The Bible and aliens

Now as I looked at the living creatures, I saw a wheel upon the earth beside the living creatures one for each of the four of them. As for the appearance of the wheels and their construction, their appearance was like the gleaming of a chrysolite, and the four had the same likeness being as it were a wheel within a wheel. The four wheels had rims and they had spokes, and their rims were full of eyes round about. And when the living creatures went, the wheels went beside them and when the living creatures went, the wheels went with them, for the living creature was in the wheel.

Ezekiel, chapter 1, Versus 15 thru 21. Revised Standard Version


“The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and afterward when The Sons of God came into the daughters of men and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.”

Genesis, chapter 6, verse 4.

Are these Bible passages indicating that alien lifeforms have visited the earth?

If not, what are these passages refering to?

Martyr #7

C#3? ::rubs eyes:: Is that you?

Well, in chronological order:

The Nephilim and “sons of God” story is probably the remnant of older Hebrew mythology and legend, known to the original audience of Genesis, but since lost and unknown to us. Most cultures have stories about the ancient days when (some) men were more powerful, more valiant, more worthy than the wretched humanity we see around us, today. (We have inklings of that with our own tales of frontiersmen who were more canny, more hardy, and more virtuous than we are.)

Ezekiel is written in a style known as Apocalyptic (from the Greek word for revelation–in fact the word Apocalypse is the name, in Greek, for the last book of the New Testament). The style is noted for is wild imagery. The three books that most clearly demonstrate that in the Christian bible are Ezekiel, Daniel, and Revelation. A number of other books, written at the same time period (very roughly 200 BCE - 100 CE) did not make the cut to be included in the Bible, but have the same literary form.

In each work, strange visions of impossible things are presented, usually with heavy symbolism attached, sometimes simply to get the reader’s attention for the next utterance from God.

Neither Genesis nor Ezekiel (nor Daniel, Revelation, the Apocalypses of Enoch, Baruch, Esdras, or the Sibyllene Oracles) demonstrate contact with extraterrestial life. They all demonstrate the wonderful powers of human imagination attempting to convey the Word of God.


Sorry, I’m not allowed to talk about it.

This space for rent.


Did the authors of the Bible admit anywhere that they used that style of writing to “sometimes simply to get the reader’s attention for the next utterance from God”, or is this just a theory?

Martyr #7

Each of the works that I mentioned is written in the style called Apocalyptic Literature. Some have been accepted as Scripture, some have not.

If someone (von Däniken, for example) wants to point to a specific verse and identify it as a reference to a spaceship, he should be prepared to go through the entire work explaining how every strange description is a sign of extraterrestial presence or why only that verse represents an extraterrestial visit. He should then be prepared to explain why every other book in the same style (over 300 years) does or does not identify spacecraft (and why the descriptions occur only in that type of literature).

What I described was the general consensus among biblical scholars (Jewish, Catholic, and Protestant) for years prior to the 1970s when books started appearing claiming that every wonderful or surprising thing ever accomplished or recorded by humans was actually created or inspired by people from the stars.

Since I know that 99% of what von Däniken published was utter silliness, I tend to discount the last 1%.
No book in the bible makes the assertions you asked about. There are a few books that identify the author and a very few books that lay out a reason for having been written.

I cannot testify that the Ezekiel never saw a spaceship. I am willing to follow years of Biblical scholarship over the get-rich-quick publishing schemes of a nutty author, but I cannot prove that I am right.


Thanks for your opinion Tom.

Martyr #7

Sure thing, Connie.

Wow, Tom, I need to have more memory installed… Great response and I know I won’t do as well but if I can add a couple of things…

Did the authors say they were using this kind of writing… I think they signaled by using phrases like: “I dreamed…” or “I saw a (fantastic thing) …” or “I had a vision…” It was a device - the intended audience knew it and knew what to expect.

Is “conventions” the right word?

Our stories/literature/messages are written in certain ways, use devices, give off signals too and you know (or soon know) if you are reading or listening to a tall tale, a fable, a mystery story, a romance, and so on. No one has to tell you, you learned this in school long ago.

The intended audience knew what they were reading or hearing but this message could pass through the hands of the “unintended” and NOT be understood. Cool Beans!



Is the word of God so boring and uninteresting that the authors of the Bible had to resort to science fiction in order to keep people awake? …and where can I find a copy of the Bible that is devoid of fantasy stories and simply gives me God’s word?


Could God have created other races on other planets that he is not telling us about?

Martyr #7

Why pick on the Bible? There’s a much richer field for similar “evidence” of extraterrerstrerrer — um, outerspace visitors intervening with ancient peoples.

Take Homer and Greek mythology. You got your one-eyed giants(cyclops), you got your three-headed “dogs”, you got seven-headed snakes … Then technology, with winged sandals (obviously highly developed anti-gravity), a guy living in the clouds who hurls lightning bolts (obviously laser weapons), and…

Then there’s the Arabian Nights. Flying carpets – obviously a reference to flying one-person landspeeders. Genii from bottles and lamps – obviously teleportation. Doors that open on verbal command – obviously voice-activated computers.

Why not hop on those as “alien” references? You’d have a more fruitful field than the Bible.

Considering the times in which it was written, the book of Genesis has almost NONE of that. The closest Genesis comes to that sort of mythology is the brief reference to Nephilim in one sentence.

The funniest one I heard was the attempt to interpret the Ark of the Covenant as an electro-magnetic generator. It has poles with rings around it, see, like shower curtain rings; and someone touches it and falls dead, see. Zap! It’s an electric generator.

So far as I know, no one has yet interpreted “… and there was light” to mean that aliens gave God a giant electric light bulb with an on-off switch.


  • As Jois alluded to (and I had failed to point out), Apocalyptic literature tends to be written during periods of persecution. (Ezekiel and Daniel under the Greek successors to Alexander, Revelation and at least one of the Baruch books under Domitian, and the other books in similar conditions.) The “verbal pyrotechnics” tend to have two purposes: grab the attention of a dispirited people and direct that attention to the hope in God’s message; get under the oppressor’s radar so that someone who is caught reading it won’t be hauled up before the local authorities and prosecuted for treason or blasphemy regarding the conqueror state and its gods.


  • Sure.
    (Although there are some denominations of Christians who would deny the last possibility on the grounds that the entire universe was created for the express purpose of Jesus redeeming mankind.)


Apocalyptic writing incorporates symbolic language. Ezekiel saw the same wheel that Creedence Clearwater Revival did, as well as Peter, Paul and Mary and Elton John.

The Book of Daniel is laden with all sorts of off-the-wall imagery, even more than Ezekiel. A few of the minor prophets also threw the stuff in.

At the risk of calling up the ghost of ARG, allow me to note some of the material from the Revelation to St. John (last book of the Bible):
[ul][li]…the Beast with seven heads and ten horns…[]…the star Wormwood, which [is to] fall into the sea, and a third of the waters of the sea [will be] changed to wormwood…[]…the new Jerusalem, descending from the heavens…[/ul][/li]
All these were symbols to represent things the writer wished to convey to his readers but which might be less than desirable to spell out in plain language, given the power structure at the time. The image of a man carrying a saxophone and making a come-hither gesture with a cigar would be nearly universally understood in America today, though twenty years ago it would not have been and it is probably unlikely to make sense without someone spelling it out seventy years from now. Unfortunately we are unclear on some of the coding of the Biblical symbols today. (This gives the adventist branch of the religious right a lot of interpretive license. While I was growing up, the Beast was assumed to be the Common Market among right-wing loonies.)

There was a von Daniken style book out about twenty years ago called The Spaceships of Ezekiel that was, shall we say, interesting reading.

The wheels-within-wheels imagery (a) corresponds reasonably well to the covered-with-small-spinning-wings imagery of the cherubim, and (b) matches reasonably well the effects of some forms of schizophrenia. (Consider VanGogh’s “Starry Night.”) There is some evidence that many prophets, including particularly Ezekiel, were in an “altered state of consciousness” when they had their visions and heard the revelations from which they proclaimed their prophesies.

So M#7, I am more or less with Tom on this, and I think you would concur. While it is quite conceivable that Ezekiel could have seen a flying saucer, the probability is that this was symbolic language. Certainly nobody thinks that Ezekiel foresaw the Leakeys when he wrote the Valley of Dry Bones passage (ch. 37).

Sometimes that apocalyptic style can be useful in our modern day, however. When my wife asks me how long it’s going to be until I get the kitchen ceiling painted, I answer in a sepulchral voice, “A time, times, and half a time.” :slight_smile:

Just a couple of random thoughts:

I have “The Spaceships of Ezekiel” by Ralph Blum, who is supposed to have been a NASA engineer. Not only did he (supposedly) believe the “spaceship” story–he drew a diagram of the spaceship, and showed how our own space vehicles resembled certain animals when viewed from various angles.

I read that the Ukrainian word for “wormwood” is “Chernobyl.” Awaiting verification one way or the other.

“Aliens on flying carpets.” Hmmm. (slipping on my Ukulele Ike wannabe hat) Reminds me of the excellent novel “Gulliver Jones” by Edwin Arnold (from which Edgar Rice Burroughs was inspired to write the Barsoom/John Carter series). The protagonist is transported to Mars on a flying carpet, (after the previous driver–a Martian–lost control entering Earth’s atmosphere and broke his neck in the landing).

:::making note to remind Mrs. Pickman’s Model that she can get her ceiling painted in 3.5 years, barring Apocalypse:::

Bringing in the fundie side-
(I’m not a fundamentalist, but I play one on TV)

Nephilim are the ofspring of demons getting it on with mortal women. These are VERY theologically troubling beings, as humans can be redeemed and demons can’t.

The things in Ezekial, as hinted at, are angels. Weird-ass angels, but nonetheless, angels.

Back in the land of rational people, nah, nothing in the Bible to preclude alien life. In fact, I have whole book someplace of Christian science fiction stories. (ie, scifi set against a Christian model of the Universe.)


Oops, forgot to address Thor’s hammer.

Even if Chernobyl means Wormwood, it’s just a meaningless coincidence. The Biblical Wormwood was a burning mountain thrown into the sea that poisoned the water and killed one-third of the people. Or rather WILL BE thrown into the water, according to Revelations. Anyway, it doesn’t happen til well into the end of the world. Chernobyl is too long ago to have been Wormwood by an credible eschatology. (a contradiction in terms?)

Prophetic verb tenses are tricky.

Oops. Embarrassing.

“Spaceships of Ezekiel” was written by Joseph Blumrich.

Ralph Blum wrote “Beyond Earth–Man’s Contact with UFO’s,” which I also have.

I always did get them confused, and, hey, it’s been over 20 years since I read them. Back then, I read EVERY UFO, ancient astronaut, pseudo-scientific book that came out.

And, I didn’t read anything eschatological into Chernobyl. I just thought it was a need coincidenc to throw in.

As far as prophets having visions, was there (is there) a plant in the Middle East with hallucinogenic properties (a la peyote) that these folks would have used to induce these visions? Or were most of them mentally ill as Polycarp suggested?

And it could explain the anti-drug taboo: Only priests are qualified to take this “medicine”: “Only he has the training necessary to communicate with the Almighty and interpret the message.”

In other words, “Don’t try this at home.” :slight_smile:

Those who do not learn from the past are condemned to relive it. Georges Santayana