(By Gary Bates) I grew up as a science-fiction fan, and I can recall the religious impact it had on me. I dreamed of utopian alien worlds filled with technologically advanced beings that might save the Earth someday. After getting saved in my adult years (in an Assemblies of God church in Western Australia), I started to see things differently. I still love sci-fi, but front and center, I keep in mind the word “fiction,” because most people, including Christians, don’t recognize the strong evolutionary connection in sci-fi. Life only came about by one of two ways. Either it was created (as the Bible says), or it evolved (and countless times over in the incredibly vast universe). And if aliens evolved long before life evolved on Earth, they could also be millions of years advanced with their technology; building hyperdrive spaceships and so. It’s these ideas that permeates most sci-fi today.

So, I undertook specialist research as a way of using this popular cultural idea to lead people to the Gospel. However, I got more than I bargained for.  Polls report that in the U.S. alone, over 20 million people claim to have seen a UFO, and up to 4 million claim they have been abducted by aliens. Other researchers and I have collectively interviewed thousands of people, and the common pattern of the experiences makes it clear something is really happening to them. The big question is, are these “close encounters” really aliens flying to earth in faster-than-light spaceships from a galaxy far, far away? The answer is a firm no, because the evidence itself shows that these experiences are spiritual in nature. READ MORE