Roswell and the Restoration

June 3, 2005 | 58 comments

People often ask me what Mormonism has to say about UFOs.

Mormonism has nothing to say about UFOs.

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58 Responses to Roswell and the Restoration

  1. Costanza on June 3, 2005 at 4:45 pm

    In the mid-late 90s there was a radio show in SLC called “Ground Zero” which discussed “mysterious” phenomena like reverse speech, ghosts, bigfoot, and, of course, UFOs. The host, a guy named Clyde Lewis, used to talk about how he was fascinated by Mormonism because it was a faith that explicitly taught that God the Father and Christ were extraterrestrials because they came from the planet Kolob. I got a kick out of it.

  2. Suzie Petunia on June 3, 2005 at 4:46 pm

    Didn’t Brigham Young say something about little green men living on the moon?…

  3. Randy on June 3, 2005 at 4:47 pm

    I am going to Roswell in a few weeks. I have to admit that I am a bit excited to see the alien museum.

  4. wendy on June 3, 2005 at 5:07 pm

    When I was little, my mother refused to let me go see “E.T” in the theaters because she didn’t want me to get the idea that beings from other planets would like that alien. God is the god of many worlds, and all of his children are created in his image. Aliens look like us, not like E.T.

    This explanation did not make much sense to the other first graders in my class when I passed it along to them. She took us to the re-release a few years later, after she’d mellowed out a bit.

  5. Steve Evans on June 3, 2005 at 5:10 pm

    Of course we believe in UFOs. How else are you hie-ing to Kolob in the twinkling of an eye? The bus?

  6. danithew on June 3, 2005 at 5:21 pm

    Adam, this is a cheap and easy post for you … and I love it.

    Read this verse closely and you might have a scriptural basis for life on other planets:

    Doctrine and Covenants 76:24
    That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God.

  7. William Jefferson on June 3, 2005 at 5:24 pm

    The church is opposed to bad 80s pop music that has Michael Jackson singing the tag-line “I Always Feel Like Somebody’s Watching Me.” Oh, wait, that song was by Rockwell, not Roswell. Never mind.

  8. Kevin Barney on June 3, 2005 at 5:31 pm

    I agree that says nothing about UFOs per se, but Mormons on the whole tend to be much more open to extraterrestrial life than other Christians. At least I am. Many understand the parable of the kingdoms in D&C 88: 51-61 as alluding to other worlds. Certainly in the 19th century, there was ample theological speculation about life on other planets. This even raises a doctrinal issue: does the atonement of Jesus Christ apply throughout the universe, or does each planet have its own Christ that goes through the drama for that planets own inhabitants? Also, the hierarchical conception of Gods from the 19th century and belief in our potential of eternal progression might suggest belief in life on other worlds besides our own.

  9. Jack on June 3, 2005 at 5:50 pm

    As I said on a different thread, my stake patriarch verily believed in UFOs. He believed that there were “real UFOs” which were remote controled probes sent to earth by a group of the lost ten tribes to survey the planet in preparation for their return. He also believed that there were counterfeit UFOs sent forth by the adversary. Now this patriarch was no schlep. He worked for TRW and was responsible for a major break through in the developement of the chemical laser that was to be used on the SDI program. He knew some of the folks working on Project Blue Book and said that they had conclusive proof that UFOs did in fact exist. Scouts Honor.

    What do I think? Well, I don’t mind the idea as long as the aliens are nice.

    According to said patriarch, the ten tribes will return with a major force–an invasion of sorts. They will be the arm of the Lord falling upon the nations. I don’t think i like that idea too much.

  10. Ryan Bell on June 3, 2005 at 5:51 pm

    Adam, your post reminded me of a trick Elder McConkie pulled in Mormon doctrine. As I recall, when you look up the entry for “High Priest,” there’s a note at the bottom that says “See High Priestess.” The average reader, not having ever imagined the existence of High Priestesses will become intrigued, and consider the implications. Turning then, to the entry for High Priestess”, which was encouraged by Elder McConkie, the reader then finds something like: “There is NO SUCH THING as HIGH PRIESTESSES and anyone who teaches contrary is in opposition to the prophets and risks great punishment for their apostasy.” He lures you into thinking for a second that there are High Priestesses, then encourages you to learn more, then makes you feel like the devil for ever having thought up such nonsense, you silly apostate soul.

    That always made me laugh.

  11. SeptimusH on June 3, 2005 at 5:53 pm

    I look at it this way, that Mormonism teaches life exists on other planets is pretty clear, that such life visits us here on earth, and what such life might look like, remains unclear. I think any faith that requires belief in such unlikely things as angels and ancient records drudged up from the ground needs to be open to the possibility of alien visitation. The story of the restoration is hard to swallow until you get a testimony of it and believing in UFOs is only difficult before you see a strange llight in the sky.

  12. Bob Caswell on June 3, 2005 at 5:53 pm

    Ryan Bell,

    That’s the difference between me and you, maybe. That always made me roll my eyes (o.k., maybe I laughed a little).

  13. Jack on June 3, 2005 at 5:58 pm

    UFO: Like, an unidentified freaky object, Scoob!

  14. Kingsley on June 3, 2005 at 6:28 pm

    Last week, when I was being anally probed by aliens on their clean, well-lighted ship, I thought of (among other things) the D&C verses referenced above, the wonder & glory of the universe. Wendy, you’ll be pleased to know that my probers did not resemble E.T., but were, like me, made in the image of God. That is, they were white, blond, & blue-eyed, & wore Dickies scrubs, & — wait. Sorry! I think they were doctors.

  15. Jeremiah J. on June 3, 2005 at 6:34 pm

    Extraterrestrial life and “UFOs” or actual visitations are two very different issues. Most scientists who have thought about the question are convinced that there must be life elsewhere in the universe. But very few of them put any stock in the various claims of alien visitations. The idea that countless ordinary folk have seen alien life and alien spacecraft, though astronomers, aircraft pilots, aircraft controllers and astronauts have reported no evidence of such spacecraft requires a conspiracy theory that is much more far fetched than the idea of alien visitation itself. It requires you believe that there is some kind of blood pact of silence between all of the countless people who are looking at air radar or into telescopes everyday. In just the last generation our vision into the heavens has become many times clearer and more expansive. Thus the idea that there is some truth about the sky that some chosen people know but which all the experts are either ignorant of or duplicitous about is becoming more and more kooky.

    Once I worked as a research assistant for my astronomy professor for a summer, doing telescope research on supernovae in other galaxies. Almost every day we got emails from an astronomical listserve which reported new objects found by everyone from major observatories to amateur astronomy hobbyists. One day we got an email about a sighting of an asteroid (around the length of a football field, I think) which seemed to have some chance of hitting the earth in around 25 years. The media reported the story about a week later, but by then it was determined that it would come close but had almost no chance of hitting the Earth. So if the government is expending an enormous amount of energy to keep the truth about UFOs from “getting out” (even though a significant number of Americans already believes anyway)–presumably to prevent mass hysteria–why would it do nothing about a report that in a couple decades a thousand Hiroshimas might come raining down on someone’s backyard?

  16. Silus Grok on June 3, 2005 at 6:35 pm

    I’ve always believed in extra-terrestrial life… a by-product of both being a queer child and a Mormon who has actually read the manual. But I don’t believe in UFOs. It’s not just that the physics is mind-boggling, but that a Heavenly Father that won’t allow angels from other planets to administer here, but who would allow inter-planetary travel, just seems counter-intuitive.

  17. Kingsley on June 3, 2005 at 6:39 pm

    Ryan Bell: Great image. Elder McConkie leaves a trail of cookie crumbs for you to follow, &, giggling, awaits your approach with an upraised axe.

  18. Aaron Brown on June 3, 2005 at 6:43 pm

    Everyone believes in UFOs. To not acknowledge the existence of Unidentified Flying Objects is to claim to be able to identify ALL flying objects. Surely no one is so audacious as to claim this.

    Now, whether everyone believes in flying “saucers” is a different question, to be sure.

    Aaron B

  19. Stephen M (Ethesis) on June 3, 2005 at 6:43 pm

    He knew some of the folks working on Project Blue Book and said that they had conclusive proof that UFOs did in fact exist. in the mid-70s the head of Exxon Nuclear said the same things. I’ve wondered.

  20. John C. on June 3, 2005 at 6:58 pm

    #2: Joseph Smith reportedly said that there were tall green men on the moon who dressed after the manner of the Quakers. Zelph, ahoy?

  21. john fowles on June 3, 2005 at 7:45 pm

    I use the blue book every day and have seen no evidence whatsoever of UFOs, unless you consider the genuinely alien nature of the citation system represented there.

  22. Nate Oman on June 3, 2005 at 8:10 pm

    Yes, John, but have you seen the new 18th edition yet? There is a whole section on the proper citation format for legislative debates on other planets…

  23. Jack on June 3, 2005 at 8:24 pm

    I think the whole UFO phenomenon is society’s collective psychological reaction to the rise of technology (and drugs).

  24. annegb on June 3, 2005 at 9:04 pm

    Well, the guy who wrote Doctrines of Salvation, volumes 1,2,&3 and later became a prophet, said that man would never walk on the moon. I use that in Sunday School to disconcert people when the talk gets too serious.

  25. Kingsley on June 3, 2005 at 9:56 pm

    Gee, annebg, why would you wanna do that? You rabble rouser, you. Re the Smith quote, talk about used & abused. If you want to really disconcert them, try The Origins of Man.

    Wow, editors, nice clean-up job on my McConkie comment.

  26. Ben H on June 3, 2005 at 10:22 pm

    Jeremy, what do you mean, blood pact? The aliens are too smart to be seen by them! They have thousands of years of technological head start on us, and you think we’re going to spot them with telescopes? They just use cloaking devices until they’re ready to freak out some poor farmer. You don’t need a conspiracy among the pilots and astronomers, only among the aliens! Sheesh : )

  27. Todd Hopkinson on June 3, 2005 at 10:24 pm

    This place is breeding ground for the Mormon-folklore menace!

    By the way, I saw an explosion in space once…most likely one of our sats..but it sure popped and lit up!

  28. Matt Bowman on June 3, 2005 at 10:38 pm

    Just thought I’d point out that a week ago I was on a panel at MHA with a guy who managed to squeeze a good twenty minutes out of the topic “Singular Phenomena: Mormon UFO Sightings in the Nineteenth Century.”

  29. Paul Mortensen on June 3, 2005 at 10:48 pm

    Nate and John F:

    Next year I will have produced a solution to all of your Blue Book woes.

  30. Jim F. on June 4, 2005 at 12:45 am

    Todd Hopkinson: I think you’re right to point to celestial phenomena in this context. My wife and I saw a low-flying meteor streak across the sky one evening. It seemed like it was a few hundred feet above the ground, going a zillion miles and hour, and bright blue. And it seemed to drop into Utah Lake. I almost wrecked the car when it went over us. Though I accepted the weatherman’s report that night that it was a meteor, I could certainly understand how someone might think otherwise.

  31. Jack on June 4, 2005 at 1:20 am


    I saw something like that about, oh, 4 years ago, I’d say. I was watching a satellite move across the sky when all at once it lit up like an arc welder’s lamp. But then it became a little point of light again before it finally disappeared in the Earth’s shadow. I think I must have caught a powerful momentary reflection from the sun as it was rolling or tumbling (do they do that?).

  32. SeptimusH on June 4, 2005 at 3:24 am

    Who’s to say though? That’s the thing. Two people in two different places see the same thing in the night sky. One person concludes it’s a satellite, another figures it’s an alien spacecraft. Neither are absolutely certain, nor will either ever know for sure, but one goes with the most likely explanation and the other goes with a completely unlikey, but infinitely more fascinating and entertaining explanation. I think much of religious belief operates the same way. The highly unprobable, even doubtful is accepted because it makes a much better story.

    I had an English professor in college who once went to a conference to present a paper. In the same hotel there was also a UFO convention going on. He slipped out of one conference to attend the other and reported back to our class that the one about UFOs was much more convincing.

  33. Sienna Dos Santos on June 4, 2005 at 6:56 am

    Anti-mormons have this to say about Brother Joe:

    “As far back as 1837 Joseph Smith said the moon was inhabited by men and women the same as this earth, and that they lived to a greater age than we do; that they lived generally to near the age of 1000 years. He described the men as averaging near six feet in height, and dressing quite uniformly in something near the Quaker style. (Oliver B. Huntington, Young Women’s Journal, vol. 3, p. 263)”

    So, it all must be true…………..right?

  34. Jeremy on June 4, 2005 at 10:40 am

    I think I might have shared this before, but I’ll nonetheless use this thread as an excuse to post this recollection from the famous composer John Cage:

    Hugh Nibley. I hadn’t seen him since high school days. I asked him what he thought about other planets and sentient populations. Yes, he said, throughout the universe: it’s Mormon doctrine. We said good-bye. I opened the door of the car, picked up my attaché case and everything in it fell out on the grass and the gutter. His comment: Something memorable always happens.

  35. Tanya S. on June 4, 2005 at 10:55 am

    A while back I stumbled upon a website with a very entertaining theory (I’d link it, but I don’t think it exists anymore). Apparently, there is supposed to be a tunnel between Crossroads Plaza (the mall across the street from Temple Square) and the West Desert/Dugway area. See, the leaders of the Church are actually aliens, and they get back and forth to their space ship in Dugway though those tunnels. Why Crossroads and not, say the temple? Well, that’s to throw the humans off so that we can’t do anything about it until it’s too late, when the aliens/leaders of the Church will take over the planet.

    I wish I could find that website again. It was several pages without paragraph breaks, but it was so fun to read.

  36. Scott on June 4, 2005 at 11:02 am

    Interesting! How often? Who asks? I’ve been around for 50+ years and don’t recall ever being asked that question. I’m frequently asked about LDS culture, doctrine, practices (old and new), Brigham Young and other leaders, etc., but never has the subject of UFO’s arisen. So I’m very interested as to how often (5 times, 10 times, 50 times,…) and in what circumstances this question is asked. Thanks.

  37. Tanya S. on June 4, 2005 at 11:05 am

    Oh, also, I highly recommend . Do a search for “mormon” from that site, and you get all kinds of good stuff. You can’t buy entertainment like that :-D

  38. Larry on June 4, 2005 at 12:24 pm

    Kevin Barney, re.#8

    In the late 60′s or early 70′s there was a pullout in the Church magazine. One of the articles in there was by Marion G. Romney titled “Jesus Christ, Lord of the Universe” in which he talked about that very thing.
    Other articles were by Boyd K. Packer, Bruce R. McConkie and other General Authorities.

    In high school I had an electronics teacher who was touted as the leading UFO researcher in Canada at the time. The stories he told were incredible about evidences they had regarding their existence.

  39. Marc Bohn on June 4, 2005 at 1:51 pm

    You have way too much time on your hands Tanya : )

  40. Davis Bell on June 4, 2005 at 2:23 pm

    To me the greatest mystery is this: Do people really often ask Mr. Adam Greenwood what his church has to say about UFOs?

    I have never had that question posed to me.

  41. Larry on June 4, 2005 at 5:24 pm


    You must live in an alien environment.

  42. Ben H on June 4, 2005 at 5:49 pm

    As far back as 1837 Joseph Smith said the moon was inhabited by men and women the same as this earth

    Joseph never did fully repent of his levity, did he?
    : )

  43. Eric James Stone on June 4, 2005 at 8:52 pm

    > Well, the guy who wrote Doctrines of Salvation, volumes 1,2,&3 and later became a prophet, said that man would
    > never walk on the moon. I use that in Sunday School to disconcert people when the talk gets too serious.

    And apparently he was right:

  44. Jettboy on June 5, 2005 at 11:14 am

    The thing is, many people were saying that. I wouldn’t be surprised if a former prophet once said that men could never fly.

  45. Seth Rogers on June 5, 2005 at 5:07 pm

    Well, as I understand it, LDS theology basically says that “aliens” look just like us. But you can only date them if they’re “Mormon.”

  46. John Mansfield on June 6, 2005 at 10:34 am

    To add a little perspective, a couple years back I happenned to browse through a 1954 text on aerodynamics by Theodor von Karman, a leading figure in that field at mid-century. He had a couple pages musing that supersonic flight was so difficult to achieve that it wasn’t worth wasting too much thought on the topic. This was perplexing to read coming from someone known as the father of supersonic flight.

  47. Matt Astle on June 6, 2005 at 2:27 pm

    I’ve always thought the LDS doctrine of extraterrestrial life would be a great idea for a Mormon sci-fi story. Suppose mankind someday develops the technology to travel to other worlds, and when we arrive, our protagonist finds not little green weirdos, but men and women, just like us. And most mind-boggling of all: Christians!

  48. Peter Wiscombe on June 6, 2005 at 5:29 pm
  49. Matt Hemmert on June 6, 2005 at 11:54 pm

    Little green men? No. UFO’s? Sure. How else do angels get around? There are laws of the universe that even God is beholden to. And spiritual beings descending in pillars of light? Sounds like technology to me.

    One thing that has fascinated me is Einstein’s theories regarding the speed of light. As something approaches it, it becomes more dense and smaller, for lack of a better word. Angels/beings traveling at the speed of light, or faster, are infinately small and, until they slow down, would be invisible and timeless. But how to stop to smell the roses?…

    I’m not a nut–just attempting to reconcile thousands upon thousands of UFO sightings with religion. Another thought: the technology of the transoceanic ship was incredibly advanced in the 1400′s. Natives thought them to be vehicles filled with gods. While most of these ships were used peacefully for transport, there were always those who used them to rape and pillage and otherwise wreak havoc on native populations. Could the same be true of advanced “other sheep” who have advanced travel technology? There could be a few rogue travelers who like to apprehend and analyze our “native” state.

    Now that I’m going to be laughed out of the forum…

    Matt Hemmert

  50. Floyd the Wonderdog on June 8, 2005 at 10:59 am

    I just left a posting on BCC about a nutty seminary teacher we had in this ward. Among other things, she taught that the day, night and day of light in the New World that signaled the birth of Christ was caused by space aliens in their space ships. After all isn’t the city of Enoch a giant spaceship a la *Cities in Flight*? I’ve wondered why the Provo Temple looks so much like a flying saucer. I’ve got to stop and put my aluminum foil hat on so the evil aliens can’t read my thoughts.

  51. Bryan Robert on June 8, 2005 at 5:23 pm

    I ve had a few people ask me about a Joseph Smith/Brig Young talking about life on the moon. That because they said this, obviously they were not real prophets etc. I explain to them, that everything that is said out of a prophets mouth is not from God, of Church doctrine. Musings around a campfire, or speculation is just that. God does not tell them everything, and if it is not part of official Church doctrine then its not something that is sutomatically from God.

    The fact that they may or may not have said/believed this is not strange though. It was a common thought held around that time. In fact until the first probe went to Mars in the 60s it was accepted by NASA, and most scientists, and much of the general public, that there was civilized life there. It was quite a suprise that they found none.

    As far as Mormons believing in UFOs. I dont think that we believe in visiting aliens more than any other religion.Some do, some dont. Mormons as a whole seem to be more educated on average then other religions. As far as life on other planets, I really dont think that there are many educated people left in the world believe that we are the only place in the Universe with life.

  52. Jim F. on June 8, 2005 at 6:09 pm

    Bryan Robert (#51): until the first probe went to Mars in the 60s it was accepted by NASA, and most scientists, and much of the general public, that there was civilized life there.

    Having been in school in the 50s and an adult, though a young one, in the 60s, I find that implausible–but I could be wrong. Perhaps I ran in minority circles and didn’t know it. Do you have a source for this claim?

  53. Bryan Robert on June 15, 2005 at 1:37 am

    Jim F. Perhaps you lived in a bubble at that time :] It however was a very serious discussion about the prospect of life on Mars. Many thought there were great canals built by advanced civilizations. Others thought that the telescope images that had been taken for the last 60-100 years at least provided proof of vegitation on the planet. It was not until the fly by in 1965 that this was disproven. There was even speculation that Mars moon was a space station. Many NASA scientists were very disapointed and suprised that there was no sign of advanced, or primitive life.

    This information is not hard to find. Lol..dont you ever watch the Science channel? Tune in when they talk about Mars, and the different missions there. ( Not trying to be a smart alec ) :] What about the fake radio program that said we were being invaded by Martians…seemed to fool the general public pretty eaisly. I dont know how much of the public believed it, but I would guess if NASA came out and said that they have discovered something, the general public would accept it. It had been a prevailing theory by most until the 65 flight that their was some sort of life there.

  54. A. Greenwood on June 15, 2005 at 2:23 pm

    That fake radio program was in the 30s. I think the scientific community was more willing to believe in Great Canals and that sort of thing in the 30s too. By the 50s, and certainly by the 60s, most scientists no longer believed that life on Mars was at all likely, though they didn’t rule it out.

  55. Bryan Robert on June 17, 2005 at 12:14 pm

    #54 Mr. Greenwood, I dont want to get into a debate with you here, because you seem very intelligent from your other posts, however you are very wrong here. Yes the program was in 1938. However in the 50′s movies depicting Mars invasions were very real, and the threat was real. Until 1965 there was a very real debate as to the existance of life on Mars, with most people believing that there was some life, possible intelligent life. In fact it was this belief that lead to the explosition of exobiology, that only lost its steam with the diapointing fly by in 1965.

    If you are not familiar with this subject, please spend 10 minutes on google before you post. This statement is utterly false.” By the 50s, anc certainly by the 60s, most scientists no longer believed that life on Mars was at all likely, though they didn’t rule it out. ” It should read…most scientists believed that life on Mars was very possible, however, it was not ruled out that there may be no life on the planet.

    This is not a mystery, and this information is not a secret, nor is it hard to find. My orginal point was that even within the last 50 there was a general acceptance of life on Mars, the prophet might have been just stating what was considered common knowledge.

  56. A. Greenwood on June 17, 2005 at 1:40 pm

    “However in the 50’s movies depicting Mars invasions were very real . . .”

    This I agree with. Also with the idea that laymen thought there was probably life on Mars. As for everything else, we’ll have to agree to disagree.

  57. j.c.klein on October 12, 2005 at 10:54 pm

    would someone please post the source for comments about the moon and its inhabitants by the Prophet. In todays secular world of UFOLOGY the concept of aliens and even terrans on the moon can be found in many many places and thru what I’d consider fairly
    reliable sources. For starters spend some time with Alex Collier, Dan Burish, Phil Schneider, Dr. Steven Greer, or David Jacobs PHD.
    None of which is recommended for those of little faith, nor should any of it be swallowed hook line and sinker, I do think the more one researches this topic the clearer it becomes. The day of obfuscation is thankfully finding some real clarity ….Godspeed …Jim

  58. j.c.klein on November 5, 2005 at 11:45 am

    Oliver B. Huntington is the source most commonly referenced for remarks attributed to Joseph Smith concerning inhabitants on the moon. These out of his journal originating from a patriarchal blessing he received as a young man [1837]

    Further investigation will reveal remarks by Brigham Young on the same topic. To me the really interesting aspect to all this is not so much the validity of the Prophets comments but the vast array of seemingly unconnected singular modern day sources that corroborate these early insights.

    Once this research is completed the challenge then becomes tying it into what is known, accepted modern revelation. In my mind they do link nicely although there certainly remain gaps that may remain speculative for some time to come. J.C.K.


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