Monday, November 25, 2019

UFOs, RUFOs, and UAPs

Since 1947 when the “flying saucer” craze first impacted public awareness in a significant way, many books and articles have been published, numerous radio and television specials have been produced, and much interpersonal discussion has been generated. Waves of sightings have occurred periodically. Almost everyone has been a party to these discussions at some point during their life. People are asked, “What is your opinion on flying saucers?” The first reports of these phenomena were popularly described as flying saucers after a famous 1947 sighting in Washington State. Historically, many unidentified phenomena throughout history were described as “saucer-like.”

What do we mean by saucer-like? This is only one description of UFOs. Their shape may be saucer or disc-like. But UAP (unidentified aerial phenomena) is a term from a more modern perspective. The phenomena have appeared in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. Some hover; others maneuver at impossible speeds. They have also acquired a wide variety of explanations—inspection and/or invasions by extraterrestrial beings, intrusions from foreign military powers, or evidence of clandestine military research technology from our own military. Errant human perception, faulty description, or hallucination rate as possibilities. Personal opinions regarding UAPs vary widely. The spectrum of belief is wide, indeed.  

Some people do not believe in UFOs for a variety of reasons. Even residual UFOs (RUFOs—those UFOs left over after doubtful sightings are explained away) are subject to question by skeptics who are still in denial concerning these mysterious occurrences. Statistics concerning public belief in UFOs can be confusing. For example, 56% of Americans think UFOs are real. 60% of Americans think human activity or natural phenomena are responsible. About two-thirds of Americans believe the US government is hiding information from the public. Half of those believe alien spacecraft are responsible for the hiding.

In the US 16% of the population has “personally witnessed what they thought was a UFO. 84% have not. 20% of the population in the western US make this claim, while only 12% of easterners have claimed to witness an unidentified flying object. Regionality, therefore, is significant. UAPs seem to gravitate toward population or military centers. We offer a preliminary caveat to our discussion: Apparent surveillance by UFOs so far does not equate to “foreign” conquest. To date, our planetary societies have NOT been threatened or attacked.

An internet search reveals multiple articles on UFOs and their history. Many accounts of UFOs are credible, still unexplained, and occurring throughout human history. Since the modern flying saucer craze began in 1947, many more credible reports have occurred, sometimes in clusters. Among many famous figures who have offered their opinions have been Allen Hynek (1910-1986) and Jaques Vallée (b. 1939). Hynek became convinced of an IDH, an “interdimensional overlap” with our familiar dimensions. Vallée has spoken of “other dimensions beyond space/time.” Early UFO researchers were more convinced of the ETH, the extra-terrestrial hypothesis which proposed that visitors from other planets or locations beyond our solar system have discovered methods of traversing enormous distances from outside Planet Earth using advanced space travel technology. 

With passing time it now appears that the IDH (interdimensional hypothesis) holds more promise from a scientific perspective. Another term for the IDH is supernature, or the supernatural. In future posts we will address further IDH and supernatural hypotheses. In the past several years even government agencies have publicly admitted that RUFOs are real—a vastly more explicit admission than at any time in the past. Our blog will deal with these revelations in future posts.

There are multiple explanatory hypotheses for UAPs. There exists an abundance of opinion to match the hypotheses. Skeptics may insist that UFOs are manifestations of natural phenomena such as reflections, unusual temperature inversions, cloud formations, or even flocks of birds. A reasonable or logical explanation for an unusual UFO sighting commands support from a variety of interested  parties.

Let us conclude with two accounts from Northern New Jersey where I lived and worked for nearly fifty years. The first account is reported to provide comic relief from concern over the serious subject of UAPs. A famous hoax was perpetrated in 2009 in Morris County which fooled thousands of local residents and was reported widely on local and national television. The hoax was even reported on a program produced by History Channel—“UFO Hunters.”

Two young men assembled, ignited, and launched highway flares at night on fishing line attached to large helium balloons. On five occasions over several weeks in January and February 2009 they launched from five to nine red flares. The sightings, visible over a wide area, astonished people in Morris County and around the country. Many local and national mainstream media reported it. It has been described as “the biggest hoax ever covered by the mainstream media” by Reddit. “UFO Hunters” deleted their program soon after the hoaxers confessed and documented their activity in detail. Wikipedia has a lengthy article on the “Morristown UFO Hoax.” Curiously, the 2002 volume by Hugh Ross, Kenneth Samples, and Mark Clark—A Rational Christian Look at UFOs and Extraterrestrials described in some detail that “…less than 1% (of UFOs) have been shown to be hoaxes…..The most common type of UFO hoax is a prank balloon, which involves tying a flare or candle to a helium-filled balloon. On rare occasions elaborate hoaxes have been perpetrated, necessitating a more extensive investigation.” Did the hoaxers use the Ross book, published seven years before their prank, as a source for their ideas? We do not know.

The young men were fined $250 and sentenced to fifty hours of community service. They later noted “If a respected UFO investigator can easily be manipulated and dead wrong on one UFO case, is it possible he’s wrong on most (or all) of them?” The hoaxers passed off their prank as a “social experiment” but stated they would do it all over again. 

The other event took place in 1952 a few miles west of Morristown during the height of a number of eastern US sightings, many around Washington, DC. I was a teenager who had digested many UFO reports. After dark I spotted a very bright light near the southeast horizon, barely moving. After observing the slowly ascending light it disappeared behind a row of trees. When it reappeared it was barely visible much higher in the sky moving very rapidly. At no time was any noise generated. My next door adult neighbor also reported seeing the phenomenon the next day, his description matching mine almost exactly. Had I observed a UFO? Perhaps. 

Dr. Hugh Ross states in his closing chapter that, “If one takes the extradimensional hypotheses to mean that entities could come into the universe from a spiritual realm, one can see a remarkable coincidence between science and Scripture.” We strongly recommend reading the Ross volume for its thoroughgoing treatment of the RUFO/UAP phenomenon from a sound Christian perspective. 




Saturday, November 16, 2019

Of This World?

When the Scientific Revolution commenced roughly 400 years ago, humans began to seek more rational explanations for everyday phenomena. Scientific methods of observation, experimentation, measuring, hypothesizing, and testing replaced theory and philosophy which were prominent in previous centuries. Modern scientific methods have advanced, to the benefit of humanity.

Scientists have justifiably experienced a feeling of power and self-enablement as they made thousands of important new discoveries. Man has unveiled and explained multiple realities in the world of nature. Scientists claim they study only “natural” laws. Concepts deemed to be “supernatural” are often declared to be off-limits for study and analysis in the world of professional science. Discoveries made by scientists, however, have monumentally benefitted the human race even if many scientists are unmotivated or uninspired by supernatural divine realities. Many scientists do not believe in God, but their research and discovery skills in the physical world have proven to be a treasure.

Until now our posts have never addressed the topic of UFOs (unidentified flying objects). As  studies of these phenomena progressed, a new acronym appeared—RUFOs (residual unidentified flying objects). The term refers to those UFOs left over after all others have been explained away. Currently an even more novel acronym—UAP (unidentified aerial phenomena) is in common use. This moniker de-emphasizes their apparent similarity to the heavier-than-air flying machines built by humans in the past 150 years. Hugh Ross, Kenneth Samples, and Mark Clark published a book on UFOs in 2002, Lights in the Sky and Little Green Men, subtitled A Rational Christian Look at UFOs and Extraterrestrials (Navpress). The provocative title may betray the seriousness of their topic but the subject matter is, indeed, serious. Their volume has been extremely helpful in identifying the physical and spiritual significance of these phenomena.

Residual UFOs have been analyzed by many experts. Ross, Samples, and Clark cite several well-known studies. Astronomer and ufologist Jacques Vallée highlights 23% of UFO incidents that “…could not be identified as having any possible natural or human-devised source.” Astronomer J. Allen Hynek generally agrees with this figure. Some researchers put the number of genuine reports at less than 20%, but none reports the number as zero. All serious reporters on UAPs point to the credible reality of strange objects in the sky which disobey firmly established physical laws.

We conclude by citing one characteristic of RUFOs (or UAPs) which puts them into the category of fascinating, strange, mysterious reality. The category is called inertia negation. Inertia negation would permit physical objects possessing mass to act as if they were of lower mass or even massless. Scientific technology does not exist today to achieve inertia negation. Neither is such technology envisioned in our foreseeable future. RUFOs, however, are able to accelerate to multiples of hypersonic speed in a mere second of time and are able to make impossibly sharp turns. We leave many other characteristics of RUFOs for future discussion.

There is but one explanation. Supernatural phenomena exist as well as natural. Supernatural phenomena exist beyond the realm of natural phenomena. Natural physical laws govern almost all human experience. God is in ultimate control of both realms—the natural, and the supernatural. The topic of RUFOs or UAPs is an appropriate topic for discussion in the faith community. In future posts we will examine surprising revelations of the past few years, diverse discoveries on the subject, and their theological concomitants.       


Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Astronomy--Extraordinaire or Mundane?

We conclude our short series of posts on astronomy phenomena with a few more cosmic wonders we have experienced in the past few decades. Interest in astronomy varies in our population along a spectrum. Some have extraordinary interest in astronomy; others find the topic dull or lacking in excitement—one definition of ‘mundane.’ A majority of folks may fall in the middle of the interest spectrum: They become especially interested when media publish noteworthy current or future astronomical events.

Some may perceive virtually all astronomical phenomena as extraordinary, including the daily trek of the solar sphere across the heavens, the moon phases and stages which gradually change throughout the 29.5 day lunar month while the satellite revolves around its parent planet, or the steady change in lunar position each day of the lunar month. Observers who find daily or monthly motions of the sun and moon extraordinary no doubt revel in statistics of sunrise/sunset and moonrise/moonset times by the clock. These times are predictable many years in advance, one of the many indicators of a precisely ordered, divinely authored physical cosmic system.

Our ancestors spent thousands of years observing the sky before the invention of telescopes and modern visual media. Telescopes and modern instructional devices such as power point and video have curtailed direct study of celestial phenomena. Photography, video, and descriptive/explanatory literature have negated some of the necessity for original, personal discovery in astronomy. These discoveries have already been made and are accessible with little effort on our part. To repeat a well-known phrase, however—“There’s nothing quite like being there.” In that spirit we described our experiences with meteor showers and evening/morning star watches in our last two posts. There are many other in-person experiences to share with readers. Most of them did not require astronomical telescopes, desirable as they are. We recount many interesting in-person experiences…..

1997 Comet Hale-Bopp was visible for many months. Visiting Earth’s environs after the less spectacular Hyakutake in 1996, it may have been the most viewed comet of all time. Its blobs of ice and dust had a diameter of 19-25 miles according to NASA; other estimates report the nucleus to be even larger. It was easily visible in the evening across North America. I offered an optional “comet watch” for my students on the school soccer field. This comet’s large quantities of ice and dust occasionally emitted jets of gas as it rotated and exposed its surface to the sun. That phenomenon could explain the visible jets spiraling closely around and away from the comet on the night we observed it through a telescope. One personal family highlight: My father, age 88, viewed Hale-Bopp a few days later at his home through an Astroscan telescope. His eyes were failing from macular degeneration!

1997 In September of 1997 newspapers announced a good opportunity to spot the seldom visible Planet Mercury. Venus and Mercury were set to rise almost simultaneously from the eastern horizon on September 19. Again we offered an optional viewing opportunity to watch the two planets rise minutes apart from the clear, dark horizon. Simple as it was, the experience became “A Moment of Worship.” Read more details of this early morning, pre-dawn, “get up very early” experience with this link:

1997 Several hours later as students began to arrive on early school buses, we trained the district’s Astroscan telescope toward the southeast. The sun had risen, but we located the planet Venus through the telescope…in broad daylight!

2010 The Livingston (Wisconsin) meteor flashed across the sky on the evening of April 14, 2010. It created a stir of excitement as many meteorite hunters converged on the area hoping to find a piece of the meteor, a small chunk of ancient rock from outer space. That ‘chunk’ may have weighed several hundred pounds. It disintegrated and largely vaporized from the intense heat generated by its entry into our atmosphere. It was a clear night. We mistook the several flashes of light illuminating our living room window for an approaching thunderstorm. The next morning media reported that the flashes were caused by the disintegration of a large meteor. A few meteorite fragments were found. Livingston is 38 miles to our north. Read in more detail:

2014 In 2014 and 2015 there was a rare series of four consecutive total lunar eclipses. The rare series is termed a ‘tetrad.’ Total lunar eclipses are not especially rare. The second tetrad eclipse ended as the moon set in our western skies. Lunar tetrads, however, are unusual. None occurred from 1600AD to 1900AD. The account of the second lunar eclipse in the tetrad is recorded here:

2015 The Supermoon lunar eclipse of October 2015 created substantial public attention. It was the last lunar eclipse in the lunar tetrad. It enjoyed the superlative “super.” Memories of this lunar event remain with us because of the noticeably larger size of the lunar body. More details for readers follow:

2015 Sometimes grandchildren provide their grandparents with opportunities for meaningful sharing of nature’s wonders. When children return the favor by making prudent observations about their natural surroundings, their forebears are pleased. So it was when our grandson offered his observation that a configuration of the Moon and Venus looked like a “Semicolon in the Sky.” Read further:

2017 Saving the best for last: I had made the assertion many times that prominent on my bucket list would be an in-person witnessing of a total solar eclipse. We invite you to share our joy at this “Everest Experience:”

When we observe the extraordinary wonders of astronomy we are often struck with an emotion of worship. Our worship is not for nature itself. Neither do we worship the astronomical bodies nor the natural laws that govern the movements of those bodies. Rather, we worship God Himself who created all things, authored natural laws, and sustains all things from moment to moment. Jeremiah 33:25 is often cited as a theologically prescient scientific concept. The prophet lived 2700 years ago. He cited God’s “…covenant with day and night and the fixed laws of heaven and earth…” Surely the ordinary daily, mundane movement of physical heavenly bodies as well as their extraordinary movements are governed by divine fixed laws originating from the Creator.