Are We All “Conspiracy Theorists” Now? An Orthodox View on the Meaning of UFO Sightings


Recently, major news outlets and government officials have begun showing an eerily uncharacteristic willingness to seriously report on and affirm UFO sightings. To cite just one example, Tucker Carlson showed 2019 video footage—the authenticity of which was confirmed by the U.S. Defense Department—of pyramid-shaped objects flying over a US warship. If we assume that no country has the resources or technological know-how to devise such vehicles, then we’re effectively left with three explanations for these aerial phenomena—all of which are unavoidable “conspiracy theories.”

The first explanation is that these are fake (perhaps computer-generated or altered) images of supposed UFOs, created in order to divert our attention from current and controversial political developments. This is a “conspiracy theory” in the most literal sense of the word, for it holds that something is “the result of a secret plot by…powerful conspirators.”

The second explanation is that these vehicles are operated by extra-terrestrial beings. Along with the soon-to-be-discussed third explanation, this is a “conspiracy theory” in the more conventional sense, whereby people invoke the word in a lazy attempt to discredit any explanation that attributes a phenomenon to a cause beyond our planet or nature, itself. The theory is dismissed not because of some commitment to science—although many will certainly attempt to cloak their philosophical assumptions in scientific garb—but because of human arrogance. That is, many of us refuse to believe anything that can’t be directly proven by our beloved methods and instruments or fully understood by our finite minds.

The third and final explanation is one with which most people today, especially in the West, are unacquainted, and is the one to which I am partial. Any Christian familiar with Church history, and particularly the lives of the Saints, is aware of the reality of spiritual beings that manifest themselves in deceptive ways. I may have been a victim of such deception, myself (as were, I’m afraid, many of the people to whom I recounted the following experience).

One night, years ago when I was a lecturer in Vermont, I witnessed a bright round white-light hovering fifty yards or so above the roof of my home. At some point, it shot straight up into the sky without making a sound, and then it completely vanished. My first instinct, of course, was to interpret this event (which would likely be classified as a CE-1, or Close Encounter of the First Kind) as an alien encounter. However, the writings of Fr. Seraphim Rose of blessed memory have forced me to reevaluate my assumptions. In his highly prescient book Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future, he stressed a distinction between “observations made of UFOs” and “the interpretation which people give their (or others’) observations—the former could be real, and the latter a ‘fairy story’ or a myth of our times” (p. 85, italics included). (I came to realize that my own flawed interpretation rested on post-Christian myths propagated by contemporary science fiction.)

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What I found especially instructive were the illustrations that Fr. Seraphim provided of demons—the head of whom, we mustn’t forget—“masquerades as an angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:14)—appearing in different forms in order to sow confusion and draw people to perdition. UFO sightings are simply another—and, in our secular culture, increasingly common—mode in which the demons attempt to beguile us. He quotes St. Symeon the New Theologian: “‘The struggler of prayer should quite rarely look into the sky out of fear of the evil spirits…who cause many and various deceptions in the air’” (p. 112).

Perhaps the most sobering aspect of Fr. Seraphim’s analysis is the eschatological significance that he attached to these aerial phenomena (see pp. 110-112), which he interpreted in light of yet unfulfilled prophecies of “fire from heaven” (Rev. 13:13) and “terrors and great signs from heaven” (Luke 21:11). In other words, the increased frequency of UFO sightings may be a sign that we’re approaching the end of time.

Two important lessons can be learned from the recent spate of UFO sightings. First, we should think twice before arrogantly dismissing a particular explanation with buzzwords like “conspiracy theory”. In this specific instance, we’re all, in one sense or another, conspiracy theorists, regardless of the explanation to which one subscribes. In becoming more humble, we may discover that the world is a far more interesting—if dangerous—place than we previously imagined.

The second, and incomparably more important, lesson is that it’s time to be spiritually vigilant. “The UFO phenomenon,” Fr. Seraphim explained, “is a sign to Orthodox Christians to walk all the more cautiously and soberly on the path to salvation, knowing that we can be tempted and seduced not merely by false religions, but even by seemingly physical objects which…catch the eye” (p. 113).

Dr. Amir Azarvan


Bogdan6/2/2021 9:44 am
This is another way the deception might come, through a modern lie called The Simulation Theory, which seems to easily accept the existence of a Creator, but seriously distorts His identity: (God and Quantum Mechanics: Is the Material World Truly Real? Is the Entire Universe Just a “Simulation” in a Supercomputer? An Eastern Orthodox Christian Interpretation.)
Utrecht5/17/2021 8:45 pm
St Gabriel of Georgia, 1929-1995 said: "During the Antichrist times, the strongest temptation will be anticipation of salvation from the cosmos, from humanoids, extraterrestrials that are actually the demons. One should rarely look up at the sky, as the signs might be deceptive and thus one may be ruined." UFOs have by coincidence gotten more advanced as our secular technology does - that should be a nice clue that this is nothing new, they've always tried to trick us. Many many non-Orthodox are "awakening" to deceptions of the world, but spend their entire time on watching UFOs and other manifestations of "weirdness" in reality - our Saints tell us in the last times, that even if we recognize at a mind-level "this is the work of anti-Christ" we WILL NOT be able to resist if our heart is not purified in the struggle for Christ. These poor people have no tools from prelest or demonic manifestations which tell them "you are a prophet" or "you have been found worthy to see us, warn others the angels are coming" and all sorts of terribleness - just how pure do I think I am, to be counted worthy to hear directly from Christ Himself and His angels? Terrible tricks! Many Orthodox don't even believe in demons anymore, as if our Lord and God Christ is a liar in His Scriptures and casts out demons and foul spirits. Perhaps we should "censor" the bible for those of secular "sensibilities?" Maybe you, who disbelieve in demons are being tricked. In Fr Seraphim Roses' book The Soul after Death, he contrasts secular near-death (clinically dead, as well as resusitating) with Orthodox Saints and teachings. This is the same delusional spirit of a "being of light" to "comfort" people. It is filled with Saints from the earliest times on these experiences and demonic manifestations, and is not some new teaching which people would like to chuck out the entirety of the Church Fathers, and living Saints of Christ. Karl Jung went insane with his Red Book full of Occultism - yes, the Soul after death does find that people according to type and culture will see "what they are prepared to see" but only at the surface level of the nearly-dead. Karl Jung professes that Christ and our most Holy Theotokos are "merely archetypes" and we should "argue with our Shadow" (a demon) - avoid his blasphemy, and look to our Saints. Afanassy, this was not Fr Seraphims "teaching" this is our earliest Saints and Church Tradition - it is the Church, which is the Mind of Christ - God, is outside of time - He is not "caught offguard" by UFOs, He gave us tools to already discern these things. Do not think hollywood fantasy which has incredible ties to the military and Freuds brother and father of "black psychology" to control the masses is telling you some truth that our Saints were "not aware of."
gerald french5/15/2021 4:49 am
Glory to God !
Fr William Bauer5/15/2021 2:41 am
Psychiatrist Karl Jung wrote about UFOs and concluded that images of things seen by psychotic people tend to follow the secular world. Used to be that such people saw Maidens or monsters. Some hear things in audio, some hear and see TV-like things. some see flying saucers which resemble the advancements of the age.
sherlock_holmes5/14/2021 9:10 pm
Herman has a valid point of view. We should ignore all this UFO stuff ,nothing good can come out of it. I remember though reading Isaac Asimov, Stanislaw Lem or Arthur Clarke ( when young of course...) but we were in communism then, no books by Seraphim Rose.
Basil5/14/2021 2:41 pm
Herman, can't it be both/and? Sure, there's US govt. psyops taking place, but does that mean that demons do not manifest to people and try to deceive them? Were the encounters of the saints and desert fathers with demonic entities a psyop?
sherlock_holmes5/14/2021 7:56 am
More honorable than the Cherubim, and more glorious beyond compare than the Seraphim, without defilement you gave birth to God the Word. True Theotokos we magnify you!...Due to the growth of evil and the entry of the worldly spirit into the church, devils are allowed to appear on "Facebook" with their ugly faces. They are also preparing the world's unique religion,fake messages and wonders and the appearance of the Antichrist. The illusion of immortal life on earth through genetics and the "help of beings superior to man" have no other purpose than to isolate and separate mankind from our Lord Jesus Christ. More than ever, we should humbly read the Holy Scriptures and the books of the saint Seraphim Rose.And let us follow the path of the saints, martyrs and confessors of our beloved orthodox Church,Lord help us !
Herman5/14/2021 1:47 am
I get so tired of hearing the "UFOs are demons" thing. Fr Seraphim posited this as a possibility back in the 1970s when he wrote his book. Since that time (nearly 50 years) we have evidence that shows conclusively that the so-called "UFO phenomenon" is nothing but a psy-op. It's just fake photos and stories disseminated by the OSS/CIA, the JPL/NASA, and the Defense Department (among others). As such, people hear these stories, think about them, and perhaps they "want to believe" and fall prey to their own faulty senses - hence the numerous stories of people that "saw Bigfoot" or "saw an alien"... no, you didn't. There are lights that you may see at night because we have airplanes and buildings, and military vehicles, etc. etc. This is why people have been "seeing UFOs" since the 1950s - when the US government began conducting the psy-op. And the reason for this is not merely "to divert" people's attention away from politics and war (that's what football and TV is for), but to engage in a social engineering program to get people interested in nonsensical ideas like colonization of space, transhumanism, acceptance of technocratic control over society, reinforcing the evolutionary Darwinian concept of the progress of man, etc.
Afanassy5/13/2021 7:50 pm
What the author here and Fr Seraphim Rose (of Blessed Memory) may not fully have realized is that "BOTH" or "ALL" may be the answer. YES, they are extraterrestrials; and YES they are in the Bible; and YES some may be evil (demons); and YES others my be guides and overseers like the "Watchers" in the Book of Enoch. This all may be far more complex than we can imagine now. But that's fruitless speculation at this point. This summer, the US Government will finally disclose all of its reports and information on UAP (Unidentified Aerial Phenomena). Let's see what's in it. Perhaps then we'll get a better glimpse into what God has laid out for us. Hold off on more speculation and judgment for now, and be good scientists waiting for the data... ============================
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