By Emily Joy Allison-Hearn
One of the first things my partner #twitterlessbilly and I bonded over was our mutual love of the history channel cult classic, Ancient Aliens. I’ve been binge-watching Ancient Aliens for years, and I even dressed up as contributor Georgio Tsoukalos when one of our friends had a sexy-conspiracy-theory-themed birthday party.
And I’ll be honest. I’m not sure it’s all made up. I’m pretty sure I saw a UFO once.
This is normally a story I only tell after a glass or two of wine, but it’s true. When I lived in the suburbs of Phoenix in 2013, I worked at a local farm-to-table grill. That’s where #twitterlessbilly and I met: he was my boss. But that’s a story for another time.
I closed a lot when I first started working there. The restaurant was open till 10:00 PM, and we were usually out of there by 11:00 PM or so. The house I shared with four other girls was only a couple of miles away, so the drive home only took a few minutes.
One night after we finished closing, I was driving home when I noticed something weird in the sky.
It was a bright orb, about the size of the end of a pencil eraser if you held it up to the sky at arm’s length, with a ring around it like you see in cartoon illustrations of the planet Saturn. But the ring was moving, rotating around the orb and changing colors as it rotated. It wasn’t a plane, because there were two or three planes flying around the orb, almost as if they were chasing it, and they were distinct from the orb.
I followed the spectacle as far down the road as I needed to drive, but the objects in the sky fell out of sight behind trees and buildings and distant mountains, and I realized I needed to pay attention to what I was doing if I wanted to make it home without causing a multi-car pileup on Gilbert Road.
I never saw anything like that, ever before or ever again.
It was probably some military test, right?
But I still watch Ancient Aliens, and Cosmos, and UFO Files, and all of the History and Discovery Channel specials that get posted to Netflix.
Is it possible, like some ancient astronaut theorists believe, that the “sky beings” were really intelligent creatures from a galaxy not too far from our own? And if so, could they have imparted knowledge to the ancient so-and-so’s that allowed them to carve such intricate structures without the use of modern laser technology?
I mean. It’s weird. Right?
I remember when Answers in Genesis founder Ken Ham posted a blog about how, if aliens exist, they don’t fall under the concern of the Gospel™, so we shouldn’t bother trying to find them or make contact with them, because they’re not listed in the first chapter of Genesis, so Jesus clearly didn’t die for them.
My view of the universe has since expanded drastically, but I chuckled to myself and took a moment of silence to remember when I thought the gospel so small and exclusionary to exclude so many—aliens, the LGBT community, non-Calvinists, people who didn’t go to church.
But for the grace of God, there go I.
They found water on the planet Mars. Not water like Niagara Falls, but, water. Very salty, very cold, liquid water. And as they’ve been telling us for years, liquid water is the most primary prerequisite for intelligent, even monocellular life.
Then, they’re pretty sure they found “giant alien megastructures” orbiting a star fairly close the Milky Way. Whatever that means. If it is synthetic, they think it might be a series of solar panels, designed to harness energy from the star they’re orbiting. Could it be a naturally occurring fluke?
But when it comes down to it, I want to believe we’re not the only ones out there.
The reality is this: We are a bunch of specks walking around on a speck, orbiting another speck, which exists in an infinite universe of infinite, similar, ever-burning specks. There is no human number system that can begin to make remote sense of the amount of other specks there are floating around out there.
And yet, we’re the only ones? We’re the only minds? We’re the only consciousness?
I guess that could be.
I was homeschooled, so I’m not great at math, but. The odds don’t seem great that that’s the case.
I want to believe we’re not the only ones out there because I want to believe that in all of that vast space, in all of the sparkling lights, in all of the nonsense nothingness, there is someone else out there wrestling with the absurdity of existence. I want to believe that Earth is not the only creative place in all of existence, that others elsewhere are creating and forming and redeeming and loving.
I want to believe that someone else looks into the night sky and wonders, How did we get here? And What happens after we’re not here anymore? And What in the hell is the point of it all?
There might be someone—or something—else out there, and there might not. But I’m hopeful. The Force that created and sustains us is surely big enough and good enough to create and sustain every speck on a speck on a speck, wherever it exists in the vast, wide universe.