McLean v Arkansas and the Demonic Hypothesis of UFO

I was reminded recently that the Demonic Hypothesis of UFO played a role during 1981’s McLean v Arkansas Board of Education court case when it was used by evolutionists to discredit Dr. Norman Geisler’s testimony.

On March 1, 1982, fellow creationist Dr. Duane Gish wrote:

“In an attempt to discredit Geisler’s testimony, the ACLU lawyer quoted Geisler’s published belief that UFO’s were under the control of Satan. In most of the media this was headlined in order to mute the effect of Geisler’s testimony.”

Geisler was the first witness called for the defense. Writing for The Age, Peter Cole-Adams, reported the story under the headline, Satan Comes To Little Rock:

SATAN had his moment in Ottle Rock on Friday. Given the extraordinary nature of the case before the US District Court here, he was bound to get into the act sooner or later.

I cannot report that there was a scent of sulphur in the air, but the atmosphere crackled. After five days of erudite evidence and civilised questioning, the Great Creation Trial produced its first real moment of drama.

It happened suddenly, at the very end of the week’s final session. Under brief but brutal cross-examination, the first witness for the State of Arkansas Dr Norman Geisler, a theology professor and philosopher told the court he believed unidentified flying objects were the actual work of Satan.

According to a copy of the deposition taken on November 14, 1981 (found in the University of Arkansas’ Special Collections), Geisler stated that his basis for belief in Satan was his belief that the Bible is the Word of God. Then Geisler added that experience had also convinced him that Satan exists. When Mr. Siano asked him what sort of experiences, Geisler replied:

“Uh, dealing with demon possessed people, exorcisms, the study of the UFO phenomena, the study of the occult.”

The ACLU lawyer’s reaction was to ask for that answer to be read back.

Q. In this quote I read to you — from one of the quotes that I read to you from Mr. Morris in connection with evolutionary philosophy, he uses the term, Satan. As an expert, do you have a view of the meaning of that word?

A. Uh-huh, I do. I believe that the word, Satan, described in the Bible, and as held by orthodox Christians down through the years, refers to an intelligent, personal supra-human being, who rebelled against God, and with him a whole host of other beings called angels, who are now called demons.

Q. Do you believe that Satan exists?

A. Yes. Yes.

Q. What is the basis for that?

A. The basis for that belief is that the Bible is the word of God, and the Bible teaches it. And my basis or belief in the Bible as the word of God, I have already indicated earlier.

Q. That’s true.

A. And I might add that it is confirmed by experience, as well.

Q. What experiences have confirmed it to you, sir, as an expert, the existence of Satan?

A. Uh, dealing with demon possessed people, exorcisms, the study of the UFO phenomena, the study of the occult.

Q. Could I have that answer read back?

(Thereupon the Reporter-read back the immediate previous answer).

Q. What study have you made of the occult, sir?

A. Uh, I have, uh, read books on the occult, and then also an encounter with people who have had occult experiences. And uh —7

Q. Has this been done in a systematic way?

A. Uh, well so far as all of my work is systematic — done in a systematic way. I have, uh, looked at the phenomena, looked at the theories, looked at the evidence pro and con, come to conclusions based on the facts that I have, available — the hypothesis —

Q. How much have you — how much have you — time, would you say in the last twenty years, has been spent studying the occult?

A. I would say less than 1/10th.

Q. Less than ten percent of your time?

A. Uh-huh.

Q. And what sort —and how many books have you read on the occult?

A. Uh, probably a couple dozen books that either are on it or related to it. Uh —

Q. How many people have you interviewed?

A. Oh, I would say probably, if you count as interviewed all those people who have shared with me in experiences and counseling, and discussing about it — probably fifty to one hundred.

MR. CAMPBELL: For the record, I object to these questions on the occult, as to their relevance.

MR. SIANO: Your objection is noted.


Q. Now about — you discussed UFO’s — I take it those are initials?

A. UFO’s? Yea.

Q. What do those initials stand for?

A. Unidentified flying objects.

MR. CAMPBELL: I make my similar objection to UFO’s.

Q. What is the basis for your — have you studied UFO’s in a systematic way?

A. I have read books on UFO’s, seen films on UFO’s. And analyzed various theories that have been presented on the basis of the evidence.

Q. Did — interviewed people?

A. Not systematically. No, I have not systematically interviewed anybody. I have talked to people, who have had experiences and who have related what they had. But I have depended mainly on the evidence, as provided; by the — Dr. Heinich (sic) from Northwestern University who has done systematic —

Q. How do you spell that?

A. H-Y-N-E-K, I think.

Q. Have you read his book or talked to him?

A. I have just read his material, I haven’t talked to him.

Q. What is your experience with demon possessed people?

MR. CAMPBELL: I make my same objection to the relevance on this point.

WITNESS: My personal experience with demon possessed people is limited to probably about a half a dozen or so cases of people, that in my opinion, on the basis of the evidence I had, probably were influenced by demons.

Q. And do you have any professional opinion, as to the existence of demons?

A. Yea. Yea. I believe that demons exist.

Q. Do you have any professional opinion, as to the existence of UFO’s

A. Yes. I believe that UFO’s exist.

Q. And how are they connected with Satan?

A. I believe that they are part of a mass deception attempt, that they are means by which Satan deceives because he is a deceiver and he is trying to deceive people. He did it from the beginning in the Garden of Eden, and he has been doing it now through the years. And this is one of the ways that he is deceiving people.

Q. Your description of demons, I take it, are those other angels that fell with Satan. And they exist now?

A. Yes.

Q. And your experience with the occult — how did that relate to your view of the existence of Satan?

A. I think occult phenomena, such as the moving of physical objects through the air, and so forth, such as is manifest, for example, in the Empire Strikes Back. The Luke Skywalker, the ability to move physical objects. I think that this is a demonic power that you get by occult practices. It has been done in time immemorial. It is condemned in the Bible. And it is still manifest in the world today.

Sensational newspaper headlines such as the one attached to Peter Cole-Adams’ article popped up everywhere. A much-circulated Associated Press began:

“A theology professor testifying Friday in a court test of how creation should be taught in public schools said he believes UFOs exist and are the work of Satan.”

A widely-circulated Washington Post Press article was more scathing:

“The defense of the Arkansas creation law opened today with a spectacular courtroom fireworks display as the opening creationist witness described, under cross-examination, his belief in unidentified flying objects, demon possession and the occult, which he said he sees as actual satanic attacks in the world.”

Another Associated Press article began

“A witness who supports teaching the creation concept of the universein Arkansas public schools sayshe finds evidence in the Bible for UFOs, which he called “a satanic manifestation in the world for the purpose of deception.”

I don’t there is a person alive today who could objectively say that Norman Geisler’s promotion of the Demonic Hypothesis of UFO helped the credibility of the creationist position in that courtroom and in the eyes of the public.

Geisler could perhaps be excused as a product of his times. Evangelical Christianity was after all caught up in the fervor of the Satanic Panic. Yet here we are, 37 years later, and Gary Bates of Creation Ministries International is repeating Geisler’s ill-conceived promotion of a theory which is less and less tenable the more we examine it. So-called alien abduction experiences can be stopped in the name of Jesus, but mere willpower and resistance work as well. There are 44 parallels between the alien abduction phenomenon and the Satanic ritual abuse phenomenon, but there is no evidence that either actually ever happen in the real world. The abduction phenomenon isn’t really as big as its touted anyway. And if the UFO phenomenon such a grand Satanic scheme to deceive mankind, why is it being thwarted by drones and cell phones well before the Devil’s “Coming Great Deception,” in which a false flag alien event put on by fallen angels to usher in the Antichrist’s One World Government prophetically fulfills 2 Thessalonians 2:11 and explains away the Rapture of the Church in one fell swoop? Yessir, the evidence is mounting up against the Demonic Hypothesis of UFO.

Is this really the sort of thing we’re willing to support at the risk of another needless black eye to Biblical creationism?

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