What The Lunatic Fringe Got Right!

Title: What the Lunatic Fringe Got Right!
Text: Jeremiah 33:3, Colossians 1:16, John 1:14
Time: October 4th, 2012

Somebody once said that it’s hard, if not impossible, to be completely wrong about something. In other words, by sheer chance, even the farthest out, strangest, most lunatic fringe people do on occasion get some things right. Why am I talking about this? Where am I going in today’s message? Let me explain. For the last few years I’ve found it interesting to watch some of the documentaries shown on the History Channel, especially a series that’s been going for about three years called, “Ancient Aliens.” The basic premise of the documentary series is based on author Eric Von Daniken’s book “Chariots of the Gods,” where he basically argues that earth has been visited by extra-terrestrial aliens in the past who have shaped our religion and culture. The documentary series, now coming up on it’s fifth season, gathers together so-called experts in the field of UFO research and presents what they call evidence for alien intervention on earth. It’s pretty interesting because they try to explain some of the most mysterious questions that mainstream science can’t answer. For example, how were giant megalithic structures built by primitive civilizations using only Stone Age tools? How was the great pyramid in Egypt built? How was Stonehenge in England constructed? These and other ancient projects seemingly require advanced engineering and equipment not available to early man. The “Ancient Aliens” series tries to show that extra-terrestrials had a hand in building them. What about all the present day UFO sightings? How can these be explained? Mainstream science says that all apparent UFOs are naturally occurring phenomena, such as weather balloons or so-called “heat inversion,” for example. But the “Ancient Aliens” series tries to demonstrate that these are authentic visitations by extra-terrestrials. Even though I’m unconvinced that aliens have, are, or will visit planet earth, even though I’m unconvinced that there even are extra-terrestrials around anywhere, I’m still interested in seeing what the different arguments are for and against aliens. Now even though most of the so-called evidences and arguments for extra-terrestrials are so far out and so outlandish that it’s almost laughable, I find it interesting that on occasion, sometimes, these presenters actually get a few things right as far as the truth. As a Christian, I take as my starting place for truth the Bible, and I find it interesting that sometimes even these far out lunatic fringe presenters actually get it right. For example, in just three areas, they appear to get things right. First, they are correct that mainstream science doesn’t always have all the answers, that there is still a lot of mystery in the world that science cannot explain. Second, they get it right that evolution couldn’t have happened the way Charles Darwin described it as an all-natural process without any outside intervention. Third, they happen to speak the truth also when they argue for some outside intervention on planet earth, that human history cannot be explained entirely by looking to man himself, that something has influenced earth from outside earth. Let me explain what I mean.

First, they are correct that mainstream science doesn’t always have all the answers; mystery still exists. Jeremiah 33:3, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” While I don’t buy most of the wild theories and baseless speculations of the so-called “ancient astronaut theorists” who appear on the History Channel’s “Ancient Aliens” series, I must admit that they are right about one thing when they keep saying, “Mainstream science doesn’t have all the answers.” There is still plenty of mystery left in the world. There are still a lot of unanswered questions on earth that science hasn’t even begun to address. For example, take the modern day phenomenon of so-called “crop circles” found first in England near Stonehenge, but later discovered all over the world in farmers fields. We’ve probably all seen the pictures in the newspapers or magazines of strange markings and shapes found in the middle of fields. How did these strange patterns get there? Who made them? What made them? If you sift out the obvious hoaxes you are still left with a large number of unexplainable occurrences. What are these things? Well, the UFO people will say this is an example of ET visitation. While mainstream science can’t yet explain how crop circles happen; most scientists say they are all a hoax or there is some natural explanation yet unknown. But this really isn’t an answer, it’s a guess. The fact is, nobody really knows what creates a crop circle; it’s all a mystery even today. Yet, science is often taught in the schools as if all the mystery and wonder of the world is explained. For example, the theory of evolution supposedly answers all the really big questions about life on planet earth. Yet if we dig deeper than the over-simplistic text-book scientific answers taught in schools we’ll find that the theory really doesn’t answer all the questions, or even most of the questions. For instance, how did life come about on planet earth. Mainstream science will usually explain that some chemicals reacted in just the right way in the ancient past on earth and produced the first living organism, and from here everything else developed. But does mainstream science really know this happened? No. There is no truly scientific explanation as to how life started on earth. Yet it is explained as if we know how. This is false. Mainstream science is often guilty of claiming to know far more than it actually knows. Scientists are guilty of being overconfident in their own theories, of being overly dogmatic on debatable issues. So in this respect, as Christians, we can agree with the UFO people that mainstream science doesn’t have all the answers. For once, the fringe people get it right.

Second, they get it right that evolution couldn’t have happened the way Charles Darwin described it. Colossians 1:16, “For by him all things were created; things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible.” Now according to the Von Daniken and his followers evolution cannot explain how man developed into the intelligent being he is today. Now in typical odd and far out fashion, they explain that evolution may have happened up to a point, say, up to the development of early apes, monkeys or chimpanzees, but in order to get modern man a genetic manipulation had to occur in the DNA that couldn’t have occurred naturally. They say extra-terrestrials had to intervene and genetically engineer modern man from primitive apes. They argue that a natural progression couldn’t have produced that rapid development we see occurring that produced modern man. So in this way they argue against the Darwinian theory of a long, natural, incremental evolutionary development from one kind to another leading up to modern man. They claim this couldn’t have happened on its own; only alien intervention can account for modern man. Well, as Christians we definitely can’t buy into the far fetched notion that space aliens intervened to manipulate DNA on earth, but we can agree with the ancient alien presenters that evolution, as Darwin explained it and as mainstream science defines it, couldn’t have happened. But it’s not just the lunatic fringe that argues evolution didn’t produce modern man, there are also respected and credible scientists that claim that life on earth couldn’t have come about through simply natural development, but rather that primitive life came to earth from outer space in comets. Francis Crick, co-founder of the DNA spiral, argued that there isn’t enough time for life to arise on its own on earth, so it must have come from outer space to earth. And other leading scientists think the same. This also contradicts Darwin, who supposed that life arose in a chemical reaction on early earth. Still other respected scientists have argued that evolution couldn’t have produced modern man through small, incremental changes, but rather somehow it had to seemingly all-at-once through some unknown process. This also contradicts Darwinian evolution. As Christians we should not jump on the bandwagon of evolution just because mainstream science holds to it. While we definitely want to steer clear of the lunatic fringe alien astronaut people, but we should recognize that they are in this case voicing a problem with the theory of evolution and we appreciate their criticism of it. A purely natural process from one-celled ameba to modern man simply doesn’t make sense. Yes, it’s the mainstream scientific dogma, but it doesn’t add up. And it’s being criticized more and more today. We shouldn’t be shy in criticizing evolution either.

Third, they happen to speak the truth also when they argue for otherworldly visitation on planet earth. John 1:14, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Of course, this passage in the New Testament is talking about the visitation of Jesus Christ to the earth in order to save us from our sins. But in a technical sense, Jesus’ coming was, if you will, an extra-terrestrial encounter. The Son of God came from outside this planet to the earth to save mankind from its sins. But it isn’t just Jesus who came from heaven to earth, because angels have been intervening on earth for thousands and thousands of years. So in a strange kind of way, Von Daniken and company are right that our planet has been visited by beings from another world. God and his angels have been interacting with humans on earth for thousands of years. What is this if not an alien encounter. Of course, God isn’t an alien in the sense the UFO people are arguing. They think that aliens are coming to earth from another planet. They claim that in the ancient past that extra-terrestrial astronauts have visited earth and interacted with human and so impressed the earthlings that they were described as gods and worshipped. They claim that the basis for all religions is some form of extra-terrestrial encounter. This, of course, is absurd. But it isn’t all wrong. For example, the basis for the Christian faith is an encounter with God through Jesus Christ two thousand years ago in land of Israel. This was truly an extra-terrestrial encounter, but not of the kind Von Daniken and friends imagine. This was a true spiritual encounter with the flesh and blood Jesus who came from heaven and returned there afterwards. Mainstream science tries to explain all of human history as simply mankind advancing and developing by itself, through itself. Science tries to explain all religion as man-made. This is false. Only through the intervention of God can human history be properly understood and explained. So in a sense, the lunatic fringe of the UFO people, are actually closer to the truth than mainstream science taught in public schools. Human culture is not solely the product of humans interacting with each other and their environment; it’s partly the product of human contact with God and spiritual forces. After all, there are the spiritual powers of good, for example, God and angels, and the forces of evil, Satan and demons. All of these factors must be taken into account to give an accurate explanation of mankind’s development in history. Mainstream scholarship and education are wrong in excluding the influence of God on mankind’s culture.

I think what we see happening today is a move by the part of average people away from a blind trust in science or the government, and a move towards thinking out these questions personally and making up one’s own mind. UFO people claim that the government has lied about covering up information on unidentified flying objects in the sky; and they are partly correct. Who can doubt that there have been cover-ups in the past? UFO people have also grow skeptical of mainstream science dogma taught in public schools and elsewhere. They sense that much of it is propaganda. And again, who can doubt that some of what passes for credible and mainstream science is overly dogmatic and overly simplistic? As Christians we’ve already encountered the propaganda of mainstream science in respect to the theory of evolution taught to children in schools. We’ve already seen how guarded consensus science is about its cherished belief in evolution. It’s nearly impossible to find honest criticisms of evolution taught anywhere, although there are many good and solid critiques found in the academic world. For many intellectuals and leaders in our modern, secular world today, it’s comforting for them to believe and propagate the idea that all there is is nature alone. They are bothered by the idea that there might be unaccountable forces and personalities out there that don’t follow the predictable laws of nature. That’s why many scientists are bothered by the mere idea of God – he’s not accountable or controllable by the laws of nature. But it’s the same with the entire spiritual reality. For some people, it bothers them to consider that they can’t predict, control or manipulate everything by learning natural laws. It bugs them that they might be watched by silent, invisible beings called angels, or that God might judge them one day for their actions good and bad. They’d much rather have a rational, logical, understandable universe where they are the pinnacle of intelligence, or at least mankind is in charge of things. But with God and his reality, humans are put in their proper place — and that bothers a lot of people. We don’t need aliens or extra-terrestrials to understand our human history or find meaning and purpose in life; we have God to give us these things. But on the other hand, we can’t simply dismiss God and force fit reality into a rational, natural explanation, like Darwin and mainstream science tries to do. As Christians, we must reject both the Von Daniken explanation of things, and the mainstream scientific explanation of things as well. We must look to the Bible and hear God’s explanation of things. Only then do we have any hope of really figuring things out.

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