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The Gospel from Planet X: Why Aliens Ignite the Imagination

These boogeymen from the stars make us afraid of ourselves.

by
Walter Hudson

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May 16, 2013 - 2:00 pm
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Editor’s Note:

Check out Walter’s previous articles in this ongoing series Thursday mornings exploring video games, cultural villains, and American values at PJ Lifestyle. From May 2: “Beating Back the Nazi “Sickness,” and last week: “What Zombies Teach Us About Human Nature.” And also see Walter’s A Reason For Faith series, reprinted last week here. In these four articles Walter begins to formalize his task of synthesizing the Judeo-Christian tradition with Ayn Rand’s Objectivism and Tea Party activism.    -  DMS

In one of the most vivid dreams I can recall, I witnessed the landing of a plainly alien spaceship. It came lucidly, dancing on the edge of wakefulness, informed by enough of my rousing consciousness that it felt particularly real. I remember the feeling that my feet were glued to the ground, that I couldn’t move if I wanted to, not on account of some external force, but due to an overwhelming sense of awe and anticipation. The one thought dominating my mind: everything is about to change.

Though it was only a dream, I retain the memory as vividly as though it were of an actual experience and believe I will respond similarly if ever confronted by a true interplanetary delegation. Something about that kind of moment, when the veil lifts upon an existential mystery, produces an irresistible thrill. Perhaps that tops the list of reasons why our popular culture remains ever fascinated by the prospect of extraterrestrial life.

Aliens have become such a prolific device in our entertainment that we sometimes take them for granted. Like a modern deus ex machina, aliens can be relied upon to suspend disbelief in an otherwise inconceivable scenario. (How does Superman fly? Simple, he’s an alien!) Extraterrestrials rank alongside Nazis, zombies, and generic terrorists as the most common villains found in video games. Unlike those others, however, aliens may also be allies. Nothing inherent to extraterrestrial life demands it be villainous. Beings from other worlds often act as mirrors for examining the human condition, when not merely lurking among shadow and neon strobe.

It’s probably no coincidence that the advent of ufology, which is an actual word in the dictionary meaning the study of unidentified flying objects, coincides with the initial proliferation of aviation and the early years of the space age. We began to look up into the sky right about the time we realized there was nothing left to find over the horizon. In times past, when the known world was still defined by the flickering edge of torchlight, we imagined unspeakable monsters much closer to home. Spirits, ghosts, goblins, ghouls, fairies, vampires — all were the alien invaders and abductors of their time. As we have come to dismiss them as infeasible and childish, our imagination turns to the stars, where the realm of possibility remains seemingly infinite.

Certainly, we can see how aliens have stepped in to fill the role of menacing ghoul. Ridley Scott’s original Alien was essentially a horror film, a science-fiction creature feature. While the execution was masterful, the formula proved well-established and has been revisited ever since.

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Top Rated Comments   
"It would be fascinating if a storyteller came along to craft a new kind of alien tale, one where the truth of human nature was affirmed.”

May I commend to your readers Larry Niven’s and Jerry Pournelle’s FOOTFALL?

Would make a hell of a movie, especially the launch scene of an Orion pulse-rocket.

OOPS, never mind. The story shows nuclear weapons in a positive light.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (28)
All Comments   (28)
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Liberal theology is incapable of holding Christian cynicism with Christian hope because it doesn’t recognize any real difference of historical and theological humanity. It doesn’t think we have any access to the condition of humanity at the beginning. All we have is a primitive etiology that has been disproven by sophisticates who can switch on electric light
Peter Leithart
tHe atheist materialist became the losers when they know longer believed the earth was the center of the Universe. Why is the earth the center of the universe? This is because of who we were who we are and we will be even if it takes an eternity figure of speech. And all the "aliens" are so far more advanced they ALL remain an incih away from your nose and the ancients had eyes to see this. Rub elbows with atheist stories and Christain become their puppet on the strings just like the atheist but believe the atheist are smarter thus why the christian willing to carry their bucket of deception
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
footnote

Matthew 4:11

"Then the Devil left Him, and immediately angels came and began to serve Him. "
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
And I would add the massive presumption that we would be able to see, understand, communicate or even recognize each other, or care about each other. The way ants and fish don't know or care about each other. With the caveat that God could create commonalities if he so desired.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
The near impossibility of space travel needs to be addressed too. I love Star Trek cruising at warp 9, oh good! So much better than the old days! Now it will only take 80 years to reach the next planet rather than 120!
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
"It would be fascinating if a storyteller came along to craft a new kind of alien tale, one where the truth of human nature was affirmed.”

May I commend to your readers Larry Niven’s and Jerry Pournelle’s FOOTFALL?

Would make a hell of a movie, especially the launch scene of an Orion pulse-rocket.

OOPS, never mind. The story shows nuclear weapons in a positive light.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
Frost: Hey, I sure wouldn't mind getting some more of that Arcturian poontang! Remember that time?

Spunkmeyer: Yeah, Frost, but the one that you had was a male!

Frost: It doesn't matter when it's Arcturian, baby!
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
Now read Exo-Vaticana. Long story short: Aliens have been around forever(ish) and their behavior matches that of demonic entities. Believe it or not, it's a compelling read that answers a lot of questions -- including why the US military stopped years of the German archeologists' excavation of Uruk in Iraq just when they found Gilgamesh's tomb (Gilgamesh being the myth reportedly based on Nimrod's life).
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
All religions except Christianity offer works for salvation, or you can be your own god.

The New Age, UN, world system religion of Lucis Trust prays during full moons for the return of Superman. Also, known as Tammuz, the rebirth of the Sun god to lead this world system. There is even a European rebuilt tower of Babel the Common Market meets in with an empty seat for said individual. Seat 666.



47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
"It would be fascinating if a storyteller came along to craft a new kind of alien tale, one where the truth of human nature was affirmed. Certainly, we’ve had our fill of aliens preaching against our rampant consumerism and crimes against the environment."

John Ringo writes a series about how humanity was conned into being the galaxy's foot soldiers (with a group of aliens reminiscent of the UN) and end up becoming the most powerful force for good in the known universe. Likewise, he writes a series where aggressive collectivist aliens attempt to nationalize our solar system. In this case, human ingenuity (like turning an asteroid into a giant space fortress) wins the day. He writes another near future series where politicians gave up the war on terror and allowed our enemies to win. Left behind are a group of soldiers who end up single-handedly saving the middle east from itself and leaving democracy and freedom in their wake, all while simply trying to get back home.

Niven and Pournelle wrote a book where global warming alarmists won and convinced the world to give up technology for the sake of saving the environment. Then a new ice age came (instead of the dreaded global warming) and humanity did not have the technology to deal with the cold. They wrote a book where the end of the world came in the form of a comet and the people left gathered into camps. The right to moderate gathered into feudal like gatherings, trying to hold on to some semblance of civilization, while the leftists gathered into cannibalistic tribes.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
I've read reviews of A Case of Conscience, a Hugo award-winning novel written in the 50's by James Blish. It sounds like it may be what you're talking about.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
"...a world of global warming, crushing poverty and the threat of war. In the face of real challenges to the long-term human future..."

Some guy back in the Bronze Age probably spent his days fretting about exactly the same stuff. Well, except the global warming. He probably thought about the horrible droughts we've had lately or those damn locusts.

Life on Earth has always been perilous, always will be perilous. So far, we've survived everything by doing what we do - invent stuff.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
And you're right - the Bronze Age guy probably prayed for God to come and fix everything the way some people today (without God) pray for aliens to come and fix everything.

It's like apocalypticism - the desire for the current, troublesome world to be destroyed & replaced by a perfect one. Or - I'm not sure what it's called - the desire to be swept away and taken to Heaven (or a reasonable substitute). The main theme is, all your troubles are over once and for all. No more struggle, no more frustration, no more disappointment - no more suffering. ALL religions offer that consolation. Including the "UFO religion." The Raelians wanted to fly away to a new, better life on a comet/spaceship.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
But don't forget that "science", due to modern micro-biology and without the ability to accept some form of Intelligent Design looks to aliens as the creators of life on Earth too. See Prometheus or Stargate
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
"ALL religions offer that consolation."

Unless you're reincarnated as an ant or a housefly.
45 weeks ago
45 weeks ago Link To Comment
NO mention of the aliens in "Mars Attacks"?

I'm outraged!
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
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