Ufology Unplugged (video)- Barry Downing: The Bible & Flying Saucers

This B. H. Downing UFO interview was done in a film format with fabulous visuals. Don’t miss this one!

In the third episode of Ufology Unplugged, filmmaker Paul Kimball presents an interview he conducted with Rev. Barry Downing in 2001. Downing is best known as the author of The Bible and Flying Saucers, one of the earliest and most influential works in the “ancient aliens” ouevre. In this interview he discusses his work and his theories, particularly the idea that the stories of the Bible may not be supernatural in nature but rather may represent tales of human contact with advanced extraterrestrial civilizations. (c) 2014 Winter Light Productions, Inc.

Ancient Aliens: (video)Barry talks about Moses and The Ark of the Covenant

Barry has appeared numerous times as a guest expert on “Ancient Aliens.”

Here is a short segment featuring Barry Downing that talks about Moses and The Ark of the Covenant and whether there might be a connection to Ancient Aliens.

https://youtu.be/JaYY-oOtUOw

If you want to catch more of Barry H Downing on Ancient Aliens, he is featured in the following:

– The Alien Agenda (2015)
– The Great Flood (2014)
– Alien Resurrections (2014)
– Alien Breeders (2014)
– Aliens and the Lost Ark (2013)
– The Satan Conspiracy (2013)
– Strange Abductions (2013)
– Prophets and Prophecies (2013)
– Aliens and Sacred Places (2011)
– The Mission (2010)
– Chariots, Gods and Beyond (2009)

Red Sea Briefing (text)

Illustration by Monarca Lynn Merrifield

“And in the morning watch, the Lord in the pillar of fire and cloud looked down upon the host of the Egyptians, and discomfited the host of the Egyptians, locking their chariot wheels so that they drove heavily.” (Ex. 14:24, 25)

Red Sea Briefing, by Barry H Downing

In 1968 I published the book The Bible and Flying Saucers, in which I argued that the beings we are now seeing visit our world in UFOs or flying saucers, and the beings from another world the Bible called angels, were the same reality. I also argued that a biblical UFO, called a “pillar of cloud and fire” (Ex. 13:21,22) was a spaceship which led Israel through the Exodus for forty years, and used its advanced technology to do many things, including parting the Red Sea. This essay is a brief argument that summarizes what I wrote in 1968, as well as further reflections in Chapter 4 of my book Biblical UFO Revelations (2017), in regard to the Red Sea.

I will from here on refer to the “pillar of cloud and fire” as the Exodus UFO. The text makes the interesting observation that after Israel escaped Egypt on Passover night, the Lord “did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near, for God said, ‘Lest the people repent when they see war, and return to Egypt.’ But God led the people round by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea.” (Ex. 13:17, 18)

This appears at first to be disastrous planning on the “Lord’s” part. The Egyptian chariots will soon be pursuing Israel, why take the hard way, and then be boxed in at the Red Sea? Of course the Lord saves the day with the miracle of the parting of the Red Sea. Some scholars have tried to explain the parting as a “lucky wind” showing up at just the right time. But if the Exodus UFO is a spaceship, it makes more sense to suppose the parting of the Red Sea was planned ahead as a way to get rid of the Egyptians once and for all, and the extraterrestrial pilots of the UFO knew they had the technological power to do what human history remembers so well.

When Israel arrives at the Red Sea, the Egyptian army is close behind. The Exodus UFO takes defensive action. “Then the angel of God who went before the host of Israel moved and went behind them, and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them, coming between the host of Egypt, and the host of Israel. And there was the cloud and the darkness, and the night passed without one coming near the other all night.” (Ex. 14:19,20)

Moses at this point stretched his hands out, a strong east wind blew all night, and the waters were divided. What I believe happened is that while it was dark, the Exodus UFO moved to a position directly over the Red Sea, and used some kind of technological power to part the Red Sea. This force would not only part the water, but would draw air down into the open channel, and this air would then be forced out each open end of the channel. Israel was on the west shore, facing east, they had an east wind in the face. I believe if they had been on the other shore, they would have reported a west wind. During the time they traveled through the open channel, wind is never mentioned again. What kept the walls of water in place if there was no wind?

“And the people of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.” (Ex. 14:22) Israel was amazed not only by the walls of water, but also by the dry ground. They expected to find mud where the water had been, but the ground was dry.

The wind blowing on the surface of the sea bed during the night helped dry the ground, but in many modern UFO cases, heat is reported when people are near a landed UFO, or have one fly overhead at low altitude. Whatever energy was used to part the sea, heat was probably one of the properties of that technology.

The Egyptian chariots then followed Israel into the open channel. This would get the attention of Israel. At that moment, it must have seemed like a cruel joke. God has given them this great miracle, only to have the Egyptians destroy them using the parted sea that was supposed to save them. Most of us remember, “But then the walls of water fell on the Egyptians.” And this is true. But it is not what came next. Next came what I find to be some of the most amazing verses in the Bible, because why not just end the story with falling walls of water?

We now have the Exodus UFO brought back into the story. “And in the morning watch the Lord in the pillar of fire and cloud looked down upon the host of the Egyptians, and discomfited the host of the Egyptians, clogging their chariot wheels so that they drove heavily; and the Egyptians said, ‘Let us flee from before Israel, for the Lord fights for them against the Egyptians.’” (Ex. 14:24,25) Then Moses raised his hands, and the walls of water fell in on the Egyptians.

I want to draw attention to several things. Notice that the Exodus UFO is now directly over the open sea channel. When did it take this position? The text does not tell us, but I believe it moved to this position after dark. Notice this text begins “in the morning watch” so it is just getting light.

Notice also that even though Israel was now on the eastern shore, and should be safe, they are not safe. They are saved by “the Lord’s look down.” Remember this text is about 3000 years old. Israel is a shepherding culture, a chariot is hi tech from their point of view. There is no way they are going to call the Exodus UFO a spaceship, or understand its power. Nevertheless, they made a connection between some kind of invisible power from the UFO up above, and problems with the wheels of the Egyptian chariots below. What kind of problems?

The RSV translators had a problem with what is said here. They concluded the chariot wheels were stuck in mud, the Lord looked down “clogging the chariot wheels” so that they drove heavily. This is plausible.

But the Exodus text states three times Israel crossed on dry ground. Where did the mud come from? Furthermore, the RSV translators put a “q” after clogging, as a sign that they did not translate the Hebrew properly. The Hebrew says the chariot wheels were “bound” or “locked up.” This did not make sense to the RSV translators. The wheels simply stopped turning? On dry ground? Not likely.

But if the “Lord’s look down” involved a tremendous force of heat, such as was probably used to dry out the sea bed earlier, this heat could easily cause the iron hubs of the chariots, and the iron axles to become hot. Metal expands when heated. If the hubs and axles expanded too much, the wheels would lock up. And I believe that is what Israel saw, and reported, before the walls of water collapsed. If the wheels stopped rotating, the chariots would indeed “drive heavily.”

After the Red Sea, the Exodus UFO leads Israel toward Mt. Sinai, where the Ten Commandments would be given, as well as the building of the Tabernacle, and the rules forming of the Jewish priesthood, in other words, the beings in the Exodus UFO were doing all this to form the Jewish religion, and establish the Jewish nation, with its twelve tribes, with a unique identity that lasted until this day.

Although this version of the parting of the Red Sea has been available to the public for more than fifty years, it is mostly unknown and unacknowledged. It is in conflict with the accepted conservative interpretation of the Red Sea parting, that the parting was a supernatural, not a technological event.

It is also in conflict with the liberal interpretation of the parting, that it is mythology. It is a story the people of Israel made up. It never happened. Some go so far as to say Moses never existed. Of course this division between conservative and liberal mirrors our current red church/blue church American political division we know only too well.

Liberals and conservatives do not agree on much. But they agree on hating my interpretation of the parting of the Red Sea. My belief is we have to look at Exodus, and the biblical angels, from a space age point of view. It is really no ones fault we could not do this much before the year 1950. Government denials about the UFO reality have helped religious leaders be blind to what the Exodus text says. But it is now time to do what needs to be done. Religious leaders need to know what the United States government secretly knows about our extraterrestrial visitors.

How long have the aliens been here? Why are they here? We need to know if modern UFO technology could have parted the Red Sea as I have described it. Am I right to suggest that our modern aliens, and the biblical angels, are the same reality, and if so, does this reality relate to the ultimate God, the ultimate creator of the Universe? This is not truth that only secret government officials have a right to know, we all have a right to know.

~Barry H. Downing

The Bible and UFO’s interview with Barry (text)

Originally from Revista UFO Magazine and later translated into Portugese

Barry H. Downing

  1. Why do you give so much space to “the pillar of cloud and fire” of the Exodus in your books?

My basic thesis, in my books, “The Bible and Flying Saucers,” and “Biblical UFO Revelations,” is that the biblical angelic reports, and our modern alien and UFOs reports, refer to the same reality. But the ancient Hebrew culture was not a technical culture, therefore it did not see strange objects in the sky through technological eyes, as we do. It is also my thesis that the Jewish religion and the Christian religion were both deliberately brought about by our modern alien powers. (The 2019 50th anniversary edition of “The Bible and Flying Saucers” is now available on Amazon, both in paperback and on Kindle.)

In one sense it is not surprising that modern religious leaders have rejected this thesis, but in another sense, it is surprising. After all, if angels are extraterrestrial beings, and UFOs are ET’s, why not connect them? But, in so far as modern Christians think about angels at all, they think of them at Christmas, in the sky singing for shepherds. They hang little angel ornaments on their Christmas tree, then take down the tree, put the angels in a box, and forget about them until next year. There is a sense in which for many Christians, angels are no more real than Santa Claus.

At the same time, for many religious people, UFOs are not real either. The governments of the world say UFOs do not exist, and some naïve people may suppose a government would never lie. Thus in a religious mind set where neither angels nor UFOs are real, it makes no sense to connect angels and UFOs.

But even among many readers of this magazine, who know there is something real about our modern UFO story, what about the UFO abduction cases in Brazil that seem to involve sexual relations between humans and aliens, like the famous 1957 Antonio Vilas-Boas report? These aliens do not seem to be very angelic.

So with all these levels of resistance to my biblical UFO thesis, I needed to focus on a biblical UFO that was what we can call a “multiple witness sighting of long duration.” The pillar of cloud and fire of the Exodus was seen by thousands, according to the Bible, and it hovered in the air and led Israel from Egypt to the promised land over a period of 40 years. If we had such a modern sighting, there would be no UFO doubters left.

We need to understand how skeptical our modern age is about both God and the Bible. If you check the Wikipedia listing for Moses, you will find the claim that the consensus of modern scholars is that Moses was a literary figure like Hamlet in a Shakespeare play. Moses never existed, therefore the Exodus never happened, there was no “pillar of cloud and fire,” no parting of the Red Sea. But if the governments of the world were to announce tomorrow that UFOs are real, the aliens are real, this type of skepticism would be turned on its head.

The thing that is clear about the book of Exodus is that it makes the claim that a divine power was involved in meeting Moses at a burning bush (Ex. 3), and calling him to meet Pharaoh, announce plagues on Egypt ending with Passover, and then the Jews began their liberation journey from Egypt to the promised land.

We find this in the Bible, after the Jews leave Egypt. “And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night; the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people.” (Ex. 13:21, 12)

What is described is a pillar, a cylindrical hard object, cloud like in color, which glows in the dark. And the text makes the point that the UFO did not “depart from before the people.” So here we have a multi-year multi-witness UFO close encounter, with alien contact, because Moses is in frequent voice contact with a being in the UFO. Can I prove this is true? No. But I insist that this is a reasonable interpretation of the text. Those who believe UFOs are extraterrestrial should have little trouble believing that if an alien space ship were to hover in front of the Jewish people, and guide their Exodus from Egypt, and if Moses were to be in voice contact with an alien in that ship, they would also understand if the Jewish people worshipped the UFO, or the alien in it, as a divine being. The Exodus took place more than 3000 years ago, the Jews were shepherds, non-technological people.

Switching now to the present, on December 16, 2007, the New York Times and the Washington Post both ran a news story, explaining that the United States Pentagon had conducted a multi-year black budget study of UFOs, mainly based on military sightings of UFOs. Senator Harry Reid was one of the chief leaders who demanded this study. The study, directed by Luis Elizondo, concluded that some UFOs represent an advanced technology that is beyond anything we have on earth. One of the reports came from a military pilot who chased a UFO that he said looked like a Tic Tac, cylindrical in shape, white or cloud-like in color, over forty feet long, rounded on each end, with no visible means of propulsion. (Google Tic Tac UFOs to see detailed information.)

The reports include the story that one of these UFOs dove to a position near an American battle ship, and caused an indentation in the water under it, hovering about 50 feet above the water. This is an interesting report in light of my understanding of how the Red Sea parted. (Imagine researchers 3000 years from now reading about Tic Tac UFOs, and wondering what that is about. I think “pillar of cloud and fire” is a pretty good description for a bunch of shepherds.)

In any case, I believe if the ancient Israelites had seen the Tic Tac UFO, they would have called it a “pillar of cloud and fire.” That is how I connect the Bible to the present. The Exodus UFO leads Israel up to the Red Sea, which seems like really stupid leadership. The chariots of Egypt are coming up behind. Were the aliens hoping to be lucky enough to have a strong wind come along in the nick of time to part the waters?

It makes more sense to suppose that the Exodus UFO had the technology, probably the power of its propulsion system, to split the waters of the Red Sea, and save Israel. The parting of the Red Sea, which is described in Exodus 14:19-31, is a complex text, and I take over 20 pages in “The Bible and Flying Saucers” to explain it, and I am not going to condense it here.

But the parting of the Red Sea represents a strong “environmental impact statement,” meaning it shows some of the technical power of UFOs, which a simple UFO sighting does not do. Modern UFO researchers study the environment after a reported UFO landing: checking soil samples, getting a Geiger counter reading, checking leaf burns. The parting of the Red Sea tells us a lot about UFO power, as well as UFO purpose.

After the Red Sea, the Exodus UFO drops manna for Israel to eat in the wilderness, Moses meets with “the Lord” on Mt. Sinai, receives the Ten Commandments, and lots of other religious instruction. Think of the wilderness as God’s laboratory, separated from other Middle East tribes, so that the Jewish people would develop a religion that lasts until this day. The other gods are gone, Baal, Dagon, later the Roman and Greek gods like Zeus and Mars, are lost to history. The Jews were commanded to make no graven images. This was totally against the religious values of Middle Eastern culture 1000 years B.C. The message was, whatever or whoever God is, he is not physical.

I believe the aliens who started the Jewish religion were agents of God, the God who created the universe. But this is an act of faith on my part. I do not have scientific proof of this. But even if you look at the aliens who brought about the Exodus as just some ET’s who wanted to teach a little religion, you have to give them credit. The Jews, because of the Exodus, became a unique culture and religion which has withstood years of trials and rejection from the wider Gentile culture, in its many forms. While other gods have come and gone, the God of the Jews has endured. I believe the Jewish religion is an extraterrestrial religion, and that is why I devote so much space to “the pillar of cloud and fire” of the Exodus in my books.

  1. How do you and Eric Von Daniken agree, and how do you disagree?

Eric Von Daniken’s book “Chariots of the Gods?” and my book “The Bible and Flying Saucers” were both published in the United States in 1968. We have that in common, and both books assume that the Bible is a source of reports of extraterrestrial visitations in our past. Von Daniken’s book sold millions of copies all over the world, a few hundred thousand copies of my book are in print. My book has mostly been printed in the English version, in the USA and Europe, although there is an Italian translation (“La Bibbia ei Dischi Volanti,” translated by Federica Pompili.) In the early 1970’s a made for TV special “In Search of Ancient Astronauts” led to the popularity of Von Daniken’s book, then the History Channel, in 2009, began an “Ancient Aliens” series that produced dozens of programs based on Von Daniken’s thesis.

Although I was invited to be part of the 2009 Ancient Aliens pilot, I was always a minor voice in the series. Much of the tone of the series was agnostic, one major voice said in one program, “This is the end of the church,” and to counter that view, I always wore a clerical collar for my interviews. I was interviewed several times in New York City, about two hours each interview. My interviews became a “bucket of paint” into which the producers dipped their brush when they wanted to paint a religious point of view.

Von Daniken built his thesis, not on the Bible alone, but also on strange artifacts from our past, like the pyramids of Egypt, or the strange drawings on the Nazca Plains of Peru. He paid no attention to UFOs, whereas my book was built on modern UFO reports, which in 1968 were just beginning to be researched, including their possible connection to the Bible.

Chapter 4 of Von Daniken’s book was entitled, “Was God an Astronaut?” He begins with some comments on the creation stories in early Genesis, wondering why God says “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. “ (Gen 1:26) Why does God speak in the plural? And he is interested in the Genesis 6 passage in which the “sons of God” took human women as wives, and had children by them. Are the sons of God extraterrestrials? (Conservative Christian UFO researchers, like Chuck Missler, see these sons of God as fallen angels like those in the book of Enoch, and the aliens in the Vilas-Boas encounter would likewise be fallen angels from the point of view of those like Missler. I deal with demonic and fallen angel theories of UFOs in my book “Biblical UFO Revelations.”)

Von Daniken spends quite a bit of space looking at the story of the destruction of Sodom in Genesis 19. He recounts the visit of two angels to Lot, who warn him to get out of town with his family quickly because the city will be destroyed by the Lord. The men of Sodom try to break into Lot’s house, but are blinded by the angels. Lot’s family leaves reluctantly, and when “fire and brimstone” fall on the city, Lot’s wife turns back to look, and turns into a pillar of salt.

Von Daniken does not see the angels as supernatural beings, but rather as ancient astronauts who for some reason think the people of Sodom represent bad genetics. Von Daniken wonders why the rush to get Lot out of town? He says almighty God should not be kept to some kind of time table. He wonders if some type of bomb was pre-set to go off at a certain time. And maybe it was a nuclear weapon, which explains the smoke that went up to the sky after the bomb went off, and the heat from the weapon may have caused Lot’s wife to turn to a pillar of salt.

What Von Daniken has done here is turn what has been seen in traditional religious thinking as a supernatural event, and made it a technological event. (Modern liberal theology is more likely to see this story as mythology, of course, not as actual history.)

This is a very important form of speculation on Von Daniken’s part. For while conservatives may rejoice that he is willing to take this Sodom story so literally, unlike liberals, conservatives will not be happy that he substituted super technology for supernatural. I have likewise explained the parting of the Red Sea as a technological event, not a supernatural event. Miracles in the Bible have long been seen as proofs of the existence of God. But if the miracle was the work of technology, what happens to our understanding of God? We will return to this question again later.

Not only does Von Daniken find the Sodom story un-God-like, he dislikes the whole “chosen people thing,” dislikes that God would save Lot’s family, and destroy everyone else. Von Daniken assumes that God will be “politically correct,” God should be busy promoting a classless society. The idea that God has favorites is not a new theme, this same prejudice appears in favor of Noah, and against everyone else, which is central to the Flood Story.

It is also central to the Exodus, the whole Jewish nation is God’s chosen people, a claim that many non-Jews have found annoying. But at the Burning Bush, when God meets Moses, God makes the claim, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” (Ex. 3:6) Here God seems to claim historical contact with those in the Jewish past. This is an interesting claim in light of modern UFO abduction research. Some UFO researchers claim that UFO abductions run in families: if a woman is abducted, then often her mother was abducted, and her grandmother.

Thus we find at the beginning of the Gospel of Matthew an extensive genealogy of Jesus connecting hm back to Abraham, establishing that Jesus is among “the chosen people.” Once Christianity becomes a Gentile religion, a religion for everyone, the importance of genealogy is diminished.

The idea of “chosen people” is not the moral problem for me that it is for Von Daniken. I remember in high school my math teacher would call on “chosen people” to go to the blackboard to work out difficult problems in front of the class. It was usually the “bright students” who were chosen for this task, and I was thankful whenever I was not chosen. When a student made a mistake, it was a source of laughter (usually silent) for the rest of the class. As we review the Exodus story, such as when the Jews made a molten calf at Mt. Sinai, this was a laughter point which makes me glad I was not part of the chosen people. Many of the people of Israel died for that blackboard error. (Ex. 32) The Jews were chosen to go to the blackboard for the sake of the rest of the class. I do not see Von Daniken’s moral problem here.

But my main problem with Von Daniken is that he is not consistent with his own method. He claims aliens were reported in the Bible, the story of Sodom is part of that evidence. And at a later point in his book he even speculates that the Ark of the Covenant was electrically charged. Why not go on to make the obvious claim: the Jewish religion was started by the aliens, on purpose. Of course he wants to claim that the angels are really ancient astronauts, he wants to secularize them, make them non-religious. But even so, secular though they may be, clearly the aliens are interested in religion, and if the whole of the Exodus was alien guided, as I suggest, then the main purpose of the Exodus was religious as we understand religion. At Mt. Sinai, Moses received from the aliens the commandments for the Jewish religion, the design for the house of worship (the Tabernacle), the proper authority of, and clothing for, the priests, the separation of a sacred space, the “Holy of Holies.” So even if we suppose the “ancient aliens” in the Bible are just a bunch of space guys with no connection to God, it is obvious that these aliens are very interested in religion. The main thing the biblical aliens gave the Jews was not some kind of advanced technology, but rather a set of commandments that established rules of justice in human conduct, and rules for proper worship of God. As it turns out, these rules have had tremendous influence on Western human history if not since the time of Moses, then certainly from the time of Jesus foreword. If the aliens just wanted to influence human history, it appears that they have succeeded.

I believe Von Daniken missed this obvious truth, based on his own theory, and by and large the History Channel “Ancient Aliens” series missed it too, but not as completely as Von Daniken. I had discussions with the producers of the Ancient Alien series, asking them to move in a more religious direction. I think from an audience point of view, the producers had reasons to resist my suggestions. Conservative Christians were very angry at the Ancient Aliens series, even made their own movie to counter the History Channel series. Moving in my direction would have made religious leaders even more angry.

  1. Why have religious leaders reacted so negatively to your research?

The most obvious answer is, people often resist new ideas, and religious people especially do not welcome new ideas. They like tradition, and they want people to leave tradition alone. To connect UFOs and religion is just to ask for trouble from some religious people.

But religion is too broad a term to deal with the reaction to my research. I do not remember any criticism of my work from Jewish, Muslim, Hindu or Buddhist leaders. Most of my critics have been Christian, and Protestant Christian at that. I am a Protestant Christian, a Presbyterian Protestant ordained pastor. I was ordained just as the “death of God” movement was dominating Protestant theology. The first chapter of “The Bible and Flying Saucers” was titled, “Space and the Bible,” in which I talk about our modern understanding of the universe, in contrast to the old view that the earth was the center of the universe, flat, with heaven above, and hell beneath. I went on to explain that modern liberal theology said we have to give up belief in angels, miracles like the parting of the Red Sea, or the Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus—these were all pre-scientific ideas that we can no longer hold.

I suggested in “The Bible and Flying Saucers” that the presence of UFOs means that many strange biblical reports may be true, and that the angels, whatever they are, may have used advanced technology to perform some of the miracles.

I had many expectations when my book was published, most of which turned out to be false.

I thought conservative Christians would thank me for restoring a scientific way for us to believe in many biblical reports that are key to our tradition, like the parting of the Red Sea, or the Ascension of Jesus to heaven. Wrong. One ordained pastor in his review of “The Bible and Flying Saucers” called it “kook book of the year.”

I thought liberal Christians, having been driven to announce that “God is dead,” would be glad to give up their dead God in favor of a scientifically revived view of the biblical tradition. Wrong. One liberal reviewer said that I had brought shame on the University of Edinburgh, where I had earned my Ph.D. in the relation between science and religion, for writing such a terrible book. (Dissertation Title: Eschatological Implications of the Understanding of Time and Space in the Thought of Isaac Newton. Google the title, this will take you to the site where the University has made the dissertation available for down load on line.)

The good news I suppose is, I have united conservative and liberal Christians against me, at least in the Protestant tradition. Roman Catholics have been more open to my views than Protestants, although not with blowing of loud trumpets. One Catholic priest on reviewing several books in my field, called mine “the best of the lot.” Catholics have a much stronger angelology than Protestants, they pray to Mary and other saints. And there are occasional reports of the Virgin Mary appearing to the faithful in modern times. So visits from angels or UFOs is not an obviously absurd idea for Catholics. (For more on my understanding of the Roman Catholic view of UFOs, see chapter 6, “UFOs and the Roman Catholic Church” in my book “Biblical UFO Revelations.”)

I am not aware of very much literature dealing with UFOs in the Eastern Orthodox tradition, and in so far as it has been considered, I think a “demonic theory of UFOs” is considered a likely explanation for alien presence in the Eastern Orthodox faith. Although there has been some Muslim interest in UFOs, I have not read any Muslim complaints about my work. Muslims do have a strong angelology, so there is room here for research, if Muslims want to do it.

There has also been some research concerning the possible alien influence on Eastern religions. Dr. Richard L. Thompson has written a book, “Alien Identities,” (1993) and has made a strong case for alien influence in the Hindu and Buddhist traditions. Part 2 of his book is “Vedic Parallels to UFO Phenomena.”

Thompson compares his work in Vedic literature with my biblical studies. “I can ask the reader to compare the ideas presented here with those of Barry Downing, a Christian minister with a Ph.D. in science and religion, who has written extensively about UFOs and the Bible. One point made by Downing is that UFOs may provide evidence for the reality of Biblical phenomena, such as visits by angels, that seem mythological from our modern perspective.” (p. 14)

Thompson also makes the point, “The scientific model of life is based on experiments and careful reasoning, but by reducing life to a combination of atoms, it deprives it of all higher purpose and meaning.” (p. 1) This is also the thinking of the late Harvard Professor Dr. John Mack, who in his second book on UFOs, “Passport to the Cosmos,” (1999) argued that UFOs are some kind of cosmic correction on Western culture, which has been totally dominated by left brain science, and that we need to move in a right brain, inner consciousness direction for the sake of human survival.

Dr. Mack and I spoke at a MUFON conference in California in 2000, and in later private correspondence, he told me he was surprised that a secular Jew from Harvard would have so much in common with a Presbyterian pastor from a small town in upstate New York.

The Swiss psychologist C.G. Jung, very early in the history of UFOs, wrote the book, “Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Skies,” so there is a long history of scientists like Carl Sagan saying UFOs are not about science, rather they are about religion, UFOs are mythology. I became a theological advisor to the Mutual UFO Network in 1972, and it took some courage for Walter Andrus Jr. to make me a consultant, because the “nuts and bolts” UFO researchers did not want religion mixed in with their pure scientific research. And when Christian fundamentalists saw what I was writing, they complained to MUFON too.

Thus, looking at the big picture, there are huge religious dimensions to the UFO field, and the scientific and religious dimensions overlap in often confusing ways. And even though religion and UFOs is my field, I am pretty sure I am the proverbial blind man, holding on to one leg of the elephant.

One issue I want to discuss further is the conflict between the technological and the supernatural. One other author who connects UFOs and the Bible is someone with a Catholic background, but not clergy. R.L. Dione wrote two books: “God Drives a Flying Saucer” (1973) and “Is God Supernatural? The 4,000-Year Misunderstanding.” (1976) Dione looks at many of the miracles in the Bible, and explains them from a technological point of view.

Ted Peters, a Lutheran theologian who has specialized in the relation between science and religion, and is also a consultant to MUFON, has argued that the UFO theologians, (Von Daniken, Downing, and Dione) have taken what we thought was supernatural, and turned it into the technological, thereby negating our understanding of God. Peters analyzes the issues in his book “UFO’s: God’s Chariots?” (1977) In my defense, I would say that the word “supernatural” is not in the Bible, and that modern missionaries fly in planes to do their work, and this does not compromise the spiritual message they deliver. Further I would say, the more technology advances, the more supernatural it looks. If Isaac Newton were to come back to life, and be shown a smart phone, he would think it supernatural.

Nevertheless, I would agree that Peters has a point. In explaining the parting of the Red Sea as a technological act, what have I done to God? And although I have never seen this point in print against me, I suspect that many conservative Christians would say the reason they believe in God is because of the miracles reported in the Bible. What I am suggesting sounds like it would be possible for some country from earth to send a space ship to another planet, and rescue some natives from something like an Egyptian slavery, part a body of water with their advanced technology, and suddenly, you have a new religion on another planet, and God has nothing to do with it.

I understand why my UFO theories have been unsettling to religious leaders. My answer is, we can only believe in God by faith, especially since God is invisible (John 1:18), God is spirit, and that which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the spirit is spirit. (John 3:6) Humans are a blend of flesh and spirit. And what those like Richard Thompson and John Mack have argued is that we in the West have put too much emphasis on the flesh (science), and not enough on the spirit (religion}.

We can only believe in God by faith, not by scientific proof. Therefore our “leap of faith” has to come at some point. Whereas I understand that some made their leap of faith because of miracles, my leap of faith is that even though some miracles may have been technological, the purpose of the miracles was to point us beyond the miracles we can see in order for us to believe in the God we cannot see, “The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all men life and breath and everything.” (Acts 17:24, 25)

[I am sometimes asked, if believing in God is so important to God, why doesn’t God just show himself openly, why all these games of hide and seek, even in the stories of the resurrection of Jesus? (See Lk. 24:13-52) Why do we need a “leap of faith,” to believe in what we cannot see? My best guess is this: the Bible says we have been made in the image of God. Notice this: God has no God. So to be like God, we need to experience godlessness. At the same time, we are not God, we have not made ourselves, we face death. We need to trust by faith there is a God, and God plans an eternal future for us to avoid the despair that comes with atheism. Friedrich Nietzsche is an example of the nihilism that comes with atheism, he committed suicide in his despair. I wonder if all of Western culture is in this kind of despair, pretending we get deep meaning from all our electronic gadgets. I think of all the school shootings in America, we now take them for granted. The biggest growing religious group in America is the “nones,” those who have no religion. I cannot prove connections here. But I cannot help wondering if the governments of the world stopped lying about UFOs, instead of fear and panic about UFO truth destroying our culture, the cultural result might be one of new hope.]

In order for us to believe in an invisible God, we need mediators between our visible world and the invisible divine world. I believe UFOs are part of the mediating process. To some extent that explains why UFOs do not land openly, such as in the middle of a National Team soccer game in Brazil. There is danger that UFOs might take God’s place, and become the focus of spiritual attention, instead of being an arrow that points to God, to divine reality that is beyond us. I believe UFOs are here to remind us we live on earth, and earth is God’s greenhouse, it is not our permanent home. We die, and are transplanted to a higher reality. And we are judged by God when we die on how well we have responded to the light in the greenhouse.

Jesus is seen by Christians as the ultimate mediator. To some extent Buddha, Moses, Mohammed and the Dalai Lama can be seen as mediators. Jesus is a mediator in the sense of being a blend of the human and divine, born by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary. (Luke 1:26-38) This text has led some UFO theologians to wonder if Jesus is a hybrid, half human and half alien. This sort of speculation is heresy to orthodox theologians, who call Jesus fully human, and fully divine, perhaps because it seems blasphemous to call Jesus half of anything. In any case, for Christians Jesus is the only perfect mediator between the invisible divine world, and our very physical human world.

But I would point out that Jesus does not do his mediating in a vacuum. The whole Jewish tradition from Abraham foreword reports the visitation of angels. Sometimes these visitations were seen as God himself, as in the story of Manoah and his wife in the book of Judges. After a long conversation between Manoah and an angel, Manoah asked the name of the angel, and the angel refused to disclose it. Eventually the angel ascends to the sky in front of Manoah and his wife. And their response was, “We shall surely die, for we have seen God.” (Jud. 11:22)

There is an evolution in thinking about angels between the Old and New Testaments. Whereas Manoah and his wife identified the angel with God, when we get to the New Testament, we find a passage in the book of Acts where Peter is in prison, facing execution. During the night an angel enters the prison, removes the chains on Peter, leads him from the prison, and leaves Peter standing alone in the street. (Acts 12:1-19) There is no time in this story when Peter seems determined to worship the angel as God, although the whole thing might have seemed like a dream until the angel left. Peter has of course been a witness to the resurrection of Jesus, he knew angel stories went with our human future in “the kingdom of heaven” which Jesus preached.

When we look back on the early Exodus tradition, notice that at the burning (and talking) bush story, we find the text says, “the angel of the Lord” (Ex 3:2) appears to Moses, and when Moses asks the voice to identify itself, the voice says, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham” (Ex. 3:6). In this same chapter, “the angel of the Lord” and the direct voice of God seem to be interchangeable designations. The same is true of the Red Sea narrative in Exodus 14:19-31. I do not know how to interpret this. Some biblical scholars hold to a multi-source theory of the Pentateuch, meaning, two or three oral or written traditions concerning the Exodus were blended to form the single text we now have. That being the case, perhaps one text sensed God’s literal presence at the Burning Bush, another tradition, doubting that any human can see God and live, referred to the divine presence in the burning bush as an angel. In any case, I believe there is an evolution in thinking between the Old and New Testaments, and the changed thinking about “angelology” in the Old and New Testaments represents a kind of theological evolution.

My expectation is that UFOs represent a further evolution in our understanding of God, and of the biblical tradition. If in the future evidence suggests that religious thinking should move in the directions I have suggested, perhaps anger at my work by religious leaders will decrease. At least I hope so.

UFO studies Q&A from Rivista UFO magazine (text)

Barry Downing

May 2019

The following article is a question and answer document prepared for the Brazilian UFO magazine “Revista UFO,” edited by A.J. Gevaerd. It is being translated into Portuguese. If quoting from this article, please give appropriate credit. These questions came from the magazine.

  1. What led you to UFOlogical research?

When I was in high school, my father brought me some Donald Keyhoe Flying Saucer books from the library to read. Keyhoe seemed sincere, had a lot of interesting reports, and said that the government was trying to cover up the UFO evidence. At that time I was planning to go to college, and major in physics. This was also the beginning of America’s push to take a space ship to the moon, so space travel was on everyone’s mind.

But even though I majored in physics, and earned my degree from Hartwick College in 1960, my Christian faith drew me to become a Presbyterian pastor, so after college graduation, I attended Princeton Theological Seminary in New Jersey, earning my divinity degree in 1963.

During my divinity studies, I became aware of the conflict between science and my Christian beliefs. One of my professors in class explained it this way. He said, “No one today believes in the Ascension of Jesus, do they? And if Jesus did not ascend to heaven, we can only suppose his bones lie buried somewhere in the middle east.”

Why don’t we believe in the Ascension (one of the major articles of the Apostles’ Creed)? Because biblical people held a primitive cosmology, with earth in the middle, and flat, heaven above, hell below. Since Copernicus we now know the earth is not flat, and heaven is not “up.” With the earth rotating on its axis, there is no up, or everywhere is up. The year I graduated from seminary, Bishop John A.T. Robinson published a book, Honest to God, which made the claim that Christians could no longer “in honesty” believe that Jesus went up to heaven, that angels fly back and forth between earth and heaven. Miracles like the parting of the Red Sea, or the Resurrection of Jesus, never happened. They were mythological stories made up by non-scientific people.

This led to “the death of God” theology of the 1960’s, the argument being that the God of the Bible was “created” by Jewish and Christian people, out of their own imaginations. We can in our scientific age no longer believe in this God.

I decided at that point that I needed to do more research on the issues of “eschatology, time and space,” eschatology being the whole Christian idea of what happens to people when we die, is there a heaven, is there life after death? If there is a heaven, where is it? How do we get there? If the angels are there, how do they get here? I did not see how I could be a Christian pastor, conduct a funeral, and say something like, “we used to believe that when we died, we went to heaven to be with Jesus, but I learned in seminary that this is not scientifically believable any more, so our dear departed person is just dead. Too bad. No need to sing a final hymn, there is nothing to sing about.”

There was little formal interest in American seminaries in the area of science and religion at the time I was in seminary. “Science is about facts, religion is make believe,” or at best religion is about values, not about the real world, seemed to be the view. So I applied to the University of Edinburgh in Scotland to earn a Ph.D. in the area of science and religion. I studied under the direction of Prof. John McIntyre, and Prof. T.F. Torrance, both excellent scholars well aware of the issues related to science and religion. (In fact, Edinburgh University now has a science and religion department, as part of the faculty of Divinity. They are a world leader in this area.)

My Ph.D. dissertation, Eschatological Implications of the Understanding of Time and Space in the Thought of Isaac Newton (1966), was approved. (The University has made my dissertation available to be down loaded on line.)

Sometime during October of 1965, I began to think about the “extraterrestrial dimensions” of the Bible, the issue of angels, and where is heaven? There were things in the Bible that seemed a little like a spaceship, like the wheels of Ezekiel (See chapter 1), or the “chariot of fire” that took Elijah up into the sky. (1 Kings 2:11)

I began to wonder if we could look at the Bible from a space age point of view, what if we think of the angels as space beings from another planet? And what if the angels do not fly to earth on wings, but rather they use advanced technology?

These thoughts had a powerful impact on me. I even considered giving up my Ph.D. work, and writing a book, but I “made a deal with God,” I would try to finish my Ph.D. work first, then do a book. That is how it worked out.

I finished my Ph.D. in May of 1966, I came back to the United States and began looking for a church where I could be a pastor. In the meantime, I was living in Rochester, New York, with my in-laws. I set up a study in their basement, on a ping pong table, and began writing The Bible and Flying Saucers, which I completed in February of 1967. After being rejected by several publishers, it was published in 1968 by J.B. Lippincott.

I listed only three UFO books in my bibliography, Frank Edwards, Flying Saucers—Serious business (1966), Donald Keyhoe, The Flying Saucer Conspiracy (1955), and Jacques Vallee, Anatomy of a Phenomenon: Unidentified Objects in Space—A Scientific Appraisal (1965). I also referred to news paper UFO reports that were available at the time. By today’s standards, UFO evidence was spotty.

As my book was reviewed by religious leaders, Christians in particular, it was strongly rejected. One pastor called it “the kook book of the year.” Although I was angry about the rejection at the time, after 50 years, I have come to understand how radical an idea my book was for religious leaders, and the last thing religious leaders want to deal with is a radical idea.

We can divide religious leaders into two groups, the conservative, and the liberal. Conservatives tend to take every word in the Bible literally, and strongly believe in the supernatural, to explain miracles. One might suppose that conservatives would be glad that I explained the parting of the Red Sea. But they were not happy, I did not turn to the supernatural to explain the parting, I said that aliens used advanced technology to part the Red Sea. So this was heresy for conservatives.

Liberals had by and large given up believing in the supernatural at all. So for them, the Red Sea never parted, Jesus never rose from the dead, or ascended to heaven. These were all religious myths. They were make believe stories made up by ancient superstitious people.

Then in my book, I argued that the Red Sea did part, Jesus did rise from the dead, aliens in spaceships were involved in all these events. We need to see the angels in the Bible as extraterrestrials with advanced technical power. Liberals thought I must be joking. And in general liberals, many of whom are college professors, have spent their careers teaching religion as mythology. They had spent their lives thinking how wise they were not to believe in things like the parting of the Red Sea, feeling very superior to conservatives. If they started believing in UFOs, who knows what would come next?

This is how religious leaders reacted to my work 50 years ago, and the conservative and liberal division is still pretty much the same. Official government denials about the existence of UFOs have given religious leaders of all convictions the ability to deny that there are serious issues relating UFOs and religion.

MUFON was formed in 1969, fifty years ago this year, and was headed by Walter Andrus, Jr. He read my book, and asked me to become a consultant in religion to MUFON in 1972. He also wanted me to write columns for what was then the monthly newsletter, Skylook, which later became the MUFON Journal.

I have published more than 20 articles over the years in the MUFON newsletter, as well as speaking at several Symposia.

Once I became a frequent publisher with MUFON, I kept up with UFO research, and tried to understand the religious dimensions to the best of my ability in spite of the fact that no religious journals were willing to publish my writings. (I tried, and was rejected frequently.) But even publishing for MUFON was not without resistance. Many who look at UFOs from only a scientific point of view did not want someone like me mixing religion in with UFO sightings, and possible alien purpose.

At the same time, Christian conservatives were loudly against me, complained to MUFON about my work. Conservative Christians who believe UFOs are real tend to believe they are either demonic, or “Fallen Angels”, (See Genesis 6). It is valid to make these arguments, and I deal with them in my most recent book, Biblical UFO Revelations (2017). But I find that most conservative Christian books about UFOs deal with the Bible badly, ignoring important UFO passages, and twisting UFO evidence in a way that is not justified, especially since the aliens, whoever they are, make it hard to know what their purpose is. The “hiddenness” of the aliens leads conservatives to argue this shows they are evil. But, God is pretty hidden, and conservatives do not think God is evil.

The above explains how I became involved in ufological research. It began with a mild interest in flying saucers when I was in high school, and then during my Ph.D. work, I began to wonder if flying saucers, or UFOs, have only shown up in modern times, or if they might have been around for hundreds of years. Of course, at about the same time, 1968, Eric Von Daniken began wondering the same thing.

  1. Would Jesus Christ be an alien?

I hope that everyone understands that I am an ordained minister, and that this is exactly the kind of question that if I give the “wrong” answer, could get me tried for heresy. And when my book was first published, there were a few of my fellow Presbyterian pastors who told me they thought I should be tried for heresy. It never happened, but it could have.

Ronald D. Story edited a major work, The Encyclopedia of Extraterrestrial Encounters in 2001. He invited me to write several articles for this book, which I did, such as “Demonic Theory of UFOs” and “Biblical Miracles as Super-Technology.” He also asked me to write an article on “Jesus Christ as an Extraterrestrial,” and I said no, I thought that too dangerous for me. He ended up writing it himself. Since he was not an ordained pastor, he did not have to worry about heresy trials.

But the question, was Jesus Christ an alien, needs to be considered. I hope I can give an answer that makes sense both in terms of modern UFO science, and biblical theology.

We can start by asking the question: is the New Testament record an accurate report of who Jesus was, and what he did? The answer is, we do not really know, in a scientific sense. At the same time, it is the only source of information we have about Jesus, so that is what we have to work with.

As we read through Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, we realize that if these books are telling the truth, then Jesus is no normal human being. He fed five thousand people with five loaves and two fish, he raised Lazarus from the dead after he had been dead four days (John 11), made the blind see, the lame walk, turned water to wine, walked on water.

If these stories are true, how do we explain them? How did the biblical people explain them? They either said he was a prophet (Moses and Elijah had both done miraculous things), but some said “he is the Son of God.” The “sons of God” were understood to be the angels, who lived with God in heaven, and sometimes came to earth. So even in biblical times, the way people explained the miraculous powers which Jesus showed was to say he did not come from earth, he came from heaven, he was an extraterrestrial.

There is danger in saying this from a UFO point of view, of course, because how do we think of extraterrestrials now? In the 1950’s, people thought aliens were little green men from Mars. As our understanding grew, and we had people like Budd Hopkins investigating UFO abductions, we began to think of aliens as humanoids, sort of human, but not. Then when Whitley Strieber wrote his best selling book Communion (1987), we now “knew” aliens were short, thin, bald, with big slanted eyes.

We also had movies that frightened us, like the “Alien” series, and in “ET: the Extraterrestrial” the alien was a little being, more like a child, who wanted to go home, and had to escape from wicked government leaders (Jesus could have learned from ET). Then we had the invasion movies, like “War of the Worlds,” or with better technology, “Independence Day.” But in the end, most modern “aliens” are evil, an idea that sells more movie tickets, and the idea that we humans might be the evil ones, and that beings from outer space might come to save us (as the Bible says Jesus did,) is not popular in Hollywood.

So to see Jesus as an alien, or an extraterrestrial, does not fit well with our modern cultural visions of aliens. Many of these visions are from science fiction, of course, but they still have a powerful influence on our minds if we try to see Jesus as an alien.

Let us consider three passages of scripture: Matthew 17:1-9; Acts 1:6-11; Acts 9:1-9. In Matthew 17, we have the report of Jesus, Peter, James and John going up a high mountain, where the clothing and face of Jesus begin to glow. This is called the Transfiguration of Jesus. While this was happening, Moses and Elijah appeared. (How the disciples knew they were Moses and Elijah is not explained, but it is presumed that Jesus identified them, and knew them—from a previous life.)

While they were talking, “lo, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased, listen to him.” We have several biblical UFO patterns at work here. The original “bright cloud” was the “pillar of cloud and fire” of the Exodus. This was the UFO associated with Moses. Elijah also had a UFO connection, he was taken up into the sky in a chariot of fire. Moses had been dead for centuries, Elijah never died on earth, but in New Testament thinking, we are to suppose that both Moses and Elijah are in resurrected bodies, and while it is not said, we can wonder if Jesus knew them from a previous life.

The fact that a voice came from the bright cloud should be no surprise, Moses was in conversation with God, or with an angel of God “in the cloud,” the Exodus UFO, from the beginning of the Exodus (see Exodus 13:21, 22). This same voice spoke to Moses at Mt. Sinai, giving him the many commandments of the Jewish religion.

What is made clear here is that the same extraterrestrial power that brought about the Exodus is the power behind Jesus, and what he stands for. And the words, “this is my beloved Son,” makes clear he is [a or the] Son of God, and therefore comes from the world of the angels.

Of course, Matthew, like Luke, reports Jesus was born of the virgin Mary. So if Jesus is the Son of God, an angel, how did he give up his angel status to become a baby in the womb of Mary? There is no clear biblical, or UFO answer to this question. And did he have his angel or “divine” inner identity as soon as he was born, or when he grew up, or when he was baptized? I do not know. In any case, there is a clear note of extraterrestrial involvement with Jesus in the middle of his ministry.

After Jesus was crucified, and raised from the dead, there was a period of maybe forty days where Jesus appeared to his disciples several times, but did not remain long with them. Then came the time of his ascension, reported in Acts. Jesus was giving final instructions to his disciples, “as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold two men stood by them in white robes, and said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:9-11).

Here is the basic Ascension story. It is no more strange than the story of Elijah being taken up into the sky in a chariot of fire. Later in the book of Acts, the disciple Philip, after he baptizes the Ethiopian Eunuch, is taken up by “the Spirit of the Lord” and carried to the distant city Azotus. (Acts 8:39, 40)

The biblical people did not talk about flying saucers, UFOs, or spaceships, and we should not expect them to. What the biblical people did believe was that there was a civilization not on earth, somewhere up in the sky, where the angels lived, and they did not fly here on wings, rather they had some kind of heavenly transportation system, which often looked like bright or glowing clouds. And in 2019, we have UFO reports like this.

The third passage is also in Acts, chapter 9. It is the story of the conversion of Saul [Paul] who was a trained Jewish religious teacher and who was a leader in arresting Christians who preached the resurrection of Jesus. Saul was given authority to go to Damascus to arrest Christians there. He was traveling with a group when suddenly a bright light hovered over him, and a voice came from the light saying, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” Saul answered, “Who are you Lord?” and the voice answered, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting; but rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” (Acts 9:4-6; this same story is told in Acts chapters 22 and 26).

Here we have a bright light, no cloud mentioned, but it is some kind of transportation system that has brought Jesus from heaven, wherever that is, to this point on the road from Jerusalem to Damascus. (Why is it UFOs like to appear out in the country?)

Here is what the Bible seems to say. Was Jesus an alien, an extraterrestrial? If he wasn’t before, he is now. This is basic Christian teaching. He is now in heaven, and he will take faithful Christians to join him in the place “he has gone to prepare for us.” (John 14:1-3) He is now an extraterrestrial, and someday all his followers will be extraterrestrials, wherever heaven is. In the Lord’s Prayer we say, “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Wherever heaven is, it is not on earth.

The conversion of Paul was the most important conversion in the history of Christianity. At the beginning, all Christians were Jews, but there was strong opposition to Christianity among the Jews, and eventually Jewish Christianity died out. Only Gentile Christianity survived, and the Apostle Paul was the one who made Gentile Christianity into a religion that could survive separately from Judaism.

I believe it is the same extraterrestrial reality that brought about both Judaism and Christianity, and that this alien/angelic reality knew from the beginning that Judaism and Christianity would become separate religions, in spite of them both being “extraterrestrial religions” started by the same reality.

The Gospel of John more than the Synoptic Gospels displays Jesus as having an identity before his life on earth. Jesus says, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me; and this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up at the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him, should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:38-40) These words explain basic Christianity. Jesus has the power to save us from death. He saves the ones who believe in him. He has been sent by God to earth from heaven for this purpose. So is Jesus Christ an alien? The Bible says he is, and he was so alien, he was crucified. Neither Jewish religious leaders, nor Roman government officials, could stand him. He was too strange.

The Nicene Creed has the words, “We believe in one God the Father……and in one Lord Jesus Christ……who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and became incarnate by the Holy Spirit.”

Traditional Christianity sees Jesus as an extraterrestrial. We can say he was an alien both in the sense that he came from another world, and that he embodied values (such as love your enemy) which really annoyed people. In that sense he was alien. And he told parables, “The kingdom of heaven is like…..a grain of mustard seed, a woman who loses a coin, a father who has 2 sons, one prodigal.” He spoke of life in a heavenly kingdom as if he had lived there, he spoke as one “having authority.” In many ways he was an alien, probably the kind of alien we would reject if he started walking the streets of our world. Or flying in our skies.

  1. Is there a relationship between religious passages in other cultures that you also identify as being a ufological event?

First I need to say that I am no authority about UFOs in other religious cultures. I have limited knowledge about how do deal with UFOs in the Bible, both in terms of how to deal with the Bible as an ancient document, and how to relate it to modern UFOs. For instance: Does Raymond Fowler’s careful study of the Betty Andreasson abduction case, with all its religious imagery, support my biblical studies, or is this more like demonic confusion? (See Raymond Fowler, The Andreasson Affair, 1980).

Let us start here: I Googled “UFOs and Judaism Wikipedia, “ “UFOs and Christianity Wikipedia,” “UFOs and Islam Wikipedia,” “UFOs and Hinduism Wikipedia,” and “UFOs and Buddhism Wikipedia.”

For those of us who take UFO research seriously, these seemed to me to be very good topics, well worth having a heading in Wikipedia. But no such luck, hardly even a reference to an alternative.

But there were references to related topics. For instance, Wikipedia has a heading for “Exotheology.” That is, what are the implications for theology, and the idea of God, if we meet extraterrestrials? Lutheran theologian Ted Peters is a leader in this field, who works at an American West Coast seminary. He is also a consultant to MUFON. He kind of tip toes around UFOs, not admitting they are real, but asking questions that would be asked if some day extraterrestrials showed up.

In the article, a few Christian thinkers, some Roman Catholic, were sited. The general idea is, God is creator of all, even of ET’s, if they are there.

Likewise there were a few lines putting forth a Jewish point of view. And a brief reference to Islam, and that the Qur’an may be open to the idea of multiple worlds.

In another article about the Islamic view of UFOs, the author is aware of modern quantum and string theory, the possibility of multidimensional universes, with the affirmation that whatever exists, God made it. There is also in Islam a belief in the “jinn,” a kind of invisible spiritual reality, not the same as angels.

I have seen no Islamic reference to Muhammed being taught by the angel Gabriel, and that the angel Gabriel might be an extraterrestrial, as we now understand the term. That might be Islamic heresy, but I have not seen it discussed. At the same time, Islam, which began 600 years after Christianity, has a very advanced concept of the afterlife, of heaven. How Muslim theology might, or might not, link all this to UFOs I do not know.

The heading “UFOs and Hinduism” led to UFO sightings in India. “UFOs and Buddhism Wikipedia” led to “Chen Tao,” a UFO cult started in Taiwan which is a blend of Buddhism, Taoism, and Ufology.

What Wikipedia does list however are articles on “UFO Religion and Cults.” This would include those like the “Heaven’s Gate” suicide cult, Raelism, the 1974 cult started by French race car driver Claude Vorihon, who stated he was taken into a UFO and met Jesus, Buddha and other religious leaders. There is quite a bit of biblical material in the Raelism cult, which made me wonder if Rael had read my book (1968) before he wrote his.

I received a large packet in the mail several years ago from South Korea. It was a Christian cult, focused especially on Genesis and UFOs. They obviously knew about my work.

But this is my conclusion. By and large, modern religious leaders do not try to connect their faith traditions with UFOs, and there is strong resistance to doing this, even at the secular level.

About ten years ago I wrote a scholarly paper with the title, “UFOs and Religion: Five Theories.” I focused on ways of looking at UFOs from a biblical point of view, the mythological theory, the ancient astronaut theory, new age theory, demonic theory, and angelic theory. The article was supported by good footnotes, and a friend helped me publish it on Wikipedia.

This was a substantial article, and before we even had it half on line, the “editors” began tearing it apart. The way Wikipedia works is, there are “volunteer” editors who watch anything that is put on Wikipedia. There are also paid staff on Wikipedia, who make sure obscene or other unsuitable material is not published, which might lead to libel. But the main editing is done by “the crowd,” faceless people.

As my work was attacked, there were two groups: those who thought my article was strictly “fringe” material, and therefore, not real “knowledge,” and should be totally deleted. Others said, it was a fringe topic, but was treated in a very scholarly way, and should be published.

In the end, the whole article was rejected except for two paragraphs, which were then added to an already existing article on “Ancient Astronaut Theory.”

I have no way of knowing, but I suspect that if anyone were to write an article for Wikipedia, “UFOs and Judaism,” or “UFOs and Islam,” or “UFOs and Hinduism,” the editor “watch dogs,” the conservatives in every religion, and every religion has conservatives, would make sure such an article never saw the light of day on Wikipedia. So although I am sure that there is much to be written about the possible relation between UFOs and other world religions, there are strong forces of repression at work in “the established religious world,” as well as in the secular world, of which we suppose Wikipedia is a part.

Nevertheless, I recommend the work of Dr. Richard Thompson, Alien Identities: Ancient Insights into Modern UFO Phenomena (1993). Part 2 of his book is titled, “Vedic Parallels to UFO Phenomena.” Thompson says “I can ask the reader to compare the ideas presented here with those of Barry Downing……who has written extensively about UFOs in the Bible.” (p. 14)

One of the issues where religion and UFOs overlap is in the story of the Roman Catholic miracle in Fatima, Portugal, in 1917. Some shepherd children began having visions of the Virgin Mary on the 13th of the Month, for several months, and the Virgin began promising a great vision on the 13th of October, 1917. Some believed the children, some did not, but on the appointed day, thousands showed up, and what they saw was a silver disc in the sky. Whereas Roman Catholics see this as a religious miracle, many modern day UFO researchers see it as clearly a UFO event, a flying saucer. (See Ann Druffel’s article, “Fatima,” in The Encyclopedia of Extraterrestrial Encounters, p. 188 ff, and Barry Downing, Biblical UFO Revelations, p. 35)

In closing I want to refer to an article I published in the MUFON Journal, “The God Hypothesis,” (October 1988, pp. 10-13). The main argument of the article was that not only does it seem possible that UFOs have in the past caused many of our religious beliefs, but even more, we should consider the possibility that UFOs are a God-Force, that they rule the earth. I wrote, “There are many difficulties with the God hypothesis, of course. The first problem is that when we use the term God, we are thinking in Western culture of the God of Judeo-Christian tradition. Islam is also an off-shoot of this tradition.

Hinduism does not have a comparable concept of God, nor does Buddhism which grew out of Hinduism. Foster Morrison, in his article ‘UFOs—Science and Technology in the service of Magic,’ in the June issue of this Journal, says that ‘The Universe of UFOs is animistic. Exotic celestial beings travel from world to world. Life is everywhere and more diverse than in the Hindu pantheon.’”

What I am suggesting is that we need to be careful not to think of UFOs and religion in too limited terms. Modern aliens have been reported to disable the computer systems in ballistic missiles in both the USA and Russia, reports indicate that the aliens do biological tests on humans who have been abducted, stories of cattle mutilations indicate possible alien biological testing.

We need to consider this: In a broad sense, aliens in UFOs may be running Planet Earth. We humans may have some freedom, as a mother might say to her children, “Go out and play a while, but then be home for supper.” We are on a short leash.

Jacques Vallee has suggested as much in books such as Dimensions (1988) and The Invisible College (1975), he sees UFOs as a kind of control mechanism. In our secular age, we do not call such a mechanism God, but I believe we need to go further in this line of thinking. This does not contradict the Christian doctrine of angels, in my opinion, but it means theologians have to see the angels/aliens as having more authority delegated by God, and more technology to exercise that authority, than Christian theologians have ever considered up to this point.

  1. Let us suppose that today the governments of the world affirm that the ufological phenomenon is real, and has been occurring for millennia. Would that affect religions? And in what way?

In 2010 Richard Dolan and Bryce Zabel co-published a book entitled, A.D.. After Disclosure: The People’s Guide to Life After Contact. This book was written to answer the question, what happens in everything—politics, science, religion, education—after the governments of the world stop lying about UFOs?

I used their book as a guide to my book, Biblical UFO Revelations (2017), which focuses directly on the above question, how would government disclosure of UFO reality impact world religions? In what way? In my book, I focus entirely on the Christian response to disclosure, but I will make some preliminary comments about world religions in general.

I think Hinduism would absorb the news of alien presence with the least difficulty of all religions. Hinduism has traditionally been a polytheistic religion, with various gods functioning in different tasks. Vishnu is the creator God, but there is also a destroyer god. Hindus believe that gods can become incarnate in human form. Thus the idea that Jesus is the incarnation of God is not strange to Hindus, what is strange is that Christians should teach there is only one divine incarnation, instead of many. The idea of the incarnation of God is mostly forbidden from both a Jewish and Muslim point of view. For them God is too high and holy to take on human form.

How all these differences would mix with full UFO disclosure is indeed a serious question. Buddhism seeks enlightenment, which is a state of holiness achievable to some extent through self-denial and meditation. There are parallels between some Christian mystics and Buddhism. But in general, there is no theology in Buddhism, no understanding of God as in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The goal is to seek right living in this world. If there is an after life, we are more likely to be reunited with the “world soul” from which all human souls have come than to live with eternal self-awareness. There is no idea of individual salvation, as there is in both Christianity and Islam. Judaism is open to the idea of life after death, and individual salvation, but this idea is not part of Jewish Scripture. The idea of reincarnation, which has become popular in the West recently, is not the same as Christian and Islamic belief in resurrection of the dead. Eastern thinking supposes there is a chain of being or life, and whatever station you now have in life, it is “what you deserve,” and if you live well you will move up the chain, in each new incarnation, until you let go of your physical form, and join the world soul from which you came.

If governments were to announce that UFOs are real, we have been lying to you for over 70 years, what happens? The first religious response from all religious people would be one of anger at world governments, world authorities. They would suddenly realize that all the people they called “UFO kooks,” or “UFO nuts,” were the ones telling the truth. Religious leaders would realize the governments of the world have made them look like fools.

On the first weekend of the announcement, religious leaders of all kinds would be preparing remarks to respond to the news. And Jewish, Christian, and Muslim leaders would all say pretty much the same thing, “We are all shocked at the government UFO news, we realize that government leaders frequently lie, for what they call national security reasons, but this is a basic betrayal of the American people, which is supposed to be a government of the people and by the people. For us in our religious beliefs, God is still God, the holy Scriptures are still true, and we can all take comfort knowing that whatever evil, or good lies in our future, God will be our truth and our defender.”

Those might not be the exact words, but that would be the general direction. Dolan and Zabel suggest such an announcement would come on a Friday, after the stock market closed. Religious leaders would have little time to prepare a response.

And the media would first of all seek opinions from the scientific community, and political community. Did you know the government was lying? Do you think key scientists, who knew the truth, were paid to lie? Do you think the American government used “black budget money” to bribe newspaper and media people not to publish the truth?

But eventually the media would turn to religious leaders, and ask questions concerning the types of issues I have raised in The Bible and Flying Saucers and in Biblical UFO Revelations, not to mention dozens of articles and papers I have published. These religious leaders will be mostly unprepared to answer with the kind of conviction religious leaders like to have.

Did a UFO part the Red Sea?

Did aliens give Moses the Ten Commandments?

Was Jesus an alien?

Did aliens raise Jesus from the dead?

Was the angel Gabriel an alien?

Were the visions of Mohammed the result of alien contact?

Just a review of this list kind of makes one sympathetic to the government, maybe lying about UFOs was a good idea in terms of the religious impact telling UFO truth might have.

As Dolan and Zabel point out in A.D., there are many ways in which government disclosure might take place. They consider it unlikely that the governments of the world would tell us everything. They would treat us like lobsters in a pot, start us out in cool water, and turn up the heat.

If the government said, “We want to announce that the governments of the world have carried out a unified study of UFO reports, and we have concluded that some UFOs are indeed some form of advanced technology, not of this world. We suspect that these life forms have been visiting earth for thousands of years. At this time we do not know why they visit our planet, but it seems they only want to watch us, they do not want to land openly, or become involved in human politics or human affairs. They seem quite a bit more advanced than we are, both technologically, and socially, but they are willing to let us work out our life on earth together.”

If that were the announcement, what we might call a soft, warm first announcement, the religious shock would not be too great.

As we have already seen, one Roman Catholic astronomer suggested that if we were to contact aliens, we should baptize them. Protestant liberals would probably go along with this point of view, for Protestant liberals think that religion means getting along with everybody, no matter what they believe, or who they are.

At the same time, conservative Protestants would suggest that the aliens are either demonic, or Fallen Angels (as in Genesis 6), they are probably here to prey on human women, all the governments of the world should unite to oppose this evil.

Or the governments of the world might release a statement that would boil the lobster quickly. “We want to announce that after years of studying the UFO reports, we have actually made contact with the aliens, and we have good news. They are taking over, there will be no more wars, and they have the ability to monitor every human, every thought, every word we utter. There will be no more rebellion, no more stealing, no more murder. Furthermore, we have learned that the aliens have tried to bring about world peace, first through the Jewish religion, and then Christianity. They started the Jewish religion, parted the Red Sea, gave Moses the Ten Commandments. But this did not bring peace. Then they sent Jesus, who taught that we should even love our enemies. He was crucified for that kind of teaching. The world has been given the chance to learn to love as an act of freedom of our own wills, and we have rejected that chance. Now, we are going to have peace, whether we want it or not. The aliens have said so.”

I do not know of any government that would willingly make this kind of announcement, but if the aliens said that is our only choice, well, there we would be. That would boil the lobster very quickly.

I have to say that although I am in favor of UFO information being released, I also realize there are political risks, religious risks, in making this act of disclosure.

My hope has always been that enough UFO information could be released that religious leaders would begin freely to discuss what the presence of UFOs might mean for their religious traditions.

I think release of UFO information would have more radical consequences for the West as opposed to the East, it would be less shocking in India, China, and Japan, than in Europe, Latin America, and North America. What happens in the Middle East? I cannot even begin to guess.

Recent polls in the United States suggest that the fastest growing religious group is the “nones,” meaning those who have no religion. And a recent New York Times article found that according to a recent poll, people who believe in UFOs are less likely to be religious than those who do not believe in UFOs, and in reverse, those who are religious are less likely to believe in UFOs than those who are not religious. Would release of UFO information crush religious believers into unbelief? Would release of UFO information convert skeptics into religious believers? I have no idea.

But I do think if there is a way to put the lobster in the pot, and warm it gradually, that is better. Jesus once said to his disciples, “I have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.” (John 16:12) I think that wisdom applies to UFO disclosure.

  1. How does the Presbyterian Church view the UFOlogical phenomenon?

I will say right at the beginning, I do not know of any definitive Presbyterian Church (USA) view of ufology. I am pretty sure, given my own beliefs and publications, if there were such a view, someone would have told me.

What I can talk about is how I have been able to work as a Presbyterian Pastor, and still publish the views on UFOs and religion that I am known for, or to say the kinds of things that I have written in this Brazilian question and answer response.

I knew that the views I presented were not orthodox, and would offend many people. When my book The Bible and Flying Saucers was accepted for publication, the editor told me I was dealing with a far out topic, but I had treated the subject in an intelligent way, not a sensational way.

That is how I tried to conduct myself after the book was published. The timing of my ordination, and the publication of the book, may have been important. I was ordained on March 5, 1967, by the Presbytery of Susquehanna Valley. My book was not accepted for publication until June 1967, and published in April of 1968. I did not have to “confess” to the Presbytery (a Presbytery is like a Diocese, or Synod, in some denominations) that I was publishing a UFO book, because up to that time, my book had been rejected by several publishing houses.

Then when my book was published, the only way to “unordain me” would be to have a heresy trial. A heresy trial is very difficult, and rare. I do not remember a Presbyterian heresy trial in my lifetime.

On the other hand, if my book had been published before I was ordained, then members of the Presbytery could have stood up and said, “Do we want to ordain this UFO nut?” And I suspect the answer would have been “No.” One clergyman reviewing my book called it “kook book of the year.” And a minister in my Presbytery told me he thought I should be tried for heresy. He probably expressed his views with other clergy, but no trial happened, and I suspect that a few ministers read my book, saw that there was a clear biblical basis for many of my arguments, and where I was making scientific and biblical speculation, I made it clear it was speculation, or “wondering.” I happen to think being full of wonder is a perfectly good religious thing. [At the birth of Jesus, the shepherds told their story, “and all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.” (Luke 2:18)] In any case, a heresy trial would have been difficult, and there would have been a lot of publicity. I think wiser heads prevailed, and my fellow Presbyterians decided to let me float and see where I ended up.

I must say that my best clergy friend just hated my UFO work. He loved me otherwise, and I loved him. He had me conduct his wife’s funeral, and made me promise to conduct his funeral, which I did many years later. He made me promise not to mention UFOs at his funeral. So at his funeral I said, “Vince made me promise not to mention UFOs at his funeral, so I won’t.” Maybe Vince has forgiven me on the other side.

I became an assistant pastor of Northminster Presbyterian Church in Endwell, New York, in February of 1967. I became senior pastor of the same church in 1971. In the mean time, there was much public discussion in the church, and in the community, about my UFO work. Some Northminster members were offended, others were interested, but by and large, they understood that I had earned a Ph.D. degree in science and religion. I almost never talked about UFOs in my sermons. I preached in a traditional way from the Bible. So most church members saw my UFO work as a research sideline, and even though it is a little embarrassing, we can put up with it. I served Northminster for 34 years, retiring in February of 2001.

After retirement, I served as an interim pastor in several churches in Ithaca, New York, and in the Binghamton, New York area. By that time, I was seen as kind of tame, in spite of my UFO beliefs. I gave talks about my views to some area churches, but I was more likely to be asked to speak at a Rotary Club than a church.

One interesting fact is that I was asked in 1972 to become a religious consultant to MUFON, and to begin writing for MUFON publications. Walter Andrus, Jr., was the director of MUFON, and it so happened he was an ordained Presbyterian elder. In the Presbyterian system, there are three ordained positions: pastor or teaching elder, ruling elder, and deacon. The ruling elders form the Session, or board of directors, of each congregation. Each congregation sends a pastor and ruling elder to form a Presbytery. When I was ordained, there were about 50 congregations, spread over seven counties, in south central New York State, forming the Presbytery of Susquehanna Valley. It is the Presbytery that has the authority to ordain pastors. Elders and Deacons are ordained by the local congregation.

By and large I would say that my Presbyterian Church (USA) has handled my UFO work in the best way it could. Yes, people had the right to ask serious questions about my religious convictions. People had a right to wonder if I met proper Presbyterian standards for ordination. And anyone reading this question and answer article can see that I am exploring areas where there are few clear answers at this time. I wish that governments would release UFO information, if only for the selfish reason that I would then be able to say, “See, I am not such a kook after all.” But it might be that if I knew the whole UFO truth, I would not like that truth, for many reasons. So I have spent 50 years as a Presbyterian Pastor, and as a UFO researcher, looking for religious UFO connections. I am satisfied that my time has been well spent. Finally, of course, God has to be the judge of my life, not me.

Lee Speigel from the Edge of Reality interviews Barry Downing. (audio)

This is Lee Speigel’s Podcast Edge of Reality with Lee Speigel in his August 15th, 2019 episode in which he interviews Barry H Downing.

On this week's "Edge of Reality Radio," Lee Speigel will present the Rev. Dr. Barry Downing, a retired New York State Presbyterian minister, who wrote a groundbreaking book in 1968, "The Bible and Flying Saucers," with a follow-up 2017 book, "Biblical UFO Revelations." For more than 50 years, Downing has suggested how the UFO phenomenon was responsible for many events in the Bible. Downing will discuss his belief, and cite many examples, of how the angels of the Bible were, quite likely, extraterrestrials.