Joel Freedman

Joel Freedman

Harvard University astrophysicist Avi Loeb publishes a book, “Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth.” A May 10, 2021 issue of The New Yorker includes an article titled “How the Pentagon Started Taking U.F.Os Seriously.” The National Academy of Sciences goes on record to affirm that contact with extraterrestrial civilization “is no longer something beyond our dreams, but a natural event in the history of mankind that will perhaps occur in the lifetime of many of us.”

Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid reveals, “The federal government all these years has covered up (important information about UFOs), put brakes on everything, stopped it.” A group of U.S. Senators are briefed by Department of Defense officials regarding UFO sightings by Navy pilots, raising once again the question of intelligent life in our midst. And people have revealed accounts of having been abducted by extraterrestrial aliens many years after the event because they initially feared how others would react to their stories.

Is there intelligent life beyond Earth?

In “Chariots of the Gods?” Erich Von Daniken angered both religious fundamentalists and evolutionists with his theory that long ago our planet was discovered by extraterrestrial explorers. The “man” of those times was no homosapien but something much different.

The extraterrestrials impregnated some females of this species and departed. Thousands of years later, “space travelers” returned and found scattered specimens of the genus homosapien. They repeated their breeding experiments again and again until they produced creatures intelligent enough to paint pictures on cave walls, to discover tools and pottery and to establish communities. The extraterrestrials wanted to pass on their intelligence, but genetically programmed homosapiens to acquire this knowledge gradually through the centuries, eventually enabling people to, like our extraterrestrial ancestors, colonize other planets in the universe, Von Daniken concluded.

Another controversial book, “The Day After Roswell,” by Col. Philip J. Corso, a former Pentagon official, revealed the U.S. government’s UFO coverup of the 1947 crash of an unidentified aircraft in Roswell, N.M., which included recovery of the bodies of alien beings. Corso also revealed his personal stewardship of alien artifacts from the crash and how these artifacts changed the course of 20th-century history. He described how the devices found aboard the Roswell craft became precursors for modern integrated circuit chips, fiber optics, lasers and super-tenacity fibers.

In recent years, the History Channel has featured several documentaries supporting extraterrestrial influence in humans’ affairs with additional evidence provided by scientists, engineers, archaeologists and theologians.

In the 21st century, an orbiting NASA telescope has found whole new worlds outside our solar system; at least 54 of them are potentially life-friendly planets.

Pope Benedict XVI acknowledged the possibility of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe — a belated vindication of the rebellious priest Giordano Bruno who, in 1600, was burned at the stake by the Inquisition for “heresies” that included his belief that there might be intelligent beings outside our own planet.

In 1561, when Bruno was 13 years old, residents of Nuremberg, Germany, reported strange, unidentified flying objects battling over the skies of their town. These events were chronicled in the local newspaper — the first time such happenings were recorded in public records. Living in Italy, Bruno was probably unaware of what happened at Nuremberg.

Von Daniken observed that “it is impossible and incredible that the chronicles of the Mahabharata, the Bible, the Epic of Gilgamesh, the texts of the Eskimos, the American Indians, the Scandinavians, the Tibetans and many, many other sources should all tell the same stories — of flying ‘gods,’ strange heavenly vehicles and the frightful catastrophes connected with these apparitions — by chance and without any foundation. They cannot all have had the same ideas all over the world. The almost uniform texts can stem only from prehistoric events.”

My own belief in intelligent life throughout the universe doesn’t alter my belief that the God of my understanding is the highest spiritual power in the universe who has entered my heart and life in ways I consider miraculous. Since I believe one of the reasons God sent Jesus to our planet was to convey God’s love and compassion for all sentient beings, I also believe Jesus may have traveled to other places in the universe for such purposes.

As for the belief of many people that except for our planet the rest of the universe is devoid of intelligent life, the logic of such beliefs eludes me. That would be like taking one drop of water from the Pacific Ocean, putting it under a microscope and then claiming to have discovered the only drop of water from the ocean that has life in it.

Canandaigua resident Joel Freedman frequently contributes essays and book reviews to the Finger Lakes Times.

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