To review (again) the purpose of this thread, I suggested at the outset that there were four aspects to the Christian fundamentalist view of UFOs and aliens (i.e., that UFOs that are not man-made or other natural phenomena are demonic and alleged alien life forms are demonic). They were:
1. Abductee testimony of the forcible trauma of their experience.
2. The similarity of abductee testimony to early Christian (and otherwise) reports of demonization.
3. The similarity of abductee testimony to the events described in Genesis 6:1-4 (and other ancient Jewish texts).
4. A belief that the events of Genesis 6 (and so, an alien presence) is a specific touchpoint in New Testament teaching about the Second Coming (or, for many, the notion of a rapture — which is not the same as what is broadly thought of as the Second Coming).
In the previous two posts (here and here) I overviewed the first two items. That brings us to the third: The similarity of abductee testimony to the events described in Genesis 6:1-4 (and other ancient Jewish texts). The passage reads (ESV):
1 When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, 2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. 3 Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” 4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown.
This passage really is a focus of the Christian fundamentalist view of the alien abduction phenomenon, not UFOs per se. As such, that’s where my focus will be. One other note. This whole discussion is inherently theological / metaphysical. It presumes the existence of a spirit world that can interact with our own. As such, there is nothing empirical about the discussion. If you are a secular materialist, the whole treatment will sound very odd. Just bear with it (but if you’re honest with quantum and multi-verse theory, you should have no theoretical problem with it).
Correlating the alien abduction phenomenon with Genesis 6:1-4 depends almost entirely on taking the literal view of the events described in the passage. That is, there is no room for the “Sethite View” of the passage (the sons of God = the godly male line of Seth; the daughters of men = the ungodly females from the family of Cain).
The overt sexism of the view notwithstanding, this view has held sway in Christianity since the time of Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD). Augustine cannot be credited with its invention, but he is certainly the major figure promoting it.
The Sethite view was not interpretation of the ancient Jewish community or the first few centuries of the early Christian church. The original interpretation within the Old and New Testament, the Second Temple Judaism, and the first few Christian centuries was that the sons of God were divine (angelic) beings, and that those beings, having assumed human flesh, had sexual relations with human women. The story (and more broadly, the idea) of divine-human cohabitation is a very ancient one, shared in some form by practically all the ancient Mediterranean cultures, and even cultures outside that region. For those interested, the history of interpretation of this passage has been chronicled in two recent scholarly works:
There are a number of correspondences between the Genesis 6:1-4 narrative and the alien abduction narrative–the witness testimony of those who claim to have been abducted by aliens. Readers should understand as we look at these correspondences that the Christian fundamentalist view is *not* based entirely on comparing alien abductee testimony with the biblical version of Genesis 6:1-4. Rather, abductee testimony is compared to both the biblical description and other ancient Jewish re-retellings of the Genesis 6:1-4 episode, most often that in the book of 1 Enoch. Let’s start with the biblical material’s points of correspondence:
1. Both narratives have strong sexual content.
2. Both narratives involve sexual content between humans and non-human intelligences.
3. In both narratives, unusual or noteworthy offspring are the result (nephilim; hybrid children).
It may surprise readers, but that’s it. The biblical version tells us about the cohabitation. Despite what many say, there is no hint in Genesis 6:1-4 of certain ideas that one will find in Christian fundamentalist comparisons of Genesis 6:1-4 and alien abduction. Here’s what isn’t in Genesis:
1. We are never told the cohabitation was evil.
2. We are never told the sons of God were fallen or evil.
3. We are never told that what happened was in any way related to Satan.
4. We are never told that the cohabitation was what precipitated the great flood of Noah. Rather, the blame is placed squarely un humanity (Gen 6:5).
5. We are never told the sexual relationships were violent or against the will of the women involved.
6. We are never told the offspring are evil.
7. We are never told why the nephilim were considered great and renowned (or notorious).
So why the sinister perspective? The answer is simply that there is material outside Genesis–some in the Old Testament, some in the New Testament, and a good deal outside the New Testament in Jewish religious literature, that witnesses to nearly all these items. In other parts of the Old Testament, the nephilim are explicitly linked to later giant clans who are the enemies of God’s people, Israel (e.g., Numbers 13:30-33). It is the New Testament (2 Peter 2 and Jude) that explain these angelic beings sinned in what they did, making the act a clear transgression of divine will. It is 1 Enoch (and a few other texts) that links this episode to the origin of demons. 1 Enoch explains that God had to order the nephilim giants killed, and when they were eliminated, their spirits were the demons. The fallen angels responsible for the original deed also sinned by teaching humankind a range of forbidden arts and technologies. This is also cast in the story as a violation of divine will in that it allowed humanity access to divine knowledge. This is a familiar theme in biblical theology–that, while God’s intent is for humans to be like him (his imager and co-ruler), God has his own plan for making humanity like himself–humans must not seek “to be as gods/God” apart from the plan of God.
Alien abductees regularly receive messages that echo some of these items. Here are some familiar ideas that can be found in virtually any compilation of abductee testimony:
1. The goal of producing hybrid offspring is to save humankind through greater intelligence, or vault humanity upward in its evolution.
2. The goal of the sexual harvesting from abductees is to study humanity and make preparations for a mutual co-existence. This co-existence will involve technological trade-offs.
3. Some abduction encounters report that the “procedures” are carried out by lesser beings, while superiors might be present. Some of these communicate sinister motives and care little about the abusive context. There is a sense of “wrongness” or evil with respect to the experience on the part of the human experiencer.
It isn’t hard to see the overlaps between the narratives. It could be said, with some justification, that alien abduction narratives are basically 21st century technological re-tellings of a Genesis 6-like scenario. That is precisely the Christian fundamentalist position. This measure of coherence is why I can agree with this perspective.
However, there are disconnects between the two. Some I have already hinted at. Others include:
1. In *all* the Judeo-Christian texts, the original offending sons of God (now fallen) were imprisoned until the end time. If they are under divine judgment, they cannot be doing this now.
2. It is assumed that the demons, the spirits of the dead nephilim, could repeat this activity. But that’s just it – that’s an assumption.
3. There is no New Testament passage or ancient Jewish text that matches the most frequent description of the alleged ET beings (or the alleged demons either). There is one text among the Dead Sea scrolls that might describe a Watcher (the Enochian term for the fallen sons of God and demonic spirits) as serpentine. The New Testament has no such description for a demon. There is the serpentine being of Genesis 3 (the Fall in Eden), but the Bible makes no explicit connection between Genesis 6 and Genesis 3. One point of possible congruence is 1 Enoch 19:1 and 2 Cor. 11:14, which, respectively, have the demonic spirits taking many appearances and Satan being able to appear as an angel of light. One can quibble about whether an alien grey looks serpentine, or whether it would anyone think of an angel, but Christian fundamentalists active in this arena would remind you that alien beings take a variety of appearances, at least one of which (the “Nordic”) would be quite parallel to descriptions of angels (in or outside of Genesis 6).
4. While abduction literature is replete with the aliens trying to either seduce or force humans to “want to be as gods,” both the Old Testament and New Testament do not tie this idea to Genesis 6. For sure it is viewed as evil, but this motivation is missing. 1 Enoch is the source that contains this element, and so there is a disconnect between the Bible and 1 Enoch here.
Other disconnects could be offered, but these are the major ones.
It should be apparent that, given the evil, abusive nature of the abduction experience I outlined in the first two posts, the points of overlap with Genesis 6, which all the ancient sources have as a transgression of the divide between humanity and the divine, are sufficient for many Christian fundamentalists to accept a correlation. The case is also propelled by the messages other contactees receive, which are often very anti-Christian in the sense that they directly pillage and redefine key points of Christian theology. This amalgamation, despite its disconnections, is what prompts a visceral, negative view of aliens from the interested Christian community.
Next up: how all this becomes part of end times for many Christian fundamentalists.