“UFO Belief is a Modern Outlet for Ancient Spiritual Yearnings”

Francesco Dimitri writes for Psyche:

The Raëlians are not the only UFO religion born in the 20th century. They are the most laid-back, with their dancing nights and their ‘sensual meditation’, a far cry from the nihilism of another, Heaven’s Gate, whose members died in a mass suicide in 1997. The Aetherius Society is an early example, Scientology is another, more famous one, and the list could go on. It is a busy field.

That UFOs would give rise to new forms of spirituality is not strange. Analysing the author Whitley Strieber’s reports from 1987 of a long series of extremely bizarre meetings with alien creatures, the scholar Jeffrey Kripal wrote in Secret Body (2017) that ‘the history of religions is the broadest context and grammar’ of such experiences. Ever since the dawn of our species, religions have been helping us make sense of ourselves and the world, especially at times when our certainties crumble. Narratives about extraterrestrials help satisfy that same need. Interest in UFOs – which has been showing signs of resurgence in recent years – has more to do with the soul than with the stars.