Intrusion: UFOs and the
Evolution Connection, Gary Bates (Master Books, 2005); reviewed by
Intrusion is a rare item in the world of UFO studies: a book on the
subject written by a Christian through a Christian publisher.
There have been other sightings of this phenomenon, notably Lights
in the Sky and Little Green Men, co-authored by Hugh Ross, Ken
Samples, and Mark Clark (NavPress). I
reviewed that book a couple years ago after it appeared (that review has
since been posted on the RaidersNewsUpdate.com website).
Anyone who remembers that review will recall that I was
predominantly enthusiastic about its content, save for the awful chapters
by Clark. I don’t feel this
book under review is as good, but it is still worth reading for those in
the Church (and that would be its exclusive audience) who are new to this
subject—given a few caveats.
Intrusion gave me mixed feelings due to it uneven quality.
I would therefore recommend it, but with a note of dissatisfaction,
and one reservation (see below). At
times (probably more often than not) I felt the author had covered the
subjects he introduced in the book quite well, even breaking new ground as
far as mainstream Christian knowledge of ufology and exposing the intended
audience to material other books (like Lights in the Sky) had
omitted. At other times, the
author lapsed into simplistic “answers” to issues and engaged in the
kind of biblical interpretation that makes me and other biblical scholars
groan. I’ll try to give
examples of each below.
start with the positives. For
its intended audience (Christians who know next to nothing about the UFO
issue, at least in terms of the literature in the field) the book
succeeds. It’s a broad overview of all the relevant topics and
sub-topics. In this regard it
is better than Lights in the Sky.
For example, the coverage of the alien abduction phenomenon is more
thorough and more in touch with the major writers within the UFO community
who specialize in this area. The
book also (and this thrilled me) included brief critiques of Erich von Däniken,
Zecharia Sitchin, and Billy Meier. This
is the first Christian book by a “real” Christian publisher I have
seen to bring Sitchin into the arena and denounce his pseudo-credentials.
For some reason Sitchin seems to escape notice in books like this. There
was no mention of him in Lights in the Sky.
The same is true of Billy Meier.
Bates could have done a better job of explaining the Meier case,
but I have to say it was gratifying to see that he included it and cited
some credible critiques of the Meier case.
Lastly, I have to give Gary kudos for his view that the current
alien abduction phenomenon has nothing to do with an actual breeding
program—by true aliens or demonic beings.
Gary’s position is that it’s all about erecting a paradigm in
front of people to embrace the idea of alien-human “advancement” or
“merging”. I agree.
book also showed (again briefly) that many people in the UFO community
tend toward linking the question of alien life to evolution.
“Briefly” may surprise those reading the review given the
book’s subtitle: “UFOs and the Evolution Connection.”
I was quite surprised that there was as little about this
connection in the book. I
couldn’t help wondering if the subtitle was added just to sell books,
given that Bates works for Answers in Genesis, a Christian apologetic
organization dedicated to the literal 24-hour day view of Genesis 1.
In the material concerning evolution that is in the book, Bates
tries to argue (unsuccessfully in my mind) that the presence of an
intelligent alien life form would bolster (or even require) the case for
evolution and amount to an error in the Bible.
readers know, I disagree with this. There
is no reason that the two must be connected.
I would argue that if there ever turns out to be alien life, then
God was its creator like everything else.
Bates, however, rejects this idea.
In so doing he has no option but to link alien life to evolution.
Bates is convinced that there is no intelligent alien life in the
universe. His view of the
Bible simply does not allow for it. He
apparently must conclude this based on a flawed view of the image of God
(see below). While I don’t
think there is any evidence for truly extraterrestrial life from other
planets, I don’t rule it out. God
is under no obligation to tell us everything in the Bible about his
main concern with Bates’ view here is the same as I feel for Hugh
Ross’s position. While Ross
does a far better job in his book of demonstrating the unlikelihood of
intelligent extraterrestrial life, both he and Bates simply have no plan
B. In Bates’ case, were
extraterrestrial life ever discovered, it would shatter his whole approach
to the Bible. He would be
forced to surrender his commitment to his view of creation as well, or
admit he was completely wrong in his position while he worked to adjust
it. Ross, on the other hand,
would have to admit he was wrong about extraterrestrial life, but his
position on creation (he is an old-earth creationist) would be unfazed.
My concern is that, with both, were they to be proven wrong,
enemies of their cause would forever throw their error back at them.
Bates would be worse off here, though, since his position (“there
are no ETs and there frankly can’t be, else the Bible would mention
that”) would be viewed as arrogant. People would be less forgiving for that reason.
Ross would have to battle the fact that his assured understanding
of science had flaws, but at least he could appeal to comments on his
website that philosophically and theologically allow for ET life—he
comes off as more open-minded.
I noted above, there are a number of problems with the book, ranging from
the “this could be improved” variety” to more serious issues of
flawed biblical interpretation.
example, Bates appears to side with the Mogul explanation for Roswell.
This explanation has its problems in that it cannot account for all
the witness elements of the Roswell event.
Had this book not been published for another six months, he would
have had the advantage of the new work on the Roswell event presented by
Nick Redfern (see that review in this issue as well).
This is doubtless a better explanation for Roswell, and one that
actually can encompass the more solid elements if the Mogul explanation.
While this is not his fault, Bates’ handling of other aspects of
the Roswell case leave a lot to be desired.
Astonishingly, he accepts the idea that the bodies seen by
witnesses were crash dummies, despite the fact that the Air Force has
openly acknowledged (in print) that these dummies were not used until the
early 1950s, several years after Roswell occurred.
He offers no other view of this facet, and so I have to conclude he
isn’t aware of other options. This
is the kind of egregious oversight that his opponents would seize.
bigger problem with Roswell and the UFO issue in general is Bates’ weak
discussion of the Majestic
documents and other de-classified documents now available through the
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). While
his intended audience would accept his position that all these items are
fakes, readers who have spent some time in the literature know this is
inadequate. I have yet to see
a Christian book of UFOs address the documents head on, or even in a way
that would convince me they are even aware of the material.
The fact is that while the Air Force simply says “they aren’t
real,” they have never offered any critique of the forensic work done on
the documents in an attempt to prove their authenticity.
The Majestic documents have to date been shown to conform to know
typewriter styles, ink and paper chemical composition, and know military
numbering and nomenclature for the periods in which they purport to have
been written. Several of them
mention the recovery of alien corpses and craft.
A few deal with Roswell as well.
My point is not that this means these documents have been proven
authentic beyond reasonable doubt—it doesn’t.
There are kinds of tests that can still be conducted on them.
The contents of the documents may also be subject to a different
interpretation (cf. Redfern’s book and my own suggestion in the Façade).
Rather, my point is that the Christian audience is ignorant of this
material, which is quite possibly the best evidence for the alien
hypothesis. One gets the
impression that Christian authors cannot deal with the corpus, don’t
want their readers to know much about the documents, or are unaware of the
regard to evidence for UFOs, the book does a bit of a disservice here to
the reader. On page 146 the
statement is made that “no indisputable empirical evidence (no piece or
fragment) of an extraterrestrial craft has ever been recovered.”
This is true in my mind, but it skewers the evidence issue a bit.
On page 151 Bates writes (of the Zamora case), “one event that
apparently left physical traces occurred in Socorro, new Mexico…”
The impression is created that physical evidence is very rare, and
that, in effect, there is no evidence for real UFOs.
Peter Sturrock’s book The UFO Enigma: A New Review of the
Physical Evidence (2000) demonstrates quite well that there is
an abundance of physical evidence for UFOs.
This work is the results of a group study of the data, the first
since the infamous Condon Report. Sturrock, a scientist with a Ph.D. who knows what the
scientific method is, documents a wide range of evidence, including radar,
vehicle interference, aircraft malfunction, ground traces, injuries to
plants (e.g., radiation), and actual debris analysis.
Sturrock’s book does not prove that UFOs are extraterrestrial,
only that there is such a thing as anomalous or unknown flying craft.
My point here is that it is misleading to convey the impression
that there is little physical evidence.
leaving the direct UFO content of the book, there are certain other
matters about Bates’ treatment of which readers (and he) should be
aware. With respect to crop circles, it is simply fallacious
reasoning (and bad math) to imply that the majority crop circles were made
by two men who hatched a plan in a pub to make some circles, or other
small groups that thought it would be fun to do the same.
While the exploits of Doug and Dave did fool crop circle
researchers, if one simply does the math—multiplying the number of
circles recorded in a year and dividing it by Doug and Dave (and some
friends), they’d have to do little else with their waking hours
(including daylight hours) to account for them all.
There were also many of these circles before Doug and Dave hatched
the idea. Some (cf. Milk
Hill) are extraordinarily large and complex, requiring satellite alignment
for their precision. Doug and
Dave and their friends are not an adequate answer for the crop circle
mystery. (Readers are encouraged to revisit Jacques Vallee’s
interesting—and very human—microwave
hypothesis on this subject). On
a different subject, Bates ought to be aware that the famous abductee
Travis Walton also claims to be a born again Christian.
I don’t know Travis, but Christian friends of mine do, and vouch
for his testimony. This might
have caused Bates to be a little less caustic toward his story, which,
given the spiritual hypothesis favored by Bates in the book for other UFO
cases, might have been a better approach.
on the UFO material, I was truly dismayed to see Bates hold out Wernher
von Braun as a “Bible believing Christian” who opposed the teaching of
evolution in schools. In a
book on UFOs, this is truly ironic, since Operation PAPERCLIP, the program
begun under Truman to recruit Nazi scientists for their knowledge, plays
such a significant role in ufology (PAPERCLIP is referenced in the
Majestic documents). It is
well known that von Braun was a member of the Nazi Party and that he
surrendered to Americans as a matter of survival (I have posted his FBI
file on the Internet before). He was perhaps the most important scientist brought to this
country under PAPERCLIP. According
to the FOIA documentation offered by Redfern in his recent Roswell book,
PAPERCLIP also involved recruiting the Japanese monsters of Unit 731.
These were the people developing bio-weapons programs aimed at the
U.S. population. They were
also the people who, among other atrocities, dissected POWs while they
were still alive (including Americans). With the approval of Douglas MacArthur, they were brought to
this country to work in our own wingless aircraft (UFO) program.
I grant that von Braun couldn’t necessarily choose those with
whom he worked. I also
consider it possible that von Braun became a Christian later in life, but
I certainly find it at the very least inconsistent that he would be a
Bible-believing Christian and a Nazi Party member. At the very least I think it terrible to hold the man up as
an example of a godly Christian while a man like Dietrich Bonhoeffer
opposed Hitler in the name of Christ and paid for it with his life.
It would also have been nice for Bates to include some evidence of
contrition from von Braun about being a part member.
rest of the review concerns a few minor points of biblical exegesis and
one major bone of contention with Bates’ understanding of Scripture.
minor points, on pages 106-107, in a seemingly misplaced attempt to prove
that the Bible speaks of a round earth, Bates quotes Isa. 40:22, where God
sits above the “circle of the earth” and then writes, “The word
circle has been translated from the original Hebrew word khug,
which may be translated ‘sphere’.
(Interestingly, the German word kugel means ‘ball, sphere,
or globe’)” [parenthetical comment is Bates’].
First, German is not a Semitic language, and thus the sounds of its
words have nothing to do with Hebrew.
Second, khug in Hebrew does not begin with the letter
“k” (like the German kugel does).
The letter in Hebrew for “k” is kaph.
The first letter in the Hebrew word under consideration is a hard
“h” (h with a dot underneath in standard transliteration of Hebrew /
Semitic; I'll have to use "ch" for the Web because of font
issues). As near as I can
tell, Bates apparently gets this transliteration from a source that uses
Strong’s numbers. It
is an error that undermines the point he is trying to make via the false
etymological comparison with German.
This Hebrew word is rarely used in the Old Testament.
Other than Isa. 40:22, the noun form occurs in Prov. 8:27, where we
read that God “drew a circle (chug)
on the face of the deep” (ESV), and Job 22:14, where we read of God,
“Thick clouds veil him, so that he does not see, and he walks on the
vault (chug) of heaven”
(ESV). The verbal form occurs
in Job 26:10: “He [God] has inscribed a circle (chug)
on the face of the waters, at the boundary between light and darkness” (ESV).
I bring up these occurrences to illustrate that the Hebrew word
here does not mean “sphere,” as in a ball hanging in space.
God did not draw a sphere ON the face of the deep (Prov. 8:27).
This would mean he constructed a ball atop the watery deep.
What is meant by this verse (and by Isa. 40:22) is made clear by
Job 26:10 – God inscribing a circle on the face of the waters means he
draws a circle around the earth. This
fits with standard ancient Near Eastern cosmology – that the earth was
flat but round, with Sheol underneath and a heavenly vault above.
How do we know Job 26:10 should be taken this way?
Because the circle is inscribed at the boundary between light
and darkness – the horizon surrounding the earth, where the sun
rises and sets (to our eye). Lastly,
when we read of God “walking on the (chug)
of heaven” (Job 22:14), this cannot mean sphere either, since the
heavens are not a sphere. The
“spherical thing” in view here is in the heavens above the
earth. Lest this review
devolve into a lesson on Israelite cosmology, I will leave other
problematic comments in this area in the book rest.
minor point is the comment that the plurals in Gen. 1:26 refer to the
Trinity. They do not, and as
a Trinitarian, I contend we must avoid this view or risk the doctrine.
As readers well know, I am sensitive to such matters since this was
at the heart of my dissertation work.
the plurals here are “hortatory plurals”—commands of
exhortation issued to the members of God’s divine council (cf. Psalm
82:1). If this was the only verse that evinced divine plurality in
the Bible, the Trinity explanation could stand.
The problem is that it isn’t.
One cannot import the Trinity into other passages that convey
divine plurality and have the trinity survive as a coherent doctrine.
If one imports it into Psalm 82, then if the other elohim
of Psalm 82:1 that make up God’s council are the members of the Trinity,
God is judging them for being corrupt and sentencing them to die like men.
This just isn’t theologically kosher.
My guess is that Bates got this idea from the idea of the “plural
of majesty”—a specific use of the plural noun to intensify or magnify
the noun. But that is the
problem (see Waltke-O’Connor, Intermediate
Hebrew Syntax, p. 122; C. van der Merwe, Biblical Hebrew Reference
Grammar, p. 185). The
plurals here are NOT nouns; they are verbs.
Ever since the renowned Hebrew grammarian P. Jouon demonstrated
that the plural of majesty applies only to nouns, this view of Gen. 1:26
has been abandoned (cf. Jouon-Muraoka, Grammar of Biblical Hebrew,
Par. 114e). On to the more
substantive matter, the one that causes me to recommend with reservation.
speak here of Bates’ handling of Gen. 6:1-4 and the matter of the
nephilim. Forgive me for the
Hebrew that follows, but since Bates sprinkles this section of his book
with Hebrew words, creating the impression that he knows what he is doing
here, the use of the biblical languages must be addressed.
It would also seem unfair for me to critique the use of Hebrew by
ancient astronaut theorists and ignore the same kinds of errors by a
Christian author. I have said
publicly that I will be fair here, and so I need to go into some of the
problems in this part of the book.
best the discussion of Genesis 6 and the nephilim is confusing.
It still isn’t completely clear to me what Bates thinks on some
aspects of the passage. He
appears to confuse the sons of God with their offspring, the nephilim, and
this is common. It seems he
does not want the nephilim to be giants when he claims that the presence
of nephilim after the flood (as Gen 6:4 says) would “be a major blow to
the view that God used the Flood to destroy the nephilim” (p. 361).
This is not correct.
syntax of the verb sequence in Gen 6:4 very likely indicating what is
called a “frequentative waw” – that is, Gen 6:4 could easily be
translated “there were nephilim [giants] on the earth in those days whenever
the sons of God went into the daughters of man…” (see Skinner on this
verse, International Critical Commentary, Genesis, and Wenham, Word
Biblical Commentary, Genesis 1-15).
This means that the syntax could be telling us the activity
continued. The offspring of
the sons of God (the nephilim) were all killed off by the Flood, but the
sons of God were not mortal and threatened by water.
They could have continued doing what they did in Gen. 6:1-4.
Indeed, this may be the very point of the phrase and its
construction, since the writer had to explain the presence of the nephilim
after the Flood (Num 13:33) and other giant clans (like Og and the
Rephaim; Deut. 3). This is the best explanation if one wants to hold a global
flood view and argue that Noah’s line had not been “infected” by the
seed of the sons of God.
Bates is unaware of the Hebrew syntax here, he seems to take pains to
argue that the statement in Numbers 13:33 that the Anakim encountered by
the Israelite spies were of the nephilim, was actually a false report of
the unbelieving spies (i.e., they lied; pp. 363-364).
There is no exegetical foundation for this view.
It is a deliberate reading inserted into the text to avoid the
nephilim (pseudo) problem. The
reason the report of the spies was called evil is absolutely transparent
from the biblical text—they refused to trust God. We read nowhere that
Israel was punished for lying, or that the people had been deceived by a
lying report. We read everywhere in the Old Testament that the people did
not believe the word of Joshua and Caleb—who, by the way, did not accuse
the other ten spies of lying. This
view is baseless.
also commits the error of asserting that the translation “giants” for
nephilim “is based on tradition or beliefs rather than a literal meaning
of the text” (p. 362). It
is evident that Bates does not know Hebrew.
I won’t belabor the PDF file I already have on the Internet in
regard to nephilim (posted mainly to combat the nonsense of Zecharia
Sitchin on this subject), but I will distill a few details.
Forgive the Hebrew here as well (if you haven’t had at least a
semester, this will be lost on you, but it’s important).
morphology (the shape or construction) of the term “nephilim” makes it
IMPOSSIBLE for this word to mean “fallen ones” as Bates and many other
commentators say. It still
astonishes me that Old Testament professors don’t seem to remember the
noun paradigm they learned in first semester Hebrew at this point.
In fact, I have only ever seen one commentary that even catches
this detail (but the author didn’t know what to do with it).
In Numbers 13:33 nephilim is spelled with the full historically
long “i” vowel marked by the letter yodh.
Everywhere else it is spelled defectively (without the consonant
yodh vowel marker). The fact
that the marker is used in Numbers tells us we must account for it – the
root of nephilim MUST have a middle yodh (the leter “y”).
There is no place in the entire Hebrew verbal paradigm for a middle
yodh in any verb form (and Gen 6 requires a plural participle).
This fact alone tells us that we aren’t dealing with Hebrew
naphal. It IS possible that
the word comes from Aramaic naphal (“to fall”), since the verb form
could then be accounted for, but then we have a logic problem.
The nephilim, as evil as they were, did not fall from grace—they
did not participate in the fall since they weren’t human (only humans
have moral guilt as a result of the fall; everything else is affected by
the fall passively). I know
at this point some would desperately still try to have “fallen ones”
here, but there is a crystal clear, far easier solution—and one that
explains why the Septuagint translators (and every ancient Jewish source
we have from the Second temple period) understood nephilim to mean
“giants”: the Aramaic
noun for “giant” is nephiyla’ (note the middle yodh – “y” in
the word). That word fits the
plural noun form perfectly since it accounts for the middle yodh.
There are other reasons the word and the scribal glosses of Gen 6:4
and Numbers 13:33 originated in the Babylonian period during the exile
(again making Aramaic the source of the word), but that is for another
time. Anyone who wants Hebrew
naphal as the root of nephilim must answer the morphological issue (but
they can’t) when explaining the root.
this leads to one conclusion: the
rest of the arguments Bates’ raises against giants fall like dominoes as
a result of this mistake. That said, I won’t worry about the other
problems in these few pages, save to alert the reader that Bates
mishandles the Greek word “Titan” (he makes it seem unrelated to
giants) and he forgets to mention that Tartarus also shows up in the New
Testament in II Peter (2:4, often translated “hell” but the Greek word
is not hades as usual) as the place where the fallen sons of God
wind up (the “angels that sinned”).
I am not sure of the reason for the omission since his discussion
of Tartarus doesn’t seem crucial to his argument.
I don’t want the reader to conclude that the book has too many problems
to be profitable. That would
be erroneous. The book does a
number of things well. This
title, coupled with that of Ross, et.al. would be a good place for a
Christian novice to start on this issue, especially in view of the
spiritual ramifications of the UFO issue.