More alien speculation has landed among us after the United States Director of Intelligence released a highly anticipated report about unidentified aerial phenomena. This “preliminary intelligence assessment” submitted to the U.S. Congress provided an overview of the potential threat posed by these phenomena (otherwise known as UFOs) to the U.S. military.
We’ve explored extraterrestrial topics in our ongoing Fantastical Truth podcast series.1 This new report keeps the alien question distant and hazy, but gives Christians a chance to bring our blurred alien challenges into sharp resolution.
Will we lose God if an alien mothership lands?2 What would an alien life discovery mean for the Christian faith? And if non-human life has already come to Earth, how will we make sense of that?
Christians offer different ideas to address extraterrestrial intelligence (or the lack thereof) in the universe. Science fiction has also addressed this question for decades, often reflecting worldviews left over from Christianity. But do we even have reason to think aliens are visiting us? What about the signs and wonders supposedly performed by mysterious airborne vehicles?
That’s what the Pentagon was ordered to investigate, thanks to a provision in the 2021 Intelligence Authorization Act.
The report gives no firm conclusions, only tantalizing hints
The DNI report shares early responses to unidentified aerial phenomena (UAPs):
- The government doesn’t know what UAPs are, only what they’re not.
- Some UAPs are truly extraordinary.
- We lack the scientific expertise to understand them.
- For years to come, the U.S. will continue to study the UAP issue.
Twenty government agencies contributed to this report, with the U.S. Navy taking the lead. They cover only the past seventeen years, focusing on UAP encounters recorded by military and intelligence service members. Analysts considered UAP that were physical objects, considering but discarding various earthly explanations.
Out of 144 documented encounters, only one had a mundane explanation: “a large, deflating balloon.” (I quote phrases from the report.) Others remain unidentified.
Eighty encounters were documented by multiple military sensors. In eighteen incidents, records showed the objects had “unusual flight characteristics.” In other words, their movement patterns and acceleration abilities represent “a breakthrough technology.” A few of these objects emitted electromagnetic energy and utilized “signature management,” or cloaking technology.
These are the bizarre aircraft that have made front-page news in mainstream media (such as the CBS program “60 Minutes”). They can “remain stationary in winds aloft, move against the wind, maneuver abruptly, or move at considerable speed, without discernable [sic] means of propulsion.”
In the purest sense of the word, these phenomena are alien.
The technology isn’t ours, and it isn’t theirs
Perhaps the report’s most startling revealed phenomena is this:
- Physics-defying vehicles really are crossing the skies.
- We don’t even know how much weirdness is going on.
- The culprits were neither secret U.S. technology nor foreign tech.
- Our best sensor systems have no clue how to classify these phenomena.
It is simply incredible that our mighty U.S. government admits, with frank humility, that it cannot identify or even understand these objects. The director’s report does acknowledge the stigma associated with UFO discussion. It’s a taboo often caused by these objects’ implicit threat to human sovereignty. That is, if we look too closely at UFO reports, we might unfortunately discover we are not the universe’s most advanced species. A world’s superpower nation simply cannot admit inferiority.
Later the report says humanity needs “pending scientific advances” to comprehend UAP. To that end, the UAP Task Force is proposing further collection and analysis of data about anomalous aircraft. This will utilize machine learning and advanced research. The report mentions nothing about theological consultants.
Observe the heavens and feel small
The report’s other 143 UAP encounters may have simple explanations. With enough time and data, researchers might reclassify each incident from the “unknown” category to the “weather phenomenon” or “sensor malfunction” categories.
But two complicated truths threaten to dash hopes for simple explanations.
First, the report notes that UAP encounters keep happening. Most of the incidents it lists took place within the last two years. Yes, the U.S. military is formalizing its reporting process and taking seriously this analysis. Still, the phenomenon seems lightyears beyond our technology. What does the government expect to find?
Second, the government is analyzing the phenomenon based on pure materialism. That’s not surprising for secularist leaders. They never consider a supernatural explanation, even though these incidents seem to test the very limits of science.
As I’ve said on the Fantastical Truth podcast, I feel at a loss to make sense of these extraordinary tales. But they continue to spark my curiosity. Something about this phenomena shatters our arrogance and materialistic biases. The very idea causes us to feel wonder in awe, like the Psalmist. Even better, in light of all the stars and exoplanets God has made, he has decided to visit this planet in human flesh.