What Christianity and alien abduction have in common

April 27, 2006 | By | 53 Replies More

I just finished reading Michael Shermer’s book, “Why People Believe Weird Things.”  It’s very long-winded — the book could easily be 1/10th its size and still make the same points — but it did make me realize one thing.  The book discusses alien abduction as an example of a weird thing that many people believe, and points out that it is based entirely on anecdotal stories without a single shred of physical evidence.  As I read this, I realized that the same can be said of Christianity or, indeed, any other religion.  There is as much physical evidence for Christianity as there is for alien abduction:  i.e., none.  Indeed, if we consider the scars that supposed abductees claim were caused by alien medical experiments, there is actually more physical evidence for alien abduction than for Christianity. 

Moreover, the mental processes that leads to both beliefs are remarkably similar.  Both depend upon a leap of faith based on highly improbable stories told by people of unknown credibility.  Both heavily rely on dreamlike visions:  abductees call them “memories,” Christians call them “prophesies” or “revelations.”

And, significantly, both beliefs gained popularity during times when contemporaneous events caused large numbers of people to be receptive to the belief.  It cannot be mere coincidence that the rate of reported alien abductions grew dramatically during the 1960s and 1970s, when the NASA space program — and the idea of space travel — was capturing attention around the globe.  Likewise, Christianity arose at a time and place in human history when many people were claiming to be the Messiah, and many more were claiming to be prophets sent by God.  The belief in witchcraft during the 17th century fits this same pattern.

Does this mean Christianity is invalid?  No, but it does mean Christianity has a lot more in common with alien abduction and witchcraft than it does with, say, Darwin’s theory of evolution.

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Category: Culture, Evolution, Psychology Cognition, Religion

About the Author ()

Grumpypilgrim is a writer and management consultant living in Madison, WI. He has several scientific degrees, including a recent master’s degree from MIT. He has also held several professional career positions, none of which has been in a field in which he ever took a university course. Grumps is an avid cyclist and, for many years now, has traveled more annual miles by bicycle than by car…and he wishes more people (for the health of both themselves and our planet) would do the same. Grumps is an enthusiastic advocate of life-long learning, healthy living and political awareness. He is single, and provides a loving home for abused and abandoned bicycles. Grumpy’s email: grumpypilgrim(AT)@gmail(DOT).com [Erich’s note: Grumpy asked that his email be encrypted this way to deter spam. If you want to write to him, drop out the parentheticals in the above address].

Comments (53)

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  1. Erik Brewer says:

    Mike,

    you took my comment on STD and sin and then spin it to ask me about a young mother and cancer, do you not see the difference in the two? Or are you just trying to set a trap for me to fall in so that you can later write "see, Erik Brewer wrote such and such"? Be honest.

    I have several stories from being over seas where people were totally anti-God until they became sick with an illness/disease and then they turned to God in repentance and He used that situation to strengthen the faith of the person and use that person to bring others to Him. Sometimes the person was healed and other times the person was not. In both cases, people's lives were changed for the better.

  2. Erik, I was merely trying to point out that your cause-and-effect, sex=sin=STD=God's punishment, doesn't hold water with me.

    As I've said to you before, the concept of a God who would punish someone with a painful disease who didn't believe in Him (after making proof of His existence somewhat hazy to begin with) seems excessively petty and spiteful to me.

  3. Erik Brewer says:

    Mike,

    I understand what you are trying to do. What I do not understand is the fact that you do not see the connection between sexual immorality (sin) and STD's.

    I never said that God punishes those who do not believe in Him. Sin (a choice made by man and all of mankind) brings death and suffering. Again, please do not blame God for what people do.

    You are assuming what you say instead of knowing the facts.

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