Many religious texts mention encounters with the divinity. The revered beings usually make their appearance in a display of blinding light, strong winds and trembling earth. The human they chose to reveal themselves to is oftentimes awestruck, shaken and humbled by the encounter.
It is safe to assume that these texts have suffered modifications throughout thousands of years of oral and written history. During long periods of time, words change or lose their meaning. Texts are accidentally or willfully destroyed, from a scroll ruined by moisture to the entire Library of Alexandria burning down. This way, an accurately descriptive text could transform into an allegorical story riddled with metaphors, much like the result of a game of Telephone played for millennia.
Religious texts have been interpreted in many ways but what can we find when looking for specific things? Well, for starters many condemn the practice of selective interpretation, especially when it applies to certain areas of the Bible. But bear with us for a while, we’re not going that way. First, we need to take a look at the religion of the island of Tanna in Vanuatu. This is a relatively modern and documented case of a process that probably first occurred thousands of years ago.
In the first years of World War 2, over 300,000 American troops were stationed on the island and they brought with them an enormous amount of supplies. The local villagers were thrilled at the prospect of receiving gifts they had never seen before. They were so upset when the Americans left that they built ceremonial landing strips so they would return. The villagers developed a ‘cargo cult’ and even began worshiping a figure called John Frum ( a corruption of the form John from America) that they believe will one day return, bringing plenty of supplies with him.
Retold sufficiently enough times, this story would undoubtedly morph into a legend. Oral history tends to add symbolism and remove objectivity. In the future, the villagers of Tanna will probably tell the tale of John Frum, a tall white man who came from the skies with his kin, in their polished metal birds that thundered and spat smoke and flames.
Applying the same logic, what do or religious texts really tell? Should we simply regard them as symbolic tales or should we view them in a different light?
The first chapter of the Book of Ezekiel is often mentioned as proof of ancient encounters with extraterrestrial beings. The priest Ezekiel describes how he saw the spirit of the Lord and he does so in a very interesting way.
“4. And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a great fire unfolding itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the color of amber, out of the midst of the fire.”
“5 Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man.”
“7 And their feet were straight feet; and the sole of their feet was like the sole of a calf’s foot: and they sparkled like the color of burnished brass.”
“8 And they had the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides; and they four had their faces and their wings.”
The book goes on describing the chariot of God, which included the four living creatures and moved as a whole. Beside each living creature was a “wheel within a wheel”; they were “tall and awesome” and full of eyes all around. This isn’t by far the only description of the Lord’s ‘Spirit’ found in the Bible. The Book of Exodus describes Moses’ encounter with God on mount Sinai in similar terms.
Asian and South American religions all have similar accounts. Are all of them just fables or are we taking it too far when we assume some of them describe genuine meetings with extraterrestrials? Until physical evidence proves beyond a doubt one hypothesis or the other, only speculation exists. But it’s up to every one of us to believe what we want.