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Avatar Aspirations

Sci fi helps create an alternate belief system

Avatar movie review

This week’s feedback comes from Pat K. who objected to positions raised in Dr Carl Wieland’s review of the science fiction movie Avatar, which at the time of writing has become the highest-grossing movie of all time. CMI’s resident UFOlogist (and CMI–US’s CEO), Gary Bates, responds.

I would like to begin, by saying that this was a good review of the movie. Obviously a lot of thought and research went into it. I really enjoy when someone does something well, don’t you?

Indeed. Carl Wieland has been involved in the origins issue for most of his adult life. As such, it has given him a great perspective of the underlying human condition and how it relates to such an issue. In short, he has a great grasp of popular culture. However, I wonder whether you realized your own inconsistency right off the bat with regard to what follows in your letter. On the one hand, you compliment something that you seem to think was well researched and thought out. But then you go on to ridicule same simply because it did not agree with your own (as I hope to show, and with no disrespect intended) ill–conceived belief system. I hope to show that, unlike the article you commented on, your own views had little of the in-depth research that the article demonstrated.

I would also like to address the comments streaming in that touch on how ridiculous the notion of ‘life on other planets’ is, or the idea that nature creates as opposed to God being the only being capable of such feats.

For many years, I have researched the area of UFOlogy and the question of life on other planets, and met with people who hold strongly to these beliefs. I have come to understand why many would feel disappointed and even depressed at the idea of there being no intelligent, sentient life elsewhere in the universe. Sociologists like Gerald Eberlein have shown what underpins such wishful notions.

“ … research has shown that people who are not affiliated with any church, but who claim they are religious are particularly susceptible to the possible existence of extraterrestrials. For them, UFOlogy [the study of UFOs] is a substitute religion.”1

As you demonstrate later in your letter, you actually display this same religious belief in your desire for aliens to be true—and with no observable scientific basis for same. UFOlogy can actually act as a complete replacement theology for Christianity, and indeed, any major religion. As I showed in my book Alien Intrusion: UFOs and the Evolution Connection, such beliefs replace God with aliens as mankind’s creators; have various messiah-like connotations of older, wiser and benevolent aliens coming to save/rescuemankind from itself, and even ‘raptures’ of various groups of humans by aliens in their technologically advanced spaceships, taking us away to some utopian-type planet somewhere (eschatology).

I personally find it discouraging—and a bit depressing—when I notice the unequal treatment afforded by the media (and people in general) to UFO believers on the one hand, and on the other, to those who believe in an invisible supreme being who inhabits the sky.

I would respectfully disagree with this assessment. Today, the media are actually much more sympathetic to the idea of such UFO beliefs than to the traditional concept of an all-powerful creator God. The ‘hurt’ you display is typical for someone who feels their beliefs are being marginalized. If you were to say that “two plus two equals four” and I replied that it equals five, you would likely feel less hurt, because you could easily demonstrate from mathematics that I was wrong. In short, my position would be less worrisome because the facts would be on your side. However, in this area of origins and even religion neither one of us can ‘prove’ our beliefs, and this is likely why you profess hurt. You are suggesting that the idea that benevolent aliens have evolved has equal validity with belief in a Creator God (which was a traditional view for many years). Skeptics and atheists try to imply that ‘science’ (as in their belief in evolution) is demonstrably true and therefore people who believe in a divine creator are wrong based on the facts of science. However, you should read It’s not science.

Especially as the latter belief applies to the whole Jesus-Messiah-Son-of-God belief. You may have noticed that, in the media, UFO believers are usually referred to as buffs, a term used to diminish and marginalize them by relegating them to the ranks of hobbyists and mere enthusiasts. They are made to seem like kooks and quaint dingbats who have the nerve to believe that, in an observable universe of trillions upon trillions of stars, and most likely many hundreds of billions of potentially inhabitable planets, some of those planets may have produced life-forms capable of doing things we can’t do.

Actually, ‘buff’ is quite a charitable term. It can refer to an expert or an aficionado. If I were called a UFO buff (and I have been) I would not be offended. It would imply that I have done my research even though my own conclusions would differ from the majority of other UFO buffs. But once again you are displaying an ill-informed view of what the majority of the media and indeed the populace would generally believe, which is there is life on other planets. This, however, is not science, because it is an extrapolation of a foundational belief or presupposition that life evolved on Earth. Such a belief is then extrapolated to the rest of the universe. The size of the universe is irrelevant. If life cannot and does not evolve by chance then it cannot and will not evolve anywhere else. Therefore the idea of life evolving on other worlds is purely in the realm of belief.

On the other hand those who believe in an eternal, all-powerful being, a being who demands to be loved and adored unconditionally and who punishes and rewards according to his whims are thought to be worthy, upright, credible people.

It’s always a shame when people take the time to write an email to our website, seeming to engage in meaningful discussion, but then end up hurling invectives at straw men of their own making. The Bible’s big picture explains, and you would have to agree, that you are a sinner. That is, you have the propensity to do wrong things. The problem with having this sin nature is who it is you sin against. You might think that, for example, that any malicious thoughts of ill-will to your fellow man you harbour (and your letter is not without them) are minor by comparison to, say, killing another human being. But whose standards are you using to judge same? If it is your own then that is a subjective manmade standard. If the majority of people determine what’s wrong or right, can that determine truth for us? What if the majority decided that UFO-believers should all be put in prison? You would not agree and therefore conclude that the majority is wrong. It all gets terribly subjective. The problem is that we all sin against the One who has the ultimate authority to determine what is right or wrong—the very One who determined the laws of physics that govern our universe. If your sin causes you to fall outside of the standards set by the Creator then it immediately separates you from Him and His plans for His Creation. If God is Creator then He has a right to say what happens with it and also establish the rules. You might not like that, but it is your choice to accept this or not. Moreover, God did not leave us alone without information about Him so there is no need to concoct all sorts of elaborate fantasies to avoid the true history of the universe as described in the Bible.

  1. His Creation speaks of design—that there is an ultimate Creator (Romans 1:20). Unfortunately, a very contrived philosophy (evolution) seeks to replace God as the Creator. This belief system aptly fulfills what the Bible actually spoke about in Genesis when referring to man’s sin nature. That is, mankind seeks to be only accountable to itself (“You shall be as Gods” = humanism). Ridiculously, a subset of this evolutionism is that aliens might be our Creators. One cannot have it both ways, however. Ironically, the ‘alien creators’ view actually acknowledges that there is design in biological systems, but mankind’s pride refuses to acknowledge the rightful Creator, instead attributing design to non-observable, non-testable ‘alien’ forces.
  2. Sin, death and disease indicate to us that there is something wrong with this Creation. The Bible explains it as the Fall of man and the subsequent curse that fell on the whole creation. In other words, mankind is living with the universal consequences of its sin, and therefore the bad things that happen to us should serve as a reminder that all is not well with our world. Evolution seeks to explain this away as a survival of the fittest ordeal to account for death, suffering and bad things in general. Moreover, if aliens are our Creators and they used evolutionary processes to create biological organisms, this would not make them very benevolent creators towards us. It would be a very inefficient, wasteful and cruel process to use.
  3. There can be no higher calling or purpose to our existence than to find out who one’s creator is and why we exist in the first place. Jesus came to Earth to demonstrate God’s love and compassion for us, because we were condemned and suffering the effects of our own sin. This is a love story of cosmic proportions:

    “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. … But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”Romans 5:6,8.

Hebrews 1:3 explains that:

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.

In other words, when you look at Jesus you will see and understand the very nature of God (as if He were in the flesh). And what did Jesus do? He healed the sick and fed the hungry. He advocated love, forgiveness and acceptance. Why would anyone not accept this message? The Bible explains why: “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” Proverbs 16:18.

The bad news is that you will die one day and there will be nothing you can do to prevent that. What can you do to save yourself? Obviously, the answer is nothing (unless you have some hope that aliens you’ve never met will come and take you away because you chose to believe in them). Yet, now through death, because of what God has done through Jesus, you have a way to escape an eternal death, receive eternal life and be reconciled back to your creator. So, I can’t help but wonder what problem do you actually have with Jesus who sacrificed himself so you could partake in this gift?. Why would you speak about such a benevolent gesture in such a disparaging way? After all, believing in unseen aliens is fraught with risk, unlike believing in Jesus as the Saviour. After all, only the Genesis Creator of the universe can have the power to save you anyway.

This, in spite of the large numbers of believers who are clearly close-minded fanatics.
To my way of thinking, there is every bit as much evidence for the existence of UFOs as there is for the existence of God. Probably far more. At least in the case of UFOs there have been countless taped and filmed–and, by the way, unexplained–sightings from all over the world, along with documented radar evidence seen by experienced military and civilian radar operators.

Sorry to be blunt, but this is wishful thinking. There is not a shred of indisputable evidence for you to state such a thing. It demonstrates that you have a belief system in play that interprets such sightings as being alien craft. What we see are lights, shapes and other phenomena that when carefully researched do not display the characteristics of real physical craft. Even the world’s leading secular UFO researchers like Dr J Allen Hynek (a former US government researcher into UFOs) and Dr Jacques Vallee have shown how they display supernatural characteristics not in keeping with beings or craft of a corporeal nature. In addition, there has been over 40 years of official investigations into the UFO phenomenon under Projects Sign, Grudge, Bluebook and the later Condon Report. All showed that there is no evidence to support the notion that the phenomenon is extraterrestrial in nature. However, I suspect that you would not even accept this due to the nature of your comments in this letter, and that is, that everyone seems to be against the truth as believed by the ‘true’ UFO-believers like yourself.

In addition, the testimonies of those who claim to have had alien encounters, abduction experiences and so on, mention the terror and trauma of their experiences. Psychologists have shown they often suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome. So much for being the highly evolved, benevolent aliens that they claim to be.

This does not even begin to include the widespread testimony of not only highly trained, experienced military and civilian pilots who are selected for their jobs, in part, for their above-average eyesight and mental stability, but also of equally well trained, experienced law-enforcement officers. Such pilots and law-enforcement people are known to be serious, sober individuals who would have quite a bit to lose were they to be associated with anything resembling kooky, outlandish beliefs. Nonetheless, they have taken the risk of revealing their experiences because they are convinced they have seen something objectively real that they consider important.

Agreed, but the sightings are not physical evidence of extraterrestrial beings. Please see our response to astronaut Ed Mitchell’s claim about such things. The reason most of this phenomenon is interpreted as spacecraft from other planets is due to the dominant cultural overlays that impact our thinking. For instance, science fiction is the most popular entertainment genre and it mostly depicts these benevolent alien themes. This coupled with, and emerging out of, a belief in evolution occurring all over the universe, causes people to believe in such things. The UFO phenomenon is indeed increasing but this can also be attributed to the expectation and acceptance of such things—like opening a doorway to potential deception. If they are not really highly evolved aliens from other planets, then what are they you may ask? If you are serious about obtaining an informed view with all the facts available—and not just the ones that seemingly fit the alien view, then I seriously recommend you obtain a copy of Alien Intrusion: UFOs and the Evolution Connection. The latest edition is the fifth printing. In the modified foreward I wrote:

“In the 2005 original printing, this book was the sum of my thoughts and research into the phenomenon after many years of investigation. Since that time, and because of this book, that research has widened and intensified due to the many people who contacted me after reading it. It has also increased the opportunity to rub shoulders and compare notes with other concerned UFOlogists. As a consequence, it has provided an excellent first-hand ‘test bed’ of research—a proving ground, if you like, upon which the conclusions in this book can be tested. I am able to verify that nothing in the intervening years since the initial publication has caused me to alter my views on what is actually occurring.”

If you do read it you will see how the real-world hard evidence of experiencers fits a deceptive supernatural explanation of these phenomena, in keeping with the Bible’s account of such things.

All of these accounts are ignored by the media.

I’m sorry but you are not correct in this assumption. I regularly write articles in response to such media claims. The Ed Mitchell one just mentioned case in point. Also see my review of the movie The Fourth Kind, which was a serious attempt by the media to support the idea of alien visitations and alien abductions.

Granted, the world of UFO-belief has its share of kooks, nuts and fringe people, but have you ever listened to some of these religious true-believers? Have you ever heard of any extreme, bizarre behavior and outlandish claims associated with religious zealots? Could any of them be considered kooks, nuts or mentally prone to delusions? A fair person would have to say yes. But the marginal people in these two groups don’t matter in this argument.

I particularly agree with your last statement, so why mention what preceded it then? Overall your comments tend to display the characteristics of victimization and emotional pleading to try and support your case. At the end of the day you have not offered any physical evidence to support your view that many UFO sightings are indeed spaceships from a galaxy far, far away piloted by highly evolved aliens. Why has no one brought back a towel from the bathroom or any souvenir from a contact or claimed abduction experience aboard an alleged spaceship? Your reference about extreme views on both sides is not really relevant to the discussion. Who is focusing on the claims of kooks, as you put it? Not us! My book and the research of CMI mainly deals with the views put forward by serious scientists in the realm of the origins discussion. And it is dealt with by our own well-qualified scientists.

What matters is the prejudice and superstition built into the media coverage of the two sets of beliefs. One is treated reverently and accepted as received truth, the other is treated laughingly and dismissed out of hand.

Once again you are resorting to emotional arguments. A belief in life on other planets is a mainstream view as supported by actual polls. Also read Hosing down the hype. Your view is not a minority view despite your claims to same.

As evidence of the above premise, I offer one version of a typical television news story heard each year on the final Friday of Lent:
“Today is Good Friday, observed by Christians worldwide as a day that commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, whose death redeemed the sins of mankind.”
Here is the way it should be written:
“Today is Good Friday, observed worldwide by Jesus buffs as the day on which the popular, bearded cultural figure, sometimes referred to as The Messiah, was allegedly crucified and—according to legend—died for mankind’s so-called sins. Today kicks off a ‘holy’ weekend that culminates on Easter Sunday, when, it is widely believed, this dead ‘savior’—who also, by the way, claimed to be the son of a sky-dwelling, invisible being known as God—mysteriously ‘rose from the dead.’ According to legend, by volunteering to be killed and actually going through with it, Jesus saved every person who has ever lived—and every person who ever will live—from an eternity of suffering in a fiery region popularly known as hell, providing—so the story goes—that the person to be ‘saved’ firmly believes this rather fanciful tale.”

I’m not sure how this is relevant to the discussion except that you seem to have some personal issue with God, and seem to be playing a tit-for-tat type of game because you feel that your own UFO beliefs are marginalized. They are not, so it seems that you want ‘everyone’ to share your own beliefs. I am not trying to be rude but I have to frankly express that the comments you just made are very ignorant about who Jesus is and the many other writings that testify to His existence. If you seriously took the time to review the many articles we have on this site (which you should have really done before firing off this email to us) you will see that there is a wealth of historical evidence to support the personhood of Jesus Christ, his miracles (which can only be performed by a supernatural creator), and the fact that He rose from the dead—witnessed by hundreds of people. And please note that there are sources other than the Bible that testify to this. He is real, and He is who He claimed to be as demonstrated by the power that He showed while in human form. Our so-called alien benefactors do not openly reveal themselves, and they brutally terrorize people by stealthily abducting them in the middle of the night. Oh well, Jesus did say “By their fruit you will recognize them” Matthew 7:20.

That would be an example of unbiased news reporting.

That’s a remarkably unbiased statement in itself—don’t you think (not!)?

Don’t wait around for it to happen. The aliens will land first.

Your religious belief is being portrayed for all to see here, which explains why you display such an antagonism towards ours and anyone else that dares criticize your beliefs.

We all know that Hollywood will cater to their target audience whether they be young or old, science fiction fans or no. If you buy a ticket, you are no doubt seeking entertainment. I believe entertainment is the entire purpose of these films.

But these same films are highly influential and they tend to set popular belief about such things. Although you criticize them you display the fruits of their influence with your comments about aliens landing first etc. So I am not sure why you think your own particular view as a ‘true believer’ is any different to the popular view. Your belief that aliens inhabit the universe just because it is so large and evolution is true, is the most popular lay view about extraterrestrials too.

They are entertaining, and you are willing to pay money for entertainment. If you don’t want to pay to see a stripper, don’t go into that bar. And certainly don’t stand outside of it and encourage others to not enter. You are not God. And God has not commissioned you to do so.

I’m really not sure what point you are trying to make here—sorry.

If you truly want a peaceful world where people do not fight, let people do what they are going to do (within reason and within the law) and leave well enough alone. Live and let die. Them, and you with your crazy ideas.

People often fight because of their sin nature and because they get upset when people don’t subscribe to their own views (sound familiar?). You want a peace-loving world yet wish us dead because we don’t agree with your views, which are therefore massively inconsistent—a trait demonstrated throughout, unfortunately. We have been commissioned to inform people about an alternative view of origins—one which most have not ever heard before. Then they are free and able to make an informed decision about this important issue. No one is forcing that upon them or you; in the same way, you are free to accept what Jesus has done for you or otherwise. If you don’t agree, then why admonish us anyway? Perhaps the Bible has something to say about that as well. Romans 1:21.

Published: 26 June 2010


  1. Erdling Hallo, “Ufologie,” Focus 45:254. Return to text.

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