Program Description: Tom welcomes his guest Mike Oppenheimer of Let Us Reason Ministries. Today’s discussion involves UFOs and extraterrestrials: Are they real? What are they? Should we witness to them? Should we fear them? In this two-part program Tom and Mike hash out some troubling conclusions that are drawn even by many Christians concerning this phenomenon.
Gary: Welcome to Search the Scriptures 24/7, a radio ministry of The Berean Call with T.A. McMahon. I’m Gary Carmichael. Thanks for tuning in! In today’s program, Tom welcomes Mike Oppenheimer of Let Us Reason Ministries. Now, along with his guest, here’s TBC executive director Tom McMahon.
Tom: Thanks, Gary. Today and next week I’ll be talking with Mike Oppenheimer, who’s involved in apologetics through his ministry Let Us Reason, and his website is letusreason.org. Now, for the most part we’ll be discussing something that some people might consider far out, which is actually a lame pun of mine to introduce the subject of UFOs.
Mike, thanks for joining me on Search the Scriptures 24/7.
Mike: Thank you for having me, Tom.
Tom: Mike, on a recent flight I picked up a copy of Hemisphere Magazine, and I was surprised by a little article - some of which was tongue-in-cheek but not all of it - and here are some quotes. We celebrated on July 2 (some of us) World UFO Day, and the article says, “To celebrate the event, the official UFO Day website suggests that we throw parties, make T-shirts, and have conversations about the possibility of extraterrestrial life.” The article gives some statistics: $1.5 million - that’s the cost of the operating alien telescopes employed by SETI - that is, the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence, and we’ll be talking about that in a bit. It says 65 percent of Americans, who in a 2012 poll in National Geographic, expressed belief that Barack Obama would handle an alien invasion better than Mitt Romney. Forty-eight percent of the Americans are open to the possibility of alien visitations, according to a 2013 Huff-Post poll. Six thousand four hundred and fifty-seven - that’s the number of reported UFO sightings in the United States in 2013.
So this is what we’re going to deal with. Obviously it’s still out there, and people are excited about it, at least to some degree. But, Mike, before we get to our subject, tell our listeners how long you’ve been involved in apologetics, which is basically a defense of the faith - that is, the content of the Bible. Tell us how you got started.
Mike: Okay, I’ll try to give it the Reader’s Digest version here. I moved to Hawaii to surf in the mid-‘70s. In the mid-‘80s, a Jewish friend from New York had recently become a Christian and invited me to a conference that Dave Hunt and Johanna Michaelsen were putting on, on the topic of the New Age, and at the time I was fully involved in New Age movement - was making my own spirituality. I had believed in extraterrestrial life, was doing meditation, yoga, affirmations - I was basically furthering my pursuit of getting involved with the I AM movement, which calls on angels, and uses light to bring out what I believed was the divine presence of God within me.
When I went to the conference, Dave began taking it all apart. As he lectured, I was getting a bit perturbed. My friend sitting next to me jokingly said, “Wow, he’s attacking you already!” And he certainly was taking apart my belief. And I listened intently and began hearing about the true God from the Bible, and remembering my own upbringing from Judaism, and began thinking, I thought I had the truth! Was I doing wrong all these years? And halfway through, there was a break, and my friend brought me up to speak to Dave personally, and he began to pointedly speak to some of the things I was involved with, and what I was surprised is that he knew about the I AM movement, and asked me questions that basically shattered my whole belief system.
And after this, I heard Johanna’s testimony, and heard for the first time that there was a different Jesus, and then I knew I was in the wrong. And the conference went fairly long, and on the drive home I asked my friends who were brand new Christians themselves, you know, all these things that were being discussed, and they didn’t have many answers. But when I got home, I stayed up into the deep hours of the morning discussing all this with my girlfriend (who became my wife), and she was actually hoping that I wouldn’t come home a Christian, because she was at home doing her affirmations. But she got a revelation as we were discussing things that we were being deceived, and so the next day we went to church, we heard the gospel in its fullness, and dedicated our lives to the Lord from then on.
So what Dave and Johanna did in their reach-out stuck with me. He confronted me with the truth and forever changed the course of my life and my wife’s, and so we were rescued from the New Age deception, and I wanted to do the same for others.
And it just so happened [that] things started to develop where Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons began knocking on my door, something that didn’t happen before, and from that I was being led further - you know, furthering my knowledge on comparative religion, especially what I came out of: the New Age movement, which seems to have an influence on more people today than even before.
So the Lord was equipping me, and I saw how important the role of apologetics plays, because you see so few people coming out of these false belief systems today, because the church is not being equipped to give the answers to these other religio-spiritual systems. So I continue to keep up with the changes taking place, studying how to use the Bible, and I answer the challenges that continue to grow in our world that is becoming more inclusive to what is false and more hostile to the truth.
Mike: And so I’ve learned and seen that without apologetics, the church suffers in her evangelism and even more so in her discipleship. So I just want to be able to make a small difference with everybody else that’s working in this area.
Tom: Yeah. You know, Mike, talking about Dave, I remember after I started working with him - which was probably about four decades ago - but he took me to a conference, and Brooks Alexander of Spiritual Counterfeits Project was the director of Spiritual Counterfeits Project at the time, and [laughing] you know, I hadn’t been a believer too long - you may know I came out of Roman Catholicism - so this was kind of new to me. And I remember one of the first things he said. He said, “Gentlemen, ladies,” addressing the audience - he said, “you are involved - if you’re interested in apologetics, you are entering a blue chip industry.” Mike, I had no idea what he was talking about, but then he explained that these things that were going to be addressed at the conference and that others had been involved in and so on, it was going to grow and grow and grow - grow exponentially. I remember a number of years after The Seduction of Christianity, probably three years later, Dave looked at me and said, “Tom, the Lord has to be right at the door. This can’t get any worse.” Now, that’s almost 25 years ago or more, and it is. Mike, isn’t it kind of like, in terms of doing what you do, and it’s so important - we do to some degree the same - but sometimes it’s like trying to paddle upstream, even up Niagara Falls!
Mike: Right. Well, you know, that’s the reality we face - that it is getting worse and worse, and it’s going in leaps and bounds these days. You know, 2 Peter 2 - I can unequivocally say that false teachers have increased to the point of a hundred to one, it almost seems.
Mike: They’ve turned the faith into a force, success is based on our ability to use it, following of Jesus to deny self has been replaced with exalting self - nearly everything the Bible has been taught the opposite by those who claim to represent it.
Mike: But they’re really like Gnostics or mystics that use the pulpit for fame and fortune.
Tom: Yeah. You see, and it’s not just the world but the church, professing Christians, and even true believers - where they have been weaned of the Word of God through some of the things that you mentioned…that we become vulnerable if we don’t know the Word, and if we know it a little bit and so on, then when we’re - whether it be Jehovah’s Witnesses or Mormons coming to your door, we’re intimidated, because they know more about the Bible, even though it may be the New World Translation or it may be Joseph Smith’s Bible, whatever. We’re not ready, if we don’t know the Word, to deal with it! We don’t have the confidence to address it. Don’t you think so?
Mike: Well, yeah. I think that’s a major problem these days that we’re not learning how to answer all the things that are challenging the faith, and I guess one of the reasons is because we’re told that the Spirit expressly says, “In latter times, some will depart from the faith.” And so people are not really being taught the truth of the Bible, so how can they refute all the other errors when they’re in error themselves?
Mike: But you know, it does say that some will depart from the faith, not all. So we’re living in days like what Jeremiah said in Jeremiah 23 when he spoke about a “horrible thing” in the prophets of Jerusalem, and he goes on and talks about the anger of the Lord will not turn back against these false prophets until he has performed and carried out the purposes of His heart, and says, “In the latter days, you will understand it perfectly.”
Mike: And that is our time period.
Mike: It’s a matter of those who understand the Scripture and those who do not, and it’s become almost a matter of survival for the days that we’re living in.
Tom: Well, Paul writing to Timothy says, “The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine.” Now, anybody who’s a believer - and I like the term biblical Christian, if they’re… They call themselves a biblical Christian, but they’re not in the Word, they can be seduced by anything that’s out there. You know, sound doctrine…
Jesus said in Luke:18:8, I think, “When the Son of man comes, will He find the faith on the earth?” So with those verses, with the development of the religion of the Antichrist - which in the last days, that’s what’s taking place. We can see it. If that’s the case, then we have to be prepared. We have to be able to address these things.
Tom: The subject that I’d like to talk about with you this week and picking up on it next week may sound a little bit frivolous to some people. Again, my bad pun notwithstanding [that] I mentioned earlier, but UFOs - they seem to come and go; there seem to be greater times in which before the public eye - certainly in different countries, depending on what’s going on. It’s a phenomenon. It’s strange, bizarre, but, Mike, what would you say…if we’re going to lay this in terms of the adversary - Satan’s put this in his program - how do UFOs fit in? What do you say to that?
Mike: Well, you know, this is something that has been going on throughout history. There’s been strange sightings in the heavens, and there’s all kinds of literature like from India - vimanas flying vehicles that either came from their imagination or something they saw. People have seen these things with their eyes as far back as in the 1300s in Japan, they witnessed a flying object shaped like a drum. In the 1400s, five stars appeared circling the moon changing color three times, then vanished. In the late 1800s, a UFO appeared over Chicago. In San Francisco, there were like 150 sightings of objects they couldn’t explain in the sky…
Tom: Mike, could you - let’s just pick on the San Francisco one, because that one I - I remember that I wasn’t there, [laughing] but I remember this story. Wasn’t this like a sailing ship that came over the city? Do you remember that?
Mike: Well, I remember them saying that it had propellers and portholes and antenna, searchlights…
Mike: …which is pretty strange, and we find that 14 percent of the population say they’ve seen them with their own eyes, not just in dreams or visions. What’s interesting is how this phenomenon has increased over the last 60 years, but it also has changed shape with our culture.
Mike: So from the ‘50s, we had like three and a half percent of the US population believing in UFOs, which are unidentified flying objects, but then [in] 1987, it showed that there were 50 percent of the people believing in UFOs, and it’s basically kept the same since. And so lots of people are convinced that we have been visited for thousands of years, and of course when you go back and you see people reading about Superman, who’s a good alien who’s come to earth; and the popularity of Star Wars - you have man encountering alien life; they explore space in the series Star Trek - all these have had an impact on our society’s view of alien life.
Mike: And then you have other movies like Independence Day, War of the Worlds, Men in Black portray the opposite of good aliens that are found in, like, Close Encounters or E.T., quite different from even the alien series on TV of Mork and Mindy or My Favorite Martian. So you’ve got a split view even in our society about are they enemies, or are they our friends?
Tom: Well, the other thing about it is are they extraterrestrials, or are they extra-dimensionals? Are they spirit beings, and so on? This is a part of the research that many have done - I’m not talking about Christians, but people like (we’ll talk about him later) Jacques Vallée, who was an astrophysicist, a computer scientist, and so on. I mean, these are not just guys running around, you know, with a label trying to find spooks and stuff like that. There are legitimate concerns about it. But let’s go back to, again, this object over San Francisco. This is in the 1800s.
Tom: Now, if this isn’t extraterrestrial…and I seem to remember this thing actually had sails along with propellers.
Tom: So how does something like that traverse the universe?
Mike: Well [laughing], it doesn’t, obviously! And somehow, it could have been a rumor that someone started that, you know, stimulated the imagination of other people. I don’t know. But it certainly is not the same kind of ships that people are seeing today…
Mike: …that they claim to see. But you know, the Bible does talk about in Luke 21 that there will be fearful sights and great signs in the heavens…
Mike: …and it talks about it meaning terrific portents, or unusual occurrences that transcend the common course of nature - remarkable events; and it even says in verse 25, “There will be signs in the sun and the moon and in the stars.” So we have - as we look at being in the last days and looking at the skies by astronomy, and we look into our atmosphere, we’re going to see things that aren’t explainable always, but we want them explained.
Mike: And Scripture says, “the powers of the heaven will be shaken,” meaning I don’t think just physical objects in the solar system, but even where Satan’s abode is in the atmosphere, because he is called “the prince of the power of the air.” And I think that’s what’s so important to understand what is really going on here, because there is a deception attached to this whole concept that people have now accepted as mainstream.
Tom: Mm-hmm. Again, we’re putting this in Satan’s lap and the adversary - the adversary with regard to a deception.
Now, the world - people have it in their hearts that they want somebody to solve their problems, whether you call it a Messiah, whether you call it - I think even some of the ships, the oceangoing vessels, that visited islands and so on, you know, the mentality of the people there often was that they were bringing gifts - that these were the gods.
You know, Mike, a friend of mine was a missionary in New Guinea, and he told me about people there who actually set up landing fields for the gods to come. Now, why did they do that? Because during the second World War, we were using New Guinea as a supply depot. And what happened was these natives would see this, and these “silver birds” would come in and bring these supplies, and so on. So after the war, and they left, they saw that as kind of a good thing. So they set up actual rituals along with mock landing fields to get the silver birds to come back, and I mean…
So what I’m getting at here is it’s the mentality - part of the lies of the adversary is that - and the alien lie - is that, “We’re from another world, and we’re going to help you solve your problems. Man is in a mess, and we’ve got technology that’s greater than yours.” That’s why, in my understanding, almost every phenomenon is just ahead of the culture, or the scientific endeavors of the culture, but enough to say, “Hey, these are more advanced than we are, whatever they might be.”
Mike: Exactly. Mm-hmm. Yeah, well, there are a lot of people dissatisfied with the human condition, so they actually are looking to aliens as the answer…
Mike: …and it’s as you say, but what they’re communicating is that their planet - their culture is always more beautiful and superior to ours. We’re always in the lesser, and we need to learn from them, which kind of sets us up to be under them, and for them to dictate to us a number of things.
Mike: What if they were to come and tell us things that were completely strange to our science and religion, and we just accept it? Well, that’s where the deception is, because they’re saying they’re from another planet - of course they’re more advanced. But they’re not really from another planet, and that’s where the problem begins.
Tom: Right. But also part of the confusion, as I mentioned, Jacques Vallée - one of his books is Messengers of Deception. Now, to my knowledge, he’s not a Christian, never became a Christian, but he recognized from his observation - from his research - some of the things that were going on that had to do with deception. And he also connected it with a lot of folklore things and things like - Passport to Magonia, I think, was another of his books, and it deals with things like fairies and leprechauns and these things that appear and disappear and so on. But he puts them in the same category with the entities behind UFOs. Is that your understanding?
Mike: Well, you know, Vallée has said that we may be headed for a massive change of human attitude towards paranormal abilities and extraterrestrial life, and he’s basically spot-on. But his conclusions are not our conclusions.
Mike: I know this quote of the UFO-ologist Hynek stating, “I have come to support less and less the idea that UFOs are nuts-and-bolts spacecraft from other worlds.” So they don’t really understand the paranormal like we would from a Christian perspective…
Mike: …and so they’re open - being scientists - they’re open to basically anything, and that’s where they can be misled into a whole area that they’re not really equipped to be in.
Tom: Yeah. Well, it’s part of the problem of - you know, I mentioned Vallée having a science background - Hynek I believe did as well - and when you have that, kind of what comes with it is a credibility of science. But as you said, Mike, they’re dealing with the paranormal. They’re dealing with spirit entities, and they can’t get a handle on it. So on the one hand, they want to have it be a nuts-and-bolts operation - you know, a materialist operation - because they can’t explain extra-dimensional; they can’t explain spirit entities, as far as my understanding is.
Mike: Well, right, and the problem, being the scientists like they are, is once you start admitting there are spirit entities, then you have to start considering what the Bible says about them, and so they’re either bringing the message of God, or they’re bringing another message that is against God.
Tom: Mm-hmm. You know, Mike, do you see a connection here - especially those who are coming up with their theories - do you see a connection here with evolution?
Mike: Oh, yeah, absolutely. Interesting that you bring that up, because so many people have accepted the evolutionary idea, even the pope, Pious XII, in his Encyclical Humani Generis stated there’s no intrinsic conflict between Christianity and evolution, and so he says Catholics can believe in evolution just as long as God’s involvement is acknowledged. But then they went from that to now, where you have people in the Vatican’s observatory where they’re saying that there very well could be alien life. One astronomer in an interview said that “the alien is my brother,” and he says it’s very possible that there are other beings out there, intelligent beings, that God created. Well, we agree with that, but are they angels or are they really creatures, humanoid creatures, on another planet, like some of them believe?
Mike: So the Vatican has found interest in UFOs and aliens, and this pope is so inclusive that he says he would baptize aliens. For example, he said, “Tomorrow, if an expedition of Martians came to us here and one said, ‘I want to be baptized,’ what would happen? Who are we to close doors?” So, you know, I guess they’re trying to make up for the mistake they did with Galileo. But you know, you’re opening up almost a billion Catholics to the idea that there’s extraterrestrial life that can be just like life on earth.
Tom: Well, see, Mike - again, they come up with these theories and they sound - to some people they might sound great, but wait a minute! What does Jesus Christ have to do with an alien? I mean, He’s born in the - you know, the village city of Bethlehem. He goes to Jerusalem to the cross; the gospel is central to humans, so what might they say - I’m talking about you know, the Catholic hierarchy - what are they saying? That these are - why would they be baptized? Were they sinners? Again, it doesn’t even fit with their own theology, but it’s certainly the theology - the cosmic gospel of UFOs, which is antithetical to the biblical gospel, you know. We’re gods, basically, is the cosmic gospel. So it’s ludicrous, but people are fascinated by it. People are intrigued by it.
Mike: Oh, sure. I mean, look at NASA - claims that alien life will be discovered within the next 20 years. They have a list of, like, 5,000 planets that could sustain life, and they’re looking for planets with the right distance away from the star to have liquid water, the key ingredient to life. So you have people with the idea that we need to expand our idea of religion, but I say that there’s an indoctrination taking place, and the entire world is their oyster.
Tom: Right. I’m talking with Mike Oppenheimer, and his ministry is Let Us Reason. His website is letusreason.org. Mike, we’re out of time for this segment, but I want to pick up with this next week, and I want to talk about, again - maybe identify a little bit more this cosmic gospel. There’s a theology involved with these entities, and we need to talk about them if we want to figure out - if we want to get a really good idea of who they are and what they’re about. So, Mike, thanks for being with us, and we look forward to it next week.
Mike: Thank you, Tom.
Gary: You’ve been listening to Search the Scriptures 24/7 with T.A. McMahon, a radio ministry of The Berean Call. For more information about Mike Oppenheimer’s ministry, go to letusreason.org. We offer a wide variety of resources to help you in your study of God’s Word. For a complete list of materials and a free subscription to our monthly newsletter, contact us at PO Box 7019 Bend, Oregon 97708. Call us at 800-937-6638, or visit our website at thebereancall.org. I’m Gary Carmichael. Thanks for joining us, and we hope you can tune in again next week. Until then, we encourage you to Search the Scriptures 24/7.