Originally from Revista UFO Magazine and later translated into Portugese
Barry H. Downing
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.