic plate movements and continental drift; all have sent believers back to back to the work of our translators to ask, “Have we read that right?!” In each case, once the texts had been reviewed and the general worldview shifted, believers were left asking themselves, “Why didn’t we see that possibility before? When there was content in the Scriptures themselves that should have clued us?!”
The perpetual process of re-reading and re-thinking tests our readiness to be believers in reform – ecclesia semper reformanda. We are all creatures of habit. Few of us can be wholly comfortable with our universe changing! How ready is any one of us to wake up in a different world to the one we fell asleep in?!
IS YOUR THEOLOGY BIG ENOUGH FOR OTHER WORLDS?
This brings us to the question of other worlds. Is your theology large enough to allow for a busier universe than the one we have known to date?! I ask because over the last decade there has been an acceleration of unusual disclosures around the world,from government agencies and other significant sources.
From the 1940s until the last decade, all around the world government agencies around the world employed people whose jobs were to collate accounts of phenomena, such as UFO’s and close encounters where an extra-terrestrial explanations were the most obvious explanation. All had the same remit; to publicize cases which could be easily debunked and classify all those that couldn’t. From around the turn of the new millennium, all these offices around the world were vacated.
What happened next took me surprise. Because from 2008 onwards, a significant proportion of those former officials were permitted to set up an independent international body dedicated to campaigning publicly for the total disclosure of all government and military UFO files.
The result of that campaign was also surprising. From 2008 to 2013 a huge volume of previously classified government material was released – case files detailing phenomena, publicly witnessed, filmed, examined by military and civil authorities; cases where an ET explanation was simply unavoidable. All these case are now in the public domain – and with no official debunking. Given the clarity of the materials now disclosed we can only imagine what further reaching information might remain to be disclosed.
President Truman c.1947
To date the USA has not participated in this international disclosure. America still enforces the National Security Act signed by President Truman in 1947 specifically to classify all UFO investigation following the incident that year at Roswell, New Mexico. Before the Roswell incident investigations of UFO phenomena were undertaken in the public arena and were commented on openly by military and government alike.
Project Mercury Astronaut Gordon Cooper
Apollo 14 Astronaut Edgar Alan Mitchell
Pulitzer Prize-winning Professor John Mack
Head of Clinical Psychology, Harvard Medical School
Also beginning around 2008 statements supporting ET contact began to be made by a great number of public figures without the previous longstanding pattern of official debunking and denigration. The era of threats and violent gag orders, such as were suffered by the original Roswell witnesses, appeared to be put in the past.
Voices speaking freely in the West have included former intelligence operatives, military personnel, surgeons (echoing the heroic work of Harvard Professor John Mack) eyewitnesses, commercial and military airline pilots and, significantly, NASA personnel.
Over the years NASA personnel who have publicly testified to ET contact include Mercury astronauts Gordon Cooper, Scott Carpenter, and Donald Slayton; and Apollo astronauts Eugene Cernan, Colonel Al Worden, Colonel Buzz Aldrin, Dr Brian O Leary, Edgar Alan Mitchell, Lt Col Onizuka; and recently Dr Leroy Chiao, the former commander of the International Space Station. The lifting of the old regime of violent gag orders could either be seen as a “does anyone care anymore?” gesture, or… it could be the evidence of a new policy of passive disclosure.
The lifting of the ban has made available to the public a great array of intelligent, authoritative, credible witnesses, testifying to ET contact and collaboration – including figures as eminent as the current Russian Prime Minister Medvedev – who has spoken at least twice on camera on the subject. In the video grabs below Medvedev endorses the content of a Russian documentary, titled “Men in Black” (not the Hollywood spoof) which reports both ET contact and collaboration. Medvedev made these statements in December 2012.
This is very different to the world I grew up in – in which UFO and ET testimony was (by government policy) only ever heard from unreliable witnesses or was only of phenomena easily explainable by other means. Put simply we were taught to laugh at those willing to speak publicly, at great cost to themselves, about their experiences. People who testified were ridiculed and lost their jobs simply by speaking about what they had witnessed and experienced. This was especially true of commercial airline pilots. So this sudden pattern-change a decade ago caught my attention.
The following 3 videos present Dr Edgar Alan Mitchell – a great man, the 6th man to walk on the moon – on the need for official disclosure of ET files.
In the next video former Minister of Defence for Canada, Paul Hellyer, speaks about the need for government disclosure of ET contact and available technologies:
IS YOUR THEOLOGY READY TO LOVE AN E.T. BROTHER OR SISTER?
In May 2008, seemingly from out of the blue, there began a sequence of statements and interviews issued by Senior Vatican Theologian, Fr Jose Gabriel Funes, Director of the Vatican Observatory. These culminated in a formal press release on behalf of The Vatican in November 2009. The substance of these statements was that Christian believers need to be ready “sooner than we might expect…to love our extra terrestrial brothers and sisters.”
Fr Jose Gabriel Funes
The press release was the prelude to to something even more public. In 2009, during his brief tenure as Pope, Benedict XVI called upon the Pontifical Academy of Sciences to convene an international colloquium specifically to discuss the theological ramifications of contact with extra-terrestrial civilizations.
The language of making theological room for “extra-terrestrial brothers and sisters” made clear that the Vatican was not thinking in terms of finding bacteria under a rock on some distant planet or moon, it was preparing the faithful for contact with other civilizations. The appearance given was that the Vatican was expecting a “sooner than expected” disclosure from authoritative sources and wanted to be in ahead of the game to reassure the faithful.
Given that the colloquium was convened and these statements released under a Pope as conservative as Benedict XVI, they signaled a sudden, and rather surprising departure for the Vatican.
In 2011 came a very public spat between US and UK governments over demands made by the USA for the extradition of a computer hacker, Gary McKinnon. McKinnon had evinced data, images and text from NASA computers which appeared to indicate a level of ET contact and collaboration.
The matter was discussed publicly in parliament (you can watch it on YouTube!) and the British Government responded with a refusal to extradite Gary McKinnon to the USA where he faced a potential 60 years in jail. In fact Britain quickly passed a bill through parliament which changed the UK’s extradition laws with the USA in order to protect Gary McKinnon. The very public discussion and handling of this conflict in parliament – with references specifying images of ET craft and names of ET officers – but without any official comment ever being made to implications of the data itself – was, to say the very least, curious!
Theresa May MP as British Home Secretary in 2012, discussing the need to change British law in order to swiftly block Gary McKinnon’s extradition
The above are facts. They are easily confirmed. They are all matters in the public domain. All would seem to point in the same direction. A certain level of disclosure has been agreed across many nations and some officials and government related personnel permitted to participate in the public conversation. Even without similar active disclosure of ET files in the USA, similar liberty is being exercised by similar levels of personnel in the USA too.
This unusual succession of events in the last few years has completely reversed my previous views. The acceleration of events since 2008 strongly suggest to me that we believers may need – as The Vatican has intimated – to be ready sooner rather than later to make room in our theology for E.T.
In a cryptic public remark in a speech marking the 25th anniversary of the first moon landing, the reclusive Apollo 11 Astronaut Neil Armstrong issued a call to the next generation to peel away “truth’s protective layers”. Given the material already in the public domain, one has to ask exactly what further will disclosures bring to light?
Apollo Astronaut Neil Armstrong
What would disclosure of ET contact and collaboration do to our cosmology? In the light of a more populous universe, how would we then read the Adam and Eve narratives? What would shift in our understanding of the Incarnation and the Cross? What would change in our vision of heaven and of human society? Would we return to Psalm 8.3-4, or Genesis 6.2 or John 10.16 to ask, “Why didn’t we see that possibility before?”
What would such disclosure do to our regard for the covert authorities and unseen layers of government that have kept such significant knowledge – and technology – from planet Earth’s general population – from you and me? Would we see our place in the world differently, if we were to see our place in the universe differently? Might we return to the prophet Samuel’s chapter-long warning about the disfranchising effect of creating kingly (ie unaccountable) powers and read it differently than we have before?
You might want to ask me, “But, Paul, why is it important?” Because, like Fr Funes, I would not want to see fellow Christians blind-sided by new information they can’t find room for in their theology.
We can see on reflection that a faith is an impoverished faith if it can be blown out of the water by the revelation of a spherical planet, or a solar system with the sun at the centre, or a planet whose land masses move, or a climate that can shift, or a society of racial and gender equity! In the C21st I hope that my Christian brothers and sisters have a faith that is thoughtful enough to be ready – in the way Gabriel Funes encourages – to accommodate new revelations about the universe. If there are further material disclosures to come I just wouldn’t want believers to be blind-sided by them.
Of course I may be wrong in my expectations on this topic. You may read the last decade of disclosure and declassification differently, and draw different conclusions. But in the end, whatever our current suppositions, our Christian faith is something more than a canon of propositions and conclusions.
Orthodox faith is, ultimately, not about having a thought system replete with orthodox conclusions. It is essentially about having in Holy Scripture an orthodox source to be sent back to, time and again to ask afresh, “Have we been reading this right!” That is the renewal of our minds (Romans 12.1ff) that transforms our world. That is the business of being ecclesia semper reformanda.
For further reading…
Christian thought has many times been at the cutting edge of significant paradigm shifts in the past. For a fascinating view of the historic interplay between science and faith let me recommend Margaret Wertheim’s illuminating work: Pythagoras’ Trousers: God, Physics and the Gender Wars.